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By John McKie (23 February, 1997, Sunday Times)
This wannabe Eurovision song will be a smash hit, says John McKie
The word Eurovision conjures up all sorts of ghastly images: the sight of Bucks Fizz members ripping each others' skirts; the attempted rehabilitation of the "careers" of Michael Ball and Sonia; the dubious voting exchanges between Greece and Cyprus; and Ireland winning every year. This year's contest could be slightly more interesting.
The reason is one of the four shortlisted songs to represent Britain. The song has an insistently catchy tune, good vocals, a seaside postcard sense of humour and a suitably European flavour. It is saucily entitled Yodel in the Canyon of Love by Do Re Mi, written by Kenny MacDonald, manager of the Proclaimers, and artist (and no relation) Gordon Macdonald. The tune is sung by 22-year-old Kerry McGregor and features an Austrian-style accordion from Sandy Brechin. Its style could best be described as Gina G in lederhosen. It is absolutely perfect for Eurovision.
"First and foremost I am a manager," explains a slightly shame- faced MacDonald, "I wrote it originally as a country & western song 18 months ago. When you manage the Proclaimers, who write songs of great depth that touch people, I would never write in a serious way. I like cheesy pop with melodic tunes."
Yodel in the Canyon of Love is cheesy enough to merit a dairy produce sign on its cover. As if to prove the point, Jonathan King, the organiser of Eurovision for the past three years and a friend of MacDonald, persuaded him to enter it. "I have been saying for a year this ought to be a smash hit," says King. "It will break into the charts even if it doesn't represent Britain."
MacDonald had already road-tested the song as a promotional record to pubs and clubs and the reaction is surely a sign of things to come. "Anywhere that was remotely cool called me a son of Satan but in pubs and discos, especially around 11 o'clock, it got a great reaction. Obviously it will be hated by one half of the population." The half of the population who take themselves seriously, one presumes.
The Edinburgh pair have already received the support of Bill Drummond who, as a founder of the KLF, left a dead sheep on stage at the Brit Awards and allegedly helped to burn Pounds 1m. If that looked like bizarre behaviour, worse came from Drummond two weeks ago when he phoned in to Radio 2 to vote for the song to be shortlisted. The Proclaimers, less surprisingly, also voted for their manager's record.
The Eurovision Song Contest is as likely as skiffle to be described as cutting edge but that does not concern MacDonald. "The music industry should stop trying to gear towards the New Musical Express reader. The London music industry is obsessed with coolness and credibility. There should be an avenue for people to make fun songs. The Real McCoy, Ace of Base, Gina G - their songs are huge across the world." Gina G's Ooh Aah...Just a Little Bit, last year's British entry, has since sold 14m copies worldwide. King has no doubt that the international pulling power of Eurovision could benefit the Scots: "With Gina G it launched a career with Warner Brothers, and 2m of her albums have just been shipped over to the United States. Kerry is a very talented young singer and I hope it will break her into the public awareness."
Just to remind you that his day job is still as a manager, MacDonald is keen that the exposure should benefit McGregor before anyone else. She, despite being disabled, has already appeared on Top of the Pops with tartan techno act QFX. "It's a laugh for me," says MacDonald, "but I'm much more excited for Kerry, who's going to get a platform to sing in front of potentially 30m people." About 18m should have seen last night's appearance on the national lottery programme and Do Re Mi are already thinking about the grand final.
"The idea of Purple Zorro outfits would fit in quite naturally," muses MacDonald, "but one thing we will not be doing is dressing in lederhosen." As for winning in Dublin in the spring, King is undecided. "It could win the whole thing and be a total smash," he said, before adding quickly, "or the European judging panels might look at it straight-faced and say ' nul points '."
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There is nothing wrong with Michael Balls career. Theatre performer,concert artist, tv presenter, recording artist, radio broadcaster and that's just for starters.