Thursday 27 October 2016

Champs to chumps – let's face music and forsake this painfest

Published 20/05/2013 | 05:00

Cringe. The annual Eurovision Song Contest post-mortem is under way, and it is even more depressing this year given our dismal performance in Malmo on Saturday night. Oh the pain of coming 'Paddy last'.

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Ireland's efforts to achieve Eurovision glory reached an embarrassing low with Ryan Dolan scoring only five points, compared to the 281 points scored by Denmark with their catchy winning entry, 'Only Teardrops', sung by the gorgeous 20-year-old, Emmelie de Forest.

We have had all kinds of everything representing us at the Eurovision in recent years in our desperate quest to hit the high notes and rediscover the winning formula that has seen us win seven contests, a record number of victories for any one country.

But nothing has worked. It gets worse every year. How in God's name has it come to this?

In 2007 we decided to go traditional with a nice Irish song by Dervish titled 'They Can't Stop the Spring'. Sadly, they didn't manage to stop the losing streak, scoring only five points and coming in last.

The following year there was nearly a national revolt when we sent a puppet (not on a string) to fly the flag for Ireland in what was our all-time most embarrassing effort. Surprise, surprise, Dustin the Turkey didn't get through to the final with the less than memorable, but appropriately named, 'Irelande Douze Pointe'.

After that disaster RTE decided to play it safe with a nice ballad, 'Et Cetera', by Sinead Mulvey and Black Daisy in 2009. It was a case of etc etc all right, with the entry failing to get through the semi-finals once again.

A past winner, Niamh Kavanagh, was rolled out in 2010. Any expectation that her experience and previous success would help regain the Eurovision crown were dashed, with Niamh trailing home 23rd.

We were really desperate in 2011 and 2012, sending the terrible twins, Jedward, who were hailed as our great new hope, with all their madness and hair spray. The fact that they can't sing wasn't factored in. In fairness, they did okay with 'Lipstick', coming in 8th, but they trailed in at 19th place last year.

I am no music expert but Ryan Dolan from Strabane did an okay job on Saturday night, I thought. He can sing, he looks good and the bodhran routine brought a bit of Irishness into the mix. He went down well in Sweden and was even tipped by the host country to win the contest. The fact that he was last out of the 26 countries to perform was seen to be a good omen, with statistics showing that since 2004, only one winner in the semi-finals and finals has competed in the first half of the contest.

Alas it was not to be. Eurovision egg on our faces once again. Even Paddy Power felt compelled not to take any money off patriotic punters who had a few bob on Ryan to win, promising yesterday a full refund.

The real winner on Saturday night amidst the glittering spandex and the murdering of songs was the eccentric and outrageous hostess, comedian Petra Mede, who sent out a strong message that Sweden didn't take the event too seriously. And we shouldn't take the Eurovision too seriously either.

Our national obsession with winning a rather terrible song contest must end here, and please RTE stop putting Ireland through this annual painfest year after year. 'What's Another Year' is right.

Yesterday RTE was sticking by its guns, saying it was happy with its selection method. Currently, RTE appoints five music professionals as mentors to find an act and a song.

The head of the Irish delegation at Eurovision, Michael Kealy, said that although they were shocked by Dolan's result, the selection method was a success. How on earth did he come to that conclusion?

Has anyone actually considered that our entry might have been rubbish? Maybe the faster we accept this possibility, and stop showing sour grapes and putting on a brave face, the better.

We can blame political and block voting all we like but the reality is that the Danish entry scooped up votes from right around Europe.

We are taking this lark far too seriously and it is time to face reality. We have tried lots of options in recent years with not a glimmer of success. Let's say "enough", and save the Irish people this annual disgrace – and the cost to the RTE licence payer – and not enter again.

We can still get the Chinese takeaway, crack open some beers, and watch the song contest we have come to love to hate every May – but with the comfort of knowing that we won't be making a show of ourselves.

Irish Independent

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