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Guitar at Eurovision 2022: a Brian May-inspired solo conquers, Måneskin and The Rasmus return, and the Gibson Theodore makes its TV debut

Sam Ryder, Måneskin and Alvan and Haez perform at Eurovision 2022
(Image credit: Getty)

The 2022 Eurovision Song Contest took place in Turin, Italy this weekend (May 14), and the evening’s performances served up a number of high-profile guitar moments.

Most notable was the success of UK entry Sam Ryder – a TikTok star and lifelong Eurovision fan who was inspired to learn guitar after watching Lordi win the contest in 2006. His ’70s rock-tinged entry, Space Man, featured a Brian May-inspired guitar solo at its climax and came second in the overall rankings after winning the judge’s vote.

Finnish rockers The Rasmus, best known for their monster 2003 hit In the Shadows, took to the stage with Jezebel, a track that nodded to ’80s arena rock. Guitarist Emilia "Emppu" Suhonen, who joined the band this year, played an ESP Eclipse fitted with fluorescent yellow strings to match the band’s staging.

Other noteworthy entries included Iceland’s Gretsch-toting nouveau folk-country act Systur, and Germany’s Malik Harris, who aped a live-looped performance with sample pads and an acoustic guitar.

The event also marked a high-profile TV debut for Gibson’s highly limited Theodore, accompanying French entry Alvan & Ahez for the syncopated chords in tribal dance floor-filler Fulenn, which also found guitarist Alexis Morvan-Rosius sliding a drumstick on a ukulele to simulate the sounds of a traditional stringed instrument.

Based on a recently unearthed 1957 sketch by famed designer Ted McCarty and put into production in March this year, the Theodore was limited to just 318 units – so you can imagine our surprise when we saw a black-finished example burst onto our TV screens on Saturday evening.

While it’s debatable how much guitar was performed live on the night, the fact that six-strings featured in the staging of many of this year’s entries is a good indicator of the guitar’s status in popular culture – and, of course, that acts were keen to capitalize on the success of last year’s winners, Italian glam-rockers Måneskin.

Måneskin themselves made an appearance after this year’s entrants had finished, performing new single Supermodel, a track that owes more than a little to Smells Like Teen Spirit, if you ask us. There were also some peak Frusciante vibes from guitarist Thomas Raggi, courtesy of some neat chord embellishments and his heavily relic’d Strat.

This year’s contest was ultimately won by Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, which combined hip-hop with traditional instrumentation and won the public vote in a show of solidarity amid the ongoing Russian invasion.

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Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar (opens in new tab), Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as the best part of 20 years performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe (opens in new tab).