UK Eurovision Song Contest entrant James Newman says his pop icon brother John has been “so supportive” of his Eurovision 2021 appearance.
James will be appearing at Saturday’s Grand Final to perform his track Embers, with the hope of securing a spot on the left-hand side of the leaderboard for the United Kingdom.
But his brother has been a constant source of support for him in preparation for the contest – especially after the 2020 event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
James was initially entered to compete last year with his track My Last Breath.
John Newman, one of the masterminds behind Rudimental’s Feel The Love as well as his own No1 single Love Me Again, grew up with James in North Yorkshire.
He’s also written songs for artists like Calvin Harris, Panic! At The Disco and Jessie J.
"It’s great having a brother who’s a pop star," James told Daily Star. "He knows what it’s like to be in the public eye – he’s sung in front of thousands and thousands of people.
"For him, it’d be a walk in the park getting on that [Eurovision] stage!" he laughed.
James continued: "He’s given me so much good advice. We’re best mates, we always support each other, so it’s been great being able to ring him up every night and ask him questions.
"He’s been so supportive, which is just great to have."
James, of course, is no stranger to penning hits. His own songwriting credits include bops like Little Mix’s Love Me Like You and Rudimental’s Lay It All On Me.
"When I started out in music I wanted to be a singer," he shared. "That’s what I love the most – that feeling of getting on stage and singing to people. When I did my first Eurovision rehearsal last week, it went all black and I was stood up on the podium and the song started and I got chills.
"My plan was always to write songs for other people and then launch my own artist career. So when my label rang me up and said ‘This is a random question, but how would you feel about doing Eurovision?’ it was a no-brainer. It was an amazing opportunity to sing in front of 100million people.
"My first memory [of the contest] is Gina G. Not many people even know Ooh Aah… Just a Little Bit is a Eurovision song! But seeing [Austrian 2014 act] Conchita Wurst sing was also an amazing moment for me. Eurovision is so fun and it’s got so many great people in it and I’m just really happy I’m a part of it," James said.
2021 hasn’t been an easy road. The cancellation of last year’s contest meant more than a song change – it also means the live audience at the Rotterdam Ahoy will be restricted to a socially distanced 3,500 people.
But James hasn’t let that stop him – in fact, he admitted having to put things on hold for a year meant he could still be “productive” at home.
"Music-wise, it was great to reflect and learn new skills, because I was writing songs online for people and it’s a lot harder than doing it in the room. Knowing Eurovision was still gonna happen was a great feeling, and I tried to keep creative with cooking, meditating and chilling out at home."
And the songwriting sensation definitely thinks he’s on to a winner with this year’s song, and believes he could even defy the bookie's odds.
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"Anything’s possible," he said. "If I nail it on the night I could win. I’m a firm believer in the power of positive thinking, so the best result is obviously for me to win.
"When I first got asked to do this, the goal was to get on the left-hand side of the board. But my personal goal is to get into the top 10 or to win.
"It’s a huge pressure representing your country in a song competition as a songwriter and singer, but I’m just having a great time. The response has been so amazing from everyone back home and everyone in Europe so it makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing," the star continued.
And the fan response certainly has been something. James’ loyal supporters have even launched their own hashtag – #ThumbsUpForJamesNewman – after noticing that he always shoots the camera a thumbs up in photographs.
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"I don't really like to read comments," James admitted. "So when the official Eurovision channel [on YouTube] put up a video of the first rehearsal, I got somebody else to look through them for me, and they said it was 99% amazing feedback.
"That’s all you want really, for people to react well to it and enjoy it, so I’m buzzing."
But fans do feel that one thing could be missing from the performance – pyrotechnics.
"I’m not sure about fire next to that leather jacket!" James laughed. "We are making some tweaks from the rehearsal, though. We get to change some of the shots and the lighting, so it’ll be a bit more pimped up. So make sure you tune in!"
The Eurovision Grand Final airs on Saturday, May 22 on BBC One
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