Enthusiasm

British Eurovision singer Sam Ryder: ‘My excitement is bigger than my fear of the scoreboard’

The mood seems to be changing in the UK when it comes to Eurovision this year, and that’s largely thanks to one man: Sam Ryder.

After – let’s be honest – a turbulent few years for us at the contest, the Essex-born singer-songwriter seems to have charmed Eurovision fans both in Europe and at home, which is not a tall order considering the attitude of many Brits towards the late contest.

It must be music to the ears of Sam, who said changing people’s feelings towards Eurovision in the UK was one of his main goals in taking part.

“It’s not just about the three minutes on stage,” Sam told HuffPost UK from Turin during a rare downtime ahead of this year’s final. “It’s the grand finale at the end of everything.

“But the construction is so long, so it’s more about what you do with that time, how you carry yourself and your attitude publicly. What do you represent, what message are you trying to convey? Regardless of the win, that’s the real thing. This is the real task when you sign up to do this.

“I think that’s where your eyes should be. Not “I hope I don’t get zero points” or “I hope I get to a certain place in the leaderboard”, it’s what you choose to do in the time before that will change those attitudes.

“If we can do well in this regard, and change some attitude and try to destroy some of this negativity that is perpetuated, even a little bit, surely that is the biggest victory? It’s even more of a victory than winning the contest.

Sam walks the red carpet in Turin ahead of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest

MARCO BERTORELLO via Getty Images

Keen to represent the UK, Sam freely admits he had his own reservations about getting involved, after the last two consecutive places for us – including last year’s infamous moment.

He recalls: “My first reaction was that of a Eurovision fan. Like, ‘this is wicked, what an opportunity, I would love to do this’. And then a split second later, that’s where the other voices come in, isn’t it? Voices that are like, ‘yeah but what if you don’t get any points’ or ‘it could ruin your career’ or ‘you’ll never work again!’. This kind of things.

Yet, he insists, those feelings were short-lived.

“It’s important to remember that these thoughts are completely self-made,” Sam continues. “Nobody else says these things, you do them. You bring them to life in your mind..

When it comes to past experiences and focusing on that negativity, it’s so much better to look forward, and I strongly believe that a positive mindset can completely change your experience of any situation you find yourself in. .. My enthusiasm is greater than my fear of this dashboard.

Sam Ryder in Turin last week
Sam Ryder in Turin last week

Nderim Kaceli/LiveMedia/Shutterstock

And what about those cynics who argued that after last year’s result the UK should even reconsider its participation in Eurovision?

He says: “If people have a tired view of Eurovision, I would urge them not to give so much weight to your joy coming from where the UK or your country is coming from on the scoreboard.

“Put your focus and focus on spending time with your family and loved ones watching this madness unfold on the television in front of you and having fun.”

“And if the score bothers you, turn it off and do the dishes afterwards,” he adds with a laugh. “That’s not what it’s about. I bet everyone goes to a restaurant, cinema or pub, and they don’t have to wait for a scorecard before they leave and go home. Life is not that. You can enjoy something despite this.

Here’s what else Sam had to say as we asked him about all things Eurovision…

Have you always been a fan of Eurovision, and has your opinion of it changed over time?

I’ve been a fan since I was a kid, hanging out with my mom and dad, sisters and grandpa, sitting in my living room and watching it every year. I have such memories of joy, and in a way, those are some of the warmest memories I have, actually. All getting together and doing things like that, those are rare occasions to do that. And you continue this tradition with your friends as you get older. The food is getting worse, but the company is still good.

Sam Ryder represents the UK with his song Space Man
Sam Ryder represents the UK with his song Space Man

Edward Cooke/BBC/Parlophonic Music

What is your earliest memory of watching Eurovision at home?

It’s not necessarily the songs I remember, it’s more the feeling of sitting with my family. There was always music in our house, my parents are big music lovers, so of course Eurovision was on TV every year. I have memories of togetherness and family time – and real joy.

What are your three favorite Eurovision songs?

My favorite Eurovision moment was Lordi’s Hard Rock Hallelujah. I was just starting to learn the guitar at that time. And seeing them on stage, in their prosthetics and chunky wedges, bat wings and battle axes, what’s not to love about that?

I have to shout out Lucie Jones and Never Give Up On You because she is one of the best singers in the UK. His technique and tone are amazing, and he’s a lovely human being. Also Waterloo by ABBA, of course. Because it’s a belt.

The rock band Lordi won Eurovision in 2006 for Finland
The rock band Lordi won Eurovision in 2006 for Finland

Sean Gallup via Getty Images

Obviously apart from yourself, who are you supporting at Eurovision this year?

Everyone took that leap of bravery to play in front of 200 million people, and therefore everyone deserves respect, so it would be a little rude to pick someone. Everyone puts themselves in danger in one way or another, or fights some kind of nerves to get on that stage. Everyone has my admiration for this, and everyone is so adorable.

Why is Eurovision still so important?

I think it reminds us how important expression is and the freedom to express yourself. According to you, how many people are afraid to express themselves freely? And Eurovision… it’s amazing, people feel good about themselves, and it’s inspiring. Or not even your own skin, it could be prosthetics, as far as Lordi is concerned. But I think it’s so cool.

It’s so inclusive, I don’t think there’s a more accepting fanbase in the world than Eurovision, and I’m so humbled and grateful to be just a small part of that story. I will never forget him.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Watch Sam Ryder perform live in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest final on Saturday May 14 at 8pm on BBC One. Watch the video for his song Space Man below:

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