This past week the newspapers have been full of commentary on the release of this year’s Eurovision entry song: ‘Love Will Set You Free’, sung by Engelbert Humperdinck (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFNv9pjqZkk).
The song is a ballad, simple, restrained – the vocals accompanied by a melancholic Spanish guitar arrangement. The lyrics are romantic, but they speak of courage in the face of heartache: ‘As you kiss him in the moonlight/With heavy words I say/If you love someone, follow your heart/’Cause love comes once if you’re lucky enough/Though I’ll miss you forever, the hurt will run deep/Only love can set you free.’
Reactions to the song have been decidedly mixed – but then, aren’t they always when it comes to Eurovision? Personally, I’m glad to see a ‘golden oldie’ standing for us in the competition; Engelbert is something of a national institution if for nothing more than his choice of name (he was born Arnold Dorsey). And to have a love ballad as the entry is surely better than a vacuous pop number: at once I recollect the 2007 entry ‘Flying the Flag (For You)’ by Scooch, that awful air hostess number (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBOnDcmckdc), which unsurprisingly came 22nd.
Still, a song about the end of a relationship? It’s a risky choice given the UK’s intense embarrassment in 2003 when Jemini’s entry, ‘Cry Baby’, got a spectacular nil points due to the singers’ inability to hit a single note in tune (see for yourself, if your ears can take it, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAJ62IG3gBo).
Well, we could not possibly do worse this year, I suppose. But I hope we fare well against the competition. Engelbert told the Daily Mail, ‘I have been called the “King of Romance”. I’ve represented romance all my life and have been a part of the business for 45 years. You can’t pretend, it has to be within you. Romance is what makes the world go around; when people hear romantic songs, they fall in love.’
The sentiment, at least, is worthy. We shall see how the judges merit old-style romance up against more modern, upbeat, fluffy music. No doubt we’ll watch an eclectic mix of music on the competition night.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone ran a song competition for love songs only? Now that’s an event I’d attend! Love is the one thing that unites every country worldwide. It seems to me it would be a marvellous, unifying and inspiring event – an international celebration of love.