Michael Rice has been selected as the UK’s 2019 Eurovision entry, set to perform the song Bigger Than Us in competition when the song contest arrives in Tel Aviv, Israel this May.
21-year-old Rice, probably best known as the winner of BBC talent show All Together Now and a former X Factor contestant, was one of the final three contestants chosen by judges on Friday 8th February’s Eurovision: You Decide broadcast, going on to win the public vote over Kerrie-Anne and Jordan Clarke.
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“I literally just came off the stage and honestly, I can’t believe I won,” Rice said shortly after his victory.
“I never in a million years thought I’d get the chance to do this experience, never mind win it.
“I’m really grateful for all my supporters out there who voted for me, and who’ve been there for me along this journey. Let’s do it! Let’s go to Tel Aviv and try and bring it home for us.”
Rice ended up competing against five other acts in the revamped Eurovision: You Decide format this year, which split the six candidates into three groups of two and gave each duo one song (with all three songs chosen by an international panel) to perform.
Following the “song-off,” the judges (The Saturdays’ Mollie King, JLS’ Marvin Humes and X Factor contestant-turned-presenter Rylan Clark-Neal) picked their favourite of the three song’s interpretations, before opening the final three contestants to a public vote.
The night was hosted by Mel Giedroyc and former Swedish Eurovision winner Måns Zelmerlöw from Salford, and also included a performance from last year’s winner Netta Barzilai.
“This has been such an exciting year for Eurovision: You Decide, with new format changes that we hope have really made the competition and programme more geared to find the perfect song,” BBC producer Mel Balac said.
“We’ve had some incredible performances tonight by everyone and everyone’s own individual take on the songs – well done to everyone! We are delighted for Michael and are proud to take Bigger Than Us to the Eurovision song contest final in May.”
However, some viewers weren’t too keen on the new format, particularly noting that having multiple versions of the same song created some issues when we’d never heard them before in the first place.
Whoever thought this change in format for song selection would be an improvement shouldn’t be involved in future programmes. #EurovisionYouDecide
— j (@TayloredBites) February 8, 2019
Surely whoever goes second in this format is flawed as most casual viewers will have then already heard the song for the first time as the first one, and assume the second in their mind as like a “cover” #EurovisionYouDecide
— Zoe London (@zoelondondj) February 8, 2019
This format really was a terrible idea. It just shows off how thin the songs are and how inexperienced the poor suckers having to make something of them are. #eurovisionyoudecide
— David Absalom (@britishpictures) February 8, 2019
The BBC's options for Eurovision success #EurovisionYouDecide
⚪️ Actually put effort into it
⚪️ Find an artist people have actually heard of
???? Bizarre new national final format
— Joseph Hackett (@JCS_Hackett) February 8, 2019
— b (@bdly25) February 8, 2019
This format is a disgrace! Just let the people decide! #EurovisionYouDecide
— Owen Sargent (@seagullsarge) February 8, 2019
— Andy. (@andyisaparsnip) February 8, 2019
Still, however we got there it’s been decided, and Michael Rice will be putting his best foot forward this May. Fingers crossed we can do a little better than nil points…
The Eurovision Song Contest final takes place on Saturday 18th May