Well well well, national finals are usually a fairly mundane affair, with the majority of excitement coming from a wacky entry or a close result. Not a former Eurovision winner shouting down an industry mogul. But that’s what happened in Ireland’s Eurosong selection event last week.
The usual format includes Eurosong as a special edition of chat show “The Late Late Show”, with a panel of music-centric guests giving their opinions on the five finalists. The choice is made by a 50/50 split between six regional Irish juries, and the televote. The panel themselves have no direct contribution to the selection though. But each act has a mentor, someone music-related too who looks after them as an entrant. One mentor complained at length about how panelist Louis Walsh was linked to two of the acts (Kasey Smith was in a girlband Walsh managed, and Eoghan Quigg was on UK’s X-Factor where Walsh judged).
Former Irish winner Linda Martin fought Louis’s corner, at one point stalking up to the mentor, calling him an “odious little man” and a “gobshite”. Well I never! It didn’t seem to help the mentor’s cause, as one of the Louis-linked singers was eventually triumphant. But was it any good? We’ll see.
Unfortunately only I could only find the studio versions of some of these songs.
Andrew Mann – Be Mine
Midtempo pop-rock, his voice is fairly to-the-point isn’t it? Just sing the notes and get through it. His tone of voice is quite nice if a little ordinary, he doesn’t seem to add much of a flourish to it. This isn’t too bad actually, I wouldn’t go “whoa, that’s a winner” but there’s a nice American epic feel to it. Shame it came last then, really.
Patricia Roe – Don’t Hold On
Found a performance of this one at least. Her voice isn’t very loud is it, her lower register is totally lost in the verses. It does build up slowly but surely, and she starts to shine towards the end when the bigger notes hit. That sax solo, much as I quite like it, only compounds the feeling that this is a bit dated. I’d heard disappointing reviews of this year’s Eurosong entrants but both songs have been decent so far.
Laura O’Neill – You Don’t Remember Me
How disappointing that the fights at either side of this performance are on Youtube but not the performance itself. Co-written by mid-00s treasure Lucie Silvas though, with a bit of an Adele-chasing sound to Laura’s voice. Actually it feels like that’s exactly what they were going for; soulful but radio-friendly, it doesn’t quite reach Adele heights, but as with Patricia’s song it reaches a decent climax, even a well-executed key change. Good stuff.
Eoghan Quigg – The Movie Song
Not quite managing to reunite with fellow X-Factor 2008 contestant Ruth Lorenzo (representing Spain), Eoghan has grown up hasn’t he? He’s a little bit aware that he’s grown into his looks, with his butter-wouldn’t-melt cutesy love song and winks to camera. It’s a bit sickly and aims to follow in Malta’s footsteps with a jaunty little singalong. It just doesn’t seem to have a singalong hook. But it’s just so MOR it might as well have stripes painted on it. Blah.
Can-Linn feat. Kasey Smith – Heartbeat
Who are Can-Linn? This at least has more about it than the other entrants, with a dark dancey undertone and Irish traditional colour thrown in with a fiddle and some Irish dancers. Like Ryan Dolan last year, this looks a bit cheap in the pokey TV studio but with some good style choices in the visuals and staging, this could be a real grower. It doesn’t have quite the euphoric energy of “Only love survives” but that pulsing rhythm is great, and the final minute has a lot more energy.
Yes, I think Ireland made the best choice here. No idea if this could be a winner, but then Ireland have got a chip on their shoulder to rival the UK’s, but I have faith that this could at least be in the mix for the title, as much as an Irish win feels like such a yesteryear concept. It also incorporated something Irish into it, in contrast to last year (topless men with tribal tattoos and bodrums don’t count – but I’m glad they were there).