It may only be January, but this Friday the UK will select its entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Yes, Eurovision: You Decide, hosted by the inimitable Mel Giedroyc, hits our screens at 7.30pm on BBC2. It’s a show no true Eurofan can afford to miss.

And, can you believe it, whoever is chosen will have the honour of the being the UK’s 60th song in the competition. Yes, our first entry was back in 1957 when Patricia Bredin sang All. Since then we’ve won 5 times and come second on a staggering 15 occasions.  However we’ve not done quite so well recently….

Between 2011-2015 the British public had no say in the song we sent to the annual musicfest, with the entry being chosen by the BBC. With the notable exception of Blue’s 2011 entry, I Can, our contributions have seen us languishing at the bottom of the scoreboard. So, last year the BBC brought back a televised national final, and we picked cheeky duo, Joe and Jake with the poppy You’re Not Alone. The boys did their best, and the international juries of musical experts quite liked it, but the European televoting public wasn’t so keen, and the song only managed to come 24th.

Undeterred, Eurovision: You Decide is back, with the winner being chosen by combining the results of the public vote with a professional jury panel. The six competing songs have just been released. Our resident Eurovision expert, Dean Asker, casts his eyes over the runners and riders, and makes some predictions. Oh, and be warned, The X Factor gets mentioned a lot!

 

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Olivia Garcia, Freedom Hearts

16 year Olivia, who hails from Wigan, made it to the Six Chair Challenge in The X Factor 2016.  The song is written by a team of Swedes, one of whom, Gabriel Alares has a strong Eurovision pedigree, most notably as co-writer of Russia’s runner up in 2015, A Million Voices.  Freedom Hearts is a modern, well-produced song, which is definitely in with a chance of winning on Friday.

 

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Holly Brewer, I Wish I Loved You More

21 year old Milton Keynes resident Holly has supported Jess Glynne, and sang at TOWIE star Mark Wright’s wedding. Holly was a 2015 X Factor hopeful, but despite making it through the first round was dropped before bootcamp.  An international team of American, Canadian and Swedish songwriters have penned this moody number, which has echoes of Beyonce’s Halo about it.  On first listen I wasn’t especially taken with this song, but it’s a definite grower.  One to watch.

 

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Lucie Jones, Never Give Up On You

Welsh singer Lucy competed in, you guessed it, The X Factor in 2009, making it to the live shows, eventually losing out to Jedward in a sing-off.  Lucie has subsequently appeared in a number of musicals, and is currently on a UK tour of Rent. One of the song’s writers is Danish Eurovision winner Emmelie de Forest, who swept the board in 2013 with the folksy, uptempo number Only Teardrops. Never Give Up On You is a much more restrained ballad, and is currently the favourite to win on Friday. Not sure I see it myself.

 

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Danyl Johnson, Light Up The World

Danyl came 4th in X Factor 2009.  His song is much more Eurovision in feel than the other five entries. Combining pop with shades of gospel, this aims at being an anthemic, uplifting offering but lacks an obvious chorus, which is essential for Eurovision.  That said, it’s quite different from the other 5 songs, which may well give it an advantage.

 

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Salena Mastroianni, I Don’t Wanna Fight

Yes, Salena tried her luck on The X Factor in 2012, but didn’t make it past the auditions.  This was the song that stood out for me on first listen.  An electro dance track that you could imagine booming out of a bar on Hurst Street on a Saturday night, I Don’t Wanna Fight is, for me, the catchiest of the songs on offer. Definitely my favourite.

 

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Nate Simpson, What Are We Made Of

Nate made it to judges’ houses in X Factor 2016.  This mid-tempo ballad has a musical theatre vibe to it, and I’m sure Nate will give a great performance, but the chorus feels very old-fashioned.  Not at the top of my list this one, but Nate gets bonus points for citing the fabulous Celine Dion as his favourite Eurovision act.

You can listen to the six songs on BBC iPlayer HERE