If there was ever a Eurovision nations that needed no introduction, it would be Ireland. Undisputed champion of the contest, since its 1965 debut, it has amassed an unequalled seven wins. They had performed reasonably up to 1991, with three wins and a handful of top 3 finishes, from 1992-1996 they were unstoppable, winning four of the five contests, the only nation to win three times in a row.
But after a 2nd place finish in the last Irish-hosted Eurovision in 1997, things have gone rather quiet. Largely this can be explained by two things, none of them political. In 1999 a rule was revoked that had forced countries to only sing in an official native language – Ireland, UK and Malta had a cornered English-speaking market until then. Also, the new countries that made up former Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union were arriving in great number, culminating in the semi-final system being introduced in 2004 to let everyone have a chance to qualify.
As it stands, you might only expect a win every 40-odd years on average. Ireland (or the UK) weren’t used to such an infrequent hit rate, and now both countries (and probably several more) have a bit of a chip on their shoulder, a persecution complex. This was made more prominent during the paranoid “Eurosong” selection show (read my review here), with the pundits bemoaning how it’s all about the staging and gimmicks these days.
It’s not as though Ireland wouldn’t be able to keep up, I mean sure the finances aren’t looking great, but Greece put on the flashiest shows of the lot and they’ve barely got two chickpeas to rub together at the moment. But I digress.
I can’t stay I was too hopeful about Ireland’s chances this year, after Jedward’s surprisingly brilliant one-trick-pony didn’t managed that second trick in Baku last year. Still, they’ve got a reasonable qualification record, including the last three years.
The five songs performed at Eurosong didn’t inspire much confidence, but I at least was pleased that the best song won. It felt at the time like a pretty generic dance track with all the modern tricks thrown in. But this has been a dark horse, and I’m really loving it now.
I expected a load of “Euphoria” copies to descend on Malmö this year, but instead Loreen seems to have prompted many participants to just send contemporary music that people might actually BUY. Imagine that! “Only love survives” may be one of the more shamelessly populist efforts, with a whoop-whoop bit like Rihanna’s “We found love”, a general feeling of Chris Brown’s “Yeah x3”, and even a bit that sounds like U2’s “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”.
That doesn’t stop it being a pretty irresistible dancefloor anthem that my mind even outdoes Cascada’s popular entry for Germany. Ryan himself has a great voice, he needs one if he doesn’t want to be lost in the mix, and fortunately he seems up to the task. I criticised the song before as being generic, but he’s picked a very successful genre! He’s also got a great body, who knew? He needs to show that off a bit, Azerbaijan’s Farid is doing deeply sexual keep-fit videos!
I’d say he had a good chance of weathering the tough first semi-final, though I won’t forgive him if he ruin’s preceding Moldova’s chances! Cyprus perform after, but I don’t see them getting into the final sadly. A nice late slot too… it’s his semi to lose. Ireland don’t seem to have figured much in the betting, but they’ve been massively wrong before, and I think this has the potential to surprise everyone.
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