Josh Dubovie is the gentleman with the weight of the UK’s Eurovision hopes on him this evening. He’ll be representing the country at the annual song competition with ‘That Sounds Good To Me’. The song’s had its fair bit of controversy surrounding it, but it’s true to say that it’s now got its fair share of hardcore followers too. Here in Oslo, the Eurovision fans from the UK and beyond are looking at it with a certain amount of affection. Josh’s performance of it in rehearsals has been great, and the staging of the song itself is visually impressive. It’s also been one of the uptempo reliefs in a Euroclub full of slower songs this year. The overwhelming majority of its supporters all cite the same reasons for liking it too; ”it’s all a bit of fun”.
There are critics of the song too though. A lot of them. But fortunately for Josh (and deservedly so), the song’s critics aren’t aiming their vitriol at him – that’s being reserved for the song’s creator, the much more famous Pete Waterman. We’re chanelling a certain amount of criticism towards Pete ourselves too. He’s not a fan of Eurovision at all, he ‘s said that on many occasions before, and had always ridiculed the idea when asked if he’d ever write a song for Eurovision. That’s fair enough of course, but it’s rather annoying that when he did finally agree to take a cheque for contributing to Eurovision, he allowed his detestment of the contest get in the way of writing a song that would be good enough for it. He instead produced a track that he felt would be fitting for the way he looked upon Eurovision; ”oh this will do, no matter what I compose it’ll still be far better than anything else on that stage that night”. Hmmm.
But that’s just Pete. The song we can now enjoy, and Josh is absolutely great as its performer. So we met up with him this week here in Oslo for a chat about everything; his experience of Eurovision, what he thought of the song, and of all of the good and bad press surrounding it.
scandipop: Hi Josh, so how have your first few days been here in Oslo?
Josh: Very good thank you. Although I spent my first days in Scandinavia sitting on a coach and in a ferry! But it was good because I could see a lot of it out the window, and Norway is a beautiful country. Everyone’s been really welcoming too. And last night at the Euroclub my song was playing, and everyone was singing along and dancing, so that was great.
scandipop: Oh that’s a nice feeling I imagine!
Josh: Yeah it’s very cool.
scandipop: Ok. And what are you favourite songs this year?
Josh: My opinion keeps on changing really. But one song that tops everything at the moment I think is Harel Skaat, ‘Words’. The Israeli entry. I think it’s a lovely ballad, and it just keeps growing and growing. And then when you think it can’t grow anymore, it just gets even bigger!
scandipop: Yeah that last minute is pretty special isn’t it?!
Josh: It is, it’s brilliant, I really like it. But also some other entries that I like are the Spanish entry. I met him actually which was really nice. But there’s so much strong competition this year that it’s hard to decide the best really.
scandipop: Did you listen to all of the songs before coming here then? Or have you only really started listening in the last week or so?
Josh: Not all of them, no. I think I’ve mostly concentrated on my own performance more than anything. But then I did go through all of them last week. Ha ha, I actually sat down with my Mum and we gave each of them votes out of 12. I can’t remember who won though, I think it was Spain or Germany. So that was good, but it’s nice to meet them too and say hello.
scandipop: We saw your first few rehearsals at the weekend, and we have to say that the UK’s performance is one of the most visually impressive. We really like the light boxes and the backing dancers and the dresses of the backing dancers! The song really comes alive in the arena. But how did you think your first rehearsals in the arena went? How did it feel?
Josh: I think that the first rehearsal was trying to get my head around the size of the huge Telenor arena, it’s pretty amazing. And then the second rehearsal was me trying to get my performance down. But it’s gone really well. And they’ve done a great job getting those light boxes, they look really good.
scandipop: They really do. Ok, and of the rehearsals you’ve seen of other countries this year, who else has impressed you visually?
Josh: I think the pyro-technics during the Norwegian song are absolutely fantastic. And he’s got a huge voice too, it sounds amazing. But yeah, I’ve seen a few now, but it’s that one that really stands out for me.
scandipop: Ok. Eurovision in the UK, whilst being well loved, isn’t really held in very high regard, compared to in some other countries. It isn’t seen as being in any way credible at all. So were you surprised when you got here, to see just how seriously other countries take it?
Josh: No, I think that everyone I’ve been surrounded by at the moment actually has taken Eurovision very seriously. In the Your Country Needs You final, everyone there was a fan of Eurovision, and I’ve been surrounded by everyone who loves it. And that’s all I’ve seen really, I haven’t seen anyone who doesn’t enjoy it. And now especially, I think that last year helped, with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jade Ewen doing well. So I think that now people look at it with a more positive attitude and think, ”oh now actually we have a shot at this”.
scandipop: Yeah I think before that, people just thought that the UK never stood a chance again really.
Josh: Exactly, and so that’s what needed to happen. And hopefully we can follow in their footsteps!
scandipop: Ok, and staying with the UK now, how have you found the experience of being the UK’s Eurovision entry? All of the media focus, and being the topic of so much discussion. Has it been even bigger than you expected?
Josh: It’s been completely surreal. If I’m being totally honest with you, I didn’t have a clue what to expect. I’ve taken everything with open arms and it’s been great. Whatever happens, I’ll just enjoy the whole moment. But everybody’s been so supportive so far. I come from Basildon and they’ve had posters up everywhere and I’ve people greeting me in the street saying ”good luck mate”! So yeah it’s been quite positive so far, and I hope that I can do everyone proud, I really do.
scandipop: And when you used to watch Eurovision when you were growing up, did you expect that it was going to be this big media circus behind the scenes?!
Josh: No! It’s funny because when you watch it you never really think about what’s going on backstage. You just think about what’s on the stage. I’ve always had dreams about doing it, but I never really thought about all that. And if I did think about, I certainly didn’t think it would be on this huge scale. It’s so well organised for something so big though.
scandipop: Ok. And have you bee reading all of the press articles, both good and bad?
Josh: I’ve read a few yeah. But it’s probably best for me not to. There was one thing that Cheryl Cole said and that’s that you shouldn’t read any press about yourself, good or bad, because if you read something it can boost your ego and if you read something bad then it can make you feel like rubbish. But yeah occasionally I treat myself and I’ll read a few things. Because reading constructive criticism is what I need, for people to say it was good but that I needed to do this or that.
scandipop: Ok. We think the song really comes to life on stage, and our favourite part is during the first verse when the beat kicks in. But what do you like best about the song?
Josh: I love the beginning, being in the box. And the intro, that sound effect gets my heart going. But also I love the last notes as well, because I think that it’s such a crescendo. So hopefully people will get involved on the night and sing along.
scandipop: And the song itself was altered and changed quite a bit between the Your Country Needs You final and the version we have now. Did Pete Waterman and Mike Stock consult you along the way with any of the changes?
Josh: I think it’s difficult to write a song for six acts, so when they found out that I’d won, they tried to create a new version that suited me, they incorporated my voice to the instruments. But it was mostly their doing, although I did have a few ideas here and there in the studio. It was a bit of a team effort in that sense.
scandipop: Ok, so I guess they used you as more of an inspiration than anything else.
Josh: Yes. But these guys know what they’re doing of course!
scandipop: Indeed. And best of luck on Saturday night Josh! Thank you.
Josh: Thank you.