Category: TV

The latest TV news and updates.

Eurovision 2017: The Rise Of Portugal And Fall Of Ireland

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.

Written by
Kenneth Giles

Dancing With The Stars Off To A Strictly Fantastic Start!

Last night saw the beginning of RTE’s newest attempt at producing a big budget international format following on from The Voice Of Ireland and our take on variety talent shows with The All Ireland Talent Show. As I tentively took the steps to enter the studio last night I did not know what to expect from a usually underwhelming set design of Irish TV shows but I was beyond surprised.

Dancing With The Stars Ireland has exceeding all my expections from the set to the presenting talent and even down to our celebrities. The set is above and beyond prior “big budget” shows from the national broadcaster and is actually very similar to other international versions of the hit show with the swooping staircases, LED screens and image projection floor….. it was a great start to the day!

As the audience took their seats and we were briefed on what we could and couldn’t do, it felt no different to when I witnessed other versions of the show including Strictly Come Dancing in the U.K. which we will obviously draw comparisons to as it is the one we all watch religiously. Our version, produced by Shinawil, has been eagerly awaited since it was announced to replace the frankly lacklustre attempt at The Voice which we witnessed at this time of the year for the past few years. This is a welcome change but everyone was saying “surely this won’t be good, it’s Irish”.

OK we haven’t got the big names that the US or U.K. versions can pull in so stop complaining about that because we are a small island, these celebrities are ours, take them to your heart and enjoy it for what it is. However, we do have one major star on the show and I couldn’t believe how professional she is but also so down to earth, presenter Amanda Byram. Why she hasn’t been presenting this show in other countries before I do not know, she held the whole show together beautifully accompanied by her co-host, Westlife’s Nicky Byrne who brought the real Dub feel to the show.

So, the stage was set, presenters, stage and cameras in place, now time for curtain up on the biggest show for the Irish viewing public in a long time and we were not to be disappointed.

The opening routine ‘Putting On The Ritz’, as a choreographer myself I can say was pulled off to perfection with a glittering, glamorous showstopper from both the celebrities and their pro dancers. Choreographed by Lilia Kopylova who featured on the UK version in its early days alongside her husband Darren Bennett who is the creative director on our version, we really do have the best team working on our format of the BBC hit.

Now before I mention the celebrity dancers, we need to acknowledge the pro dancers, a mix of Irish and international performers with far too many titles to count, they are an incredible bunch. I was a little skeptical of what our pro’s may be like, surely you can’t blame me? But wow, out of all the versions I have seen I don’t think we have seen a more well balanced and professional looking ensemble. All quite young, fit and in their prime dancing ability, it showed in their group dance that they could hold the floor and command your attention.

Also a nod to the costume department who pulled out all the stops to make every performer look ‘on point’ and as shiny and glittery as possible.

Now onto our celebrities! Last night we were treated to the 5 guys performances as well as a group dance from the ladies. Up first was comedian Des Bishop who gave it pure aggression and tackled the dance head on to pull off a great first dance. Next up was Big Brother star Hughie Maughan who performed to Years And Years track King and although he didn’t reach the top of the leader board last night, he certainly wins the title for the most enthusiastic and energetic performance of the night!

We were then treated to the surprise of the night in Kerry GAA player Aidan O’Mahony who I am tipping as the dark horse of the competition. He attacked the floor with a performance to ‘Fireball’ and had everyone in the audience cheering him on. Up next was Dad of the ballroom, sports broadcaster Des Cahill who was totally out of his comfort zone but unlike what we all thought he could actually move.

So last up for the lads was friend of mine and early favourite, Hometown boy band member Dayl Cronin. Without doubt the best performance of the night with his fusion of Charleston and Commercial style performance set to a Calvin Harris track, where else would you find that on Sunday night TV?. Scoring the highest points of the night, Dayl I’m sure will be there for the 12 week duration.

Ou pro dancers then took to the floor in their spectacular group dance which blew everyone away as it was one of the best pro group dances I have seen on any of these kinds of shows. Modern, stylish, blends of styles and hot, what more could we have asked for?

Finally, we couldn’t have seen the lads without the ladies getting a shot but this week they got off lightly and could perform as a group. We saw  a comedienne, a weather girl, two soap stars, a model and a doctor take to the floor in a full on girly routine which was full of fun and joy and the odd nervous face but it was the first night so it’s all good.

All in all, Dancing With The Stars Ireland has started off to a great start and looks to be a ratings hit for RTE. Finally we have a production to be proud of and one that I personally would love to get involved with at some stage down the line. Give me the call!

And keeep Dancing! (We need our own tagline….. maybe We Done It!)

Review by @Kenneth_Giles