It was a moment that made every Eurovision fan in the country groan: the UK finished this year’s contest with nul points yet again, leading critics to wonder if it was politics, the staging or the song that contributed to such an abysmal night for one of the contest’s top funders.
In any event, changes had to be made, which is why the team behind pop stars Dua Lipa and Lana Del Rey will this year choose the UK’s entrant for the 2022 contest.
Tap management, which also looks after Ellie Goulding and Dermot Kennedy, called on the music industry to put forward experienced live performers for its consideration on Thursday. The company plans to pull together an “A-team” committee, and enlisted chart-toppers Lipa and Sir Elton John to announce its search.
It means the record label BMG will no longer be involved in selecting the UK’s entry. Ben Mawson, Tap’s co-founder, said he would use Eurovision “to authentically reflect and celebrate the rich, diverse and world-class musical talent” the UK is renowned for.
He added: “For many years, we’ve witnessed the United Kingdom not doing as well as we would’ve liked, when pop music is something we usually excel at. The simple fact is it’s time to show what we can do and the wonderful musical talent we have – ultimately we can’t blame politics.”
Lipa said she was “happy to lend my manager to the cause … I’ll be cheering them on!” John added that Eurovision was “a wonderful opportunity for us to remind the world yet again of the depth and diversity of our talent”.
Not only has the UK come bottom in the last two Eurovision contests, no UK entrant has made the Top 10 since Jade Ewen in 2009. There were concerns this year that singer James Newman’s crushing loss was down to bad blood over Brexit, a point quickly disputed by rightwing politicians and commentators.
Liz Truss, the then international trade minister, said there was “a fundamental problem with the way that we are choosing our performances and singers”, while the Spectator editor, Fraser Nelson, wrote that the UK “was simply outsung and outclassed”.
Alasdair Rendall, the president of OGAE UK, the British branch of the Eurovision fan network, told the Guardian he was “cautiously optimistic about the announcement – although we’ve had a lot of false dawns before”.
He added: “The tie-up with BMG was trumpeted with a lot of fanfare and we ended up with another nul points.”
Rendall said the quality of the song was more important than any route to select it. “I do hope Tap identify something that’s really standout, and we don’t have something that’s written by committee. As recent winners have shown, there is no such thing as a ‘Eurovision style’. Be bold, be different, and don’t be beige!”
This year’s winners, Måneskin, were anything but beige. The Italian hard rock group scored 524 points in the grand final with their song Zitti e Buoni, and were the subject of rock’n’roll controversy in the aftermath.
The contest sees national juries being the first to score each contestant. With Newman receiving zero points from them, he became the first act to receive the wider public’s scores during the contest in Rotterdam in May. Pausing for dramatic effect, host Jan Smit announced: “The United Kingdom … gets … from the public … zero points.”
Newman called it a “life-changing” experience. “We tried as hard as we could.”
The UK is one of the “big five” group of countries that make the largest contributions to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which runs Eurovision.
Ed Millett, another Tap co-founder, said: “Rather than viewing Eurovision as just a bit of fun, let’s look at it for what it is: the world’s biggest live music event – 200 million viewers at last count, with an audience skewing younger each year.”