So the Eurovision Song Contest has finished for another year and we have seen some records being made and some records being made even longer in this past week of programming.
First off, after a 53 year participation without any luck Portugal walked away with a victory last night with over 700 points from the Jury and Audience votes. A song which just stood alone, had a great melody and a simple stage design overtook the crazy and elaborate stage shows from various countries to top both the Jury and Audience votes before they were combined to reveal Salvador the victor. Topping both the Jury and Audience votes has become hard in previous years but this song proves that it cut through language barriers, bloc voting scandals and proves that a great song CAN win the contest.
Looking at the entire show and of course the Semi Finals from during the week, the production value was definitely there for majority of the songs with countries trusting some of their biggest names with representing their countries and throwing every graphic, wedding dress and even a milk jug at their appearance in the contest. No stone is ever left unturned in the competition which sees 42 countries participate.
After viewing both Semi Finals and the 6 automatic qualifiers (Big Five plus the host country) I predicted a varied Top 7. As we sat to watch last nights event I promised I would not change my mind and I didn’t which led to my Top 7 being the TOP SEVEN! Yes, I am not bragging but I predicted Portugal would win, Bulgaria would be second and Moldova, Romania, Belgium, Italy and Sweden would round out the top spots on the night. Each song different but all great pop songs with great hooks and nice staging.
So now let’s move onto our own failures: IRELAND
Why have we done so bad in the past few years? For the last 4 years we have not qualified out of the Semi Final which now creates a brand new record for Ireland as the worst qualification record for the country ever. We have gone from the best to the worst country at the contest, but why?
Well, first off our national broadcaster RTE is trying too hard to predict what the audience wants. When they see a ballad win, they throw in a ‘dance anthem’ with drums and when an uptempo song wins, we throw in a ballad that would of suited the contest 20 years ago and we try to do it as cheaply as possible. For the last number of years, the same people have called the shots on the Eurovision selection for Ireland and now the time is right to change that and bring in fresh blood to end our embarrassing failure.
This years entry, Brendan Murray, was internally selected by Louis Walsh who RTE praise at every opportunity and ship himself and Linda Martin (Eurovision winner of the 90’s) into every show possible which leads me to believe they have some hold on the delegation here in Ireland. Ok, both LW and LM have precious history and success with the contest… but that was 25 years ago, it is not the same Contest nowadays.
Louis was tasked with finding the BEST song for Ireland and in a submission process of over 300 songs he chose this:
What’s wrong with this? Well let’s break it down into simple terms. The writers are previous Westlife hitmakers, so did Louis look very far or just accept his friends song. The song builds too far into the song, an audience wants to be brought in from the first verse, not at 2.30. The staging is cheap and tacky, once again RTE looking for staging that can fit into a suitcase to save on expenses but then sends their whole department including Louis Walsh on a holiday to Ukraine. And lastly, the song has no radio or commercial play relatability. My Grandmother loves the song but will she pick up the phone and vote or likewise does she listen to Spotify? No.
Our whole selection process is so backwards it’s funny. A little secret for you all: In 2016, I approached RTE and their Head Of Delegation with a very good proposal from myself and the writer of two very recent Eurovision smashes including a WINNING song in the past five years 😉 who was willing to work with Ireland to create a song and myself a creative stage show. This was rejected. And likewise in 2013, after our first bad result, myself and an American producer with hit singles on Billboard and Worldwide Singles Charts offered ourselves to come up with a Eurovision song for Ireland. This was rejected.
Why do they not want to listen? It’s plain and simple, friends are keeping friends in jobs but they will never succeed at this contest without finding commercial friendly songs, creating an attractive stage show and using our great qualities to our advantage and I am not talking about throwing more Irish dancers on stage!
I have said it time and time again, I would love the opportunity to be involved in the process and I know so many people that are of the same mind from proven songwriters and producers in both this years contest and previous to performers and creatives looking to bring some glory back to Ireland. Let’s call for RTE to open up the process for everyone to enter songs and stage shows, not just selecting a song and artist internally, that does not work. We have proved that now!
Overall a sad year for Ireland in Eurovision, Brendan done a great job but he was flogging a dead horse. His voice with a great modern song like Belgium or Bulgaria would have given us a great chance. Let’s learn and create something special for 2018.