Eurovision 2016 – Ireland: ‘Sunlight’ (Nicky Byrne)

Nicky Byrne’s ‘Sunlight’ is a deceptive number in this year’s Eurovision. Upbeat, hopeful and packed full of the joys of spring, this is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s better songs in recent years.

Quite whether there’ll be sufficient appetite for it to get it into the final, I’m not entirely sure. If his London Eurovision Party appearance is anything to go by, and you’re Irish, you might want to prepare yourself for disappointment. Such is the danger of an overly studio produced song.

If ‘Sunlight’ ends up defiying expectation, then it’s ultimate failing will, I think, be the ambitious nature of its melodic hook. After the middle eight, the return of the chorus makes me feel as I though I’ve been listening to this for ten, maybe twenty years. On that basis there is a higher chance it will sink without a trace than score well.

Byrne’s song does mark a return to a previous, just not necessarily the form the country needs right now. Ireland needs that to regain some of its former reputation, something demonstrated in the brilliantly produced (if not equally performed) ‘Lipstick‘ (2011, 8th). That was the year Ireland recognised what Eurovision demanded.

Where Ireland effortlessly triumphed was the heart-warming mid-tempo ballad. That’s the simple explanation for their early wins, and their record-breaking domination of the leaderboard in the early nineties. If you’re looking for textbook Ireland, then look at ‘In Your Eyes‘ (1993, 1st), melodically and harmonically more satisfying than Johnny Logan’s wins for the country, ‘What’s Another Year?’ and ‘Hold Me Now‘ (1987, 1st).

What they weren’t terribly good at was Dustin the Turkey’s passive aggressive ‘Irelande Douze Point‘ (failed to qualify), nor the well-meant but poorly choreographed teenage joie de vivre ‘Love?‘ (also failed to qualify). Not everyone liked ‘If The World Stopped Turning‘ (2004, 23rd), but if I hear anyone pissing and moaning about ‘Dreamin’‘ (1995, 14th) or ‘Wait Until the Weekend Comes‘ (1985, 6th) I will, I promise, punch them on the nose.

In recent years the country has failed to qualify for the final. What Nicky Byrne will be hoping for this year is qualification. Anything beyond that is a bonus.

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