Saturday 16 December 2017

Brendan's Eurovision crash out no surprise - here's what we need to do to win

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
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Buoyed by a mixture of hope and hot air (courtesy of a gigantic candy striped balloon) Brendan Murray took to the Eurovision stage in Kiev last night.

He delivered a solid performance of a rather bleak ballad which was all-too-aptly named Dying to Try, but unfortunately, he failed to sail into the Grand Final.

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

Speaking afterwards he described his time on stage as “the best three minutes of my life”.

“Life is full of knocks but I am taking it on the chin and tomorrow is another day,” he said.

“I will always remember the experience.”

RTÉ’s Head of Delegation Michael Kealy said the result was “extremely disappointing”.

Ireland's Brendan Murray performs the song
Ireland's Brendan Murray performs the song "Dying To Try" (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

“I’m not sure people appreciate how difficult it is to qualify these days.

“It’s a completely different competition to how it was when we used to win back in the 90s.”

Kealy added that “Brendan couldn’t have done more - he is a credit to Ireland.”

While the result is undoubtedly disappointing, our failure to get the Grand Final is in no way surprising.

The first problem was the song which let’s face it was no great shakes.

It didn’t feel fresh or modern and the delivery lacked a sense of energy or excitement – even the balloon was stationary throughout Brendan’s performance.

The title is a confusing English colloquialism which I can’t imagine translates well into Slovakian.

The song also had no message apart from “So, em, would you like to be my girlfriend?”

The last few years the Eurovision has been filled with strong messages about rising up against the odds, embracing your differences, or speaking out about Stalin's deportation of Tatars in Crimea.

Within that context, our message lacked a little depth. 

But perhaps the real problem lies in our selection process which we seem to change every other year.

To ensure we get a winning formula, we probably need to find a proven selection process and stick to it.  

Just look at Sweden; their selection show Melodifestivalen, is one of their most popular TV shows and lasts for six weeks. No wonder they keep winning.

The added benefit of this PUBLIC selection process means it drums up publicity and fan base.

We really fell down on this front. There seemed to be an assumption that because Brendan used to be in boyband Hometown, all those screaming tweenage fans would follow him to Ukraine.

Nicky Byrne’s 2016 entry taught us that is not the case. Yet we made the exact same mistake again.     

Even Brendan’s mentor Louis Walsh, who knows Eurovision inside out, admitted the Irish song had not generated significant traction in Kiev. 

Speaking before the contest he said: “People don’t know much about Brendan. He’s very low-key, he’s not fake, he’s not a wannabe. He’s not into the fame game.

“He loves music and he loves singing and that’s all he wants to do. He’s a really nice kid.”

Nobody can argue with that. But not being “into the fame game” may explain why we failed to make noise on this very boisterous, spangled stage.

Just look at the difference in the number of YouTube hits between Italian entry (and favourite to win) Francesco Gabbani’s and Brendan Murray.

Gabbani’s single ‘Occidentali’s Karma’ has been viewed over 112 million times while Murray’s official video has been viewed 112,000.

There’s no way anyone can compete against that and remain “a nice kid”.

You need to be ruthlessly ambitious and the biggest extrovert going to over come those odds.

The one thing we got right was the staging which looked very impressive but lacked a little razzmatazz.

The holograms and the balloon were striking but it wasn’t enough to save the day.

Unless we revise the way we approach the song contest – we will continue to fail to make into the big league or the final.

This would be a pity because we would really like to watch the Grand Final and have our very own act to root for.

But at the very least we learned that many, many Eurovision fans are convinced that Brendan is a ringer for a young Justin Trudeau...

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