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  • Writer's pictureSamuel Lee

5, 6, 7, 8 (points?): Connections between Steps and Eurovision

Photo courtesy of BBC

This week 25 years ago in 1998, British pop group Steps' debut single '5, 6, 7, 8' reached the top of the Australian charts. To celebrate the silver anniversary of this event, we have decided to look back at the connections between the band and Eurovision.

In recent years both Steps and Eurovision fans have often suggested the group could be excellent UK representatives to the contest. However, as we will reveal, the connection between Steps and Europe's largest singing competition goes back even further.

1997: Almost Eurovision debut

The current and most famous line-up of Steps consists of Ian "H" Watkins, Lisa Scott-Lee, Claire Richards, Faye Tozer and Lee Latchford-Evans - however the latter three members were not in the initial band. They replaced Maddy Chan, Mitch Stevens and Derek O'Brien in May 1997.

The original line-up of Steps was formed in November 1996 to perform the newly composed '5, 6, 7, 8'. According to an interview with Now Magazine in 2001, former band member Derek revealed Steps were showcased to many record labels, one of whom suggested that the band make their debut at Eurovision. This presumably would have involved first competing at The Great British Song Contest, which was used in 1997 as the UK selection for the Europe-wide show.

However - just as the Eurovision suggestion was made - Derek, Mitch and Maddy left the band, resulting in new auditions for Steps having to be organised around the time of the UK national final.

Had Steps participated in the national final they likely would have faced stiff competition, given Katrina and the Waves ultimately won The Great British Song Contest in 1997 and Eurovision itself. Yet the idea of Steps performing '5, 6, 7, 8' at Eurovision 1997 remains fascinating.

2004, 2005 and 2006: Scott-Lee for Eurovision

Steps member Lisa Scott-Lee is not the only talented musician in her family. Her three brothers Steve, Ant and Andy Scott-Lee have all attempted music careers, with the latter two even trying to represent the UK at Eurovision.

Ant was part of the four-piece boyband Hyrise that performed 'Leading Me On' at Eurovision: Making Your Mind Up, the UK Eurovision national selection in 2004. Interestingly one of his band members was actor Ben Barnes, who would later rise to fame playing Prince Caspian in The Chronicles of Narnia film series. Hyrise finished runners-up in the national selection behind James Fox who performed 'Hold Onto Our Love'. The latter would place 16th at Eurovision.

The following year Andy tried his luck as a solo artist to represent the UK at Eurovision. 2005 was a star-studded national selection. Australia's Gina G, who had already represented the UK at Eurovision with 'Ooh Aah ... Just a Little Bit' in 1996, was competing with her song 'Flashback'. The most famous entrant was arguably Katie Price (aka Jordan), who sang 'Not Just Anybody'. Andy performed 'Guardian Angel', which was co-written by Lee Ryan. Lee would eventually represent the UK at Eurovision 2011 with his band Blue.

However it was neither Andy, Gina or Katie who triumphed at the national selection in 2005. Javine, who sang 'Touch My Fire', won the right to represent the UK in Kyiv, where she ultimately finished 22nd. Eagle-eye viewers though will notice when Javine went to shake hands with runner-up Katie, Lisa was seated next to her brother Andy in the green room.

2016: Eurobeat Moldova

In 2016 Steps member Lee Latchford-Evan starred in the musical Eurobeat Moldova at the Edinburgh Festival. The show was based around the premise of Moldova hosting Eurovision.

Lee played one of the hosts Nikola Nikovsky, who was described as being a frothy pop star who had won Moldova's Got Talent for three consecutive years. The show was described as "the world's first interactive musical", as audience members could vote for their favourite entry from the ten participants. In an interview on Lorraine, Lee said this meant "there could be a different winner every [show], so we have to be on our toes." You can watch the full interview below.

2018: Winner of OGAE Song Contest

In 2018 Steps' single 'Scared of the Dark', won the 2018 OGAE Song Contest, which is one of the competitions organised by the network of Eurovision fanclubs 'OGAE'.

According to the official OGAE website the OGAE Song Contest "is designed to promote national music and singers from competing countries, and to give them wider exposure across member clubs." Songs in this competition are not allowed to have taken part in any Eurovision national selection process. 'Scared of the Dark' was declared the winner of the contest with 230 points.

2020: Melodifestivalen Cover

In 2020 Steps launched their sixth studio album 'What the Future Holds'. The second single off the album was a cover of 'Something in Your Eyes'. This song was first performed by Jenny Silver in Melodifestivalen 2011 - Sweden's national Eurovision selection. Jenny qualified to the second-chance part of the contest, where she was eliminated. 'Something in Your Eyes' was actually co-written by Thomas G:son, who has also helped compose both of Loreen's winning Eurovision entries 'Euphoria' in 2012 and 'Tattoo' in 2023.

You can watch Steps' version of 'Something in Your Eyes' below.

2021 and 2022: Considering whether to compete

In recent years there has been debate amongst Eurovision fans, the British media and amongst Steps members, about whether the band should represent the UK at Eurovision.

In an interview with Daily Star Sunday columnist Ed Gleave, Steps revealed the opinions of the individual band members regarding a Eurovision participation. Faye stated:

"H would do it tomorrow. Lisa and Claire would probably want to do it as well. But I [and Lee are] not so much in favour of it."

Lee went on to say "We'd like to do it for the experience if all the other bits weren't there - the nil points, the politics."

In an interview with the BBC's Mark Savage, the biggest Eurovision enthusiast out of the band H said, "It's a huge joyous, celebration of all things pop and I adore it."

However H also mentioned he felt "Now it's more of a political contest than a song contest."

In that same interview Claire stated, "The thing is, I can see exactly why people would want us to do it. But I think, because of the legacy that we have in the band, I wouldn't want anything to bring us down from there."

So it looks like Steps won't be competing on the Eurovision stage anytime soon.

2023: Eurovision Village

A Steps member though did make it to a Eurovision-related stage. In Liverpool, around the time of the contest, Claire performed at Eurovision Village.

In an interview with The Guide Liverpool before her performance, Claire mentioned that she is a big fan of Eurovision, and watches the final every year. 2023 though is the first year that Claire has watched the semi-finals, which she described as "really interesting." You can watch the full interview below:

Steps left a big impact on Australia reaching no.1 in 1998 with '5, 6, 7, 8'. Their infectious up-beat tunes, meant the idea of them representing the UK at Eurovision has often been floated. Although we probably won't see them competing at the Europe-wide show, it is evident that most of the band members enjoy the contest, and it is likely we will continue to see connections between Steps and Eurovision in the future.

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