01 March 2020

2020: United Kingdom: My Last Breath: James Newman


United Kingdom
Artist: James Newman
Song: My Last Breath
Automatic Finalist

These days the announcement of the United Kingdom's Eurovision songs comes with a large serving of trepidation and so it was with mixed feelings that I awaited the arrival of 2020's offering, James Newman's My Last Breath.

United Kingdom Flag
To find this year's hopeful, the British public was bypassed in favour of a collaboration between the BBC and a major record label. This change was a concerted effort to prise the UK out of the bottom five and lift the nation onto the left hand side of the scoreboard. The task was taken on by BMG which approached award-winning songwriter James Newman - the brother of successful vocalist John - who decided to accept what must seem like a daunting prospect. Having collaborated with some of the biggest names in recent music business history, he now steps into the spotlight as a featured vocalist.

As we all know, it has been in excess of twenty years since the Brits have stood on the winner's podium and various (sloppy) explanations have been given as to why - ranging from Iraq to neighbourly voting to, more recently, Brexit. In truth, it's been because the songs have just not been good enough. So, can James  change the UK's fortunes in 2020?

The simple answer is probably not. But that comes with a caveat: it was always going to take something astounding to bring the Brits back to the top of the scoreboard - although not astounding, My Last Breath feels like a huge leap in the right direction.

The song feels very current - a blend of what has been popular over the past few years: elements of Ed Sheeran and Lewis Capaldi are woven into the structure of this mid-tempo, drum pounding ballad. There's a clever (hesitant) hook in the chorus which, after a couple of plays, sticks in the memory - so repeated promotion is going to be vital to draw interest.

However, that could be part of the problem with My Last Breath. Does it possess sufficient impact for first time listeners in May to remember it enough to vote for it? Fantastic staging and a credible live performance should enhance its chances greatly.

If that's achieved, it could mean the UK hands the wooden spoon to someone else in May. That said, it's also highly unlikely to be the winner.

What do you think?

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