Prepare to brace. The United Kingdom are frontrunners to win the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest. For real. Sam Ryder’s ‘Space Man’ is second in bookies' favourites to win, just after Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra.
What’s happened to the world? Or, more appropriately – what’s happened to the UK? What’s changed in such little time?
After crash landing into the dreaded nul points position for two years in a row, this year most were expecting the same narrative to unfold. A narrative where the default thought is that the United Kingdom will do dreadfully, and as a result, everyone abandons any inkling of patriotism and ultimately, there is always one person who says we should just sack Eurovision in entirely.
No more! There is hope if you look up Sam Ryder. Who is the star? He’s one of the UK’s most followed and successful TikTok singers with over 12 million followers.
Now, his popularity and real star quality might be the reason why the UK is tipped to do so well. Eurovision is also partnered with TikTok this year, which lends itself perfectly to Sam Ryder’s own following on the soaring social media platform. He wrote his song ‘Space Man’ in 15 minutes alongside Max Wolfgang and Grammy-winning songwriter and frequent Ed Sheeran collaborator, Amy Wadge.
There’s now a shift in attitude towards Eurovision in the UK, we’re ditching the pessimism and saving that for our bad weather.
But first, let’s look at the UK’s past to better understand our vibrant present. Our previous tracks haven’t been terrible whatsoever. James Newman’s ‘Embers’ was catchy and played on the radio, it was just let down by confused staging and a lack of direction. Lucie Jones’ vocals in 2017 were stellar, taking us up to 15th place with her track ‘Never Give Up On You’ – since then she’s been making waves in musical theatre.
But, even when our past acts haven’t been terrible, we’ve frequently ended up in the last spot, or anywhere but the left-hand side of the board. Maybe it’s politics, the wrong song at the wrong time, or just general disdain towards the United Kingdom – but why is Sam Ryder doing so well right now in 2022?
I had the pleasure of witnessing Sam Ryder talk about his journey and song during the Eurovision press room meet and greet, and what followed Sam’s discussion is nothing short of serotonin. It’s enough to explain why audiences are so pulled toward the United Kingdom’s entry. According to Sam Ryder, “If I have any hope in anything, I think it doesn’t involve any position on a scoreboard. To change attitudes – that is the prize. Imagine if you can do that. And I think that’s possible”. People in the UK are starting to think that’s possible too, and we can credit Sam Ryder with kickstarting this shift in attitude.
“Three minutes on stage singing your song; you can be fooled into thinking that that is what this is all about. I don’t think it is. It’s about how you carry yourself from the beginning up until that moment when it’s all over and you walk off the stage”, he said to the Eurovision press room.
“Your main objective and goal is to connect with your audience. Fill that space between you. If you can do that with your music and your lyrics and your song, then that is your job done. That’s everything. If people feel the positivity and the happiness and the joy from the place that you’re singing from, then that’s it,” he beams. It’s clear by the end of his allotted time that all the journalists present were charmed by his infectious enthusiasm and bountiful energy.
As much as we big up the prospect of the UK potentially winning, or orbiting to the left-hand side of the board – we should all take a leaf out of Sam Ryder’s book, and start evaluating our own relationship with the contest. We don’t come last because of politics or because we are part of the ‘Big 5’ – we come last because of our attitude towards the contest. If we start telling ourselves that we are set for failure before we’ve begun then we’ll likely manifest that reality.
You know what, we could win this year’s contest. We should be telling ourselves – why not? All aboard the Sam Ryder hype train (or shall I say spaceship). We’re moving on up! If not on the scoreboard, then at least with how the United Kingdom perceive their relationship with the contest.
Whilst the results are all up in space, man, we’re all feeling pretty grounded by Sam Ryder’s wisdom.