She’s a fan of Jeff Buckley who once harboured dreams of signing for Bella Union. So, can this dance diva succeed where Blue and Bonnie Tyler faltered?
“Welcome to my hooooome,” SuRie deadpans, before bursting into laughter. We are meeting ahead of the Eurovision final in Lisbon, and the UK’s contestant is perched on a velvet-upholstered chair in the opulent Portuguese embassy in London. She throws herself into the role of tour guide with aplomb. “If you see this tapestry,” she says, gesturing to a floor-to-ceiling artwork of a fleet of ships, “it depicts a voyage from Lisbon to the UK, and now I’m doing the reverse. I think there’s a lovely link.”
Today, SuRie, 29, is wearing roomy black athleisure; her candyfloss-coloured hair is cut into a short crop like Katy Perry’s. In the past her music has skewed slightly alternative, and pre-Eurovision she released a heartfelt piano-led cover of Jeff Buckley’s Lover, You Should’ve Come Over. But her current song, Storm, flips that 180 degrees: it’s a distillation of EDM and 90s dance that feels slightly dated but has the nefarious sticking power of an ad jingle. “Storms don’t last for ever,” SuRie belts out stagily, bringing to mind all those divas who have sung of making it through the rain to welcome a new day.
“It means a lot to me,” she says of her song. “I need a reminder sometimes to keep my chin up and keep perspective. If we come together, concentrating on love and positivity, we can get through it all.”
SuRie’s hope is that her posi-pop earworm will be enough to give the UK its first Eurovision win since Katrina and the Waves’ Love Shine a Light back in 1997. Even the most dedicated fan of the contest would find it hard to deny that the UK has dropped the ball in recent years, with unmemorable entries from Blue, Bonnie Tyler and last year’s balladeer, Lucie Jones. “I don’t know what the problem is,” SuRie says. “But I hope to be a small cog in that wheel of trying to improve the reputation.”