Sunday 20 August 2017

Comment: RTE is responsible for our embarrassing run of Eurovision failures

Irish Eurovision entry Brendan Murray is pictured performing during the dress rehersal in the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song contest 2017 in Kyiv. Picture Andres Poveda
Irish Eurovision entry Brendan Murray is pictured performing during the dress rehersal in the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song contest 2017 in Kyiv. Picture Andres Poveda
Irish Eurovision entry Brendan Murray is pictured performing during the dress rehersal in the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song contest 2017 in Kyiv. Picture Andres Poveda
Ireland's Brendan Murray performs with the song "Dying to Try" REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Euro memories: Jedward on stage in Baku
Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

Let this sink in - Ireland has had the worst run of results of any country in Eurovision in the last five years bar one.

Macedonia occupies the dubious position of worst performing country in the last five years, and Ireland is one place up that list in second last.

Remember not so long ago when it was a national outrage when we didn't qualify? The cheek of those Eastern Europeans, sending better songs than us.

Eurovision has become an annual competition we now soullessly slog along through, awaiting the inevitable. Failure.

Irish Eurovision entry Brendan Murray is pictured performing during the dress rehersal in the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song contest 2017 in Kyiv. Picture Andres Poveda
Irish Eurovision entry Brendan Murray is pictured performing during the dress rehersal in the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song contest 2017 in Kyiv. Picture Andres Poveda

The whole structure of how we select our song is wrong, and that responsibility lies with RTE.

We entrust selecting a song for a music competition to TV producers.

Just because you can spot a ratings winner of a TV show, doesn't mean you can spot a winning song. They're two separate skill sets.

We constantly hear about how Sweden - the most successful country in the competition over the last five years - pick their entry.

Ireland's Brendan Murray performs with the song
Ireland's Brendan Murray performs with the song "Dying to Try" REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Their mammoth selection process wouldn't be possible here - there is not enough interest to justify it.

Sweden is also a pop music producing powerhouse, so has enough output to fill six weeks of TV.

We're a nation of balladeers and acoustic rock - which unfortunately doesn't make great Saturday night TV entertainment.

What Sweden does do - and this is where Ireland can learn - is hand over the process to record companies and the music industry at large.

Euro memories: Jedward on stage in Baku
Euro memories: Jedward on stage in Baku

The TV producers look after the TV bit, making the songs look good on screen - but the songs themselves are coming from music industry professionals.

This concept the Swedes use isn't original, and may sound familiar- that's because they took the model Ireland and RTE used during our glory days.

RTE need to move away from internal selections and allow the Irish public to choose their entries again.

The Irish public have an excellent history in selecting entries, but can't be expected to be invested in an entry they had no involvement in choosing.

There is rarely a justification for internal selection of both singer and song.

You know the way some couples might have a "list" of one or two celebrity couples they could sleep with if the opportunity came along? Maybe RTE should have a list of those who can be selected internally. U2, maybe Enya? Other than that the public should be consulted.

The Irish public are under no illusions about the qualities of our entries any longer - it's been two decades since 'Rock'n'roll kids' and nothing has come close from us in song quality since.

We have a proud musical and cultural heritage that is being embarrassed in front of 200m people every year with second-rate recycled Swedish pop songs being performed under an Irish flag.

There's a reason these Swedish songs are available to us - they've been rejected in Sweden. Jedward's 2012 entry had been rejected from Sweden's national selection several times since 2008.

This year's staging was a marked improvement on the lazy, uninspired attempts of previous years - but the song was a lazy Westlife castoff from 2002.

An open national final staged in a proper music venue with proper production standards is a start. The judging panel for those entries needs to be widened, and have its average age reduced. Young people make up the majority of Eurovision voters, so should be heavily involved in shortlisting our entries.

There's no reason for national final entries to be selected by backroom teams - the age of YouTube means 20 or 30 songs could be posted and allow success there to dictate who makes it to a televised final.

The aim in RTE needs to be to win - not just qualify.

The claim RTE don't want to win due to the cost is nonsense. That suggest a strategy of some sort is involved. There clearly isn't one at play.

Besides, thanks to commercial sponsorship modern Eurovisions aren't the financial burden on host broadcasters they once were. Some have even made money from hosting the event.

It's a waste of licence fee money to continue to compete as we are. There's no justification to spend hundreds of thousands sending a team to compete knowing failure is inevitable.

RTE has seen Ireland become a footnote in the Eurovision history books for our record amount of victories - a record Sweden will not doubt take in the next five years.

Ireland hasn't failed at Eurovision - RTE has.

 

Online Editors

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment