The United Kingdom’s run of form at the Eurovision Song Contest in the last decade was not great. Their best result was 11th place with Blue’s “I Can” back in 2011, and they started and ended the 2010s with last place finishes.
When the BBC announced they were partnering up with BMG to internally select this year’s entry, we were intrigued. Our impression has been that the British music industry hasn’t been interested in bolstering the United Kingdom’s chances. We could be wrong about that, of course, but the fact that BMG’s participation was seen as a big deal confirmed that impression in our mind. So is this the moment where the UK turns a corner?
James Newman is a singer and songwriter who has penned songs for Kaiser Chiefs, Kesha, Guy Sebastian, and Toni Braxton. Oh, and his brother John Newman. He won a Brit Award as one of the authors of Rudimental’s 2013 single “Waiting All Night.” He has been a featured vocalist on a number of songs, most notably Armin van Buuren’s “Therapy,” which made it up to 26 on the Dutch Top 100 singles chart in 2018.
We have posited a couple of times before that the United Kingdom has settled on a certain sound for their Eurovision entries. It hasn’t been particularly successful, so at first listen, we were a bit surprised that “My Last Breath” fits snugly into that style.
Still, it’s a really good example of that sunny, inspirational pop sound. It does the strangest thing in the chorus: the word “breath” is isolated on the track and accentuated by James and the backing vocalists. It’s jarring at first, but it makes perfect sense in the context of the lyrics: it’s that last breath he’s giving you when you have nothing left. More to the point, we heard “BREATH – Whoa-oh-Oh-oh-ooh” just once and the chorus nestled comfortably into our heads.
Whenever we discuss Eurovision entries, we often ask ourselves “How would this do at Melodifestivalen?” And we think “My Last Breath” would go direct to the final. Maybe that’s a silly assumption, but Victor Crone went direct to this year’s Melodifestivalen final with a similar song in both style and lyrical content, and we think “My Last Breath” is a much better song than that. Well done.
Apropos of nothing else, unless it hints at the United Kingdom’s staging plans, the official video for “My Last Breath” is pretty brilliant. It’s just James wandering around a snowy forest while Wim “The Iceman” Hof does Wim “The Iceman” Hof things. Yet it does a good job of illustrating the story of the song. The footage of Wim jumping into the river right as the drums kick back in and James sings “If we were deep sea divers” gives us the tingling spines.
Plus Wim is Dutch, so we’d like to believe it’s a sly reference to where the Song Contest is being held this year.