FOR those who have been closely following the Eurovision Song Contest, most can agree that this year’s selection of songs is seriously lacking music that will get feet tapping and hips moving.
Long story short: it’s a year of ballads… lots of ballads. Some of the artists are even lamenting the fact that most of Europe missed the party memo, seeing as it’s the contest’s 60th anniversary. One of these artists includes UK contestants Bianca Nicholas and Alex Larke, who collectively make up Electro Velvet.
“I don’t know why there aren’t many party songs this year. It’s a case of it being a song contest, the song itself being incredibly important and sometimes the slower songs win out overall,” Nicholas told the Star Observer.
“There are a lot of ballads but in that there are some seriously great songs and maybe it’s just because a ballad won last year, some countries think it would be good to stick to that formula.”
Larke added: “Yeah, I think some have just looked back to Conchita last year and thought that’s the really the way to win at the moment. Despite the lack of upbeat, party songs, it shouldn’t take anything away from the fact that there are some really great songs this year.
“Not one moment do I think at all that an upbeat song will have a competitive edge this year, there are just so many good songs regardless of genre.”
Many commentators have highlighted the success of last year’s Dutch entrant, the Common Linnets, for the increase in songs that could fall under the “hipster” umbrella, and with it bringing in a new audience to the contest.
“I think that it’s quite cool that a new type of genre is making its mark on the competition because there really is no clear winning formula anymore,” Nicholas said.
“There’s been people like Lordi winning the competition along with Conchita and a wide variety of genres inbetween. Sometimes something new that comes along brings a fresh song that works.
Larke agreed: “I think going in with a preconceived idea of what you’re going to do, the song has to ultimately right for the year. You have all these factors within Eurovision and as recent years have shown, it’s really hard to predict how some styles are going to go.”
Nicholas added: “Different styles of songs also opens up the contest to new audiences as well so that’s important in keeping Eurovision growing in popularity and sounding fresh.”
Aware their song has divided audiences, the duo have relied on their long-term love for the sounds of swing and jazz to help pull off what will shape up to be a memorable performance whichever side of the fence you come down on.
“I’ve always been into retro sounds and my influences are very much from the 1950s actually. It was a mutual friend of ours that wrote the song actually five years ago but he just hadn’t found the right singers for it,” Nicholas said.
“Once [Alex and I] heard it we decided that we wanted work together, we just loved it. We recorded it before well before we entered it into Eurovision because we just enjoyed it. Then once we had the backing vocals sounding great we decided to enter it into the competition.”
Larke said: “We were seriously like ‘yeah, let’s go for it’, we absolutely loved the song and wanted it to go far. Swing and scatting are very much things I’m a fan of musically.
“Louie Armstrong for me growing up was just someone who mesmerised me. I can’t remember the specific moment but it was just hearing that voice, it was just so different to anything and anyone.
“So when we were doing the song and considering the song style, when we got to the middle bit it just seemed so right and perfect for a bit of old school but modern scat and I have to thank Louie for getting me into it.”
It would be amiss to not ask the UK contestants about their feelings regarding the inclusion of an extended family member in this year’s Eurovision. For the UK and almost every other contestant in the competition, Australia and Guy Sebastian are the talk of the town.
“Well it’s funny, I have actually mentioned Guy Sebastian in every press conference and interview we’ve done because I am just such a big fan,” Nicholas said.
“Everyone says that he’s going to do well in the competition. It’s just genuinely a really good song and he’s such a lovely guy. We’ve met him several times travelling around Europe doing a few concerts for the contest.”
“Like it’s been said, this year is just so ballad heavy and once I heard that song – and found out that he had written it in something crazy like three days – he’s absolutely nuts and the song is simply so fantastic. I was really impressed not just with the song but by how lovely he is and also his phenomenal vocals.
“It will stand out from a lot of ballads and do Australia proud.”
Larke agreed: “It’s seriously a great song for Australia and I don’t want to jinx anything but you may just be back next year.”
According to the British duo, Australia’s involvement has also been a great way to reinvigorate the contest.
“I think it’s brought a great detail of attention to the competition,” Larke said.
“It’s the 60th year and Australia has been following for the past 30 and you are big fans over there. The theme is building bridges so we’ve just built a really, really long one to you.”
Nicholas said: “I think it was quite a shock to the general public that is was happening and it kind of reminded a lot of people that had forgotten about Eurovision that it existed. It’s definitely reinvigorated a lot of interest in the contest, it’s really good thing.
“It’s really nice to see you guys in it this year, we don’t have many neighbours in the UK. Even though we’re obviously not neighbours physically, we have the history and the cultural similarities so it’s just really great to see Australia here.”
You can watch the UK bring some much needed fun and dance to this year’s Eurovision when the grand final is shown live this Sunday 5am on SBS, or you can wait for the delayed broadcast later in the evening.