Eurovision Song Contest final: Sam Ryder ignoring ‘hype’ as UK seeks redemption

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Sam Ryder performs during the final dress rehearsal at the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin on Friday, May 13 (AP)
Sam Ryder performs during the final dress rehearsal at the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin on Friday, May 13 (AP)

Sam Ryder will take to the stage in a bid to improve the UK’s standing during the Eurovision final on Saturday night.

The 32-year-old worked in construction for eight years but found fame covering songs on TikTok during lockdown.

He quickly built up 12 million followers and caught the attention of global stars including Justin Bieber and Alicia Keys.

But Ryder said he is trying to ignore the attention and focus on doing “the best job I possibly can”.

“I don’t want to get to a point where I start believing the hype,” he told the BBC.

“I just want to do everyone proud, and do the best job I possibly can.”

The Essex-born singer aims to end a dismal UK run, after the nation came last in 2021 with James Newman and in 2019 with Michael Rice.

Sam Ryder wields his guitar at the dress rehearsals ahead of the 66th Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final at Reggia di Venaria Reale (Getty Images)
Sam Ryder wields his guitar at the dress rehearsals ahead of the 66th Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final at Reggia di Venaria Reale (Getty Images)

But there is already a buzz surrounding the long-haired artist and his uplifting song Space Man - with some bookmakers saying he could win enough points to come third or fourth overall.

He added: “Actually, the song was written a year and a half ago with no intention of Eurovision in our minds.

“It was a gorgeous, boiling hot day in London, so naturally, we were in a studio with no windows and Space Man just seemed to come out of space… man.

Asked if he feels more pressure due to the UK’s dismal record, he said: “I think if you tell yourself you’re under pressure, you’re starting off on the wrong foot. It’s hard to break out of that. So instead, I’m telling myself I’m excited and grateful and thankful to have the opportunity.

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra walk on the stage with the national  flag ahead of Friday’s dress rehearsal (REUTERS)
Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra walk on the stage with the national flag ahead of Friday’s dress rehearsal (REUTERS)

“Anyway, singing, song-writing and performing shouldn’t be about a scoreboard. The celebration of music can exist without that.

He co-wrote the track with Grammy-winning songwriter Amy Wadge, who has previously worked with Ed Sheeran and Max Wolfgang.

At the 2019 contest the UK continued a run of poor results and came in last place with Michael Rice’s Bigger Than Us, while the Netherlands came top with Duncan Laurence’s Arcade.

The 2020 competition was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last year UK hopeful James Newman was the only contestant to score zero points in the final, ending bottom on the leaderboard.

Mika performs on stage during the dress rehearsals (Getty Images)
Mika performs on stage during the dress rehearsals (Getty Images)

This year’s final features the 20 successful nations from the week’s two semi-finals, as well as the so-called big five of the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The Czech Republic’s We Are Domi will perform the track Lights Off in the opening slot while Estonia will close the show with Stefan singing Hope.

Eurovision favourites, Ukraine’s folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra, will also perform their song Stefania 12th in the running order.

Reigning Eurovision Song Contest champion Italian rock band Maneskin will also be taking to the stage to perform their new single Supermodel.

Graham Norton will return for his 13th contest to cast a watchful eye over proceedings while delivering his customary barbs.

The Eurovision Song Contest final, hosted by TV presenter Alessandro Cattelan and singers Laura Pausini and Mika, airs on BBC One from 8pm until midnight.

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