Sylwia Sarama via Flickr

A Win for the UK? Olly Alexander chosen as the UK’s 2024 Eurovision candidate

In a surprise announcement during the Strictly Come Dancing final, it was revealed that Olly Alexander, known for his hits with Years & Years and his starring role in It’s a Sin, will represent the United Kingdom at next year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Eurovision 2024 will be held in Malmö, Sweden following Loreen’s victory in Liverpool in May. The selection of Olly Alexander as the UK’s representative is, no doubt, a signal of the BBC’s renewed commitment to the contest which was once ridiculed in the UK and seen somewhat as a ‘cheese fest’ by British viewers and commentators alike. This is a new vision for one of Europe’s most successful exporters of music – but will it be a vision that pays off?

Olly Alexander began his musical career in 2010 when he joined Years & Years as their lead vocalist, going on to release their debut single ‘I Wish I Knew’ in 2012 before reaching the UK charts for the first time two years later with ‘Desire’. After this, Years & Years went on to score a UK number 1 single in 2015 with ‘King’ and two UK number 1 albums, Communion (2015) and Night Call (2022). The group has not only been successful in the UK but have scored success across Europe in the likes of Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden – coincidentally, the host country for next year’s Eurovision. For the first time since Bonnie Tyler in 2013, the UK are pinning their Eurovision hopes on an established artist, and in this case, not just an established artist but an artist who is still current in the music scene today. Outside of music, Alexander is well-known to TV fans for his lead role as Ritchie Tozer in Channel 4’s It’s a Sin, which received widespread critical acclaim including winning a National Television Award for Best New Drama and being nominated for no less than seven BAFTA TV Awards.

Alexander’s selection for the contest is most definitely something to be excited about

Additionally, announcing the news of Alexander’s Eurovision participation during the final of Strictly Come Dancing marked somewhat of a shift in the BBC’s attitude towards Eurovision. Just a few years ago, ahead of the 60th-anniversary contest in Vienna in 2015, the BBC hid away the announcement of Electro Velvet as UK representatives in a short announcement on the BBC Red Button in March. Now, the BBC is broadcasting the announcement of their entrant five months before the contest during one of the most-watched programmes of the year. A clear shift in the right direction and a reminder that the UK are taking the contest a lot more seriously, something that may never have been expected at the height of the UK’s disengagement with Eurovision in the mid-2000s when sending kitsch and cheese seemed to be the priority of the UK. Whilst the UK has admittedly faced mixed results even in the last few years, from the “nose-bleed, dizzying heights”, as Graham Norton put it, of second place with Sam Ryder’s ‘Space Man’ in 2022 to the depths of second-to-last with this year’s host entry ‘I Wrote a Song’, the BBC still seem committed to send a strong entry to Malmö next year, capable of challenging for the win.

Whilst not much is known about the UK’s entry for 2024 yet, Olly revealed in an interview with the BBC that his entry will be “electronic, something you can dance to”. Considering the song has been co-written by Danny Harle, who has worked with the likes of Charli XCX and Dua Lipa, this is perhaps not surprising. Expect an entry in the guise of ‘Houdini’, Dua Lipa’s recent number 2 hit co-produced by Harle. Another thing that should be expected is a love of the contest to protrude through Alexander’s performance – a self-confessed Eurovision fan, Alexander has admitted taking part in the contest will be “a bit like a spiritual homecoming” for himself and that he is excited to “give it [his] best shot” rather than worry about the UK’s arguably shaky track record in recent years of the contest.

British Eurovision fans have reason to have hope in 2024

As a massive Eurovision fan myself, Alexander’s selection for the contest is most definitely something to be excited about. And that’s saying something, considering that British Eurofans often don’t have a lot to be excited about. We often have to change our allegiance and support another country’s entry, just so we have some hope and jeopardy when it comes to the results, knowing the UK entry will pick up the wooden spoon yet again. This is not because of ‘politics’, as would be argued by many, but simply because the BBC had lost their desire to even try in the contest, with the contest pulling in millions of viewers every year regardless of the result, the BBC had no reason to try in the past. However, the contest – in the UK and across Europe – has had somewhat of a cultural renaissance since the pandemic, spawning international hits like “Zitti e buoni”, Måneskin’s winning entry from 2021, and “Snap”, Armenia’s 2022 entry which didn’t fare well at the contest but later became a TikTok hit through the summer. As such, there has been a renewed interest in the contest amongst younger viewers – and the BBC have responded. Whilst Sam Ryder could have been fobbed off by the BBC as a “one-off”, the team behind the UK’s Eurovision entry seem committed to keep trying to finally bring the trophy back home to British soil for the first time since 1997.

Though it may be too early to say whether Olly Alexander has a chance of picking up the trophy in Malmö, British Eurovision fans have reason to have hope in 2024. The UK are even favourite in the betting odds at the minute – okay, this may not be something to shout about considering only eight artists and two entries have been selected but it’s something that we would never have even dreamed of seeing just a few years back. Let’s hope 2024 is the year the UK can finally score enough “douze points” again to lift the trophy.

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