The UK makes Eurovision ‘tougher for ourselves’, fans say

A British fan of the Eurovision Song Contest has blamed the UK for making the contest “tougher” than it needs to be.

Olly Alexander, who has already made the final on Saturday in Malmo, Sweden, is competing for the UK, one of the “big five” countries that are already through to the showpiece event.

This is the first time that a British entry is performing in the semi-final and will give the UK a chance to showcase its song twice.

The kick-off event will see Ireland’s entry Bambie Thug and Ukraine duo Alyona Alyona and Jerry Heil among the acts battling it out to qualify for the finale.

Outside Malmo Arena, Richard Bartlett, 46 – wearing a Union flag shirt and a red cap, had tickets to the rehearsals along with his wife, originally from Canada.

He told the PA news agency on Tuesday that Alexander, 33, who will sing his dance-infused track Dizzy after the first four competitors take to the stage, has a “good song” and “it’s nice to have one that actually feels like it’s been worked on a bit more I guess”.

Sweden Eurovision Song Contest
Ireland fans in Malmo, Sweden (Martin Meissner/AP)

“I think they’re suggesting that it’ll be the better side of the board this time – so I think he’s predicted to be 14th, 15th.”

The Lincoln-based fan also said he feels the the UK “needs to put a little bit more work into it”, before adding: “I know a lot of our artists sometimes feel it’s a curse, isn’t it?

“(The) Eurovision curse if you do your Eurovision you’re gonna kill your future career because if you don’t do well you’re not gonna look good.”

Mr Bartlett also said it is tough for the UK as one of the five countries that automatically qualify for the final and “we’re not always the most popular with the rest of Europe”.

“I think we do make it tougher for ourselves, which I think means we have to be doing a lot better with the song we bring if we want to start placing higher,” he added.

He also blamed the UK choosing new artists who have “got no no credentials, you like, in the world of music” and choosing “very odd” acts.

Sam Ryder’s second place in the 2022 contest was a rare recent British success after a string of lower placings. The UK last won in 1997 with Katrina And The Waves’ Love Shine A Light.

Harrogate-born singer and actor Alexander will be accompanied by dancers as he wears a boxing-style outfit and his cameras rotate to give the audience at home a mind-bending experience.

The singer, 31, who lives in London and was born in Cork, Ireland, is entering with the electro-metal song Doomsday Blue – and they have been given good odds by betting firms to get over the latest hurdle.

Ireland and Sweden are level for the most wins in the contest’s history, at seven each, following Swedish singer Loreen triumphing at Liverpool.

However, despite this success, Irish 2018 competitor Ryan O’Shaughnessy was the last to reach the final with Together and came in 16th position. Ireland has not won since 1996 with Eimear Quinn’s The Voice.

Irish fan Deirdre Garvey, who was attending the dress rehearsals with her family, told PA that Bambie was “definitely” going to make it to the final and is a “shoo-in”.

The 42-year-old from Kerry also said: “I think Ireland really have an excellent chance. I think Ireland and Ukraine, I think.”

Bambie, who is performing fourth and uses the pronouns they/them, has previously blamed songs from Ireland not “standing out” in the competition for the failure.

Ukraine have previously shown they are consistent at Eurovision by winning three times – with Ruslana in 2004, Jamala in 2016 and Kalush Orchestra in 2022.

They also have never missed a grand final, and nine of their 14 entries have finished in the top 10.

The semi-final on Tuesday also sees current favourite Croatia’s Baby Lasagna with the infectious Rim Tim Tagi Dim and the absurd Finish entrant Windows95Man with No Rules! featuring an egg-shaped denim patchwork prop try to earn a place in the top 10.

Sweden’s contestant, the Norwegian-born twin singers Marcus & Martinus, will also perform their love song Unforgettable, but are through to the final as the country won the competition in 2023.

Sweden Eurovision Song Contest
Windows95man is representing Finland (Jessica Gow /TT News Agency via AP)

Ahead of the event at Malmo Arena, fans have also been warned not to bring Palestinian flags or symbols to the event or bags and have been told that there will be “vigorous security checks”.

The terrorist threat level is on four points out of five, but the Swedish Police Authority has said that this is not related to the contest.

There is not expected to be protests until later in the week, when Israel’s Eden Golan performs Hurricane at the second semi-final on Thursday.

Bambie and Alexander along with Norway’s Gate, Portugal’s Iolanda, San Marino’s band Megara, Switzerland’s Nemo, Lithuanian singer Silvester Belt and Windows95Man previously put out a joint statement following calls that they boycott the event amid the conflict in the Gaza strip.

They called for “an immediate and lasting ceasefire, and the safe return of all hostages” but rejected not competing saying that they “firmly believe in the unifying power of music”.

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