Sam Ryder's 'static' hair is causing a problem for Eurovision stylists

The competitors in the Eurovision Song Contest have just three minutes on stage to make an impression – but a whole lot of time and energy goes into those three minutes behind the scenes. 

And even the wrong hair gel can make an act trend for all the wrong reasons.

Take the United Kingdom’s 2022 representative Sam Ryder. The Space Man singer makes quite a statement with his signature long strawberry blonde hair, but prior to the grand final, the glam teams behind Eurovision realised that his hair + the Eurovision arena = a balloon effect. 

Kevin Hughes, the global artistic director of Moroccanoil, the partner of the Eurovision Song Contest, explained that after his team did Sam’s hair for the rehearsal, they noticed that static was his enemy due to the highly charged atmosphere on stage.

Speaking to from the press centre at the PalaOlimpico in Turin, Kevin said of Sam’s ‘incredible’ hair: ‘We were watching the rehearsal and realised there was a lot of static out there. What happens is they get dressed, then they’re walking on carpeting, then they get on stage and they’re surrounded by electrics, lights and LEDs. 

‘So it’s really important to watch the rehearsal, because the team might not even realise what happens with the hair on stage. We had to add product throughout the hair to keep the static out.’

We don’t need #FrizzRyder trending, do we? 

Twenty-four Moroccanoil stylists (including six specially invited contest winners, one of whom has flown from Ukraine who left a day before war broke out with her daughter and two suitcases, and is now living in Ireland) are stationed at the arena, ensuring that the artists are picture perfect when heading on stage to represent their countries, but tweaks like smoothing static and whipping out more hairspray are just part of the job. The actual job of creating looks for Eurovision starts months before we see the final result on stage in May, and takes a village.

Antonio C Calero, global creative director, said: ‘Most people just see [the looks] this week and think we just put it together here. But we start the process three or four months ahead of time. We study the artists’ performance, what kind of look they will have on stage, what they have done in the past, what they are like personality wise, and it lets us understand what kind of look we’re going to be creating. 

‘It doesn’t always happen right away, because they might come in with an idea and change it later. We also need to look at the type of hair they have, and if they change it a lot. I present my ideas to our team members and do the consultation with them. Then we customise it for the performance, taking into account how much they’ll be dancing and moving and making sure the products we’re using in their hair is going to stay. Some of them will be holding microphones, some will have them behind their ears… it’s all about studying the movements, the outfits, and their personalities.’

Kevin, who leads the team’s work at New York Fashion Week, added: ‘It’s the same sort of preparation that goes into New York Fashion Week – building up to it, collaborating with the designers, so that’s very similar. But the scale of it is so much bigger. And New York Fashion Week isn’t small, but compared to this, it’s quite different.’

Some artists arrive with their own hair stylists, with the Moroccanoil team collaborating with them on their looks and providing any help or products that they need. But sometimes, the original plans get changed once an artist gets in the chair – like Pia Maria, who sang Halo with Lum!x for Austria. 

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‘Working with Austria, who unfortunately didn’t make it through, was really incredible,’ Kevin said. ‘She started off with bubble braids, and we were doing her hair, we put it into two ponies and crimped it and put waves in at the ends, and she was like, I love this, I don’t think I want the bubble braids anymore. So she changed it and went with her natural hair. She said, I decide what I like and what I want to wear.’

Making sure the Eurovision stars feel confident and comfortable is the main aim of the looks – although casual viewers may think it’s to make them look as outrageous as possible.

‘Past standout hair moments include Slavko from Montenegro in 2017 whipping his braid around the stage, and 2019 winner Netta’s space buns. But this year, although there are some out-there dos – namely Monika Liu’s bowl cut and the lead singer of The Rasmus’s feathers – ‘natural’ is the buzz word of 2022.

Antonio acknowledged that looks have been more outrageous in the past, but in Turin, they are seeing less severe looks – take Iceland’s Systur, with all three members simply refining their natural curls. 

Even this might take a lot of work, as Antonio explained that after weeks of pre-parties around Europe, many of the artists are showing up with ‘fried’ hair, resulting in the first step in Turin being a whole lot of pampering and conditioning. 

Sounds like a fun time to us – can we sign up for Eurovision next year?

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