It’s been 22 years of hurt for the UK, over two decades since Katrina and the Waves were crowned the Eurovision Song Contest champions in 1997.
But could 2019 be the year the country claims its long-awaited sixth victory? That’s certainly what Michael Rice, the UK’s representative, will be hoping when he steps out to perform Bigger Than Us on the Tel Aviv Eurovision stage.
Who is the UK’s Eurovision 2019 entry Michael Rice?
The 21-year-old is a former busker from Hartlepool who first got into music performing for his gran (awwh). He always dreamt of being a singer, but spent much of his youth working at McDonald’s.
He made his first screen appearance on 2014’s X Factor, receiving four yeses for his cover of Whitney Houston’s I Look to You.
Unfortunately for Rice, that’s as far as he went in the competition after being eliminated at the bootcamp stage.
But, as you probably guessed, that wasn’t the end of his story. He entered BBC TV talent show All Together Now, impressing the contest’s 100 judges, including The Spice Girl’s Geri Horner.
Rice ended up winning the show, putting most of his £50,000 prize money towards his mum’s Waffle and Crepe Shack in Hartlepool (double awwwh).
After that, Rice set his sights on Eurovision, being selected as one of six competing acts on national selection process in Eurovision: You Decide. After two rounds, he came top of the public vote.
“I literally just came off the stage and honestly, I can’t believe I won,” Rice said after his victory. “I never in a million years thought I’d get the chance to do this experience, never mind win it.”
Rice is currently working on his debut EP with producers Pete Boxsta Martin and Dantae Johnson who have worked with the likes of James Arthur, Jessie J and Missy Elliott.
Me & @surieofficial thank you for all the amazing advice and support, I’ve got big shoes to fill now after you❤️
Big thank you to everyone who voted last night feels like I’m in a dream. I really want, I’ve got a lot of hard work to do now, but I’m ready Let’s do this U.K✨???? pic.twitter.com/1AuuPe33Yy
Michael Rice will perform Bigger Than Us at Eurovision. No worries if you haven’t heard it before: about 60% of the lyrics of the power ballad are “It’s bigger than us”.
Interestingly, the song was co-penned by Swedish entry John Lundvik. He first planned to represent Sweden with Bigger Than Us before switching to the (arguably better) track Too Late For Love.
What will the UK’s Eurovision 2019 song look like on stage?
Very minimalist. Rice will start the track under one spotlight with only some dry ice for company. He’ll then be joined by gospel-like backing singers for the chorus.
Overall, classic Eurovision.
What are the odds of the UK winning Eurovision 2019?
Prepare your mock shocked face: it’s very unlikely the UK will top the contest – most bookies say there’s a 1% chance we’ll be champions. Instead, most predict the UK will finish deep into the right-hand side of the table.
If you don’t remember the pink-haired SuRie, you’ll almost definitely remember the stage invasion that interrupted her performance. Despite having the microphone ripped from her hands for ten seconds, SuRie recovered with some truly superb vocals.
However, it wasn’t enough to rescue Storm, the song finishing in 24th place out of 26.
Who is Holly Tandy? An X Factor 2017 quarter-finalist from Barnsley. She was eliminated in week 4 of the live shows after performing Ariana Grande’s Love Me Harder. She has kept a relatively low profile since leaving the show – but made her theatrical debut as Dorothy in the Blackpool Winter Garden production of Wizard of Oz last year.
She says: “My version of Bigger Than Us is a country pop song which is really current and cool, and similar to a Taylor Swift/Miley Cyrus vibe”
Surreal listening to myself on the radio this morning, so excited and proud ??
Who is Kerrie-Ann? A 32-year-old former teacher, who started to hone her singing skills while working in Dubai. She cites ABBA as her favourite Eurovision act ever.
She says: “The style of my song is up-tempo but at the same time the lyrics are quite poignant – it’s all about blissful ignorance. You know something is drastically wrong with your relationship but you choose to ignore those signs because you love that person”
Anisa – Sweet Lies
Song written by Maria Broberg, Lise Cabble and Esben Svane
Who is Anisa? A Manchester-born songwriter who has co-written songs for Ariana Grande and Eurovision alumni and Sweden’s platinum selling artist Fran. She was also named as one of the BBC Asian Network’s Future Sounds in 2016.
She says: “Sweet Lies is about being in a situation in life and taking the good with the bad, about being vulnerable and diving in head first”
The Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final takes place in Tel Aviv, Israel, on May 18th 2019