Eurovision 2024: Pop star Olly Alexander to represent the UK

Olly Alexander
Image caption,A seasoned performer, Alexander has scored several top 10 hits around Europe

By Mark Savage

BBC Music Correspondent

Pop star Olly Alexander will represent the United Kingdom at next year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden.

The former Years and Years frontman will hope to improve on the UK’s disappointing performance this year, when Mae Muller came second to last.

Alexander is already known around Europe for hits including Desire, King and If You’re Over Me.

He is also a Bafta-nominated actor, having played the lead role in Channel 4’s hard-hitting Aids drama It’s A Sin.

The star’s participation was revealed during the final of Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday, months before the BBC usually confirms its Eurovision plans.

“I love Eurovision so much, it’s a dream come true,” he told host Claudia Winkleman. “I’m just so, so excited.”

In a press release, he added: “I really can’t believe I’m going to be a part of such a special legacy and fly the flag for the UK in the gayest way possible.

“I’m determined to give it everything I’ve got and put on an excellent and unforgettable performance for you all!”

Olly Alexander Eurovision image
Image caption,Years and Years became a solo project in 2021, but now Alexander is releasing music under his own name

The song he will perform in Malmö next May is still under wraps – but it was co-written by Alexander and Danny L Harle, who has produced hits for Dua Lipa, Chic and Charli XCX.

“It’s gonna be electronic, something you can dance to,” Alexander told BBC News. “But I can’t say much more than that.

“I just can’t wait to get out there and meet the fans and everyone else taking part,” he added.

“It’s going to be the wildest experience of my life.”

The singer is a seasoned performer with a big fanbase, having scored five UK top 10 singles and two number one albums over the past decade with Years and Years.

The band also enjoyed chart success in Eurovision countries including Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Alexander’s hometown of Harrogate previously played host to the 1982 Eurovision Song Contest, after Bucks Fizz won for the UK the previous year.

Image caption,Loreen is one of only two people to score multiple Eurovision victories – the other being Ireland’s Johnny Logan

Sweden is hosting Eurovision 2024 after Swedish icon Loreen won this year’s trophy with the jackhammer pop anthem Tattoo.

It was her second Eurovision victory, having previously won in 2012 with Euphoria.

Sweden is now tied with Ireland for the most Eurovision victories, with seven apiece – but the UK hasn’t won since 1997, and its recent track record has been largely underwhelming.

Michael Rice and James Newman came last in 2019 and 2021 respectively. Mae Muller was only saved from the same fate this year by German rock band Lord of the Lost.

The bright spot in the UK’s otherwise dismal recent Eurovision history was Sam Ryder, who took second place in Turin in 2022 with his pop-rock anthem Spaceman.

The star, who is currently in contention for the Christmas number one crown with his festive song You’re Christmas To Me, sent Alexander a message of good luck on Saturday night.

“What’s up mate?” he said. “Best of luck, go sing your head off, enjoy Sweden and send us a postcard!”

Olly Alexander and Sir Elton John at the 2021 Brit Awards
Image caption,Olly Alexander performed It’s A Sin with Sir Elton John at the 2021 Brit Awards

Both Ryder and Muller were chosen by TaP management, the music company behind Lana Del Rey and Dua Lipa.

However, they pulled out after this year’s contest, and the latest selection was made internally at the BBC.

Alexander is the most well-established artist to be picked to represent the UK since Bonnie Tyler, who finished 19th in 2013.

While the UK has generally sent newer and less well-known singers to Eurovision, other countries send some of their biggest stars to the contest.

This year, Italy was represented by the swoonsome balladeer Marco Mengoni, who has 70 platinum records to his name.

Russia, who are currently excluded from the contest due to the war in Ukraine, put forward the globally successful pop duo Tatu in 2003, while Sweden’s Måns Zelmerlöw had three number one albums before winning the 2015 contest with Heroes.

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