Last year, the Irish team floundered by entering a former boy band singer with a terribly high voice and a dreary song. This time around, there was much talk of songwriting camps (very much the new thing in Eurovision circles – or very much the thing with broadcasters stuck for ideas), and an assurance that this time, the Irish would be back and fighting to regain their reputation – they have after all won this thing more times than any other nation.
So, I have to say that when falsetto-voiced Ryan O’Shaughnessy limped onto the scene (the world premiere was on the radio in the middle of the day) with another weedy ballad, my spirits sank. It’s one thing to make a mistake, but it feels like RTE have ended up trapped in a loop of failure. We won with Johnny Logan. He was a bloke. He sang a ballad. It has to work again. Law of averages, sure lookit.
This isn’t anywhere near as bad as the package RTE sent last year, though there’s still the prospect of dodgy staging to come – in 2017, whoever was behind that screwed any small chance of a result by throwing the wrong bag of tricks at it. The video doesn’t bode well. I presumed it to be aiming for the gay vote, but when I first saw it, I tittered rather than identified with the wee ‘uns as they tripped down Grafton Street. And the cheap attempt at drumming up a headline by saying the Russians wanted to ban it, was low by any standards.
Now the running order is out, I have to admit the song stands out better – putting it at the opposite end of the show to the Lithuanian entry helps.
Ryan has been notably absent from any promotion thus far – though the parties are to come – and even though this might be due to prior commitments, to the outside world (or me) it has made his support feel half-hearted.
All things considered, both song and singer are stronger than anything RTE have sent in recent years. It’s a step in the right direction, but if the stars collide in some strange way and it scrapes into the grand final, it’s unlikely to return the Irish to the right part of the scoreboard.
Better luck next time?