Michael Rice will represent the United Kingdom at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv with his song “Bigger Than Us”. It’s an emotional and dramatic ballad with a gospel accent.

British Broadcaster BBC chose Michael through a remodelled Eurovision You Decide national selection, which the network hopes will break the UK’s unfortunate run of right-hand side finishes. Six acts competed with three different songs, but Rice’s take on “Bigger Than Us” emerged victorious.

As the contest draws near, we’ve compiled 10 facts you need to know about Michael. Let’s do this!

1. He hails from Hartlepool

Ever wondered where Michael’s awesome accent came from? Well, in the north-east corner of England, just below Newcastle and Sunderland, is Hartlepool — Michael’s hometown. With a population of just under 100,000 it’s reasonably big.

Weird fact about Hartlepool? There is a story from the 19th century where the townspeople hung a monkey because they believed it was a French spy.

2. He won the inaugural series of All Together Now

All Together Now is a prime-time Saturday night show on the BBC where singers take it in turn to sing for a panel of 100 judges. This lineup includes Eurovision 2001 alum Lindsay Dracass and is headed up by Ginger Spice herself, Geri Horner. These judges will press their button and get up and sing along if they enjoy the singer’s performance. It’s incredibly difficult to get 90 let alone 100 — but Michael was one of only two in the whole series to achieve a full house. He did this with an awesome rendition of Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary”. He won the show by performing “Crazy In Love” and “Hallelujah” in the final. He took home £50,000 (approximately €58,300) for his troubles.

3. He also had a go at The X Factor

Before his victory on All Together Now, Michael had already tried his hand at The X Factor in 2014. However, he was less successful and received his marching orders at the Boot Camp stage.

4. Not a crepe-y way to spend his winnings…

When handed £50,000, most people would make crazy purchases and blow it within a year. Not Michael. He decided to launch The Waffle & Crepè Shack on Oxford Road in Hartlepool. On opening his business, Michael said “It was just a spontaneous idea, I went to bed after seeing a video on Facebook of someone making a crepe on a food stall and I just thought I could do that”. Not just an extremely talented singer, y’all!

Cookie Dough? & Ice Cream? Waffle?? ONLY £6.50!!!

Posted by The Waffle & Crepè Shack on Tuesday, December 4, 2018

5. He already has his own meme.

Teller Avivv? Tellna Veeva? Tel Aviva? While he’s nailed saying Tel Aviv now, he had a bit of trouble during You Decide interviews. And it really endeared him to the Eurovision fandom. Now you can find many variations on the Israeli city’s name on Twitter thanks to Michael.

6. He worked on an anti-bullying project called Power of Musik

Along with CeCe Sammy (a former You Decide judge no less), Michael joined a collective called Power Of Musik. They recorded “Bruised”, a track made in connection with children’s charity Barnardo’s. It aimed to bring kids together against bullying.

7. His fans already have a collective name.

Rice bowl emojis incoming! Michael’s fans have dubbed themselves the Ricenators on social media, you can generally find them by searching “Ricenators assemble”… or y’know something equally emphatic.🍚

8. How very influential…

When speaking with Living North, Michael said his influences include Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston and fellow Brit, Adele. With his vocal runs and powerful voice it’s hardly surprising he has such iconic idols.

9. YouTube helped him get where he is today

Our boy isn’t just a singer! Michael taught himself keyboard from watching YouTube videos. Sadly he stopped playing after he was bullied for his musical abilities… he’s about to perform in front of 200 million viewers, who’s laughing now?

Thankfully, he stuck at YouTube. He posted a video of himself covering a song by British trio Years & Years, and racked up 250,000 views. Not only did this get him going, but it also caught the eye of BBC execs who invited him to audition for All Together Now.

10. He has Irish blood

Michael’s granny, Carol Conroy, was born in the Irish town of Athlone. She emigrated to England over 40 years ago, but comes back as often as she can. Michael has visited too, receiving a tour from his grandaunt. The town is best known for being located in the heart of Ireland on the River Shannon, the longest river in the islands of Britain and Ireland. It’s also the hometown of Eurovision 2005 singers Donna and Joe McCaul.

We can’t wait to see how Michael does in Telleraveev come May. And with Eurovision In Concert around the corner, we’re pumped to be hearing those note-perfect performances throughout pre-party season.

How do you think Michael will fare at Eurovision? Let us know in the comments below, and stream “Bigger Than Us” on Spotify and iTunes!

Read more Eurovision 2019 facts here.

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Brexitny Spears
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Brexitny Spears

Brexit is due

Una
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Una

“Bigger than us”. I swear there must be something subliminal about the last three UK entries. I will never give up on you, storms don’t last for ever, bigger than us. There must be something there. What are the odds? BBC, what have you done?
I am expecting this post will be swallowed by the filter or deleted.

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

Nah, we can all take it. It’s fine, and it’s no secret here. Although when you think about it, we could have sent “Freedom Hearts”, “Legends” and “Freaks” instead over the past three years. I wonder what theories people would create for those.

Jjjjj
Guest
Jjjjj

Ricenators is probably the worst name for a fandom ever

Ern
Guest
Ern

Still angry Lucie Jones didn’t make top 10.

Anyway, I like this entry a lot. The singer is adorable. Hope he does well.

I am Thor, I am Thor
Guest
I am Thor, I am Thor

Any chance that he will include rice cakes in his food business?

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

I was recently told: “You’re lucky to have an entry at all,” given the calamity situation going on in the UK at the moment. Perhaps we should be thankful for Michael Rice, who is, after all, our UK representative during trying times. Plus he is literally sweet – he makes sweets. Yum.

keith mawson
Guest
keith mawson

lol that is funny. leaving EU not europe. Umm his cookie icecream thing looks amazing. he is great I hope he does well.

Jim
Guest
Jim

here are ten facts about Michael Rice
-his song is trash
-he doesnt deserve to be in the final
-the uk always sents the worst songs
-he deserves zero points
-the song is dated
-and generic
-and trashy
-bye!

Whisker
Guest
Whisker

Personal opinions, not facts. And they are only six. Please learn how to count.

Laburnum
Guest
Laburnum

Fun fact about Jim: lack of respect

Valiente
Guest
Valiente

Those are opinions, not facts. Learn to read a dictionary next time.

Meliris
Guest
Meliris

I do agree on these Opinions though…;)

keith mawson
Guest
keith mawson

and you are about 5. wind neck in.

M_K
Guest
M_K

Bye.

JohnO
Guest
JohnO

If the writer John Lundvic was singing this instead then the song would be one of the favourites, hail Sweden what a wonderful entry etc. If we sent Damon Alburn dressed in a tutu we’d still have no chance, right?

Whisker
Guest
Whisker

He sounds like a nice guy and he’s got a great voice. I don’t like the song though. I watched You Decide but didn’t enjoy any of the songs. Same thing last year. I do wish him the best.

Val
Guest
Val

I’m sorry but he looks like rice pudding

Whisker
Guest
Whisker

So delicious!!!!!!!!

I am Thor, I am Thor
Guest
I am Thor, I am Thor

What?

Atari 2600
Guest
Atari 2600

He’s now #38 in the UK iTunes Charts and #94 in Norway.

The song was only released on iTunes on Monday!

Joshua
Guest
Joshua

This is so underrated, by far the best song in the big5.

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

I’m more interested in his waffle shop than his song. The first one sounds good.

Jac
Guest
Jac

Are they going to revamp the song this year? The BBC usually do some sort of revamp don’t they?

Atari 2600
Guest
Atari 2600

It doesn’t need revamping tbh

beccaboo1212
Guest

Speaking of Michael Rice, I’m still waiting for him to film a music video for “Bigger than Us”. 🙂

EZz
Guest
EZz

For some reason although I wasn’t crazy about his song at the beginning, I think he could definitely do better than Surie last year and get us a decent position in Tel Aviv. His voice is powerful so we have a good shot, lets hope we improve from 24th place last year it looks likely.

MikolasFan
Guest
MikolasFan

Michael has such nice personality, he is smart and funny guy, the song is good and he definitely can deliver it , i think UK has all chances ends up higher than last year,maybe between 12-16 place

Bruno
Guest
Bruno

after watching his live performance and his interview i think he is the most adorable (along with Miki) young lad this year, he is sassy and cute and funny , would be nice to see him ends up at least in top 15, i actually like his song , well mostly how he sings it but anyway wish him luck!

James
Guest
James

I just discovered that he had some songs from the recent past on Spotify. I like his cover of my favorite Modjo song, “Lady”. 🙂

Joe
Guest
Joe

Had not seen that All Together Now clip before. Pretty badass. Here’s hoping he can work that magic on the crowd in Telaveeva!

sonia
Guest
sonia

He seems such a nice person, I like his song and I love him in interviews. To be honest, many people will just not care for big5, this is the truth. When you are already in the final, people don’t think too much, with sympathy about you. Downvote as much as you like, but is the truth, Big5 is just overlooked.

MikolasFan
Guest
MikolasFan

i think big 5 is pretty good this year, i like 3 songs , adore 1, and the other one just ok for me.

keith mawson
Guest
keith mawson

4 are very very good Germany is meh? shouty mess.

Polegend Godgarina
Guest

“ricenators” locals couldn’t come up with a more original name sksjsksk coulda been riceratops or sumthin

James
Guest
James

“UnliRice”? 🙂

P!nk Forever
Guest
P!nk Forever

The Licorices.

Whisker
Guest
Whisker

Yum-my!

Loin dici
Guest
Loin dici

Fried Rice. How about that?

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

I wonder… by what name are Zoë Straub’s fans referred to nowadays? 😛

BlackKava
Guest
BlackKava

He looks like teddy bear with an amazing voice, i find him very charming and bright young artist, hope UK will get some votes from public and juries, i would be sad seeing him in bottom 5 of the scoreboard

keith mawson
Guest
keith mawson

Out of the two songs written by John Ludvik this is definitely the best one.

Herr Frau
Guest
Herr Frau

I really hope he does well for the UK! We couldn’t ask for a better ambassador! He’s rising in the UK iTunes Charts as we speak