For the halfway point in the second semi-final, we travel to the place I call home, the land where green comes in 40 shades, football fans are lovable and where everything will be grand (even if it’s not). It’s Ireland!!!
Ireland first participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1965. This year marks their fiftieth entry in the contest. They have won the contest more than any other country, with seven victories. Their first victory came in 1970, with Dana singing “All Kinds of Everything”. Ireland also holds the record the most wins by a single person, (Johnny Logan as an artist in 1980 with “What’s Another Year?” and in 1987 with “Hold Me Now” and as a songwriter with “Why Me?” in 1992) and is the only country to achieve three consecutive wins (Linda Martin with “Why Me?” in 1992, Niamh Kavannagh with “In Your Eyes” in 1993 and Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan with “Rock’n’Roll Kids” in 1994). Their last victory was in 1996 when Eimear Quinn sang “The Voice”. Since the turn of the century, things have fared less better. Ireland has only reached the top 10 three times since 2000, the last time was in 2011 when Jedward finished eighth with “Lipstick”. Last year, Nicky Byrne finished 15th in semi-final 2, leaving Ireland out of the final for the third year running.
The Irish broadcaster, Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ), worked with entertainment manager Louis Walsh to select the entrant and song. Brendan Murray was selected to represent Ireland. After this announcement, an open call for songs was held, from which a song was chosen internally.
Brendan Murray was on November 16th 1996 in Tuam, County Galway. In 2014, he joined the boyband Hometown. The band’s debut single “Where I Belong” reached number one on the Irish Single Chart and was the fastest-selling single from a debut act and an Irish artist in 2014. Their second single “Cry for Help” also reached number one. In 2016, it was announced that the band were going on an indefinite hiatus and the band members embarked on individual projects. Brendan’s, of course, is the Eurovision. His entry for Kyiv,”Dying to Try” was written and composed by Jörgen Elofsson and James Newman.
First of all, I would like to congratulate RTÉ on actually putting some effort into selecting this year’s entry not just selecting an RTÉ employee that just happens to sing. I was afraid when I heard of Louis Walsh’s involvement because I personally don’t harbour much love for him and I’m still on the fence about the finished product. Yes, Brendan’s voice is traditional yet modern, the song suits him, it contains a great Westlife moment and it certainly is a improvement on last year. However, I feel like this slightly harks back to the glory days of the 90’s when Ireland could do no wrong in Eurovision, which won’t work for the 21st century. For me, this has a chance of getting through to the final at least. This won’t win but as an Irish person, I want to see it doing well. Deep down, I hope it defies all expectations.
What Could Have Been
I am constantly frustrated by the fact that most established names in Irish music do not anywhere near Eurovision and that it isn’t taken as seriously as I would like it to be. I have too many suggestions for who I would like to wish representing my country, so I’ll just limit myself to two. I don’t think either option will ever happen but a man can dream, right?
First up, we have former Westlife member Markus (previously Mark) Feehily. We all know him from his lead vocals in the band but his solo work is just as impressive. His debut single “Love Is a Drug” showcases both his songwriting and vocal abilities to their finest. It is soulful yet fiery at the same time. Last year, I thought that if any Westlife member should have gone to Eurovision, it should have Mark and not Nicky. I would be very excited to see what he could bring to the contest.
On the other hand, we have Dingle-based band Walking On Cars. Their album “Everything This Way” went straight to number one on the Irish Albums Chart and their star is rapidly rising outside of Ireland as well. Their song “Speeding Cars” received massive airplay on Irish airwaves and was re-recorded in Irish as “Carr Ós Mo Chomhair” (A Car in Front of Me) for Ceol 17, an album released for Seachtain na Gaeilge (Irish Language Week). For me, they are a perfect example of the current Irish music scene and would go down a treat with a wider European audience.
Ádh mór Éire!
Will all the trying be worth it or will Brendan’s hope be killed? Leave your comments below. Stay tuned tomorrow for another Eurovision preview!
(Sources: eurovision.tv, RTÉ, YouTube)