The Rewind

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

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

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 16 countries in Tuesday's semi-final earning passage to last night's main event.

MAPS, performed by Leslie Roy, was an entirely forgettable song. The staging was poor and the vocal performance wasn't quite up to scratch either. In the end, it was no surprise to see it miss out.

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While we were unsure how close Ireland may have come to finishing in the top ten on the night, we now have a clearer idea. The full voting from all of the week's shows was released after Italy's win last night, with Ireland finishing rock bottom in their semi-final.

This marked the sixth occasion in the last seven contests that Ireland have failed to qualify for the grand final. 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 (two wins each) 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.

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Year after year, Ireland continue to send completely forgettable songs. This year was the perfect example. Even those who watched Tuesday's semi-final probably can't remember anything about Ireland's performance. 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.

Look at the Eurovision winners from recent years. Italy's entry this year will split opinion, but it was very different to all the other entries. 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.

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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.

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.

Here's hoping for much better in 2022. After all, what's another year?

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

Gary Connaughton

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