Eurovision contender Sam Ryder has promised to perform with the same “intention” and “positive energy” that made him a TikTok star when he competes at the contest this weekend.
The 32-year-old, from Essex, will represent the UK during the grand final in Turin, Italy, with his uplifting pop song Space Man.
The singer-songwriter found fame covering hits on social media site TikTok during lockdown and has so far accumulated more than 12 million followers, making him the most followed UK music artist on the platform.
Ryder connected with his followers by singing directly into his phone, and won famous fans such as Justin Bieber, Sia and Alicia Keys.
“I don’t want to treat it any different to being in an empty room singing, and the joy I was getting and the happiness that I was feeling from singing in that way.
“If I change my relationship to singing, it’s a dangerous thing because I’m messing with something that has been such an important part of my life.”
The UK has featured at the bottom of the Eurovision leaderboard for the past two contests – coming in last place in 2019 with Michael Rice’s Bigger Than Us, and James Newman’s Embers scoring “nul points” in 2021.
However, Ryder said he is not focusing on getting a higher score.
“To make it strategic and to make it so that the happiness it gives me is dependent on where I come on a scoreboard is something I really don’t want to mess with,” he said.
“I want to focus on the fact that I’ve been asked to do it.
“I’ve been invited to share the stage with amazing performers from all over Europe, celebrating music and songwriting.
“They are the facts that I can hold on to and put my positive energy and focus into.”
Ryder was selected to compete for the UK in a collaboration between the BBC and global music management company TaP Music, which counts Lana Del Rey and Ellie Goulding among its clients.
He co-wrote Space Man with Grammy-winning songwriter Amy Wadge, who has previously worked with Ed Sheeran, and Max Wolfgang.
The 2021 competition was held in Rotterdam, Netherlands, after the 2020 show was cancelled due to the pandemic, and was won by Italian rock band Maneskin with their song Zitti E Buoni.
The quartet will also perform during the 2022 ceremony – a live premiere of their new single, Supermodel.
Russia was banned from the event following its invasion of Ukraine in February, before it had announced its act.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said in a statement that the inclusion of a Russian entry would bring the contest into “disrepute”.
– The Eurovision grand final will be broadcast on BBC One and BBC iPlayer and on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Sounds on Saturday May 14 from 8pm.