For millions of viewers across the globe and a certain section of much-derided music lovers, this week sees one of the highlights of the year – the Eurovision Song Contest.
The contest takes place in Ukraine with former X Factor contestant Lucie Jones, from Pentyrch near Cardiff, flying the flag for the UK with a song called Never Give Up On You.
It’s a song title that could sum up the UK’s relationship with the contest, given its continued involvement in Eurovision despite a succession of poor scores in recent years.
One man who will never give up on the contest is 22-year-old Glyndwr Wrexham University student Jamie Davies, who is previewing the week’s events on his special Eurovision-themed shows broadcast on Calon FM.
“I can’t wait,” said Jamie. “It’s like Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one.”
Millions of viewers watched Ukrainian singer Jamala win the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest held in Stockholm last year and organisers have been expecting similar numbers to tune in to see the 42 countries do battle across two semi-finals this week and the final on Saturday evening.
“I remember the date. It was May 14, 2011,” says Jamie, when I ask him when he first got into Eurovision.
“It was in Dusseldorf in Germany and it was the same day my team, Manchester United, won the league.
“I thought I’d watch some TV and Eurovision came on and my mum was watching it. Normally I [would] hate it but I loved how tense it was when the voting started.
“It was the year Jedward [John and Edward, representing the Republic of Ireland] almost won it which wouldn’t have been a good start.
“My favourite band were The Killers, but if you go on to my ipod now most of the songs are by Eurvoision artists including lots of Abba.”
The UK has won Eurovision five times, but has failed to triumph in the 20 years since Katrina and the Waves won with Love Shine a Light.
The intervening years have seen Jemini infamously score nil points in 2003, while two years ago Electro Velvet achieved just five points.
“For the first three or four years I watched it as a fan before I realised how bad we were,” laughs Jamie, who is studying broadcast journalism.
“I think in the last few years we’ve had countries taking it far more seriously than before.
“The likes of Sweden have introduced all sorts of heats and festivals and now they’ve won it three times in the last seven years.
“All the countries that win don’t just think about the song but the staging and what happens during their performance. People need to remember you after goodness knows how many performances from other countries.”
Reflecting on the UK’s lack of recent success, Jamie says: “It’s also political of course. Since the Iraq War in 2003 it’s gone a bit pear-shaped for us and a lot of countries have not voted for us.
“We’ve tried to bring in big names such as Blue, Bonnie Tyler and Englebert Humperdick to see if that would work, but it hasn’t.”
So what chance does this year’s entry have?
“I remember thinking after the Brexit vote that we’d never win again and that it could cause a huge amount of damage to our reputation. But we have a good song this year and Lucie Jones is very talented,” he says.
“It’s not a song you’d maybe associate with Eurovision, but she’s revamped it and now it sounds a lot better. They’ve also worked on the staging which could improve things, so I hope we could have a top 10 finish.
“People forget that there’s more than 40 performers so it is now very difficult to win it.”
Jamie, who is originally from Malpas, usually concentrates on sport when he appears on the radio, but this week sees him present coverage of both semi-finals and the final on Saturday.
“I’ll be doing a build-up show from 4pm to 6pm when I’ll play a few of the songs and talk about who’s in with a chance,” he adds.
“Then when the programme starts at 8pm I’ll be wearing my Union Jack T-shirt and having a few whiskies and hopefully have a brilliant night.”
Tune in to Calon FM on 105FM.
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