Image Credit: Parlophone Records
They kept everyone waiting, but finally on March 10th 2022 after some not so secret silence, the BBC revealed the UK’s entry for ESC 2022, TikTok singing sensation Sam Ryder & his song ‘Space Man’. But who is Sam, how was he selected and will the UK finally be in with a chance of coming top 10 again? Keep reading to find out!
Who Is Sam Ryder?
Sam Ryder Robinson was born in Maldon, England on June 25th 1989. He is a musician, who often worked as a session singer for bands such as The Morning After and Blessed By A Broken Heart.
During March 2020, Sam began posting covers on TikTok, which started to bring him worldwide, viral success. His cover of ‘…Baby One More Time’ by Britney Spears launched him onto the ‘for you’ pages of millions, and by the end of the year he was the most successful UK artist on the app. His covers have seen recognition from singers such as Alicia Keys, Justin Bieber and Sia.
As of April 2022, Sam has 12.3 million followers on the platform, 3.7 million on Instagram and 2.2 million on Facebook – a collective of 18.2 million followers across social media. Overall, he is the most followed artist of Eurovision 2022.
He’s signed with Parlophone Records, and TaP management. He released his EP ‘The Sun’s Gonna Rise’ in 2021, featuring some of his biggest songs such as ‘More’ and ‘Tiny Riot’.
He was announced on March 10th as the artist who’d be heading to Turin for the United Kingdom, but his song had been out since February 22nd gaining airplay on Radio 1 in order to drum up support without the ‘Eurovision’ branding – British opinion on anything related to the contest is often negative. ‘Space Man’ was written by Sam himself, and wasn’t initially made for Eurovision, unlike past UK entries specifically written for the internal selection, or for entries in ‘You Decide’.
Ahead of the contest, Sam has appeared across UK TV, notably with his first performance of ‘Space Man’ on The One Show & on ITV’s This Morning, on which he told the hosts:
[…] My enthusiasm is just so much greater than my fear. I love singing and singing is about connecting with people, and it’s connecting with those people that have been supporting you. And for me over the past two years, so many amazing, lovely people around Europe have been watching my videos on social media and rooting for me. To be able to go over there and go to Turin on May the 14th and sing for some of those people, I can’t think of the boxes that I’m not ticking as a singer or as an artist and a performer. […] I want to go there and sing my head off.Sam Ryder, This Morning
TaP Music and the BBC
In late 2021 TaP were announced to be partnering with the BBC to help with their Eurovision 2022 selection. After a very disappointing 0 points for ‘Embers’ by James Newman – a score that should be almost unachievable in the new voting system – it was clear something needed to change.
Co-founders of TaP Ben Mawson & Ed Millet said of the partnership in October 2021:
We’re really excited to be teaming up with the BBC for this event and will use Eurovision to authentically reflect and celebrate the rich, diverse and world-class musical talent the UK is globally renowned for. For many years, we’ve witnessed the United Kingdom not doing as well as we would’ve liked, when pop music is something we usually excel at. The simple fact is it’s time to show what we can do and the wonderful musical talent we have – ultimately we can’t blame politics.
It’s time for the UK to mirror the positive spirit of our European counterparts and really deliver the best of what we have to offer – we should unite as a country and champion talent representing our country on the global stage.Ben Mawson, quote provided by musicweek.com
The UK is not lacking in talent. Talent has never been the issue. In fact we are overflowing with talent. Rather than viewing Eurovision as just a bit of fun, let’s look at it for what it is; the world’s biggest live music event – 200 million viewers at last count, with an audience skewing younger each year. Win or lose or somewhere in between – we’re going to go for it. We really want the entire nation to get behind the UK Eurovision act like never before. As a team, we’re incredibly focused on finding a really special act that creates excitement for the UK – both in the build-up to the final and beyondEd Millet, quote provided by musicweek.com
The partnership was backed by other global talents on TaP’s management roster, including Sir Elton John, Little Mix star Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Dua Lipa and even Lana Del Rey.
The announcement was met with positivity and the usual hesitation over whether or not this should be something to get excited for – after all, the BMG collaboration in 2020 & 2021 seemed to fail. However, this time, it looks like the stars could finally be aligning for the UK…
How Well Will ‘Space Man’ Do In Turin?
Let’s start with the criticisms – ‘Space Man’ is a typical, radio friendly, *maybe* inoffensive mid-tempo pop track, something the UK seems to be becoming slightly known for in the contest. Staging worries are prevalent (let’s not forget those polystyrene trumpets and the lack of pyro in 2021), though Sam does seem to have creative control, so we may not be seeing a repeat of this again.
There have been comments about the lyrics being a little cliché, and also slight annoyance at the 3 minute version of the song essentially cutting the “nothing but, nothing but, nothing but space, man’” climax at the very end of the song. All these critiques are completely valid, and with any other UK entry that these have been applied to it’d be hard to justify anything opposite, or counter them – that’s not the case this time.
If I was an astronaut, I’d be floating in mid-air
And a broken heart would just belong to someone else down there
I would be the centre of my lonely universe
But I’m only human, and I’m crashing down to earthVerse 1 of ‘Space Man’
The United Kingdom have remained a steady 4th place in the winning odds since the songs release, and the momentum has only grown since then. It seems like the nation may have struck gold with this long blonde haired Essex boy who began his solo career by posting covers of Britney from his kitchen.
There are no worries for Sam’s vocal – he’s proven time & time again he’s a capable vocal performer. He’s given his all at the pre-parties and on the promo tour, which has seen him visit places such as Bulgaria, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain and Serbia. He’s also appeared on multiple TV shows & radio stations across Europe, like Belgium & San Marino. The last two times we saw a promo tour from the UK on this scale was in 2011 (Blue – ‘I Can’ – 11th place) & 2009 (Jade Ewen – ‘It’s My Time’ – 5th place). It’s also seeing huge support in the UK, reaching number one on ITunes within hours of its reveal as the entry & has been placed on multiple BBC Radio’s playlists. His entry has been labelled as authentic, and very ‘British’, giving the UK’s entry an identity – something past entries haven’t had.
‘Space Man’ is also doing extremely well in multiple fan jury’s such as the INFE poll, Eurojury & OGAE. For the first time, there seems to be actual support for the United Kingdom, beyond UK fans holding on to a dream that maybe once they’d get a taste of what it was like to see the UK flourish in the contest, and this year it looks like they might. There is even discussion that they could be heading for a potential win.
Who knows what will happen, but hopefully this will be the fortune change the UK needs in order to return to their pre-2000’s Eurovision glory.
Listen to the UK’s Eurovision 2022 entry below!
What do you think of ‘Space Man’? Will it be a turning point for the UK? Let us know in the comments!