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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 3 March 2021

James Newman to represent the UK in Eurovision

The English singer-songwriter won a Brit Award in 2014

The United Kingdom's Eurovision 2020 representative James Newman — BBC
The United Kingdom's Eurovision 2020 representative James Newman — BBC

James Newman remains the UK contestant for Eurovision.

With the annual song competition scrapped in 2020 owing to the unfolding pandemic, the English singer-songwriter retained his position as the UK’s choice when Eurovision returns in the Netherlands from Wednesday, May 18 to Sunday, May 22.

Organisers assured competitors measures are in place to ensure the show goes on this year, albeit in limited scale.

It is reported the competition is exploring running the event under two scenarios: a live show with reduced audiences or a hybrid model featuring pre-recorded performances from contestants unable to travel because of the pandemic.

If the latter format was to go ahead, new Eurovision rules state: "The recording will take place in real time (as it would be at the contest) without making any edits to the vocals or any part of the performance itself after the recording."

Who is James Newman?

The singer-songwriter is a proven winner behind the scenes.

In 2014, he nabbed the marquee Brit Award for British Single of the Year as co-writer of Waiting All Night by drum and bass crew Rudimental.

His songwriting career went to the next level when he collaborated with EDM star Calvin Harris for the European chart topper Blame. Newman also composed tracks, Let 'Em Talk for Kesha's 2017 comeback album Rainbow and 2018's Coping for RnB singer Toni Braxton.

It was in 2016 that he began to emerge as a burgeoning pop singer in his own right with a string of singles including 2020's well received My Last Breath, which he will perform for the ceremony.

A low bar

With Newman competing, it means the UK will, once again, be sending a relatively high-profile contestant when it comes to the western pop music world.

But star power doesn’t always mean success.

The UK has sent plenty of big names to the Eurovision, only to return empty-handed.

In 2011, they newly reformed but well-past-their-prime boyband Blue travelled to Germany, where they came 11th.

The following year, the UK went further back in time with their entry, sending 1960s crooner Engelbert Humperdinck, who cut a classy figure on stage in Azerbaijan. However, his performance earned him the ignominious second last position of 25th.

In 2013, celebrated Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler made a slightly better impression in Sweden, coming in 15th place.

Newman is undoubtedly hoping that his songwriting smarts will result in a decent showing for the UK this year. Then again, considering the experience of previous contestants, expectation for success is, understandably, not that high.

Updated: February 21, 2021 04:04 PM

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