Music

Eurovision 2017 Entry In-Depth: British Isles (Ireland & UK)

If I’m going geographically further and further east, the next stop is obviously, actually, my home. And our closest neighbour, and I swear I don’t mean to offend any Irish by calling this grouping the British Isles but firstly, it’s the best descriptor, and secondly, come back at me when you’ve sent an entry worth listening to. Because sadly, like with Spain and Portugal, this is another duo of entries I don’t particularly like. Eastern Europe has done it far better this year. And yes, that means I’m going to be slagging off my home country in this one. Bring it on.

Ireland – Brendan Murray – Dying To Try

Look, I don’t ask for much from Ireland, I just want a fun Celtic romp every year. Because that has been what they’ve done best for me in the past, inside Eurovision and outside (sadly mostly outside). Far from being the most successful Eurovision country ever, they’re actually one of the worst as far as musical quality goes, relying too much on safe, boring and dull adult contemporary ballads for me to be interested in more than a few of their entries. There have been a few that I’ve liked, the rocky Et cetera, the rather sweet Playing With Numbers in recent years, and the truly Celtic They Can’t Stop The Spring. I actually really want to like Ireland, they could provide a different perspective that’s similar to my own country but more… quaint. But when your best entry list includes Jedward frighteningly near the top, you really aren’t trying. And it’s hard to argue against their poor results lately.

Ireland’s NF has been lacking lately but it’s notable that this is the first time they’ve opted for an internal selection. Based on the result, I’d rather they went back to that national final. Even though I’ve never watched it and likely never will even if it does come back.

See, the worst form of music imaginable is unironic, dull, Westlife-adjacent crap, that slowly and lethargically sings its way through a couple of verses before repeating the chorus at a key change. For me at least. Because it’s unexciting and offers no fresh look on anything. This is what I disliked Ireland’s entry for last year, sung by an actual member of Westlife, so I really didn’t think they could get any worse. But they have. And Brendan, poor Brendan (at least I hope he’s feeling guilty about this otherwise I have no sympathy) has been stuck with a song that is even more Westlife than last year, I did not think such a thing couold be possible. It is unoriginal, boring and deserves far fewer words than those I’ve already written about it. Unquestionably the worst entry this year. For the second year in a row. Ireland, get it together and move the hell away from your musical 2000, it was not good to you.

Thankfully for me, Ireland is isolated from the UK and singing in the first half of its semi-final. Still no order but for me, with how dull the song is, that indicates a pretty clear non-qualifier, unless Brendan’s pretty boy looks work in his favour which would be totally wrong because if they can do it on this, then they can work on anything and the only thing countries need to do to qualify is to send a young male from now on. Ireland’s going to get stuck in the semis for another year and although the entry deserves it, I really feel sorry for them at this pace, if it comes to pass it will be four years in a row. SEND BETTER SONGS.

United Kingdom – Lucie Jones – Never Give Up On You

*insert boring Brexit joke about how we’re giving up on Europe*

I’ll give it to the UK entry, this is the most polished we’ve been for many a year. See, I do think we’ve largely deserved our position at the bottom of the final lately, many of our entries lately and indeed throughout this whole century so far had no spark to them and the only one that did, that I still adore in studio form and consider to be easily our best entry of this century, Electro Velvet, was let down by poor staging and live performing. I suppose It’s My Time and I Can were also pretty good, which is why they did well, while Teenage Life had similar fun potential to Leccy V. But it’s been nothing that standout from us for quite a while and a lot of the time it’s also sounded cheap. The One Direction-Coldplay hybrid duo we sent last year was very cheap and at the end, who would vote for that at the end of that night. To her credit, Lucie could change that.

But only to an extent. I did watch the national final, because it’s my home nation, I’ve got to, and while she was the most polished there, I enjoyed several of the other entries more. Not that much more, there were no real favourites that I was disappointed didn’t win but that’s the problem, I just didn’t really care about any of them. As for the winner, Lucie was just… really boring. A ballad but a ballad that does very little for me, and ballads are rarely in short supply in Eurovision. Considering it’s an entertainment show, it’s mindboggling how often so many countries choose to go for a slow song. The thing is, she’s just singing the words but I’m not feeling them. It leaves very little for me to go over, I don’t like it. It’s the best of the four I’ve covered so far but as far as rooting for songs I like to do well, I am not behind my home country (as I said earlier, the only time I have in recent years has been Electro Velvet). She looks amazing and I’m sure she’ll be a good entrant for the UK, I want it to do well enough that people will say that it’s better than the last few years but not so well that we start getting overconfident and thinking it deserves it. I’ll take a placing of like 12th-18th, somewhere around there.

Can it do it though? Inevitably some total bores on forums, across the internet and in real life are going to bring up the fact that because our entire island voted for Brexit, now the similar hive mind of Europe has blacklisted us and that’ll be who’s to blame if we don’t do well (despite about a third of the entrants in Eurovision having nothing to do with the EU). Incidentally, if you are one of those total bores, who when Eurovision is brought up, bring up any of the following: Father Ted’s horse, ‘it’s all political innit’, ‘the songs are crap and no one votes for my country’, ‘I liked it when Bucks Fizz won before all those East Europeans invaded the contest’, just give in to the fun and stop complaining, because I see all of this a lot and it’s why I don’t like going on general forums to read Eurovision discussion because that is all I will find. It’s more fun than the songs I’ve done so far.

Anyway, that is a reason why I really don’t want us to come in the bottom 5, to get rid of their ammunition. And I don’t think we will do quite that badly. Like I said, it’s polished and Eurovision is more about the music than everyone thinks it is. Remember half of the votes come from (supposedly politically neutral, but while some have been a bit suspect, the big Western EU ones are normally reliable) juries who you might expect would lap up a well-produced ballad like this. If they have the same problem as me in that they can’t connect to the ballad it will suffer but I’ve learnt I rarely have the same taste as the juries and that emotional connection is something we often differ on a lot. Televoting-wise, there’s certainly a market for ballads and while it will depend on how many of the competing ballads get through the semis and where we end up in the running order, I can see an argument for Lucie coming in a solid midtable. With Spain and Germany’s more forgettable entries already in the final and plenty of forgettable songs that may come through the semis, it should be possible to beat them. But I’d still much rather we had a better, more lively song.

 

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