Thursday, 10 March 2022

Sam Ryder: TikTok star to sing Space Man for UK at Eurovision 2022



By Steve HoldenNewsbeat music reporter


Sam Ryder will represent the United Kingdom at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, Italy.


He’s one of the UK’s most followed singers on TikTok, with 12 million fans on the app, and will perform his song Space Man at May’s grand final.


“I love Eurovision. I think it’s such a privilege to be able to do it,” he tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.


Last year’s contest in Rotterdam was won by Italian rock group Måneskin.


Sam’s taking part following two consecutive years where the UK has placed last at Eurovision.


“I don’t want to let the stigma or fear of coming at a certain place in a table stop me from doing something and being a part of something that I enjoy so much,” he says.


In 2021, James Newman’s entry Embers received the dreaded “nil points” and Michael Rice came bottom in 2019 with ballad Bigger Than Us.


The 2020 contest was cancelled.


“As long as I can go to Eurovision and know in my heart of hearts I’m going to do the best job I can then everything else is out of my control.” he says.


The last time the UK made the top ten in a final at Eurovision was in 2009 with the song It’s My Time by Jade Ewen.



Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption,
After their Eurovision victory, Måneskin were nominated for Best International Act at this year’s Brits



Due to its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has been banned from this year’s contest by the show’s producers, the European Broadcast Union (EBU).


On singing at Eurovision with the backdrop of conflict in Europe, Sam says he tries to come back to the fact that “music is about sharing and connection”.


“The only thing I have in my power to do is remember kindness, gratitude for the opportunity and empathy.”


After last year’s British poor placing, management company Tap Music came on board to find a new act for the UK.


It’s been responsible for the careers of singers like Ellie Goulding, Lana Del Rey and, until recently, Dua Lipa.


Sam was chosen internally between Tap and the BBC and speaking before Sam was selected, Tap’s Ben Mawson said: “We don’t want to see Eurovision as a boom or bust night for the artist. We want to see this as a platform for development for a career.”



Media caption,
Sam Ryder says TikTok has helped him launch a solo career



Who is Sam Ryder?

During the first lockdown, Sam picked up a huge social media following after performing snippets of songs on TikTok.


His covers were noticed by the likes of Justin Bieber and Alicia Keys, and he became the platform’s most viewed UK artist in 2020.


He launched his solo career when he signed with record label Parlophone in 2021.


Sam says his love of 2006 Finnish monster rock winners Lordi helped his decision to compete for the UK at Eurovision.


“Lordi winning was a huge moment in my life because I’d loved them before they competed on Eurovision.


“Seeing them at Eurovision didn’t change the way I felt about them and I was just stoked for that band going to represent their country and smashing it.”



Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption,
Sam’s Eurovision faves Lordi stormed to victory in 2006 with Hard Rock Hallelujah



Analysis by Scott Mills, Radio 1 presenter & BBC Three Eurovision semi-final host


Eurovision has become a whole new ball game in the past five years and contestants need to arrive as the whole package.


You can’t simply have a good song. You need to connect with viewers when you look down the camera lens.


Sam Ryder has nailed this already on TikTok.


A “good” performance is no longer enough either. It needs to blow people’s minds.


Think about Ukraine’s Go_A techno rave from 2021 or Norway’s fiery Spirit In The Sky from 2019.


Even though neither won, they crucially got the public at home to vote from them.


It’s a slick TV event that brings people together and the memories of the competition from the mid-noughties (when it was slightly cheesy) don’t exist in the minds of younger viewers who watch the build-up to the contest through social media.


The Eurovision grand final takes place on 14 May, with 40 countries taking part.


“There’s something comforting about knowing that so many other people are watching the exact same thing as you are,” says Sam.


“It’s like the Super Bowl or the World Cup.”


So who will be Sam’s main competition?


Ukraine: Kalush Orchestra


Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption,
Kalush are seen here performing in Lviv in 2021



Folk rap group Kalush Orchestra are currently due to represent Ukraine with their track Stefania.



They originally came second in their national final, but were upgraded to compete when singer Alina Pash had to withdraw.




Considering the conflict, it will be an achievement in itself if the group make it to Turin, as several members have reportedly been helping in Ukraine’s war effort.



Norway: Subwoolfer


Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption,
‘Before that wolf eats my grandma… give that wolf a banana’



On the surface, Norwegian’s electronic wolf duo (yes, really) Subwoolfer might seem like your stereotypical joke entry but it’s a lot cleverer than you might think.


Simply credited as Jim and Keith, their identity remains a mystery but the lyrics and vocals all seem to point towards comedy duo Ylvis, who went viral in 2013 with their song, What Does The Fox say.


Italy: Mahmood and Blanco


Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption,
Mahmood (right) lost out to the Netherlands’ Duncan Laurence in the 2019 contest



Mahmood’s no stranger to Eurovision, having previously placed second in 2019 with Soldi.


This time he’s representing his home nation alongside 19-year-old singer Blanco. The pair won Italy’s legendary Sanremo Music Festival. It’s a week long TV spectacular featuring dozens of songs and artists.


Finland: The Rasmus


Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption,
The Rasmus won Finland’s national selection competition



Best known for their 2003 hit In The Shadows, Finnish rock group The Rasmus are representing their country with Jezebel.


The song was co-written by Desmond Child, who was also responsible for Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca and Bonnie Tyler’s 2013 Eurovision entry Believe In Me.


Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.




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