Love Shine a Light

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"Love Shine a Light"
Single by Katrina and the Waves
from the album Walk on Water
Released 1997
Genre Pop
Writer(s) Kimberley Rew
Katrina and the Waves singles chronology
"Walking on Sunshine"
(re-issue)
(1997)
"Love Shine a Light"
(1997)
"Walk on Water"
(1997)
United Kingdom "Love Shine a Light"
Eurovision Song Contest 1997 entry
Country United Kingdom
Artist(s) Katrina Leskanich,
Kimberley Rew,
Vince de la Cruz,
Alex Cooper,
Miriam Stockley
As Katrina & the Waves
Language English
Composer(s) Kimberley Rew
Lyricist(s) Kimberley Rew
Conductor Don Airey
Finals performance
Final result 1st
Final points 227
Appearance chronology
◄ "Ooh Aah... Just a Little Bit" (1996)   
"Where Are You?" (1998) ►

"Love Shine a Light" was the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 1997, performed by Katrina and the Waves as the 1997 Eurovision entrant by the UK. It is the group's biggest success since "Walking on Sunshine" 12 years earlier.

Composition/Great British Song Contest[edit]

The song was composed by the groups's guitarist and regular songwriter Kimberley Rew following a request from the brother of the group's drummer Alex Cooper for an anthem for The Samaritans in recognition of that organization's thirtieth anniversary, Cooper's brother being a member of the Swindon branch of the Samaritans. In a 1997 interview Katrina and the Waves lead vocalist Katrina Leskanich indicated that it was members of the Samaritans who opined that "Love Shine a Light" "was the type of song which would win the Eurovision Song Contest and [so] at the last minute, [Katrina and the Waves] submitted the song with our £250 [entrance fee]" [1] for consideration to vie in the Great British Song Contest, the national preselection round for the UK in Eurovision 1997.

It was also reported that Carmina Cooper, the manager of Katrina and the Waves and the wife of Alex Cooper, met up with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire's breakfast presenter (and Head of Music) Dan Chisholm to play the track for him: Chisholm's response was to urge that the number be entered in the Great British Song Contest, and after affording "Love Shine a Light" its radio airplay debut Chisholm declared it "the song which will win this year's Eurovision Song Contest".

In a 2010 interview Leskanich would state that Great British Song Contest executive producer Jonathan King had in fact initiated Katrina and the Waves involvement in the Great British Contest as he'd contacted Leskanich to ask if her group had a song which might be a suitable contender to vie to become the UK entrant at Eurovision 1997. Leskanich would paraphrase her response to King as being: "Yes, we have this song called 'Love Shine A Light' which we’ve never put on a record because it's too cheesy, too ABBA, too Eurovision, so it would be perfect for you."[2]

Leskanich stated in 2010 that the original plan was that an act other than Katrina and the Waves would be found to perform "Love Shine a Light" for Eurovision consideration but that Warner Bros. Records executive Steve Allan - who Leskanich describes as "a big Eurovision fan...it’s always been his dream to win it" - said: "Look, you guys have a name, we can still do business in Europe. All you need is a hit song, and we want you to do it. And if you do do it we’ll give you a record deal"; adds Leskanich: "So we couldn’t say no." Leskanich would also state that Kimberley Rew had said of Katrina and the Waves pursuing the Eurovision 1997 title with his composition: "I’m not having anything to do with it".[2] In fact Rew would play guitar on stage while Leskanich sang "Love Shine a Light" - Rew being the only instrumentalist onstage -on the March 9, 1997 broadcast of the Great British Song Contest final which program also featured a taped interview with Rew in which he described Eurovision as "one of those great institutions of life"; also Rew accompanied Leskanich onstage to be congratulated for "Love Shine a Light"'s being announced at the UK entrant for Eurovision 1997.[3] However Rew was absent from the Katrina and the Waves performance of "Love Shine a Light" at the Eurovision 1997 final held on May 3, 1997.

One of eight songs aired in the Great British Song Contest semi-final broadcast on BBC Radio 2 on February 7, 1997, "Love Shine a Light" was one of four songs advanced by televote to the Great British Song Contest final. The Great British Song Contest final was a live performance show broadcast by BBC TV on March 9, 1997, at the conclusion of which "Love Shine a Light" was announced as the 1997 UK entrant in Eurovision, the song having received 69,834 televotes – 11,138 more than the second place finisher.[4]

Eurovision 1997 final[edit]

Performance[edit]

On the night of the Eurovision 1997 final – held on May 3, 1997 in the Point Theatre, Dublin – "Love Shine a Light" was performed 24th in a field of 25 songs being preceded by the Croatian entry:"Probudi me", with the Icelandic entry: "Minn hinsti dans", following as the final competitive number of Eurovision 1997.

Leskanich would later state she'd supplied her own outfit for her performance on the Eurovision 1997 finale: "the boys [ie. the Waves] were getting beautiful suits made by William Hunt and my outfit was an afterthought. They came [in] with five different designers and every single outfit made me look like a clown or a chair cover...I ended up wearing this green blouse I’d been wearing all week that I’d bought in the Cambridge market for £3 [with] a [dark velvet] jacket that my sister had sent me, which was a Donna Karan second and it only had one shoulder pad. So while I was doing the song, I had to remember to lift my left shoulder slightly to even it out with the other".[2] She also wore black leather trousers and black high-heeled boots.

The Eurovision 1997 finale performance of "Love Shine a Light" was simply staged with Leskanich singing center stage fronting background vocalists Beverley Skeete and Miriam Stockley: Skeete and Stockley, respectively dark-haired and blonde and clad in long dark dresses, also provided accompaniment with tambourines and handclaps. Two of Leskanich's co-members in Katrina and the Waves: drummer Alex Cooper and bassist Vince de la Cruz, were positioned towards the right side of the stage while guitarist Phil Nichol played guitar stage left.[5] Phil Nichol was not a permanent member of Katrina and the Waves being a substitute for the group's regular guitarist - and the song's composer - Kimberley Rew, who Leskanich would later state had disassociated himself from the group's participating with his song in Eurovision 1997 (although Rew had accompanied Leskanich on the performance of "Love Shine a Light" on the March 9, 1997 broadcast of the Great British Song Contest final which had not featured any other members of Katrina and the Waves). Don Airey, who played as a session musician on the single recording of the song, arranged and conducted the live version for Katrina & The Waves. He added strings, brass and a vibrato flute, giving the song a more anthemic feel.[6]

Scoring[edit]

In a pre-performance interview on the night of the Eurovision 1997 finale Leskanich had stated that Katrina and the Waves winning Eurovision 1997 was "more than a dream - it's probably going to be a reality. I mean we wouldn't come here unless we were intending to win...For Eurovision [success] you need a song with a universal message, lighters in the air, Coca-Cola, heartwarming positive 'all-unite' [message]...[Our] song has a universality about it that unites everyone and I think people are looking for that message in Eurovision...they want something uplifting and positive, and I think once in a while a song comes along that says Eurovision and I think that's what 'Love Shine a Light' says and I'm just lucky that I'm the one that gets to sing it."[7]

"Love Shine a Light" did indeed win Eurovision 1997 easily: with its first 12 point score being awarded by Austria the fourth reporting jury "Love Shine a Light" assumed permanent possession of first place on the scoreboard with its final vote tally an unprecedented 227 points besting the second place finishing Eurovision 1997 entrant, the entrant for Ireland: "Mysterious Woman", by 70 points. The final vote tally for "Love Shine a Light" at Eurovision 1997 set a record unsurpassed until 2004, when the introduction of the semi-final greatly expanded the number of countries voting in the final (indeed, entire top three polled more than 227 points that year). It also received the maximum 12 points from ten countries, a feat not matched until 2005 and not beaten until 2009.

By a more directly comparable measure, "Love Shine a Light" received an average of 9.458 points per country or 78.82% of total votes available, the third-highest in the history of the present voting system, behind only "Save Your Kisses for Me" by Brotherhood of Man in 1976 (9.647 points per jury, 80.39% of available points) and "Ein bißchen Frieden" by Nicole in 1982 (9.470 votes per jury, 78.91% of available points). Furthermore, the song received maximum points from ten of twenty-four countries (41.7%), the fourth highest of all time behind "Euphoria" by Loreen in 2012 (which received 12 points from eighteen of forty-one countries, or 43.9%), "Non ho l'età" by Gigliola Cinquetti in 1964 (receiving the then-maximum 5 points from eight of fifteen countries, or 53.3%) and "Ein bißchen Frieden" in 1982 (12 points from nine of seventeen countries, or 52.9%).

Katrina Leskanich commented that it was the second landslide of the week – the Labour Party led by Tony Blair had won the UK general election held two days earlier, on 1 May 1997.

Aftermath[edit]

In a 2009 interview Leskanich restated her opinion of "Love Shine a Light": "it was such a feel-good, lighters-in-the-air, cheesy number. It would have been embarrassing for it not to win. It had 'I am a winner' written all over it", while adding: "Our song was quickly forgotten because we didn’t have any sensational gimmick like Bucks Fizz" and describing Eurovision as "a joke...People who take it seriously are the kind of people who get into Miss Universe. How can you have a contest about what’s the best song?" Leskanich also stated that Katrina and the Waves Eurovision victory boosted the group's profile on the European cabaret circuit at the expense of their rock band credibility which heavily factored into the band's 1999 breakup.[2]

The song was succeeded in 1998 as Contest winner by Dana International representing Israel performing Diva. This song was also performed as part of a medley in the introduction of the 50th anniversary show for the ESC in Copenhagen as well as the semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2006, in Athens.

A remix of the song was performed during the UK selection process final of 2008, Eurovision: Your Decision.

Cover versions[edit]

Charts[edit]