Editorials & OpinionTurin 2022🇬🇧 United Kingdom

MoA 10: The UK’s Eurovision redemption

In our MoA series, we paid tribute to the positive stories and storylines from Eurovision 2022.

As the dust began to settle on the 2022 contest and Eurovision fans stared down the barrel of a long off-season, here at ESCXTRA, we wanted to spend the summer highlighting our moments of appreciation for Eurovision 2022. In our tenth and final instalment, we celebrate how the UK went from two consecutive last-place finishes to winning the jury vote and becoming next year’s host country.

Prior to 2022, the UK had been driving the Eurovision struggle bus for the best part of a decade. Between 2012 and 2021, not a single one of their entries cracked the left-hand side of the scoreboard, let alone the top 10. Even Spain and Germany – its fellow Big 5 strugglers – had managed to score top 10 finishes in this period.

Watching the 2019 Grand Final, as “Bigger Than Us” finished dead last with a mere 11 points, I thought that it couldn’t possibly get any worse. Turns out I was wrong, because “Embers” then finished dead last with zero points in 2021.

For 2022, the literal only way was up (or nul points again) – and rather than return to the comforts of 20th-24th place, the BBC decided to turn it all around…and almost accidentally won in the process…

A change of tact

The first suggestion of an upward trajectory for the UK came as early as October 2021, when it was announced that the BBC would be collaborating with TaP Music, the global music publishing and management company behind the likes of Dua Lipa, Lana del Rey and Ellie Goulding. This announcement planted the seed that fans could expect an experienced and seasoned artist to be lined up for Turin.

This turned out to be true. Although Sam Ryder hadn’t exactly been a Top 40 staple in the UK prior to his announcement in March 2022, he had an enormous social media following to rival some of the biggest musicians in the world. As of March 2022, Sam Ryder had over 12 million followers on TikTok, 3.5 million followers on Instagram and over 35 million streams on Spotify.

Followers aren’t everything, and at the time I was personally sceptical as to whether these numbers would translate into numbers on the Eurovision scoreboard. But with TikTok becoming the ‘Official Entertainment Partner’ of Eurovision 2022, the pieces began to come together. 

PR success

With a comparatively high profile artist and the support of a successful publishing and management company, there was a lot more proactivity in the release and promotion of “SPACE MAN” than other recent UK entries.

Firstly, a 3:40 version of the song had been released prior to the announcement of its Eurovision candidacy. Days before the announcement, it had been named the Tune of the Week by Scott Mills on BBC Radio 1. Even if the song wasn’t to my personal taste, I was instantly impressed by the extent to which Sam was publicly embracing the experience.

In the face of the typically dowdy, unseasoned and inarticulate hosts that plague British chat shows, Sam carried himself with unshakable optimism and enthusiasm on both The One Show and [rather notoriously] This Morning.

Best of all perhaps was Sam’s European busking tour, which saw him taking to the streets of various European cities to promote the song and affirm that he was the breath of fresh air the UK needed.

Staged for a podium finish

With rehearsal access being more limited than recent years, there was an almost feverish curiosity around what Sam’s staging would be like. With many countries pairing-back their staging compared to Rotterdam 2021, we at least knew that it couldn’t be any worse than the giant trumpets.

I recall digging into a gorgeous bowl of Tagliatelle with friends at a restaurant in Turin when I was interrupted by notifications and shrieks around the table once the first images of Sam’s staging were posted. Once I eventually got to watch Sam’s second rehearsal, I began to genuinely believe that the UK could score a top 10 finish.

What ended up happening was beyond even my wildest dreams – “SPACE MAN” won the jury vote and ultimately placed 2nd with 466 points.

Life comes at you fast!

Shortly after the Grand Final, “SPACE MAN” reached number 2 in the UK Top 40, making it the highest-charting UK entry of the 21st Century. In addition to his own UK & Ireland tour, Sam has gone on to secure a number of high profile domestic gigs – including Formula 1’s British Grand Prix, Capital’s Summertime Ball, Platinum Party at the Palace and Celebrity Gogglebox.

As the final cherry on top of a delicious, multi-tiered cake, the UK is now set to host the 2023 contest – something many British fans never thought would be a possibility just a few months ago. Going forward, I hope to see the BBC continue to put forward entries with this level of investment and commitment.


That concludes our Moments of Appreciation series for Eurovision 2022! Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter@escxtra on Instagram@escxtra on TikTok and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates! Also, be sure to follow us on Spotify for the latest music from your favourite ESC and JESC acts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button