There are Eurovision defeats – then there’s the slow, public death the UK had to endure at today’s 2021 Eurovision Song Contest.
The UK’s entry, singer James Newman, watched on as the votes rolled in for his song, Embers – or rather, they didn’t.
Modern Eurovision voting is split into two categories: Each country’s jury votes go first, with their public votes to follow.
It’s an interesting process and often exposes a deep divide between the acts the juries prefer and those who appeal to the public (this year’s winners, Italy, only leapt up the leaderboard to their winning position thanks to a massive public vote).
Poor Newman ended the first round of jury voting as the only one of 26 acts to score zero points.
When time came to read out the public votes, the UK’s were read first, and once again, Newman scored zero.
This shocking result means not one of the juries of Eurovision’s 39 voting countries chose Embers among their 10 favourite songs of the final. Nor did Embers place in the top 10 of any country’s public vote.
The likelihood of this double-zero placing happening had been deemed “almost impossible” since this new voting system was introduced in 2016 – and indeed, it hadn’t happened before today.
It made for brutal scenes inside the arena, as Newman put on a brave face and his fellow artists rallied around him.
“I honestly don’t know what to say,” BBC commentator Graham Norton said in voiceover as the UK’s dismal result sank in:
Newman wasn’t the only artist to feel a lack of love from the public this year: Germany, the Netherlands and Spain had all scored a handful of jury votes, but got precisely zero love from the public.
The UK has form in this area too, having previously scored the dreaded “nul points” under the old voting system back in 2003, when short-lived pop duo Jemini turned in an off-key performance of their song Cry Baby. It was the first English-language song in Eurovision history to receive no points.
Fans in the UK are posting through the heartbreak and wondering how it all went so wrong – again – for a country that’s not short of brilliant pop stars:
For a bit of perspective, the majority of #Eurovision entries tonight have been hit songs in their home nations. Quite a few have amassed tens of millions of streams. The UK entry got to #42 in the download chart. If your own country can’t support a song, why expect Europe to?
— SHANE REACTION (@imshanereaction) May 22, 2021
Better luck next year, UK. It literally cannot get any worse.
Originally published as UK’s humiliating Eurovision disaster