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!!!
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.
Well done! Best performance tonight by a landslide.
So happy you won 🙂
Good luck in tella aviva!
— Smhumm (@Smhumm) February 8, 2019
Imagine having the money to go to both semis and the final in Telleraveev ugh can't relate ?
— Danny // Fanny Asda Daily Star (@BelChi90) February 19, 2019
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!