Entertainment & Arts

Eurovision Song Contest: Spice Girls writer pens potential UK entry

Eurovision Song Contest logo Image copyright Eurovision Song Contest

The six acts hoping to compete for the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest have been revealed on BBC Radio 2.

Among them is Bianca Claxton, whose song was co-written by Leona Lewis and Richard Stannard, who worked on all of The Spice Girls' biggest hits.

Shine A Little Light is a power ballad in the vein of Lewis's global hit Bleeding Love.

Other hopefuls include former buskers Dulcima and Tom, and singer Matthew James from 1990s boyband Bad Boys Inc.

Two former contestants on The Voice UK, Joe Woolford and Jake Shakeshaft, will also compete for a place at the annual contest, as will newcomer Karl William Lund and teenage country duo Darline.

The six contestants will perform their songs live on BBC Four this Friday night, and the public will select one entrant to go forward to the grand final in Stockholm this May.

Analysis, Mark Savage - Music Reporter

It's the most important vote the UK will have on Europe this year (unless I'm missing something obvious): Can the British public select a real contender for the Eurovision Song Contest?

Our recent history at the competition has been shockingly poor, lounging at the bottom of the leaderboard since 2011 when Blue fought their way to 11th place with the utterly forgettable I Can.

This year's entries aren't as moribund as previous selections. There are even a few modern production flourishes amongst the power ballads and syrupy lyrics.

Nothing really screams "romping to victory" but there's a good chance we won't come back from Stockholm with ägg on our faces. The only question is whether these largely untested performers will be able to hold their own against the seasoned professionals being chosen by other countries.

It is the first time the public has been given a say in the UK's entry since 2010, when teenager Josh Dubovie was sent to Norway and ended up in last place.

In recent years the UK's act has been chosen internally by the BBC, who have also enlisted some big-name songwriters, including Andrew Lloyd Webber, in an aim to boost the country's chances.

But a run of poor results prompted a rethink, with entries solicited from professionals and amateurs and the appointment of Hugh Goldsmith - the former head of RCA records - as a music consultant to the BBC.

Image caption The UK's 2015 pre-selected Eurovision entry Electro Velvet ended up coming 24th out of 27th acts

Whoever is selected on Friday night will perform their song in Sweden on 14 May, when a new voting system aims to shake up the contest.

For the first time, each country's vote will be split - with juries of professionals giving their votes first. The votes from viewers will be added in later and announced at the end.

The new method means a song that scores badly with the judges could still jump to the top should it rank higher with the public.

Organisers claim the new system will create a "dramatic finish," with the overall winner only known once the final vote is in.

Last year's contest was won by Mans Zelmerlow, whose anthemic dance track Heroes pulled ahead of the other competitors to secure 365 points.

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Media captionMans Zelmerlow won the 2015 contest for Sweden


Joe and Jake - You're Not Alone

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Media captionListen to Joe and Jake’s entry for Eurovision: You Decide 2016, You’re Not Alone

Joe Woolford and Jake Shakeshaft met during the 2015 series of The Voice UK.

Joe, 21, is a former PE teacher from Denbighshire in north Wales, who was one of Rita Ora's finalists in the competition; while Jake was picked by will.i.am after he quit his job at a garden centre - only to be eliminated in the battle rounds.

Their duet, You're Not Alone, is an up-tempo piano-driven track with shades of Coldplay in its "woah-oh-oh" hook.

Key lyric: "When you fall, I'll be your parachute".

Bianca Claxton - Shine A Little Light

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Media captionListen to Bianca’s entry for Eurovision: You Decide 2016, Shine A Little Light

Bianca Claxton is a 25 year-old singer from Nottingham who has previously had chart success with girl group Parade, and toured with Shakira and the Black Eyed Peas.

Her power ballad was written by Ash Howes, Cass Lowe, Leona Lewis and Richard Stannard - whose combined credits include The Spice Girls, Little Mix, 5 Seconds of Summer and U2.

Key lyric: "I've been carrying a concrete heart."

Dulcima - When You Go

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Media captionListen to Dulcima’s entry for Eurovision: You Decide 2016, When You Go

Dulcima Showan, aged 23, met songwriter Tomas Twyman, 27, when they were both busking together on the streets of Canterbury.

Their self-penned song When You Go is a cheesy country stomper with ample banjo and a rousing breakdown.

Key lyric: "I'm going to light a candle so I can see in the dark."

Matthew James - A Better Man

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Media captionListen to Matthew James’s entry for Eurovision: You Decide 2016, A Better Man

Matthew James was part of Bad Boys Inc, who scored a few minor hits in 1993 and 1994.

His song, A Better Man, revisits the slick pop ballads of that era - which is hardly a surprise, given that the lead writer, Andrew Fromm, previously penned tracks for the Backstreet Boys.

However, the song is perhaps too generic to really catch fire.

Key lyric: "You make me want to be a better man."

Darline - Until Tomorrow

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Media captionListen to Darline’s entry for Eurovision: You Decide 2016, Until Tomorrow

Darline are a country pop duo - Abby Inez, 20 from Worcester and Cara Beth Beard, 18 from Hertfordshire.

Their upbeat track Until Tomorrow is a breezy love song, with a co-writing credit from Martine McCutcheon's husband, Jack McManus,

The band supported The Shires on tour, playing to thousands of people every night - but is that enough to prepare them for a Eurovision audience reaching into the hundreds of millions?

Key lyric: "Hold on to me, like the last leaf on a tree".

Karl William Lund - Miracle

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Media captionListen to Karl William Lund’s entry for Eurovision: You Decide 2016, Miracle

Karl William Lund, aged 29, is originally from Liverpool and began writing his entry - Miracle - whilst working in Greece as part of a Beatles tribute act (he was John Lennon).

It is a slow-burning ballad (aren't they all?) peddling the traditional Eurovision messages of self-belief and the power of love, with a strong vocal performance and another "woah-oh-oh" hook.

Karl is also a model and actor, and lists "mime, mask, movement and theatre" amongst his skills, which could make for an interesting performance in Stockholm.

Key lyric: "I want to fly in your arms."

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