With the acts for the UK National Final, “Eurovision – You Decide” announced on Monday, and the show happening tonight, we’ve been busy chasing down the contestants to chat about their lives, the songs they will be singing and their plans for the event which will be broadcast live from the O2 Forum, Kentish Town, London
We caught up with one of them, Matthew James, during his whirlwind preparations to learn more about him and his song “A Better Man”
Matthew, how did you get to be involved in the selection process?
A friend approached me looking for a singer for a song that had already been selected as one of the final 10 for the UK Eurovision selection. I loved the song as soon as I heard it and having always been a massive Eurovision fan jumped at the chance to sing it!
You are best known to the public as being lead singer of Bad Boys Inc in the early 90’s – what do you remember about those times?
I have some amazing memories of what was a rollercoaster of a time in Bad Boys Inc! I was thrown in at the deep end with auditioning down the phone to the producer Ian Levine. The original lead singer of the band had walked out and they were looking for someone to replace him. I had to sing Careless Whisper to Ian who make me stop halfway through and said can you sing it higher? I obliged and within the next hour I was driving over to his studio in Chiswick to go and meet him and the rest of the boys. 24 hours and a haircut and beard trim later, I was at Alton Towers with the rest of the band doing a shoot for fast forward magazine! It all happened so fast and nine days later we were signed to A&M Records. We got to do some incredible things and work with amazing people in our two year career! We flew around the world performing on TV and at big outdoor concerts one of which was for 150,000 people in Denmark. The only downside for me and the rest of the boys was the political problems with management producers and the like! We never felt like we were involved creatively as a band and it was something that we wanted to do and push ourselves to our maximum limits. The music for us always seemed secondary as many people in media and fans alike loved us but didn’t like the music! I wouldn’t have changed anything for the world because the experience I learnt from being in the band has taught me to be the man I am today…a better man 😉
Your song for the selection is, indeed, “A Better Man”. The lyrics are full of emotion, including such gems as “With a single word you make me who I am” what does this song mean to you on a personal level? Are you singing it to anyone in particular?
The song got to me both lyrically and melodically from the moment I heard it. Things like that happen in your life and it just feels so natural and so perfect. I think anyone can relate to this song because everyone is searching for love, and ‘the one’. That person that allows them to be the best they can be and makes them feel alive…almost invincible.
I’m lucky to have found that person. The person I will be marrying this September in Santorini. I do believe that there is someone out there for everyone. You just have to be open and receptive to accept love no matter who you are or your beliefs. I think that people can relate to the song as it is empowering and uplifting and I think this shows when I’m performing it live too.
Have you been in contact with the other entrants at all? Did you know who you would be up against before the official reveal on Monday?
We had seen each other very briefly at our first meeting with the production team for the BBC. So I got to have a brief chat with a couple of the acts. Everyone has been so lovely and supportive of each other. There is no rivalry and I think Friday is going to be very exciting for all of us.
What are your thoughts on the staging for tonight’s show? Is it likely to be the same as the staging you would take to Stockholm if you win?
Not at all! We are trying to get across the act and the song on Friday. There is a very distinguished panel who will be discussing ideas as to how they see each individual acts and song staged in May in Sweden. It’s a great way of people then discussing what they think will be best for the individual song and for the UK. We are still trying to give a great performance that is also visually quite stunning. The stage in Stockholm this year looks incredible. I love how each year the Eurovision song contest just gets bigger and better. I’d be very happy with any suggestions that either the panel, or those with insight, come up with as to how they would see my song staged in Stockholm in May.
Is there anything that we need to know about Matthew James, the man?
(Laughs) considering that I have been singing professionally since 1993 and have travelled the world both with Bad Boys Inc and my current band Madhen. I am a pretty laid-back guy who loves to spend time with friends and family when not on the road. Travelling is fun and I’ve been to some incredible places around the world to perform. But for me nothing beats being with friends and family and spending quality time with them and also my gorgeous French Bulldogs: Fortnum & Mason. I’m a passionate guy who loves to enjoy life and experience many different things. Even the darkest times in our lives contain our biggest lessons, if everything was always plain sailing life would be pretty dull. This past week has been phenomenal, but I seem to be that type of person who is very good at adapting to situations no matter what life throws at me.
Thank you Matthew for taking the time to answer our questions, and we will all be watching intently this evening for what promises to be a fascinating National Final. The program will be broadcast live on UK BBCFour at 2030CET, or via www.eurovision.tv on the web player.
ESCBubble will, of course, be live blogging the event as well, so you can join us here for insight and comments on each of the six competitors
Watch Matthew James’ “A Better Man” below