|Country||: United Kingdom|
|Song||: I Can|
'Me and Lee were in the studio just before Christmas,' explains Duncan James, 'and we wrote a song that sounded like it would be perfect for a World Cup soundtrack.' The song is called I Can; an anthemic number, dedicated to the idea of possibility and triumph. However Duncan, Lee, Simon and Antony - the full four boys in Blue - encountered one initial hiccup.
'There isn't actually a World Cup until 2014,' notes Lee Ryan, co-author. 'So we thought: Olympics? That's not until 2012.' And then an unusual suggestion dropped on their electronic doormat from the BBC. Would Blue like to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest, as The UK's representatives? The idea took some shape in the minds of Blue. Was it madness or genius?
'But the more we thought about this, the more it made a totally weird kind of sense,' adds Antony Costa. 'We are probably the best country at pop music on the continent. Why haven't we won it since 1997?' The BBC's proposition turned on a sixpence from sounding like an elegant joke into a serious throwing down of the gauntlet.
Between 2001 and 2004, Blue were Britain's premium pop export to Europe. They enjoyed 40 number one singles across the continent. Blue sold 13 million albums, from their precision-tooled debut All Rise, to the more contemplative parting shot, Guilty.
In its various incarnations, I Can has been shipped back and forth between recording sessions in London and Norway, where it has been fashioned into a 21st century pop anthem with blue chip producers Stargate Norway. 'To get them involved in Eurovision is something else,' says Simon. Lee, Simon, Duncan and Antony have half an album ready to go and are champing at the bit to get back into the studio for more. 'This really does just feel like the beginning again,' says Lee.
Why now for the reformation? 'We had unfinished business left,' says Duncan, 'me and Simon and Lee went on holiday to Miami at the end of last year and realised that the ten year anniversary was a great starting point for a new era. We're still the best of friends. We've supported each other in everything we've done outside of the band, from acting to singing to playing night after night on the West End stage.'
Their individual journeys over the last six years have taken in some heady heights. Opening the West End original cast of Legally Blonde and two starring stints as Billy Flynn in Chicago for Duncan. A recent stretch in Blood Brothers for Antony. Two solo albums and a trip into movie stardom alongside Vinnie Jones for Lee. And a further two solo records that clocked up over a million sales and No.1's across Europe for Simon, the lead track on the Fantastic Four movie, alongside three weeks with Whoopi Goldberg in the West End in Sister Act.
‘I’ve been here before,’ says Duncan, referring to the battle to change a nation’s thinking on the international reputation of the Eurovision Song Contest. ‘When we started on Legally Blonde the expectations could not have been lower. Everyone thought it would be a disaster. And look how that turned out.’
‘We can do this,’ he finishes, and the rest of the boys in Blue nod in agreement.