As I geared up to listen to James Newman’s “My Last Breath”, I had to take a deep breath.
(In case you've been hiding under a rock today, "My Last Breath" is the song which some people who should definitely know better decided would be representing the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest this year.)
As the song approaches its first chorus, Newman warbles “I know… we’re in trouble” and… honestly? He’s not wrong.
“My Last Breath” sounds like what would happen if a River Island pleather jacket, an X Factor winner'ssingle and your uncle’s midlife crisis had a child together.
It’s a true anthem for people who ask to speak to the manager everywhere. For people who have their “Harry Potter house” in their dating app profile and think drinking gin is a personality. If it were food, it’d be a chicken mayo sandwich with a yellow reduced sticker on it: not offensive, but never satisfying.
One saving grace, though, is the presence of Wim Hof (also known as “The Iceman”) in the song’s video. Hof is a Dutch extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures and is pretty much an all-round legend. We’re not really sure why he’s there, but the wilderness-themed video is actually appropriate seeing as this song will almost certainly land the UK in Eurovision wilderness for another year.
The Eurovision Song Contest has become the dom in the fin-dom relationship it's in with the British people. We’re becoming the paypig of Europe, shelling out lots of money to bypass the semi-final stage only to be given zero gratification for sending musical embodiment of “scraping the barrel” each year. Wasn’t the point in involving record company BMG in the selection process (and removing any public vote) to get something… better?
“But it’s because of Brexit!!!” Boomers cry as they dry-swallow aspirin.
Well, it might be a factor – given there was a heckler a few years ago during the UK’s performance. But Israel – a country that, politically speaking, isn’t exactly popular everywhere in Europe just now – won two years ago. Russia wins all the time too and a new voting system was introduced to counteract political voting.
No, friends, it’s time we faced up to the fact that the UK sucks at Eurovision because they’re sending their biggest stars – people who are “huge in Europe” and already have a back catalogue of bops – and we’re sending has-beens and people who seem nice but no one has ever heard of.
To win at Eurovision you have to be loved by some people, so much that even if you’re disliked by others it doesn’t really matter. Being divisive and even ridiculous isn't necessarily a bad thing. That’s why the UK’s obsession with sending songs that everyone likes a little bit, but no one really loves is so silly. It's also weird that, despite being so off the mark, all our Eurovision songs seem to take themselves so... seriously? Like someone wearing a three-piece suit to a first date at a roller-disco. “My Last Breath” continues this tradition: it sounds like the MP3 embodiment of that co-worker who needs at least four pints to develop a personality at after-work drinks.
The UK at Eurovision has become a revolving door of white guys with beards who’ve just been on a Topman shopping spree – and a song that, at best, produces a reaction of: “meh, it’s fine I guess”. It seems a little unfair on people like Newman – who really isn’t to blame here – to put them in this position each year, like sacrificial lambs, when we all know how it’s going to end.
So will “My Last Breath” be Britain’s last gasp at a Eurovision strategy that’s obsessed with risk-free mediocrity and annual disappointment? We can only hope so.