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From Titans To Minnows: How Have Ireland Become So Bad At Eurovision?

From Titans To Minnows: How Have Ireland Become So Bad At Eurovision?
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton
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Winning the Eurovision is more difficult than ever. The sheer amount of countries that enter the competition each year means the competition is at a higher level than ever before.

In general, the standard has also improved over the last decade. While the turn of the millennium saw increasingly strange and out there acts perform well in the voting, it is difficult to say that the vast majority of winners over the last decade or so have not been genuinely brilliant songs.

However, as the Eurovision's standards continue to rise, the opposite seems to be happening in Ireland.

Our entry failed to progress to the grand final once again this year, despite ten of 15 countries in the first semi-final earning passage to the main event.

We Are One, performed by Wild Youth, was an entirely forgettable song. The staging was okay, but the vocal performance wasn't quite up to scratch. The song in general was entirely forgettable In the end, it was no surprise to see it miss out.

While there seemed to be shock among the Irish public that Wild Youth didn't make it through, there really should not have been. The truth of the matter is that while they probably were better than one or two of the entries that did progress, they did not deserve to get a place the final.


It would not be a surprise if Ireland finished rock bottom in the semi-final yet again.

This marked the eighth occasion in the last nine contests that Ireland have failed to qualify for the grand final (and the fourth time on the spin). Even when they do reach that stage, things usually go very poorly. In the last 20 years, Ireland have only finished in the top ten on two occasions - Brian Kennedy in 2006 and Jedward in 2011.

Every Eurovision Song Contest is filled with nostalgia, with Ireland front and centre in any look back at past winners. Our mark of seven wins is still the most of any country. Considering Ireland won four contest in the 1990s, how have our fortunes reversed so dramatically?


Many people blame 'the block voting', suggesting that countries on the continent only vote for their neighbours. While there may be a small grain of truth in that in certain instances, if it were indeed a real issue then the same handful of nations would be winning the event every year.

That is far from the case, with Sweden, Denmark, and Ukraine the only nations to win the event more than once since the turn of the century.

Ireland cannot blame a change in voting patterns for the lack of success. The truth is, it is entirely of their own doing.


Year after year, Ireland continue to send completely forgettable songs. This year was the perfect example, with the entry sounding more like a bad official song for a UEFA tournament than a Eurovision winner. Even those who watched it being performed semi-final probably couldn't remember anything about Ireland's performance by the end of the show. In fact, how many of our other songs can you remember from the last 15 years?

That has been a recurring theme. Our entry very rarely stands out from the pack, continually sending generic pop or dance songs that never have any chance of doing well.

Yeah after year, we send ridiculously poor pop songs and expect something to change.


They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, something that certainly applies to Ireland's Eurovision entries over the last two decades. Bubblegum pop songs are sent to the event year after year, essentially all of which have then fallen flat on their faces.

It doesn't have to be this way.

Look at the Eurovision winners from recent years. Italy's winner from 2021 will split opinion, but it was very different to all the other songs in that competition. The Netherlands' winner from 2019 was a brilliant song, as was Portugal in 2017. Israel's win in 2018 was a little bit more confusing although it certainly was memorable.


Ireland need to have a serious look at their policy in selecting songs. While some may have performed okay, we haven't had a genuinely great entry since the 1990s. That reeks of a lack of vision from the people involved in making these decisions.

When you consider the amount of musical talent in this country, there should be no excuse for producing poor songs year after year. It's impossible to get it right every time, but it should be equally difficult to get things wrong on such a consistent basis.

Eurovision songs that are successful all have the same components: a catchy chorus, quality staging, and some sort of unique feature. Our entries are often lacking all three of those.


A move away from cheap pop songs would be a start and that should be something that is easy to do. That genre had its moment in the Eurovision well over a decade ago but Ireland are still following that formula.

Instead of attempting to copy what worked for some countries 20 years ago, should Ireland consider going down their own path? An entry with a more traditional music feel would be interesting, one with a rebel or old Irish framing would stand out among the crowd.

As the likes of Portugal and The Netherlands have shown after years of struggle, one great song can be enough to turn a nation from also rans to competition winners. Ireland need to find their own version of that.

We're probably mad for doing it, but we're already hoping for much better in 2024. After all, what's another year?

Balls Remembers: The 3 Times Ireland Beat England In The Eurovision

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