The biggest surprise of Eurovision? The UK seems popular in Europe

Years of Eurovision misery came to an end for Britain after singer Sam Ryder’s performance, which won second place, proved to be one of the country’s biggest shocks to entertainment for decades.

Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra won the 66th Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night in Turin, Italy, with predictable public support following the Russian invasion of the country earlier this year. Russia itself was eliminated from the competition in February.

But the shocking result of the evening was that Britain had done well enough to finish second, unthinkable for most people in the country.

While the UK has a long history of producing winners for the competition, it has been a non-entity in recent years.

Sam Ryder at the Eurovision Song Contest
Singer Sam Ryder performs on behalf of the United Kingdom during the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 on May 14, 2022 at the Pala Alpitour venue in Turin. Ryder’s performance earned the UK a second place finish.

Last year, British singer James Newman earned the infamous “zero points” and scored zero points. Previously, Great Britain scored zero points in 2003 with the band Jemini.

Ryder, the Eurovision icon-turned-TikTok sensation, scored 466 points for Britain after scoring points from the public Televote jury vote.

The judges from each country participating in the competition award a score to a select number of artists, with the top 12 points being awarded to what they consider to be the best song.

However, audiences have little nuance and vote on national sentiment as well as the merits of each song.

Eurovision has proven to be a barometer of public opinion on what people in different countries think of each other and their opinions on geopolitical issues.

In recent years Britain has fared poorly, partly due to sometimes chilling songs, but also due to Britain’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 Britain seemed to have ended with Ryder’s song “Space Man”. The song received top marks from the jury and an overall audience score earned it second place behind Ukraine.

While it is unclear why the UK scored so highly, given the competition’s history of partisan voting tendencies, this could partly be due to London’s support for Ukraine.

news week has reached out to Ryder’s agents for comment.

Eurovision started in 1956 as a music competition with many countries, mainly from Europe, competing for the top prize. Despite the name, countries from Asia, Africa and Oceania have entered the competition.

The competition featured iconic acts performing their hits, including Swedish band ABBA, who won with their 1974 hit “Waterloo.” The biggest surprise of Eurovision? The UK seems popular in Europe

Rick Schindler

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