Eurovision 2016: UK picks Joe and Jake

UK viewers chose pop duo Joe and Jake and their song ‘You’re Not Alone’ following their performance at Eurovision: You Decide last night. The live broadcast featured five other acts, but only one other real contender for the opportunity to represent the UK in Stockholm on 14 May.

Joe and Jake’s ‘piano-driven’ anthemic number is a pleasing thing, with an integrity to its sound I can’t recall any other UK Eurovision songs having in the past. Ever. Looks like the BBC’s pairing up with former Innocent Records MD Hugh Goldsmith as consultant, and their closer work with composers association BASCA and fan network OGAE has paid off.

The show which pulled in 678,900 viewers on BBC Four – the first UK ‘national final’ since 2010 – was a bit of a treat. The warm inclusive atmosphere created by the 2000-strong audience seemingly unconditional enthusiasm for the night was a reassuring reminder that UK Eurovision fans need not feel alone. I’d normally have to attend another country’s national final or the Eurovision final itself to experience that – to get a taste of it after a short tube journey from work is a rather glorious treat.

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If Joe and Jake do well at Eurovision this year, its not hard to see how last night’s show could be expanded upon: more episodes, different venues and maybe even more majesty? Hire venues like last night’s Forum are the way to go too. I’ve spent enough time in TV studios during live broadcasts to know they are the worst places for atmosphere. It is the audience that underpins the Eurovision’s ongoing popularity.

As a member of the audience, having the chance to think about what song I’d like to represent us (and reflect on whether that’s the same as the song I think would be best suited to the Eurovision stage – often two different things), is as it turns out quite a fun thing to do. It’s starting the Eurovision Bus earlier, getting me in training for the main event when rehearsals get underway in April.

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Both performers assured performances combined a powerful combination of confidence and youthful optimism they demonstrated in the press conference directly after their win hints at their potential impact in the run up to and during Eurovision this year. They fielded the inevitable if tiresome question about what plans they had about staging the song in Stockholm, with a realistic response. But they also revealed during the press conference that their families were back home in Stock on Trent and had been watching proceedings on the TV. “We haven’t spoken to them yet,” said Joe or Jake (I’m not quite sure which is which yet).

I was surprised. I had assumed that their families would be there in force to cheer them. There was something rather charming about the idea that they weren’t. Something reassuringly normal and everyday about. For a split second both of them appeared as though they’d set off for ‘That London’ to compete in a song competition together, leaving their families at home to follow their progress on TV.

Radio 1’s Newsbeat interviewed them backstage and secured what every self-respecting Eurovision fan insists upon: a demonstration the artist can sing a-capella. And it appears they can. Which is also … very, very good for the UK.

This year’s goals for Eurovision are quite straightforward. It would be nice if the UK could be talked and written about for all the right reasons at this year’s Eurovision. We want our performance to look and sound good, and for the voting to reflect that accomplishment too. In Joe and Jake and their song ‘You’re Not Alone’, I think we might just be OK.

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