He’s the music mogul known for launching the likes of Westlife, Boyzone and Jedward.
And now X Factor judge Louis Walsh is turning his seasoned ear to Ireland’s Eurovision 2017 act Brendan Murray, who he handpicked for Eurovision 2017.
What did he see in the ex-Hometown singer?
“It’s not what I saw — it’s what I heard,” Louis told wiwiblogger William this morning in Kyiv. “I heard the voice — this amazing, incredible, beautiful voice. It’s a very unusual voice and it’s very distinctive. Brendan has an amazing career because he can really sing.”
Brendan may be a star on the rise, but his feet are planted firmly on the ground.
“He’s been with two or three producers in studio and they tell me he’s a producer’s dream,” Louis says. “It’s all about the vocal with him.”
“He’s a very nice, down-to-earth guy. He’s not in the fame game. He just wants to sing music. There’s nothing fake bout him. He’s totally real.”
Louis is on his eighth Eurovision, having previously worked with winners Johnny Logan and Linda Martin, and Jedward. The toughest task he faced this year was choosing from a strong pool of submissions.
“I had a lot of great songs. And I knew I had the right singer. I just hoped I could pick the right song because we had some really good songs a lot of great songs from a lot of great people.”
Choosing the perfect song is more of an art than a science, but Louis did have a few key ingredients in his formula.
“I wanted a song with a key change because it always gets you at home. It always stands out. Everyone else is singing and dancing — some dancing with a monkey, with all these silly disco dancers. I want it to be all about the voice and the song.”
Will Brendan qualify from tonight’s semi-final?
“I think he should. If it’s a talent show, he’s got the talent.”
Louis stressed that he wanted to keep Brendan’s performance pure, avoiding ostentatious staging and outré gimmicks.
“There’s no dancing dogs, there’s no gorillas, there’s no silly girls with nothing on — it’s all about the voice and the song. It’s a song contest. We have the right song and definitely have the right singer.”
Louis has an eye for talent, but even he struggled to pick all of the qualifiers from the first semi-final, saying that he was backing Georgia’s Tamara Gachechiladze and Finland’s Norma John.
And who is his personal favourite?
“I think the Portuguese guy is great,” he says. “There are no gimmicks. It’s just him and he’s unusual and he sings the song differently.”