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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 23 October, 2014

Opinion: “Why Us?” – The reason Ireland has not won a Eurovision since 1996

We thought we had the makings of a Eurovision winner – but what are we doing wrong?

Gerard Patrick Corless

HAVING SECURED THE most Eurovision victories in the history of the contest (seven in total), Ireland has had its grasp on the contest completely removed over the past couple of decades. To think, there is a generation out there who have never experienced the thrill of an Irish Eurovision win (without the help of YouTube).

On the week of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest, let’s challenge some of the common perceptions in Ireland on the reasons the words “douze points” and “Ireland” have not been uttered by a brilliantly white-toothed European TV presenter in quite some time.

“It’s not fair, all that political voting”

Everyone knows that some countries have traditionally reciprocated the awarding of 12 points, but what people don’t realise is that in addition to that 12 points, countries are also allocating 10 points and 8 points and 7 points etc. – and what do points make? Some very sore losers if your country is not getting enough of them, maybe the song is crap after all?

Rule number one, if you want Eurovision votes, send decent acts. Some countries will always reciprocate maximum points, but there are plenty of other points going and generally, the more popular the song, the more it picks up these votes.

Nothing to do with Turkish settlements in Germany or the fact that Ukraine and Russia are, ahem, neighbours.

Look at recent winners, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, none of which are Eastern Bloc.

“Oh you couldn’t be up to those Eastern Europeans”

Really? All Eastern Europe’s fault and nothing we did wrong?

  • Ukraine had a cheek winning the contest in 2004? The year we sent Chris Doran to Istanbul
  • Greece unfairly took victory when we sent Donna and Joe Mc Caul to Kiev in 2005?
  • Dustin the Turkey not qualifying in a year that those bad men from Russia topped the scoreboard, quel dommage?

Irelands Eurovision Singer Dustin

Dustin the Turkey who represented Ireland in the Eurovision.

It’s those pesky Eastern Europeans you see. They’re just too, well, pesky. How dare a lesbian singer from Serbia give us an archipelagic thrashing with a power-ballad in 2007, the year John Waters wrote one of our worst entries ever for the undeniably talented band, Dervish.

The reality is that “those Eastern Europeans” have only won nine out of the last twenty contests. That includes labelling Greece as an eastern European country, despite their Eurovision heritage going back to the 1970s. I don’t remember people shouting “J’ACCUSE” at the telly when Yugoslavia won the contest in 1989.

Those former Soviet states can have their democracy, provided they don’t then start beating us at singing, it seems.

“And if it’s not the Eastern Europeans, it’s those darn novelty acts like LORDI”

No need for use of simile there. LORDI is THE ONLY novelty act to win in the last twenty years and even at that, the ‘novelty’ description can only be loosely used.

APTOPIX Ozzfest

Finnish rock group Lordi

Source: AP/Press Association Images

Maybe in 2006 the Fins were sick of Tiger Economy arrogance a few years before we should have been?

Maybe their ‘anti-establishment’ heavy metal entry should have been noted as a herald of things to come and their song, “Hard Rock Hallelujia,” is in fact a reference to the stone ground some European economies crash landed on in the years that followed?

On the bright side, it gives Ryan Tubridy something to refer to with Marty Whelan on the Late Late Show Eurosong Special ever year and sure isn’t that just great, begorrah.

“Nobody takes Eurovision seriously”

That Ukrainian singer this year with her expensive spinning wheel mechanics begs to differ. Ukraine – a financially broke country in the midst of civil unrest, yet look at that contraption their act has on stage, must have cost a fair few hryvnias…

Denmark Eurovison Song Contest

Ukraine's act for 2014

Source: AP/Press Association Images

Or Greece with their trampoline, where did they get the money for one of them they cost at least 100 euro from Argos? Isn’t it well for the Russians, twins on a see-saw, oh they’ve plenty of money.

Denmark Eurovision Song Contest

RiskyKidd representing Greece perform the song 'Rise Up' during the second semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Source: AP/Press Association Images

What’s that? You mean to tell me we have to spend money to make our performance look good? We’re Irish – surely a tin whistle and a green dress should do it?

Unfortunately not. It’s a television show – just like any U2 concert. Thought has to be put into how the whole thing looks and how the overall performance is produced, and good production costs euros, unless you’re sending Glen Hansard to perform Falling Slowly.

“So what about it Glen, fancy helping us regain our Eurovision Crown?”

Unfortunately Glen Hansard probably wouldn’t go near the Eurovision, which is such a shame because other countries have sent their best in the past and done very well.

One of the biggest fears among Eurovision fans in 2015 is that all five members of Westlife will reform to represent Ireland (Australia doing the second semi interval act this year, an omen?). Shudder.

“Can’t Louis Walsh Do Something?”

Probably not. Eurovision isn’t like proper television shows you see, like The X Factor or The Voice of Ireland.

Rather than open our minds to music that isn’t familiar to us, we’d much rather settle in behind sob stories of karaoke singers or young Jimmy/Jack/Johnny/Seamus from Ballynaparish, sure isn’t he great at the singing?

“What do Linda Martin and Johnny Logan think?”

That’s the whole point. We need to stop asking them what they think and forget we ever won the contest in the hope we’ll start innovating again.

“Have Ireland a 0.01% of GDP Chance of Winning The Contest Ever Again?”

Even though Kasey Smith is a commanding performer and one ridiculously good-looking human who can belt out a half decent pop tune, the fact that Riverdance is twenty years old points to a notion that maybe, just maybe, our self-congratulatory “aren’t we just brilliant at the Ag Rince” might be jaded looking and ever so slightly out of date?

No Grá left in Europe (both East and West) for the Paddywhackers, if only those dancers had blood-stained horns, “LORDI of the Dance” anyone?

UK have sent a decent tune, if they can do it…

Gerard Patrick Corless is a freelance Business Analyst living in London who also writes for www.donegaldollop.com under the pseudonym, Charlie Pterosaur.
He is a lifelong Eurovision fan!

Read: Thought Ireland’s Eurovision entry was “too Irish”? It used to be a lot worse>

Read: Twitter is mourning Ireland’s failure to get through to the Eurvision finals>

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