The D-Day Darlings landed an audition on BGT 2018. Have you ever wondered what the “D” in D-Day stands for? Oddly enough, it stands for “Day”. It was the day Allied troops disembarked on beaches in Normandy France, namely Tuesday 6 June 1944. The largest seaborne invasion ever, it marked the beginning of the operation to liberate France and Western Europe from the forces of Nazi Germany. Despite months of planning and air support, the initial stages of the operation did not go smoothly.
Wikipedia refers to an estimated 4000 to 9000 German casualties on D-Day. “Allied casualties were documented for at least 10 000, with 4414 confirmed dead”. When Katie Ashby formed the D-Day Darlings in 2008, she was not evoking the horror of war. Rather, she sought to honour the resolute spirit of the British people in the face of the hardships of WW2. She was evoking memories of Dame Vera Lynn and other wartime singers who gave solace and hope to both the troops and those at home. Let’s look:
The video cuts off before the judges’ comments. To summarise, Alesha Dixon commented “It’s important that we remember these people and you’re doing it brilliantly.” Amanda Holden stated that the group were “perfect for the Royal Family”. Simon Cowell said, “It was beautiful. It was classy, it was emotional.”. The BGT Wiki reports that after their audition, the D-Day Darlings were favourites to win the competition. If you liked D-Day Darling’s audition, you’ll love their semi-final performance.
First a little more background on the group. The nine member choir started out as a trio, but soon filled out their ranks after the positive response to their early appearances. Before BGT, D-Day Darlings performed at the Imperial War Museum, the Royal Hospital Chelsea, The Black Country Museum, as well as at Festivals of Remembrance organised by the Royal British Legion. They were also available for hire for 40s themed events and parties. All told, they raised £40,000 for The British Legion.
With that show-stopping, audience-on-their-feet version of Rule Britannica, which culminated in WW2 veterans coming out of the wings, the D-Day Darlings were a shoo-in for the finals. They finished third overall, were signed to Sony Music UK, and later in 2018, their debut album, I’ll Remember You, made number 15 on the UK Charts. The D-Day Darlings are still active. In the middle of October 2023, they released both the seasonal song A Christmas To Remember and an hour-and-a-half stream to mark their 15th Anniversary as a group on their YouTube channel.
For those Music Man readers who didn’t recognise it, D-Day Darlings’ audition song was a cover of Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again (written by Ross Parker and Hughie Charles). As Wikipedia states, “The song is one of the most famous of the Second World War era, and resonated with servicemen going off to fight as well as their families and loved ones”. Interestingly, the song was one of the first recordings to use the first polyphonic synthesizer, the Hammond Novachord. In 2020, when the 75th Anniversary of VE Day was marked, two versions of We’ll Meet Again charted. Vera Lynn’s solo recording and one featuring Katherine Jenkins.
We’ll Meet Again has long been appropriated into broader post-war culture. Wikipedia: “Lynn’s 1953 recording is featured in the final scene of Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film Dr. Strangelove – with a bitter irony, as the song accompanies a nuclear holocaust that wipes out humanity.” The song is also played to those waiting to embark on the Tower of Terror attraction in Disney Parks. This use is also ironic, but this time it’s playful.