‘Better The Devil You Know’ by Sonia (1993)

Sonia Evans is an odd one, even when you forget about her collaborations with Big Fun and the Gladiators in the early 1990s.

She is less easy-going than she lets on, you know.

From effectively warbling about stalking an unrequited love on ‘You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You‘ to continuously rowing with Dollar [but who could blame her] on ITV’s Saturday night flop ‘Reborn In The USA’ and being Lily Savage’s fictional daughter, Evans is a little drama queen.

And nothing showed that better than her 1993 appearance on the Eurovision Song Contest.

In what was one of the most surreal television concepts in modern history, the BBC’s ‘A Song For Europe’ contest was dedicated to Sonia.

Yes, she sang the eight of the possible contenders and the public chose the best one. That really did happen.

And, in the musical equivalent of giving the 2011 Eurovision entry to Lisa Scott-Lee, ‘Better The Devil You Know’ was the winner – which was an unsurprising result, considering that the rest of the entries were bad enough to make Gina G sound like Madonna.

But it is easy to see why ‘Better The Devil You Know’ was the run-away winner in the ‘A Song For Europe’ selection rounds and finished second in the Eurovision final.

Not only is the track’s lightweight tone easy on the ears, but its production is slick enough for it to be passable enough slice of bubblegum pop. Which makes the fact that it is such a desperate sounding pop song even stranger.

Just look at all of the clichés that the song has, for instance.

The song has a Motown feel – which was undoubtedly brought in to show Sonia’s influences and is probably the biggest stereotypical influence of every manufactured popstar.

It also has background vocalists who sound more natural than Sonia, and a guitar break that is clearly amplified at the wrong pitch.

Naming it after a popular Kylie Minogue song tricked the audience into thinking that it sounded better than it really did, while Sonia’s ruthlessly ambitious lead vocal had a strong whiff of arrogance and pretension – something that is not in the spirit of Eurovision.

And this was to such an extent that you expected her to start a cappella at the drop of the hat, and burst into tears if it was not greeted with a standing ovation.

At the end, the three minutes became a “spot the cliché” game rather than a fun Eurovision entry.

That is the main problem of ‘Better The Devil You Know’.

Its predictability coupled with the song’s superiority complex is a recipe for disaster, as Sonia seems to feel that she is recording an instant pop classic when it really is just mediocrity-by-the-numbers.

She just misses the point of the Eurovision Song Contest; it is really about a set of tacky but fun pop songs, competing in a competition that is pretty meaningless.

By taking ‘Better The Devil You Know’ so seriously, Sonia zaps all the fun out of a chirpy-enough pop song and is made to look like a fool.

And there isn’t a bigger Eurovision crime than that.


1 Response to “‘Better The Devil You Know’ by Sonia (1993)”

  1. May 16, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    In a comedy show that I have long forgotten I do remember one especially morose character being encouraged to go on a trip to Alton Towers with Sonia – a very nineties way of saying “keep your pecker up” when infact the next act of anyone who took that advice would surely be to head for Beachy Head.

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