Maybe it’s just because I live in the UK and I’m closer to the discussions, but I can’t think of another country that’s picked its selection process apart and hauled both it, and those involved in it, over the coals as much as the British fans. An army of armchair producers confidently state that What We Need™ is a Big-Name artist and a Melodifestvalen style selection show, with nary a nod to the fact that it’s so close to being a toxic brand that barely any bugger wants to go anywhere near it. We’re struggling to find one good song, where the hell do you think a whole show’s worth are coming from?
Enter Sam Ryder, a left-field choice as an artist whose following has not come via traditional music industry routes. But what a following! 12 million TikTok followers. 12 million! 2021’s plucky James Newman has 33 and a half thousand, by comparison. Here, dear Brits, is your Big Name.
Sam is an engaging artist with a big smile and a big voice. His vocals on Space Man sound effortless as they sweep and soar so confidently. And what an ambassador he’s proving to be. I’m truly wowed by his enthusiasm and the way his song is being embraced.
I’m less wowed, admittedly, by the song itself; on personal taste it’s probably not one that will keep its place on my 2022 playlist after May. But I am wowed by what seems to be a taken chance paying off. His enormous social media presence also gives him a huge platform to take a highly personal Eurovision journey directly to an enviable pool of potential supporters and build the call to vote; plenty of those 12 million must live in countries eligible to do so, and early scrutiny of both fan polling and bookies’ adjusting suggest we could be in for the best UK result in years.
I’m not getting carried away. Patriotism at Eurovision isn’t especially important to me; my personal reaction to the songs is, whoever they represent. But just like when the medals start totting up at the Olympics, I can’t deny that as a British fan it would be invigorating to see points for the United Kingdom notching up healthily on the scoreboard at last.
As I close my Countdown this feels like a real possibility. Sam has placed fifth in the OGAE International poll of fan club members and won The Euro Jury vote organised by fan site Eurovoix. Is this – finally – the year we’ve been waiting for? I’m predicting a top 10. At least.
My marks: 10 points