Making Your Mind Up – Part 14 of our #Eurovision and #Popculture story

by Spencer Vale and Andrew Melladay

The continuation of our story What’s The Deal With Europe?  The novel that inspired the comedy movie Transatlantic Smash.

CHAPTER 14 – MAKING YOUR MIND UP

It was that time of year again to get very excited.  I’m sure you suspect I mean the Six Nations, or maybe even the St David’s, St Patrick’s, St George’s drink-a-thon of March and April?  But no, I mean the time of year that we choose our entry for Eurovision!

Taurus had found their way to the final of A Song For Europe, now a revamped contest under the name of Bucks Fizz’s classic winner Making Your Mind Up.  This new format was not, as Patrick mused, called Makin Your Mind Up, where Hey-Jimmy Makin gets all the hopefuls called Chris to sing Vindaloo.  What a concept that is.  The actual show was being presented by the inimitable Terry Wogan, (oh Terry, you fee-charging drunk! We love you so much,) along with Gabby Roslin and also featured Lorraine Kelly, Harry Hill and Carrie Grant from Fame Academy on the celebrity panel.  This was going to be fun.  More fun than a mars bar, a fun sized mars bar to be precise.
Carrie Grant from Fame Academy was not the only link to reality TV on the night.  Of the other seven contenders, four of acts contained members who previously featured in a reality TV show at some point.  It was a trend that had started two years previous when Jessica Garlick, finalist of Pop Idol 2001 had entered for the UK with song Come Back, achieving joint third place.  I wondered at the time whether if with a name like Garlick, they were going for the usually elusive French vote.

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Jessica Garlick actually came joint third in 2002, achieving the UK’s best result since Imaani in 1998, thus setting a precedent for a lot of the UK Eurovision entries to be acts that had already achieved their five minutes of fame before; having a last ditch attempt at fame, or to carve their name out in the music industry.  It’s a game that I don’t much like, and seems completely illogical to me.  Why take people that have previously failed in other smaller shows to try and win the biggest music contest in Europe?  It’s great for the artist themselves as it’s obviously like clinging on to that last shred of hope to succeed in the professional entertainment industry.  But why not give someone else a shot?

A lot of the other European countries have a different approach to Britain.  A lot of the European nations will ask prominent European artists to represent their country on their behalf.  Do you think that any of these acts see Eurovision as a way to break into the British music scene?  It’s probably a fairly arrogant viewpoint but to me I think that the British music industry is seen only second to breaking America.
Knowing how big some of the European acts already are in their home nations, it did seem bizarre that the UK had started to go with acts that had only marginal success.  Go for big names or unknowns – that’s what I say.  So with that in mind, the entrants other than Taurus in this year’s Making Your Mind Up were:

Enrap-ture.  A three piece R&B girl-group that included members that had previously worked with Westlife, Beverley Knight and Shaggy.

James Fox.  A singer-songwriter that came fifth in Fame Academy in 2003.
Haifa.  A female vocalist who had entered Pop Idol the same year as Jessica Garlick and had narrowly missed out on the final ten that year.

Hyrise.  A four piece boyband that included Anthony Scott-Lee, who had previously charted with band 3SL featuring his two brothers and managed by sister Lisa from Steps.

Haydon.  A twenty-one year old singer who had previously charted as lead singer with Ultimate Kaos in the nineties and had recently lost TV show Reborn in the USA that also featured Eurovision favourites Gina G and Sonia.

Madison Taylor.  A female vocalist who had worked with several top producers including Rez Safina who had also worked work with Kylie Minogue.

So let’s just say that none of the above were mugs, but neither were any of them big stars in their own right.  Having said that, the professional with the most pedigree that the boys from Taurus had previously worked with was Michael MacGee!  Suddenly, the ever confident Taurus seemed like rank outsiders.  Also, they were first up.  How’s that for pressure?

The performance was slick.  In my opinion as good as anything on the night, but going first is a difficult task.  The studio audience were not as warmed up as they could have been and therefore their response wasn’t the best, despite a solid routine.  If anything though they could have done with some backing dancers, if only to help the male voters warm to them a little more.  Maybe they should have pursued the Ecu pipedream with a bit more enthusiasm early on, rather than just using it as an excuse to chat up women.

Next up were Enrapture, a three piece RnB girl group, with their ode to free time, Weekend (Gotta Work) which was a funky upbeat number.

Then came James Fox of course, with
what genuinely, and amazingly was the best song of the contest.  Hold On To our Love.  GOD DAMNIT, IT WAS A WINNER!!!!!

The rest of the acts were fairly uninspiring.  Next was solo frizz haired girl Haifa, with Me Without You.  Then boyband Hyrise, with a former member of 3SL, with Leading Me On, which sounded a bit like early A1.  Remember them?  They did a rubbish cover of Take on Me as well as their own hit Caught in the Middle.  After Hyrise came former Ultimate Kaos star, Hayden, fresh from Reborn in the USA, with slow ballad With You I Believe.  And finally eighteen year old Madison Taylor, with the mostly rubbish It Just Gets Better, which was a sentiment I wholeheartedly disagreed with.

For me, it was a two-way contest now with Taurus standing the greatest chance of beating James Fox.  But during the voting they were interviewed by Fearne Cotton.

“When I look around the room, I see several familiar faces and people that have already had moments of success.  How is it affecting you?” asked Fearne.

Patrick, in an effort to steal the limelight once again took it upon himself to speak for the group.  “The Taurus bandwagon has been rolling for several months now and have we had success?  Just a little bit, but don’t assume that we’re one step out of time.  Oh no, we haven’t met our waterloo!  And for that we deserve congratulations, and possibly some jubilations.  We’ve toyed with outfits for the show, had trouble making our mind up, but it’s better the devil you know so just watch us attack this song.  Let’s hope the public make a suitable decision and let your love shine a light onto their phone votes.  We want to hear good things from the results of the UK Jury, and we’ve been saving our kisses for you,” and with that desperate attempt to charm the public with puns, Taurus’ chances of success were shot.

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