Saturday 21 October 2017

Eurovision hopeful Brendan Murray: 'Some Irish people laugh at Eurovision, but look at Johnny Logan - he's huge all over'

Brendan Murray.
Brendan Murray.
Brendan Murray (second from right) with Romania's Alex Florea, Spain's Manel Navarro and Bulgaria's Kristian Kostov in Jerusalem.
Brendan Murray.

Jennifer O'Brien in Tel Aviv

1996 marks the last year Ireland experienced Eurovision victory, with Eimear Quinn's The Voice taking home the trophy at the Point Theatre.

It also marks the year our current Eurovision hopeful Brendan Murray was born, and he's taking that as a good omen.

The singer - a former member of Louis Walsh's Hometown - can't remember the glory days of Ireland's Eurovision greatness, but that doesn't mean he's not determined to bring them back.

"My first Eurovision memory is probably Jedward and then Ryan Dolan and Nicky Byrne last year," he tells the Irish Independent.

Brendan Murray (second from right) with Romania's Alex Florea, Spain's Manel Navarro and Bulgaria's Kristian Kostov in Jerusalem.
Brendan Murray (second from right) with Romania's Alex Florea, Spain's Manel Navarro and Bulgaria's Kristian Kostov in Jerusalem.

"My parents told me all about Johnny Logan and Dana and I've watched those videos back and done my research.

"I know it's a big deal to represent Ireland and I'm honored really."

Indeed, it was Louis Walsh who put Murray forward represent Ireland this year, bringing in songwriting heavyweight by Jörgen Elofsson to pen balled 'Dying to Try'.

"Jörgen wrote songs for Westlife and Celine Dion and he wrote Kelly Clarkson's Stronger so obviously I'm delighted with the song," Murray admits.

Brendan Murray.
Brendan Murray.

"James Newman, who is John's brother, co-wrote it and I really think it suits my voice."

Murray is currently in Tel Aviv at Israel Calling - a pre-Eurovision meet up for delegates hosted by the Israeli Foreign Ministry. The trip offers Eurovision singers the chance to meet each other and integrate before the competition.

In four weeks he will take to the stage during the Eurovision semi-finals in Kiev and with Ireland failing to make it out of the semi-final stages for the past three years, the young Tuam man is determined to put things right.

"I feel pressure to get out of the semi-final," he admitted. "But the song has been getting a really good reception.

"I'm focused on that and the whole team is focused on that and just getting up on stage and doing it justice."

The trip to Israel has been something of an eye-opener into the crazy world of Eurovision and the fanatics it attracts.

In between visits to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and a tree-planting ceremony at the 'Eurovision Forrest', Murray is bombarded with requests for video interviews and selfies.

 "I don't know what I was expecting, but I wasn't expecting this," he admits.

"People are coming up to me, asking for pictures and singing the song back to me  and saying 'oh I love your song' - it's crazy and everyone is just so excited - it's brilliant really."

Following the end of Hometown, Murray remained in Dublin "for a while" before making the move back to his native Tuam.

He's hoping Eurovision will open some new doors in the world of music.

"I'm not thinking too much beyond the competition but you never really know what could come out of something like this," he admits.

"Eurovision is my main focus now."

Indeed, with tens of millions of viewers set to tune in for the semi-finals alone, it's exposure on a phenomenal scale.

And, like most of the young Eurovision hopefuls gathered in Tel Aviv, Murray is admirably focssed on minding his voice and putting on the best performance possible in May.

"On the night, there will be nerves, but I'm hoping that I get to run through it so many times that it will be fine," he says.

"I'll probably have some honey to drink and warm up my voice before I go on and take it from there.

"I will be nervous, but I'm going to try to overcome the nerves...

"Some Irish people laugh at Eurovision, but look at Johnny Logan - he's huge all over," he continues.

"It's huge in Europe and hopefully we can bring back the glory days for Ireland."

During his trip to Jerusalem, Murray slipped a note with a wish into the Western Wall.

With unpredictable voting patterns and back-patting between 'friendly' nations synonymous with modern-day Eurovision, calling on the gods to assist with qualifying for the finals might not have been a bad move...

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