Sunday 21 December 2014

Brian O’Reilly: Where did it all go wrong? Ireland get knocked out of Eurovision

Published 09/05/2014 | 07:24

Can-Linn (featuring Kasey Smith) representing Ireland perform the song 'Heartbeat'  during the second semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest in the B&W Halls in Copenhagen, Denmark, Thursday, May 8, 2014.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Can-Linn (featuring Kasey Smith) representing Ireland perform the song 'Heartbeat' during the second semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest in the B&W Halls in Copenhagen, Denmark

Normally I enjoy the triumph of being right, but not at last night’s Eurovision result.

I’d predicted here yesterday, reluctantly, that Ireland wouldn’t make the cut for Saturday’s grand final – and last night that prediction became a reality.

It must be said the Irish public’s relationship with Eurovision has improved, based on our stoic reception of the result.

For once on social media there wasn’t the usual outcry of an Eastern block conspiracy and political voting – just a solemn acceptance that the performance just wasn’t quite good enough.

Let me clarify: The song was good enough to qualify, Kasey was a good enough singer to qualify, but the performance on stage was a shambles.

Where does the blame lay? I’m afraid a sizeable portion must be laid at the door of our national broadcaster.

Can-Linn, representing Ireland, perform the song "Heartbeat" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, May 8, 2014. The competition's two semi-finals will take place on May 6 and May 8, while the grand final will be held on May 10. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz (DENMARK - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Can-Linn, representing Ireland, perform the song "Heartbeat" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Can-Linn (featuring Kasey Smith) representing Ireland perform the song 'Heartbeat' during the second semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest in the B&W Halls in Copenhagen, Denmark, Thursday, May 8, 2014.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Carl Espen, representing Norway, performs the song "Silent Storm" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Vilija Mataciunaite, representing Lithunia, perform the song "Attention" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
People wave flags during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, May 8, 2014. The competition's two semi-finals will take place on May 6 and May 8, while the grand final will be held on May 10. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz (DENMARK - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Firelight, representing Malta, performs the song "Coming Home" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Firelight, representing Malta, performs the song "Coming Home" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Mei Finegold, representing Israel, performs the song "Same Heart" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
The Shin and Mariko, representing Georgia, performs the song "Three Minutes to Earth" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, May 8, 2014. The competition's two semi-finals will take place on May 6 and May 8, while the grand final will be held on May 10. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz (DENMARK - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Donatan & Cleo, representing Poland, perform the song "My Slowianie- We Are Slavic" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
The band Shin and Mariko representing Georgia perform the song 'Three Minutes to Earth' during the second semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest in the B&W Halls in Copenhagen, Denmark
Mei Finegold representing Israel performs the song 'Same Heart' during the second semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest in the B&W Halls in Copenhagen
Donatan & Cleo, representing Poland, perform the song "My Slowianie- We Are Slavic" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Conchita Wurst, representing Austria, performs the song "Rise Like a Phoenix" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Conchita Wurst, representing Austria, performs the song "Rise Like a Phoenix" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Sebalter representing Switzerland performs the song "Hunter of Stars" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Sebalter representing Switzerland performs the song "Hunter of Stars" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Sebalter representing Switzerland performs the song "Hunter of Stars" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Sebalter representing Switzerland performs the song "Hunter of Stars" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Softengine, representing Finland, perform the song "Something Better" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Can-Linn, representing Ireland, perform the song "Heartbeat" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Teo, representing Belarus, performs the song "Cheescake" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Teo, representing Belarus, performs the song "Cheescake" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Tijana, representing Macedonia, performs the song "To the Sky" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Tijana representing Macedonia performs the song "To the Sky" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Sebalter representing Switzerland performs the son "Hunter of Stars" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Sebalter representing Switzerland performs the song 'Hunter of Stars' during the second semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest in the B&W Halls in Copenhagen, Denmark
Paula Seling & OVI representing Romania perform the song "Miracle" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Tinkara Kovac representing Slovenia performs the song "Round and round" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Freaky Fortune representing Greece performs the song "Rise Up" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Freaky Fortune representing Greece performs the song "Rise Up" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Tinkara Kovac representing Slovenia performs the song "Round and round" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Donatan & Cleo representing Poland perform the song "My Slowianie- We Are Slavic" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Donatan & Cleo representing Poland perform the song "My Slowianie- We Are Slavic" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Paula Seling & OVI representing Romania perform the song "Miracle" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Conchita Wurst representing Austria performs the song "Rise Like a Phoenix" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Mei Finegold representing Israel performs the song "Same Heart" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
The Shin and Mariko representing Georgia performs the song "Three Minutes to Earth" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen

RTE ultimately control how our Eurovision entry is selected and how it is presented on stage.

The performance we witnessed last night wouldn’t cut the mustard at a second rate panto, never mind the biggest entertainment show on the planet.

Cheesy Irish dancers and backing singers swaying their arms to the beat is beyond tacky.

Adapt or die. It’s true to life, and it’s true to Eurovision.

We all have a laugh at this show – it can be cheesy, tacky and downright bizarre.

However as a nation we take our success or failure very personally, and rightly so – we have an incredibly strong musical pedigree.

I had the great pleasure of several conversations with Marty Whelan last year in Malmo, discussing whether Ireland could host the competition should we win.

His answer was a resounding yes - that in fact many of the people involved in Ireland’s organisation of the show in 1990s were still around in RTE.

And here lies the problem.

The show has moved on dramatically from what it was in our glory days.

It is the greatest entertainment show in the world, and has shown itself to be dynamic and adaptable to modern trends.

RTE, however, have not.

What worked in the 1990s no longer works in this competition.

We have two options; we can whinge about how the goalposts have been moved and how we don’t like it, or we can adapt to the modern competition.

We are an immensely talented race musically, and we proved that during the 90s. We can prove it again.

There would appear to be a fear of risk taking in RTE, and an adherence to the ‘Eurovision rule book’.

The rulebook was written by us in the latter part of the 20th century and we proved masters of it.

Eurovision has changed now. There is no rule book. There is no set formula for what works and what doesn’t. Those who take risks triumph.

Germany won in 2010, yet finished last just two years previously – because they take risks.

Sweden didn’t make the final in 2010, yet in 2012 ‘Euphoria’ proved the most commercially successful Eurovision winner this century.

Failure should not mean we try to conform; it should encourage us to set our own path.

Netherlands failed to qualify for nine years in a row until last year, when they sent a completely different stripped back performance and cracked the top ten.

They have done the same this year and may well win the whole competition for it.

RTE still seem to be scared by our failures in this competition since the turn of the century.

We took a huge risk with Dustin in 2008 and it blew up in our faces.

However, we also took a huge risk with Jedward in 2011 and it proved our most successful entry in a decade.

We have to stop selecting what we think is ‘Eurovisiony’ and start selecting good original Irish talent again.

We shouldn’t try to follow Eurovision trends, we should once again try to set the trend.

vision014.jpg

Kasey and a good song suffered from a dreadfully staged performance, however hopefully this failure will not be in vain.

It should serve as a much needed wake-up call to RTE, that if we ever want to win again we must adapt.

We have one more year before it hits 20 years since we last won – here’s hoping in 2015 we can reclaim some of our lost Eurovision honour.

Twitter: @Brian_O_Reilly

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