HUMPERDINCK HOPES FOR EUROVISION SUCCESS
Engelbert Humperdinck is the surprise choice to represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 on Saturday May 26th in Baku, Azerbaijan, with "Love Will Set You Free". The three minute ballad was co-written by Ivor Novello Award-winning writer Sacha Skarbek, who has previously worked with James Blunt, Adele and Lana Del Rey; and co-written and produced by Grammy award-winning Martin Terefe, who has worked with James Morrison among many others. The 75 year-old "Hump" is signed to UK indie label Conehead Records, who will release the single and a new album shortly. Both the artist and song were chosen by the BBC as a "done deal" without any competitive element from the UK songwriter community.
It is hoped the song will place higher than UK entries over the last few years, which have included boy band Blue who finished 11th, 25th-placed Josh Dubovie and Andrew Lloyd Webber's protégé Jade Ewen who finished 5th. Humperdinck said: "I have my eyes on the prize with my song 'Love Will Set You Free'. "I'm very proud of the song and with the nation behind me, I feel ready and look forward to the rollercoaster ride that is Eurovision.' Derek McLean, BBC Creative Director Entertainment, added: "It is a soaring ballad that has been crafted by some of the best people in music. With credentials like these, and our very own music legend on vocals, this year our Eurovision entry is second to none."
Humperdinck is the oldest ever Eurovision contestant and if he wins, will be the UK's first victor since Katrina and the Waves 15 years ago. Born Arnold Dorsey, he has already sold more than 150 million records worldwide during his 45 year career but has not had a UK top 20 single for 40 years. He scored a UK number one with Les Reed & Barry Mason's "The Last Waltz" and had other hits including "There Goes My Everything" and "A Man Without Love". The singer has received four Grammy nominations, a Golden Globe for Entertainer of the Year and has a star on both the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Las Vegas Walk of Fame.
Despite praise, the song faces stiff competition from other entries across Europe. The early favourite, from Russian band Buranovskiye Babushki, is a song entitled "Party For Everybody" performed by six traditionally-dressed grandmothers. The enthusiastic pensioners are set to defy stereotypes and critics with their jolly offering, an upbeat track which has had preliminary audiences on their feet. They will go up against 42 entries, including Ireland's pop twins Jedward returning for the second year, who show off their trademark hyperactive style in the uptempo "Waterline".
The 20 countries represented in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest will be decided by two semi-finals, broadcast live on BBC Three at 8pm on Tuesday 22nd and Thursday 24th May. Ten countries from each semi-final will go through to the grand final along with the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and host country Azerbaijan. The final will be held on Saturday, May 26th in Baku, Azerbaijan and will be broadcast live on BBC One and BBC One HD.