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Eurovision 2021: James Newman’s UK entry song Embers reviewed - ‘The most fun we’ve had in years’

·2-min read
<p>James Newman</p> (Victor Frankowski)

James Newman

(Victor Frankowski)

In desperate search of a silver lining to tack onto this unending crapstorm of a pandemic, no matter how faint? Here’s one: with all that’s happened in the last year, it would be something close to criminal for the UK to enter this year’s Eurovision Song Contest with another dreary ballad. So they haven’t.

It’s not that ballads aren’t Eurovision-friendly — they have triumphed before. It’s just that My Last Breath, James Newman’s entry for the 2020 edition of the contest (which got cancelled due to You Know What) had none of the heartstring-tugging heft needed to win over the continent.

Maybe it was a blessing in disguise that the song never got its time in the spotlight, because Newman’s latest effort, Embers, is a whole lot better. For one, it’s upbeat. Mercifully so, in fact. It is a pretty by-the-numbers dance-pop track — with some faint steel dreams in the intro, plucky pianos and hand claps in the chorus, and fairly ambiguous lyrics about how “you and I are gonna light up the room” — but it’s most certainly the most fun this nation has had with its entry since the ever so slightly unhinged electro swing of Still in Love with You from 2015.

Will it be enough to win over our friends across the Channel? This is of course the first Eurovision to take place since You Know What (no, not that You Know What, the other You Know What… the one that begins with a B and rhymes with shmexit). Only time will tell, but Newman will certainly be up against some stiff competition, not least from Iceland’s returning hero, Daði Freyr.

But with all the buoyant vibes that have been packed into the track, it seems like the UK has a pretty decent shot of avoiding any nil points catastrophes. With the national psyche in its current state, that can only be a good thing.

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