How many times has the UK been slammed with the dreaded ‘nul points’ from their continental neighbours at the Eurovision Song Contest? The answer might actually surprise you. Before last year’s rather disastrous points-free Brit effort, it was just once.
So, there’s only ever been deux occasions in which the United Kingdom has served up a pop ditty so rancid that no other European country could bear to award it even a single solidarity point.
That’s not to say that the other 60+ entries from these shores have all been good, of course. Far from it in actual fact. Many, as you’ll no doubt remember, have been downright dreadful.
Let’s be honest here. Very few of us watch Eurovision for quality lyrics or beautiful vocal performances. We don’t want great songs, we want weird songs. We want bad songs. It’s not the Grammys. It’s EUROVISION.
With the 2022 event on the horizon, we’d like to pay tribute to some of the UK’s most risible contributions to the much-loved singing competition. Only these are the people that make Eurovision truly great.
James Newman - ‘Embers’ (2021)
It was difficult to despise last year’s UK entry. It was just a little bland. Almost as figuratively pointless as it was literally pointless.
The song’s fine, it’s catchy enough. But sung rather breathlessly by James Newman, a stocky lad in quite possibly the world’s biggest leather jacket, it falls rather flat.
The staging was just bizarre too. The concept? Two enormous trumpets, a couple of dancers, and a fella that looks a bit like he sells stolen kitchen appliances in a pub car park. And that was it.
Did it deserve the ignominy of being ‘nul points’? No, not really. Did it deserve much more than that? No, not really.
Jemini - ‘Cry Baby’ (2003)
There was - and remains - plenty of controversy surrounding Britain’s 2016 European Union referendum result. Perhaps the most surprising thing about Brexit was that Britain was allowed to make its mind up to leave the EU at all. The fact that we inflicted Jemini on the continent 13 years previous could surely have been grounds for pushing us well before we jumped.
The main problem here was that Gemma Abbey and Chris Cromby ('Gem and I' - geddit?) sang most of the song off-key on the night. They later claimed that a technical fault meant they couldn’t hear the backing track in their earpieces. Which is exactly what you would say, isn’t it?
Of course, there were other problems with the song and performance, not least of all the size of Chris’ giant wallet chain, which looked like it had come straight off a T-62 Soviet battle tank.
Electro Velvet - ‘Still in Love’ (2015)
Your opinions on Alex Larke and Bianca Nicholas’ 2015 effort will likely hinge around your opinions on a little something called ‘electro swing’. If you like the idea of listening to a genre of music that combines vintage swing and jazz music with modern house and hip-hop beats, then, well, you’re weird.
99% of Europe proved themselves to be not (too) weird by ignoring Electro Velvet’s rather jarring Charleston-tinged track. It wasn’t the worst song in the world. But it wasn’t far off. The carefree 1920’s flapper style was, presumably, supposed to come across as fun and a bit wacky. It was just naff.
Patricia Bredin - ‘All’ (1957)
This is every song my dear ol’ Nan has ever tunelessly sung while busying herself in the kitchen. For that reason, it’s impossible for me to dislike ‘All’ by the Hull-born singer Patrician Bredin.
There’s just no tune to it. Or style. Or anything, really. And coming in at less than two minutes long, you have to wonder whether the songwriters had forgotten their assignment and came up with it in the taxi on their way to the studio.
Kenneth McKellar - ‘A Man Without Love’ (1966)
Kenneth McKellar is a very Scottish name. However, just in case you couldn’t pick up on the specific nationality of the UK’s 1966 entry, the man wore a very fetching kilt too.
The song itself wasn’t very Scottish. It also wasn’t very Eurovision, either. It sounded more like it’d been plucked from a rather dreary musical of the time.
‘A Man Without Love’ received the UK’s worst-ever points haul in the competition at the time and held onto that record for a further 12 years. Kenneth really was a man without love that night.
Josh Dubovie - ‘That Sounds Good to Me’ (2010)
Oh, Josh. It didn’t sound good to you though, did it? It didn’t sound good to anyone.
Andy Abraham - ‘Even If’ (2008)
Former refuse collector Andy Abraham was a lovable sort. Proven by his second-place finish behind Shayne Ward on The X Factor in 2005. Three years later he was back crooning on our screens. This time, however, he was doing an original song.
Last place was harsh, but the song was so unmemorable it was hard to remember the thing even when you were listening to it.
14 points may not seem too bad in the context of this list, but it saw Andy finish bottom on the night. It seemed the ex-binman wasn’t just adept at collecting rubbish, he could write and perform it too.
- Daz Sampson - ‘Teenage Life’ (2006): A dance music producer and football scout, Daz has many strings to his bow. Rapping was not one of them. So, rapping about being at school while half a dozen scantily-clad ‘schoolgirls’ provocatively danced behind him (a man who was 36 years-old at the time) really didn’t work.
- Samantha Janus - ‘A Message To Your Heart’ (1991): The future Game On and EastEnders star came 10th in ‘91, but clearly didn’t enjoy her stint as a Eurovision star, quickly taking up acting instead. Even she called her performance “ridiculous”.
- Scooch - ‘Flying the Flag’ (2007): Imagine having one too many in the airport bar and getting on a budget airline flight to somewhere you really don’t want to go. Or, better yet, don’t - just watch Scooch’s cringeworthy air steward/stewardess cosplay Eurovision performance. Actually, even better than that, do neither.
- Black Lace - ‘Mary Ann’ (1979): The party band favourites didn’t disgrace themselves on the scoreboard, coming a respectable 7th out of 19 songs in 1979. But ‘Mary Ann’ was no ‘Agadoo’ or ‘Superman’. It wasn’t even ‘Wig-Wam Bam’ ferchrissakes.
- Engelbert Humperdinck - ‘Love Will Set You Free’ (2012): You’d forgotten about this, hadn’t you? Let’s keep it that way, eh?