The final dregs of confetti have only just been cleared from Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena following another successful Eurovision, but speculation around next year’s song contest – and the contenders who might represent the UK – is already in full swing.
As the contest returns to Sweden following a historic second win for Loreen (she also won back in 2012) the BBC are already eyeing up potential representatives for the UK, following the rather disappointing second to last placement of Mae Muller’s I wrote A Song, which achieved 24 points on the board.
The Beeb are reportedly eager to secure Sophie Ellis-Bextor as the UK’s representative for next year, with the singer already enjoying an established following in both the UK and wider Europe. Evening Standard has approached her representatives, but she was unavailable to comment on the speculation. However, asked before this year’s competition if she’d been tempted to take part before, Ellis-Bextor told NME: ”Not really, I think doing it is an amazing opportunity, but it was never the right thing at the right time – and I’m a big believer in serendipity like that.”
The Murder on the Dancefloor star was involved in this year’s celebrations, with Ellis-Bextor hosting one of her iconic kitchen disco parties at a Liverpool branch of John Lewis, along with a performance at the city’s Eurovision Village, ahead of the live final on May 13.
The BBC are set to regain control over the selection process after previously collaborating with Tap management – who are also the team behind pop stars Dua Lipa and Lana Del Rey – to select the UK’s hopeful entrant. The link up was first introduced in 2021 following a string of poor performances for British contestants. It’s not clear whether the broadcaster plans to continue this partnership.
A music industry source added: “At the moment there is only one artist on the BBC’s list for Eurovision 2024, and they don’t intend to add to it.”
“Sophie Ellis-Bextor is seen as the ideal fit for the contest – she’s a great singer and performer, and she is already known to audiences, both straight and gay, across Europe”, they told the Mail on Sunday. ”The criticism the BBC has received over the decision to pick Mae Muller this year has been quite savage.”
Ellis-Bextor seems a popular choice for next year at the BBC to save the UK from murder on the scoreboard, and while some reports suggest it could be her killing the groove in Sweden, there still remain plenty of other viable options.
Here are just some of the contenders to represent for the UK next year:
Rina Sawayama was a strong contender to take part in 2023’s Eurovision, with the singer sending the rumour mill into overdrive with a clip of herself dancing to Loreen’s 2012 winning song Euphoria. In fairness, it feels like a good fit. Her music is drenched in Euro-dance influences, and a song like Chosen Family has the kind of empowering sincerity at its core that would go over really well at Eurovision. Not to mention the fact she’s got plenty of thumping dance-pop numbers up her sleeves between Comme des Garçons (Like the Boys) and Charli XCX collab Beg For You.
Video hints aside, the singer also had a Eurovision-shaped gap in her schedule last year, which led many to believe the space in her calendar was more than coincidental. Unfortunately Sawayama was later ruled out of the running for 2023. Still, maybe 2024 is the year of Rina? We would love it!
Sporty Spice certainly got a taste of the Eurovision action this year, with the Merseyside-native putting on her commentator’s hat and introducing the live hosts during coverage in Liverpool this year. The chart-topping singer certainly ran with the spirit of the contest, and her hit I Turn To You was also performed as part of the Liverpool Songbook segment of the Eurovision final by Cornelia Jakobs.
The singer is a big fan of the song contest, and back in 2007, she said in an interview that she’d love to do Eurovision. “It looks like fun,” she said, adding “I like to watch it.” With her involvement this year, its clear her affection for Europe’s biggest party remains.
Recognised across the world as a Spice Girl – and also as an artist in her own right – she certainly has the potential to be a hit with fans and judges’ panels. Say you’ll be there, Mel C?
Rita Ora also joined in on the Eurovision fun this year, performing a medley of her tracks including new Fatboy Slim collaboration Praising You during the first semi-final of the contest. It certainly went down well at the M&S Bank Arena.
Could her performance be a warm-up for a potential Eurovision entry? The singer has some instantly recognisable hits with the likes of I Will Never Let You Down, Black Widow, and Anywhere to her name, and actually flirted with the idea of entering the competition back in 2009.
Just 16 years-old at the time, Ora auditioned to represent the UK, but later shared with the Evening Standard, back in 2013, that entering the contest didn’t feel right.
“I was 16. Andrew Lloyd Webber was there,’ she said. ‘Right from the start I was, like, ‘What am I doing here?’”
‘Imagine! If I’d stayed, it would probably have been all over for me. At best, I’d be a contestant on that [Tom Daley] diving show…? Splash!? Yeah, Splash! I love that show,” Ora said, in quotes that didn’t go down well with 2009 entrant Jade Ewen, sparking a now-nostalgic Twitter spat.
Does her performance at this year’s show mark a change of heart? She hasn’t hinted that she’d be interested for 2024, but it could be a strong fit.
Years & Years
Olly Alexander’s pop moniker Years & Years would also be a great entry for the UK, though he’s not said anything concrete about whether he’d be interested in taking on the challenge. His now-solo project has already proven its credentials in the UK with chart-topper King.
Alexander isn’t just known for his pop anthems; he’s not afraid to make bold political statements, particularly about LGBTQ+ rights, during his performances, including a memorable Glastonbury appearances in 2016 where he famously draped himself in a multicoloured Pride jacket and promised to “shove a rainbow in fear’s face”. Though Eurovision often shies away from the political – Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy wasn’t allowed to address the room this year – Alexander still feels like a top pick for a contest that, to be honest, always seems to address politics either way.
A bit of a wildcard, sure, but Bree Runway at Eurovision would be beyond epic; with confdent bangers like All Night and HOT HOT up her sleeves, Runway has the energy that a Eurovision audience is bound to love. An equally talented dancer, she’s got all the ingredients for a standout Eurovision entry for the UK – and plus, she counts Lady Gaga as a fan.
This would be a hugely exciting inclusion if the powers that be could make it happen, and would be the first time the UK has picked a non-white entrant since third-placed Jade Ewen in 2009.
One of the UK’s most exciting pop stars, Mimi Webb was reportedly in the running to represent the UK this year, with various sources suggesting she was one of the strongest contenders for the spot. The speculation reached such a peak that the singer herself addressed the rumours in a Q&A in March.
“I love Eurovision, I watch it every year”, she said. “I’m a massive fan. But I am not going on Eurovision. I don’t know where that came from.”
Though that speculation has effectively been put to bed, we’d be here for a change of heart. Buzz for Webb has been increasing since her debut album Amelia dropped earlier this year, and she’s now firmly established as one of the best rising British artists to watch. Could a bumper performance in Sweden next year seal the deal? Webb might say otherwise, but we’ll take her Red Flags, with a side of white and blue!
Hot on the heels of her hit If We Ever Broke Up, 19 year-old Mae Stephens may be another perfect candidate to make further inroads as next year’s Eurovision entrant. Like Stephens, Mae Muller and Sam Ryder both had massive TikTok followings before getting the call-up to represent the UK in the competition, and the Kettering singer certainly fits the bill with her 300k+ following on the platform, as well as over seven million likes on her content. The singer’s edgy and colourful style also feels like a natural fit for the competition.
No word yet from Stephens on whether she fancies the biggest party of the competition calandar, but it would be quite fun to see the torch handed from one Mae to another.