Happy Eurovision week! The best week of the year, as far as I’m concerned. 40 songs from across Europe (and Australia) will compete to become the next Eurovision Song Contest winner, following 2021’s incredible global success, Måneskin. But, if you haven’t been following the selection process, you may be wondering, who is Sam Ryder? Well, Sam Ryder is the UK’s representative this year, and this article will give you a rundown on Sam and his song “Space Man” before the final on Saturday 14th May at 8 pm.
Sam Ryder is a 32-year-old singer and social media personality from Maldon in Essex. He began working in the music industry in 2009 as a backing musician for the groups The Morning After, Blessed By a Broken Heart and Close Your Eyes. But, he really rose to prominence during the first COVID-19 lockdown, where he began uploading musical covers to his TikTok account, which now has over 12 million followers. From there, he signed a record contract with the label Parlophone and was internally selected to be the UK’s representative this year. Quite a meteoric rise, if you ask me.
So, the song. “Space Man” is a well written, solid pop song that clearly shows off Ryder’s vocal capabilities while featuring elements of what makes British music special. While I personally don’t like the song that much (I still think it’s a decent song, just there are other songs this year that I like more), there is something about it that is just very likeable. It’s a clear step up from last year, but that’s not saying much, considering last year we got precisely 0 points.
If you look at the odds (as of when I am writing this article, they’re bound to have changed by the time it’s published), the UK is somehow fourth. I say somehow, because, you know, last year we got no points. While I don’t think it’s that likely that the UK ultimately finishes fourth, I think Ryder’s entry has the quality and the likability to do well. Maybe top 10 if he’s lucky, but I don’t think he’ll finish last, although that depends on which countries make the final. I do feel confident in saying that he will do better than last year, in that he will get some points. We’ll see how many, but he will get some. I feel pretty confident about saying that.
The Other Songs
So, who else is competing? Overall I would say that this song is quite a strong year. There aren’t many 10/10, instant winner songs in my opinion, but there are a lot of songs I would give a 7 or 8 out of 10 to. Currently, the three songs ahead of the UK in the odds are from Ukraine, Italy and Sweden.
Ukraine – Kalush Orchestra – Stefania
The leading song in the odds right now, “Stefania” has been through a lot to get here, not even thinking about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. At Vidbir, the Ukrainian national final, Kalush came in second to Alina Pash’s “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors”. However, it was found that Alina had taken a trip to Crimea in 2015 and travelled there through Russia, which goes against Ukrainian law. It turns out that someone from her team had falsified documents, which led to Pash’s withdrawal and Kalush’s entrance. While I personally prefer “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors”, I think “Stefania” is the song for Ukraine right now, showing off elements of Ukrainian culture in a fun and enjoyable song. While some may say that it will win because of the war, I think it has the ability to win on merit alone.
Italy – Mahmood and Blanco – Brividi
Host nation Italy has the potential to become the first back to back winner since Ireland won 3 times in a row from 1992 to 1994. Mahmood, who you may remember from 2019 with his second-place entry “Soldi”, returns with newcomer Blanco with the emotional ballad “Brividi” (Shivers). The harmonies between the two are incredible. Normally, host countries don’t tend to do that well, but I think Mahmood and Blanco have a real shot at reversing this trend.
Sweden – Cornelia Jakobs – Hold Me Closer
The song that I would consider the most likely winner in my opinion (not who I want to win, but who I think will win) is Sweden, represented by Cornelia Jakobs and the song “Hold Me Closer”. It’s another ballad, but it has all the hallmarks of a song that’ll do well. Plus, Australia’s representative Sheldon Riley has already done a cover of it that (hot take) I like more than the original. Cornelia’s strong vocals are bound to be a hit with the juries, and as she is (currently) third in the odds, it also seems like she will be popular in the televote. We shall see.
If you’re wondering who I would like to win, it would be Portugal’s Maro with “Saudade, Saudade”. I can understand why people don’t like this song as it’s quite slow, but I think there is something so magical and ethereal about it. It’s been growing and I think it has the potential to do better than people expect on Saturday night.
So, who is Sam Ryder? He’s the man who could potentially change the UK’s dire recent history within Eurovision. While I am not as high on his song as others are, I still think that he has the potential to subvert the UK’s dire recent history in Eurovision and potentially produce our best result in more than a decade. But, here is your primer for Eurovision, the best week of the year.
The semi-finals are on Tuesday 10th and Thursday 12th at 8pm on BBC Three, and the final is at 8pm on Saturday 14th on BBC One.
A student from University of Nottingham.