Come Back by Jessica Garlick is the only UK entry in the last 18 years to have finished inside the Top 3. Compare that to the UK’s record at their first 18 contests where they reached the Top 3 no less than 12 times and you can see how the once mighty musical behemoth has become a Eurovision minnow, an also-ran.
It’s possible that Jessica might have done better than 3rd, she could even have been the UK’s sixth winner had she not been drawn to perform second. Without doubt Come Back is a much better song than 2002’s victor I Wanna by Marie N, but Marie had a more favourable draw – performing the penultimate song, and whereas the second-to-last slot has provided the winner four times (Après Toi in 1972; Love Shine a Light in 1997; I Wanna in 2002; Believe in 2008), no song has ever won from second place, and in 61 years only two songs in that position besides Come Back have finished inside the Top 3: I Belong by Kathy Kirby (2nd in 1965) and Dinle by Şebnem Paker (3rd in 1997, see No. 465).
Moreover Eurovision classics like L’amour Est Bleu (4th in 1967) and Ooh Aah…Just A Little Bit (8th in 1996) were both huge international hits but under-performed at the contest at least partly because they were both drawn in that dreaded second spot. It’s doubtful whether L’amour Est Bleu would have won in 1967 – Puppet On A String was always going to romp away with the title that year. While in 1996 the field was too strong – and Gina G’s live vocal too weak – for Ooh Aah…Just A Little Bit to triumph, but both would surely have improved on their placings had they had a different draw. 2002, however, was a relatively weak year and a strong case could be made for Come Back winning if it had been performed later on in the evening. Not only 2002, but the first three years of the new millennium were something of a low point for Eurovision with all three contests sparsely represented in our Top 500. In 2001 both the winning song (Everybody by Tanel Padar & Dave Benton) and the runner-up (Never Let You Go by Rollo & King) miss out on a place in the countdown, and there’s no place either for the Top 2 the following year (I Wanna and 7th Wonder by Ira Losco). It’s not until 2003 that things begin to pick up again; there are ten entries from 2003 in our chart whereas Come Back is the first of only six from 2002.
Jessica Garlick was born in Derby but grew up in Carmarthenshire in Wales. She is one of six Welsh singers to have represented the UK at Eurovision: Mary Hopkin (1970), Nicky Stevens of Brotherhood Of Man (1976), Emma Booth (1990), James Fox (2004), Bonnie Tyler (2013) and Joe Wolford of Joe & Jake (2016). Cyprus also once chose a Welshman to represent them at the contest; in 2010 Jon Lilygreen of Newport finished 21st with Life Looks Better In Spring.