World of Chig   

Making Up Our Minds

So, what are they like in their full versions? Chig gives the six MYMU hopefuls a couple of spins each (or whatever it is you do with MP3s) and evaluates each one after just two hearings, as Mr and Ms Public will have to do on 17 March.

You may be surprised by the conclusion. Chig would normally be surprised if there were any conclusions, but this time he has made a clear choice.

Big Bro Thang - Big Brovaz

I’m immediately prejudiced against this song, because I just don’t see the point of listening to a tune that is all about the artist, except when it’s funny, like Silvia Nott. It’s the exact opposite of what produces a Eurovision winner. (Not that we’re in any position to consider winning until we give Europe a reason to vote for the Big 4 countries, but that’s a matter that I will return to on another day.) Leaving aside Lordi, which was all about theatre, recent Eurovision successes have all been positive, uplifting and/or inclusive. Hearing a group singing about themselves just seems daft and self-indulgent in any context, but it’s magnified a million times at Eurovision, to a level where it seems wholly inappropriate.

So, trying to be fair and getting over that enormous hurdle, this is actually a good song. It manages to sound poppy, atmospheric and electro, and even the rap isn’t completely horrible. It scores highly on the catchiness scale too. There are even bits in it which sound like Evanescence’s ‘Bring Me To Life’, which is not quite what you’d expect from Big Brovaz. This is being released as a single anyway, so if nothing else, expect it to be the biggest non-winning hit single from a UK selection since Deuce made number 10 in 1995 with the third-placed ‘I Need You’.

They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To – Hawkins & Brown

With an insistent, banging, Boxerbeat of a backing track all the way through, this is a belter, but it does sound a bit like a competition between Justin and Beverlei to see who can screech the highest. There’s some wonderful screaming at times, but this is one of those ‘high risk’ songs which you just know could be awful on the Eurovision stage, even though they’re both amazing singers.

The middle eight puts me off a bit too. There’s some great brass but what the heck are Justin and Beverlei going to do while the band plays (on the backing track)? Oh crikey, I see it now. He’s going to strip off his suit and reveal the lycra one-piece, isn’t he? There’s also a bit of guitar work which could well be ‘played’ by Justin himself. The song fizzles out a bit at the end and needs to finish with much more impact.

Also, the line “you don’t see crap and shit like that” rules this one out of Eurovision for me (and a teatime audience, surely?) I admit I am hooked quite quickly on this as a good, upbeat song, but at the moment I just can’t imagine it at Eurovision.

I Can – Brian Harvey

Written by Brian in 2005 when he was recovering from his bizarre car accident (when he somehow managed to run himself over with his own car), this is a great, uplifting ballad. There are some Elton John moments on the ivories, and a great a cappella section which will really grab the audience’s attention. It has a wonderfully inspirational lyric and Brian does it straight, as it should be, without any of the vocal embellishments that sometimes tempt him. Even in its 4m 11s version, this is very good, and can probably be given even more impact in the obligatory three minute edit.

However, this has been circulated in 2005, by Popbitch for one, and even if it has been rearranged, it breaks the rules by being published before October 2006. Perhaps we shouldn’t pin our hopes on this one, but Teenage Life broke exactly the same rule and nothing happened, so maybe we can do what we like.

(Don’t It Make You) Happy! - Liz McClarnon

Not to be confused with another UK national final tune, Don’t It Make You Feel So Good, which was Alberta’s effort in the 1998 Great British Song Contest. The song is the bastard son of a preacher man but just about manages to plough its own furrow as a bouncy pop tune which is likeable enough, but not a vote winner. There’s not enough of an immediate hook or anything novel about it. Liz fulfils the positivity criterion by singing about happiness, but it’s not enough. This is my least favourite of the six.

‘Ev’rybody wants to fly’, sings Liz, which leads us nicely to….

Flying The Flag (For You) – Scooch

“The duration will be three minutes exactly.” Brilliant.

If only it hadn’t all been done before, I would unreservedly be recommending this. Scooch even look like Sestre in their official MYMU photo, so the comparisons are obvious, but five years is a long time in Eurovision and Sestre weren’t even singing about flying. This lot definitely are, in a song which could be adopted as the theme for British Airways, were it not for the innuendo. Well, I say innuendo, but there’s a line spoken by one of the 'cabin crew' guys in this which goes “Would you like something to suck on for landing sir?” It’s more of a single entendre, isn’t it?

This is poptastic and very much like they never went away, as far as Scooch’s body of work is concerned. It doesn’t feel like Natalie Scooch ever has been away, to be honest, as she has trodden the gay club boards for many a year as a solo performer. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen her at Pride/Mardi Gras festivals, and she can sing really well. Russ Scooch hasn’t been away much either, as he’s been working as a TV presenter, before dressing up as a girl for Nathan Moore and trying to pass as one third of a girlband in the TV show ‘Girls Will Be Boys’.

The whole three minute flight has great potential to be an act, which is what’s needed to stand out in Eurovision these days. Following in the footsteps of the Swedish witch last year, there could be some flag-waving too. There’s a clue in the title. I’d be rather uncomfortable if they were waving the Union Flag though. Perhaps the rainbow flag would be more appropriate?!

This is a tongue-in-cheek laugh, with phrases like “flying high in Amsterdam”, “cruising in the sky” and "some salted nuts, sir?". It namechecks the host city (Helsinki), one of the newcomers’ capitals (Prague) and a few other place names along the way, in a blatant attempt to attract votes from Paris, Berlin and Tallinn.

It even has the line, “Your exits are here, here, and here”, which Sestre did as part of their routine, but who cares? It’s a delightful bit of pop froth with a catchy tune and this would be a fabulous UK entry.

Which leaves us with the one unknown act in this year’s selection.

I’ll Leave My Heart – Cyndi

“Oh I’ll take the high notes and you take the low, and my heart will go on as you raise me up, oh Danny boy, as by the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond we’ll go sailing.”

Let’s just say there are a few influences evident in this song. But - and it’s a very important ‘but’ - it’s as good a song as you would expect it to be if you cobbled together all of the best elements of the above songs. French singer Cyndi evidently has a great voice, which ranges from soft and gentle to powerful, with a big note near the end and a long note at the very end which would have us all on the edge of our seats, hoping that she makes it. (It’s called 'The Lindsay D Moment' in Eurovision circles.)

The sweeping strings (and harp?) on this are absolutely fantastic. You want the return of chansonnerie? You want a big, breast-beating ballad? I think I do. This is epic, beautiful and powerful and is my clear favourite if we want to do as well as possible in Helsinki.

We don’t generally vote for the underdog unless there’s a huge amount of novelty involved (ie. Daz Sampson last year). But could the relative fame of the other five acts mean that they all cancel each other out and allow this unknown to go sailing through the pack, voted for by all those without the vested interest of fandom? I hope so. This is my choice. I think it’s time for the UK to retread the path of Garlick (but with an even stronger song) and aim for a respectable equal third.

This is the strongest selection of songs of the four MYMUs so far, and the Beeb is to be congratulated on getting such quality, with five known names and a talented unknown, with not a TV talent show contestant in sight. Perhaps we could all pretend we haven't heard the Scooch song, and just save them for next year.

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