Entertainment & Arts

Engelbert Humperdinck unveils UK's Eurovision song

A ballad called Love Will Set You Free is the UK's entry at the Eurovision Song Contest, it has been revealed.

Sung by veteran crooner Engelbert Humperdinck, it premiered on the theBBC's Eurovision websiteon Monday.

The 75-year-old singer, best known for 1967 hit Release Me, is hoping to reverse the UK's fortunes at the show, which is being held in Azerbaijan.

Last year, reformed boy band Blue came 11th, while Josh Dubovie took last place in 2010.

This year's song has been written by Grammy award-winning producer Martin Terefe and Ivor Novello winner Sacha Skarbek, who co-wrote James Blunt's You're Beautiful and Lana Del Rey's Born To Die.

Love Will Set You Free is a tale of heartbreak with a simple, sparse arrangement of plucked Spanish guitar and melancholy strings.

"The more you listen to it, the stronger it gets," said Humperdinck. "It's not a one-time listen."

"It's a really good song," added Lee Sheriden, who won the Eurovision in 1976 with the group Brotherhood of Man.

Image caption Engelbert Humperdinck has sold more than 150 million records worldwide

"There's nothing to be down about. It's very well-constructed and it lifts in the right places. I can't wait to see how it goes at the Eurovision."

Humperdinck - who was born Arnold George Dorsey - will not be the only septuagenarian at this year's contest.

Russia has selected a group called Buranovskiye Babushki (The Buranovo Grannies) to represent it in the annual competition.

Their disco-tinged tune, Party For Everybody, is second-favourite to win, with bookmakers offering odds of 6/1.

Swedish singer Loreen, who won Sweden Idol in 2004, is tipped to take the crown with her melodramatic club track Euphoria.

Speaking to BBC Radio 2's Ken Bruce, Humperdinck said he was wary of his competition.

"I think you've got cause to worry about everybody," he said.

"It's all in the performance when the time comes. That's what I'm looking forward to - getting up there and doing my thing."

Humperdinck was announced as the UK's representative last month, at which point bookmakers cut the odds of a British win from 25/1 to 16/1.

He said he had "been running on air ever since".

The singer also toldThe Sun newspaper: "I have been in the business for 45 years and with my experience and the amount of countries I have visited in Europe, I can bring this home.

"I play these countries frequently and I hope I have scored some points with them."

Since February, his odds have continued to drop, with the UK now on 14/1.

Brotherhood Of Man singer Sheridan, who also wrote the winning entry Save All Your Kisses For Me, said Humperdinck's profile would give the UK a boost.

"He is a great singer and a true professional whose vast experience makes him more than capable of handling the stresses of Eurovision," he said.

"He is a great singer and he'll do great on the night. He'll be a great ambassador for the UK."


Reaction to the song online has been mixed.

"Just listened to the UK Eurovision entry," wroteIan Cooper on Twitter. "I think I would prefer to watch that beige, slow drying paint after all."

Tim Roylett's tweetwas more positive, calling the song "a real oldies ballad, and perfectly sung".

"Nice, but not a winner," he added.

On the official Eurovision website, a user calledtrickyuk wrote: "Classy song. And sure to stand out in amongst all the party songs from other countries."

A Swedish fan using the nameDeliciousagreed, writing: "I really like this song. It's not a boring ballad, it's a pretty ballad."

Lora, writing on Twitter from Glasgowwas less positive: "They put all the cliched lines from every love song ever recorded in a bag and rearranged them into a new Eurovision song."

The 57th annual Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan on 26 May.

The country is hosting the show after Ell and Nikki won last year's competition with pop ballad Running Scared.

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