Tuesday 21 November 2017

Brian O'Reilly: Eurovision 2014 - Will Ireland qualify for the final tonight?

Kasey Smith at dress rehearsal with dancers
Kasey Smith at dress rehearsal with dancers
Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

Tonight is the big night for Kasey Smith - months of rehearsals and practice all comes down to three minutes in front of 100m people.

The semi final in recent years has become the most exciting night for Irish fans - it's the night we get to share in the victory of qualifying because, let's be honest, we haven't troubled the scoreboard in the final for many years.

Our record in the semis is quite good - We've been in eight Eurovision semi finals, and qualified from five of them (the exceptions being Donna and Joe in 2005, Dustin in 2008 and Sinead Mulvey in 2009).

We're going for five in a row this year - but will we make it?

Unfortunately, and frustratingly, I think this year we're going  to miss out.

Let me start with the positives.

Kasey is a stunning girl with a fantastic voice, and a very competent  live performer - vocally it will be delivered perfectly.

The song itself, although slightly dated, is one of the strongest we've sent in the last decade.

So, what's the problem you ask?

The stage show is a cliche-ridden three minute cringe fest.

Ireland's Kasey Smith

Ireland's Kasey Smith is set to take to the stage tonight

For those of you not familiar with the performance, on the Late Late show selection in February we saw Kasey sing accompanied by two Irish dancers awkwardly river-dancing away beside her.

And, well, it hasn't changed much in the three months since.

It is completely underwhelming on a huge stage, and quite frankly the Irish dancing is a tacky embarrasment. It's just not good enough.

There seems to be a mentality that, sure, if we throw a few Irish dancers jumping around like Leprecauns won't they lap that up in Minsk and Vilnius and vote for us. No they won't.

We tried it in 2005 and it didn't work. We tried it in 2007 and it didn't work. We tried it in 2010 and it didn't work. We even tried it last year and it didn't work.

Ireland has tried to play up the whole celtic thing. Message back from Europe - we don't like it.

All the dancers serve as is a distraction, even an annoyance.

It was clear to all the performance didn't work at the national final on the Late Late show in February.

It was clear to all they didn't work on Kasey's 'farewell' performance on the Late Late two weeks ago.

The performance has no place in the Eurovision of 2014, it barely would have made the grade in 2004.

There seems to be an assumption that Europe will be impressed with the 'Irishness' of the performance.

We have no birthright to be in the Eurovision final - winning seven times counts for nothing now.

The usual excuses will be offered no doubt - that it should be about the song and not the stage show.

But that's just not true, it's the EuroVISION song contest - if it was all about the song it would be on the radio.

There is a stubbornness in our approach to this competition. We have ardently refused to adapt and change.

The eastern influx modernised the compeition, and in many ways saved it.

Western Europe had to adapt to this change - with Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Norway all seeing dividends from moving with change in recent years.

Even the UK has bowed to modernity and picked a fresh up-and-coming singer with a contemporary song, after two consecutive years of picking singers who peaked decades ago.

I really hope I'm wrong, as an Irish Eurovision fan I want nothing more than to see my country take its place among the 25 finalists on Saturday.

If we do qualify, it will be on the strength of the song and  Kasey's solid vocal, not the distracting performance.

Take a look at the maths:

Ten from 15 songs will qualify.

There are certain countries guaranteed to qualify based on geography and have a 100pc qualification record: Greece and Romania

There are countries that will qualify based on the obvious strength of their song: Norway, Israel and Malta.

That leaves five places, which we are battling it out for.

Belarus, Macedonia and Slovenia will probably all sneak in.

So we're down to two. By my reckoning, Finland, Austria, Switzerland and Ireland are battling for these last two spots.

It will come down to the wire, good camera work which hides the Irish dancers may just save our bacon.

Sadly however, I think we may be beat by Austria and Switzerland.

I think it will be the first time in five years that we'll miss the cut.

I'll gladly be wrong and eat humble pie tomorrow -  in fact, I'll be happy to.


Twitter: @Brian_O_Reilly

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