Wednesday 24 January 2018

The McCaul lambs set to stew in tough Kiev contest

Larissa Nolan

FIRST there was Mickey Joe Harte, then came Chris Doran and this year, it's Mork and Mindy. Well, not really - the act we have chosen to represent Ireland at Eurovision 2005 is brother and sister duo Donna and Joseph McCaul.

Come to think of it, you'd probably get better odds on Mork and Mindy bringing home the trophy. They'd certainly be better-looking. And more glamorous.

Everybody knows that the McCauls don't stand a chance, yet we're sending them over to the event in Kiev like lambs to the slaughter.

Red-haired and bespectacled Joseph is positively post-pubescent at just 16 years of age and Donna looks like she needed a good haircut and a set of braces a long time ago.

When they were told they'd won the chance to represent Ireland, Donna, from Athlone, Co Westmeath said: "This is the greatest night of our lives."

God love them, they'll change their tune after the trip to Kiev in May. Donna and Joseph will most likely manage to beat even Chris Doran's dismal record last year, when he came joint second last in the competition.

It's not that the brother and sister can't sing; they certainly can. It's not that their song is any more rubbish than any other Eurovision drivel, it could even be better than a lot of the other entries.

They just don't look right. They look naive, they look geeky, they look as if they've never been out of Westmeath in their lives.

It's cute that they're brother and sister, but they lack the all-important star quality that other successful sibling acts have in spades. Daniel and Natasha Bedingfield they certainly ain't.

Like it or not, the Eurovision has always been about image and glamour and more so now than ever, since the judging panel voting was scrapped and a public vote was introduced in 1998.

Today it's all about being kitsch, cheesy and gay-friendly - Eurovision is madly popular within the gay community, who watch with a keen sense of fun and irony. They don't tune in for talent, unless it's purely physical.

So it doesn't really matter if you have the voice of an angel and a pretty song to sing, there won't be a representative from Sweden who will give you douze points for effort.

Instead there will more than likely be a group of friends, having a laugh and a few drinks watching the acts, texting off votes for whomever made them giggle, dance or admire the outfits.

It has been almost 10 years since Ireland won the contest with Eimear Quinn's The Voice in 1996 and the competition has changed dramatically since then.

Ireland's problem is that it hasn't changed with it - and so have failed to win since.

Britain knows its market. Fighting for an entry place this year was former reality TV show star Javine, glamour model Jordan and ex-pop star Gina G. They all looked the part and had the confidence to match and any of them could have gone on to be winners.

Javine - who had the savvy to let her breast "accidentally" pop out mid-performance to out-boob the pneumatic Jordan - was the final choice and is now one of the competition favourites.

Things have gone steadily downhill since You're A Star began, the show that has produced our worst entrants in the history of Eurovision.

It was the Irish public who voted in the McCauls this year and not by a narrow margin. Donna and Joseph got more than a million text votes last Sunday night. It is astonishing that this method of choosing an act has not been scrapped yet, so bad have the choices been.

Can't we do better than this? We've won the thing seven times, more than any other nation. Isn't there is a bigger talent than the McCauls in all of the country?

There surely is but probably not the kind of person that would queue for hours in the rain to audition for people who know nothing about music, to then put themselves up for ridicule on a weekly TV show, before finally being given the golden opportunity of a chance at Eurovision.

Who is doing who the favour here?

But it will probably be the same old story in 2006. RTE knows that a competition that involves people from all over Ireland will draw viewers from all over Ireland too.

Meanwhile, the tweenies who watch You're A Star will continue to vote in the least hopefuls of our Eurovision entries. But after Mickey Joe, Chris and Mork and Mindy - what's another year?

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