A News Report from Tinteán‘s Eurovision Correspondent
Ireland has selected Galway native Brendan Murray to sing ‘Dying To Try’ at 2017 Eurovision Song Contest to be held in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, on 13th May.
After three consecutive non-qualifications to the Final of the world’s biggest entertainment event, Ireland is trying again.
200 million viewers tuned in last year to watch Jamala from Ukraine carry away the trophy with her controversial entry, ‘1944’, a song which, in the opinion of many, breached the political content rules of the contest. No such issues troubled the 2016 Irish entry ‘Sunlight’ sung by former Westlife singer, Nicky Byrne, which simply failed to shine in its Semi Final.
So what has RTE on offer this year? Another boyband alumnus – Brendan was a member of now disbanded boyband, Hometown – but two decades younger, with a fresh-faced charm that translates well on the screen.
In a ballad-heavy year his song is – well, another ballad. The ‘Jamala effect’ has seen a trend towards Diva ballads at this year’s contest, so a male balladeer ought to stand out in this field.
However, while the song is well-sung it is, in Eurovision parlance, a Grower not a Grabber. It is content to do a small job well rather than to take any risks or to engage with edgier contemporary trends. As most televoters will hear the song for the first time for just three minutes during Semi Final 2, any potential it has to ‘grow’ on the listener is limited. It’s not a Grabber – and if it did reach the Final it would be outclassed in its genre by the more arresting, more immediate ballad from Australia.
Ireland’s cause should, in theory, be helped by the fact that it has been drawn in the weaker of the two Semi Finals – but here again the Eurovision gods have not been kind. Though not necessarily fatal, a spot in the first half is historically a more difficult proposition – and Ireland has drawn a top half spot.
The overall weakness of the second Semi Final compared with the first, (which is already touted as a ‘bloodbath’ Semi) might help: but in an Eastern bloc-dominated lineup, Ireland would have to ponder where its friendly votes might come from. With middling quality all around it, and no significant voting bloc behind it, this likeable enough entry might just be buried.
RTE might yet astound Eurovisionaries by pulling a staging rabbit out of the hat, but unless it can find some unique selling point for this worthy effort, Ireland looks, at the moment, to be a borderline qualifier again.
Nice try, Ireland – but will it be enough?