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#ThrowbackThursday: Remember when Rita Ora attempted to represent the UK?

Rita Ora is arguably one of the biggest pop artists on the planet. She recently hosted the MTV European Music Awards and is currently on track for another #1 hit with new single Anywhere. It may now seem strange to think that she was on the brink of representing the UK in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow…

It’s Rita’s time

Yes, Rita auditioned for Your Country Needs You in 2009 which underwent a transformation with the legendary Andrew Lloyd-Webber taking charge of the process. The YouTube video below shows Rita taking part in the audition stage performing Get Here by Oleta Adams. The Kosovo-born talent clearly impressed Lloyd-Webber and other judges.

At the end of the YouTube clip, Graham Norton confirms that Rita was “offered the chance to sing for the country” presumably being chosen to be one of the six live show finalists. However, Graham revealed her withdrawal from the competition with Rita explaining that the “journey wasn’t for her”. Jade Ewen went on to win the competition with her performance of It’s My Time earning her 5th place in Moscow, the UK’s second best result this century.

Signing with JAY Z and scoring four UK #1s

Instead, just a couple of months after pulling out of the auditions process, Rita signed a recording and publishing deal with JAY Z’s label Roc Nation. After featuring in music videos for JAY Z and Drake in the following years, Rita broke through with her DJ Fresh collaboration Hot Right Now at the beginning of 2012. It was the first of her four UK #1 hits to date, the other three being R.I.P., How We Do (Party) and I Will Never Let You Down.

Rita and Roc Nation’s relationship suffered a turbulent breakdown in 2015 in which Rita claimed the label had breached their contract by only permitting her to release one studio album despite having further albums ready for release. In addition, Rita’s team claimed Roc Nation took a larger percentage of Rita’s income than was agreed. A settlement was finally reached and Rita signed with Atlantic Records in 2016.

A million miles from LA…

Rita’s comeback is now in full swing, with Ed Sheeran collaboration Your Song becoming her biggest hit for at least three years. Now, her brand new single Anywhere is heading for the top of the charts, currently sitting at the top of the UK iTunes chart. During her career, Rita has also been a judge on The Voice UK  and The X Factor UK – impressive!

Ryan Cobb

My first memory of watching the Eurovision Song Contest was back in 2001 and, over the years, my passion and enthusiasm for the contest has very much turned into an obsession. I adore music and I love geography, so this contest is a natural fit for me. If la la loving Eurovision was a crime, I'd certainly be a criminal!

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