A vegan singer-songwriter made waves over the weekend when he snapped up second place at Eurovision. Britain’s Sam Ryder earned the UK’s best result in nearly 25 years, when Imaani came in second in 1998 (which was also the last time the UK hosted the song contest).
Ryder, who once owned a vegan juice bar in Coggeshall, has TikTok to thank for his rise to fame. Ryder began posting musical covers on the social media platform in March 2020, during the UK’s first COVID-19 lockdown.
His covers won the approval of a string of high-profile names including Elton John and Alicia Keys. And by the end of 2020, he was the most-followed UK artist on TikTok. (At the time of writing, Ryder has near to 13 million followers.)
During the pandemic is also when he penned his hit song Space Man, which he performed at the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 – the 66th edition of the competition, which took place on May 14.
There, Ryder topped the jury vote, reeling in 283 points, and secured another 183 points from the public.
‘Unity, peace, love’
The 32-year-old musician named the experience an “incredible, incredible, rewarding journey.”
Speaking to presenters Scott Mills and Rylan Clark after the scores were released, Ryder said: “We signed up to come and sing. We enjoy music, and I know that every single artist involved this year absolutely smashed it.
“Everyone was a credit to themselves and a credit to what Eurovision is all about: unity, peace, love, togetherness, inclusivity and expression. Thank you for having us.”