Eurovision 2017: [Ireland] Dying to Try / Brendan Murray

A deceptive song from Ireland this year. A very slow-burn, with a charming chorus that provides a return on your investment. I’d originally dismissed ‘Dying To Try’ because of its pedestrian verse, but having listen a few times, I’m persuaded by its charms.

The childlike quality to the tone of Brendan’s voice is what puts me off the most. It’s a song that has weight, but his voice in terms of style doesn’t really deliver. It all feels just a little too fragile and, judging by the rehearsal footage, I think there’s a high chance that fragility will result in some dubious intonation.

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.

Eurovision 2012: Jedward meet Engelbert Humperdinck

Press Junket

Press events are strange affairs. Lots of people with big cameras and equally large egos offset with charming assertiveness jostle with another, not just to get the best shot, but to command the stage to get the shot they want. Such moments are in themselves as much examples of beautiful and miraculous stage direction as the television event the subjects are there to promote.

I was late to the UK and Ireland press event. The interviews were over. Even more reason then for me to force my way into a lift with far too many people in it already. Inside at one end, BBC commentator and Radio 1 bod Scot Mills was squashed into the corner. Next to me – possibly a little too close for comfort – a Swedish journalist explained to English ladies how big the national final in Sweden (Melodifestivalen) was. “It’s bigger than your X-Factor in the UK,” he squealed. “And much, much better,” I added out loud. The Swedish journalist blushed. My compatriots flashed me a look which left me feeling I wished I hadn’t opened my mouth.

No matter. I was in the lift because I didn’t want to miss an opportunity. Why was I there? Just getting a picture of Engelbert Humperdinck and Jedward didn’t seem like enough. After all, I’d had my own special time with The Dinck only yesterday. True, I hadn’t had to go far to attend the last half hour of the event (the delegates hotel is around the corner from where I’m staying). Getting a few shots seemed like all too superficial a reason.

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Eurovision 2012: Ireland Waterline Jedward

Jedward impressed fans and TV viewers alike with their song Lipstick at last year’s contest. Their obvious enthusiasm and seemingly limitless energy made for a real spectacle. Lipstick being a musical earworm helped their cause too. A great combination which saw the country skidding in eighth.

Their song this year – Waterline – compares less favourably. The boys still deliver a punchy performance, but musically the song just doesn’t have the same infectious quality last year’s did. That’s a shame, because a Jedward number in the running order for the final on 26th May would be nice. I just can’t see it happening.

Eurovision 2011: Ireland

If Jedward had ended up representing the UK I would have been annoyed. Instead they’re representing Ireland.

I can’t say I was especially excited by the prospect and – having finally seen their ‘effort’ – I can’t say I’m especially excited about the prospect of seeing them perform in Dusseldorf this year. Sorry boys. But really. You make my blood boil. And your song Lipstick? Oh. Dear. God.

Mind you. It’s catchy. It has an undeniable hook to it. And it will rock at Dusseldorf. Come the night people will get swept along by it. And they have a larger than life presence. All things which will do them well come the final vote.

Like the UK’s act Blue, Jedward have been doing their PR well too. Where Blue had their nude photoshoot for gay magazine Attitude, Jedward played up to the androgenous/twinky market with their photoshoot for GayTimes (left). PR counts for a lot at Eurovision. And in comparison with previous years it could Ireland doing really very well indeed.