Eurovision 2010: Ireland

At the time of writing this blog post, the official video for Ireland’s song ‘It’s For You’ had only garnered 117,859 views. The UK’s Josh Dubovie wasn’t far behind with 105,000. The comparison suggests that between now and the Eurovision semis Irish singer Niamh Kavanagh is going to have to mount a serious PR offensive. Germany’s Satellite sung by Lena, has to-date clocked up over 3 million views on YouTube.

It’s a shame. Ireland’s song composed by Niall Mooney, and Swedes Mårten Eriksson, Jonas Gladnikoff & Lina Eriksson is their most convincing for a long time.

If Dustin The Turkey in 2008 was Ireland’s darkest hour (and if it wasn’t then it was certainly a waste of everyone’s time – the puppet achieved 22 points and fifteenth place in the semis), then this year’s It’s For You marks a return to what Ireland used to famed for. Heart-wrenching ballads and rousing choruses with a shameless modulation thrown in for good measure. If that can’t win it, then the delegation will be going home heartbroken, I’m sure. Just listen to the chords in the song for God’s sake, how couldn’t they shed a tear?

That historical hook is reflected in Ireland choice of singer for this year’s act. Niamh Kavanagh won for Ireland back in 1993 with the musically more convincing In Your Eyes. As a piece of television it works as well. Kavanagh owns the stage and fills the shot with her warm smile even when the top notes sound a bit strained. She can handle the warbling too.

It’s For You taps into that win and – in the official preview video – kids those of us old enough to remember that 1993 win how wonderful life could be if a Eurovision veteran could show the rest of Europe that ‘she’s still got it’.

On closer inspection however, the setting of the lyrics to the music let the song down. The beginning of the verse feels clumsy. The studio production papers over this, but the original live performance highlight the dangers Kavanagh will face when she bids for another chance for Eurovision victory.

Not only that, the flute gives the whole thing a pungent whiff of the film Titanic. That and the jaw dropping reference to ‘All By Myself‘ heard in the opening melancholic chords makes Kavanagh’s 2010 a poor relation to the one she swept the results table with in 1993.

But hey, Eurovision songs can’t be expected to withstand this kind of analysis. Niamh Kavanagh has won Eurovision before. We loved her then. And we love her now. And we wouldn’t that displeased if she skipped off the stage in Oslo with the trophy in her hands.

Fingers crossed.

Eurovision 2010: Ireland chooses Niamh Kavanagh

There was something old school about live RTE’s Eurosong programme on Friday 5 March 2010.

I saw it by accident, slumped on a sofa in my hotel room the night before a blogging conference in Kilkenny.

Even I couldn’t believe my luck nor my shameful lack of awareness that only the week before the UK mounts its selection programme I had assumed the Irish hadn’t selected theirs already. I figure my forgetfulness is forgivable. I am quite busy after all. I do work quite hard.

Ireland’s selection programme occupied a special edition of RTE’s popular Friday night slot, The Late Late Show. In comparison to the established UK format, this was a significantly smaller affair. Joining host Ryan Tubridy were Irish winners from Eurovision yesteryear Dana and Johnny Logan. They sang, chatted with Tubridy, each other and Irish Eurovision commentator Marty Whelan sharing anecdotes and offering opinions. Former UK runner-up musical theatre luvvie Michael Ball joined the fray for a shameless spot of promotion too.

Songwriters got their moment before each song, proudly chatting to Tubridy about the work they’d crafted. For those who’d participated in the competition before the inevitable question was asked, “are you a glutton for punishment, or what?” When German songwriter Ralph Siegel (a man who always seems to crop up at Eurovision for one country or another) had his turn, there was a very real danger he would never stopping talking.

If the show’s producers had hoped that their star panelists would deliver some biting comment after each performance they were to be disappointed. Logan was honest, Whelan ridiculously over-enthusiastic about everything. Dana just felt uncomfortable about judging people, it seemed. It didn’t take long before Tubridy was pre-empting her. The vision of panellists contributing their opinion was in tatters. It must have been hell in the gallery.

It didn’t really matter. In amongst five songs, the front runner was ‘It’s For You’ sung by former Eurovision winner Niamh Kavanagh. The rest of the acts paled into insignificance. Kavanagh’s voice was gorgeous when she won in 1993 with ‘In Your Eyes’ and it’s still gorgeous now. The only thing she might want to look at between now and Ireland’s semi-final appearance is the outfit. The one for Friday night’s show did upstage her rather.

Still, the song should do Ireland proud. Admittedly, I can’t remember the song particularly now the show is over but it has integrity. It’s a decent song. It sounds like a standard. And that’s a nice thing to think (especially because it’s genuinely felt). Such songs enrich the soul of a Eurovision fan. And unlike previous years, if it won I wouldn’t be displeased in any way shape or form.

All this is great for Ireland’s chances at Eurovision. As a previous winner Kavanagh will make the long-in-the-tooth fans’ hearts flutter uncontrollably. Someone from the past setting foot on the stage to wow the audience once more.

But more than that, Ireland’s song is a manifestation of an emerging desire to return the contest to it’s roots.

It was no surprise that Johnny Logan did at times need reigning in when Tubridy threw the conversation open to him. But in the moments when Logan didn’t digress, wandering down the self-indulgent path, he made his view of the contest clear. “It’s not about me and it’s not about RTE. It’s about the people of Ireland choosing a song for the country.”

Difficult as his personal opinions would have been for TV producers of a live show in the UK, Logan’s seemingly emotional frailty over the Eurovision was both refreshingly and revealing. It’s not all tits and teeth and shiny floors in Ireland, it seems.

Against this backdrop, the lack of a gaudy set didn’t leave the programme wanting, even if the lack of chemistry left amongst everyone in the panellists corner resulted in some uncomfortable moments of live TV.

It might have lacked the now ubiquitous booms, tired looking club lighting and running shots from audience to stage, but the mix of static shots and slow pans was successful in focussing attention on the very thing Johnny Logan was encouraging his Irish audience to yearn for: the song.

Sometimes, if it’s not broken don’t fix it.

Eurovision 2009: Ireland

READ REVIEWS: Semi-Final One | Semi-Final Two | Grand Final

SONG REVIEW | REHEARSAL NOTES | PERFORMANCE NOTES

REHEARSAL NOTES

I didn’t like it last week and I don’t like it now. But I am impressed about how putting this act on a massive stage with a complimentary visual background reassures me that my only problem with it is the genre. Not for me girls but you know .. best of luck. 

SONG REVIEW

 

I struggle to both get excited about this song or even make my mind up about whether I’ll enjoy watching it on the night. It’s studio presentation isn’t particularly gripping. In fact, watching this performance of “Et Cetera” from Sinead Mulvey & Black Daisy reminds me of stuff the UK used to send to Eurovision in the mid-80s: it seemed terribly daring to send something different from the usual Eurovision fayre, but I couldn’t help thinking it might seem a bit naff given what I was watching on screen.

The promotional video sells the song in a slightly different way. It’s exactly the same track but somehow the music lifts and its more engaging. It’s tempting to give this an outside chance of getting through to the final especially because the sound of the track has that recognisable American high school bubblegum rock sound. Personally however I think it will sink without a trace.

More Eurovision homework

Frankly, if I can spend three and a half hours updating some pages about the Eurovision then the least you can do would be to spend the twelve or so minutes required to pour over the next four songs in Eurovision 2009.

Well, you can if you want. No-one’s forcing you. And I’d be the last person to pedal guilt as a motivating factor. Me being an expert on guilt .. it would be a little hippocritical.

So, for your viewing pleasure (and possible musical pleasure) roll up for Serbia, Sweden, Russia and Ireland.

(There was going to be seven entries to preview, but I’m way too tired and in need of a beer to be able to complete all of that tonight.)