Post Mortem – Eurovision Times is going to take a look over the next few weeks at the countries that did not make it through to the grand final this year. We’ll analyse why people think it was and the reactions of the countries and fans to the failure. First up we have Ireland’s Nicky Byrne, singing ‘Sunlight‘, who didn’t make it out of semi-final 2.
When Byrne was announced as RTE’s internally selected representative we were excited. Experienced, used to a big stage and a lovely guy. It sounded like Ireland were taking it seriously. Unfortunately the song and performance just didn’t grab the imaginations of the voters and wasn’t able to compete with better performances on the night.
Byrne’s initial reaction was clearly shock and disappointment tweeting:
“Amazing Time Amazing Support / I gave it my all, I’m sorry I didn’t get us there. / I pass on the torch to someone else now next year.”
Speaking to press after he was knocked out, Byrne said:
‘Obviously I’m disappointed. I really would have loved to represent Ireland at the final on Saturday, but sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to.’
The results, once revealed, showed he was nowhere near qualifying, coming 15th out of 18th (only 1 point higher than 16th), getting the second lowest mark from the juries and not much more from the televote.
Byrne left Stockholm early, not staying for the final, and interviews given to the press when he returned home started sounding a little more bitter. Speaking to the Irish Mirror he said,
“I had fun, it was an amazing experience. Lots of people are saying stuff that the likes of Ukraine, Serbia, Latvia and Lithuania, a lot of people are telling me this morning that they tend to vote for each other to make sure they’re all in the final. Because they’re all against Russia, whether you can believe that or not, I’m not sure. What I do know is that the likes of Ireland, Denmark and Norway, and the night before Finland and Iceland didn’t qualify. The western European countries are out.”
Whilst many Irish fans were outraged, the Eurovision crowd seemed unsurprised, with many expecting non-qualification prior to the contest.
What is interesting is that all connected with the performance within the RTE team, and Irish media (part from the Irish Telegraph who have savaged Byrne) seem unable to see what fans could see.
An average song, uninteresting staging, poor clothing choice and one of the key issues, weaker vocals, have all been cited by fans and critics. No-one could ever suggest that Byrne, as much as he gave his all, can compete with the vocal abilities of Jamala or Dami Im. Whilst he did just about OK on the night there had been several times during rehearsals when he sounded flat.
Since the introduction of the semi-finals in 2004, Ireland has failed to qualify for the final on seven occasions and has finished in last place twice.
Ireland seem intent on going down the slippery slope the UK has. Not taking the contest seriously and seeing it as a joke kitsch contest (surely nothing could be further from the truth after the evolution of the last 5 years?), trying to justify their poor results with excuses about bloc voting with little evidence, and lacking in any self-awareness of the poor quality of their submissions compared to other countries more contemporary and high quality entries.
TV presenter Daithi O Se said he feels team Ireland was robbed. He said: “It’s a pile of s**te, he nailed the song, he nailed the performance and he didn’t get through. Seriously, your man from Latvia got through?”
RTE’s Eurovision commentator Marty Whelan said “What happens is you do the best you can, you bring a good act and Nicky was brilliant. He played a blinder on stage.”
The European (and Australian) public and juries clearly disagreed.
Let us know your thoughts below in the comments.