Years of Eurovision misery for the UK ended after singer Sam Ryder’s runner-up performance proved to be one of the country’s biggest shocks in entertainment in decades.
Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra won the 66th European Song Contest Saturday night in Turin, Italy, with public support expected after Russia’s invasion of the country earlier this year. Russia itself was kicked out of the competition in February.
But the shocking result of this evening was that the UK did a good enough job of coming up with, secondly, something unimaginable to most people in the country.
Although the UK has a long history of producing competition winners, it has not been an institution in recent years.
Last year, British singer James Newman earned the infamous “Blank Score”, scoring zero points. The UK had already scored zero points in 2003 with Jemini.
Ryder, a Eurovision icon on TikTok, scored 466 points for the UK after the points were tallied by jury voting and public television.
Judges from each country participating in the competition award a score to a selected number of artists with the 12 best points awarded for what they consider to be the best song.
However, the audience has few nuances and evaluates patriotic feelings as well as the merits of singles.
Eurovision has proven to be a measure of public sentiment about what people in different countries think about each other, as well as their feelings regarding geopolitical issues.
In recent years, the UK has misbehaved partly because of songs that sometimes make you feel bad, but also because of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union with the Brexit vote in 2016.
The UK’s ambivalence towards Europe and immigration from the continent is often reciprocated.
But the bad mood towards the UK appears to have ended with Ryder’s song “Space Man”. The song received the highest marks from the jury, and the combined result with the audience gave it second place after Ukraine.
While it’s unclear why the UK gets such high marks given the history of partial voting trends in the contest, it could be partly due to London’s support for Ukraine.
News week I contacted Ryder’s agent for comment.
Eurovision started in 1956 as a music competition in which many countries, mostly from Europe, compete for the first prize. Despite the name, the countries of Asia, Africa and Oceania took part in the competition.
The competition saw prominent artists perform their songs, including Swedish band ABBA, which was crowned winners in 1974 with their song “Waterloo”.
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