Ireland’s non-qualification streak: Politicians and media lash out at RTÉ as Samantha Mumba expresses interest for 2018


It’s the country best known for winning Eurovision a record seven times, but its glory days are long gone. Last week Ireland’s song contest woes continued for yet another year as Brendan Murray failed to qualify for the 2017 final.

Consequently, Ireland’s non-qualification streak now extends to four years — the nation’s worst ever run of results in the contest.

And while the Irish may occasionally join their British neighbours in poo-pooing the annual celebration of song, deep down they’re a proud people and egos are bruised. Yet, despite all the doom and gloom, one pop icon is offering a ray of hope.

Fianna Fáil calls for Eurovision review

The “national disgrace” — as The Irish Times labelled it — has even made it as far as the houses of parliament. While the main government party Fine Gael are currently beginning a hunt for a new leader, the biggest opposition party is still hung up on the outcome of semi-final two.

On Wednesday, Niamh Smyth — Fianna Fáil’s Arts spokesperson — called for a fundamental review of Ireland’s approach to the pan-European spectacular.

“I would like to see some honest discussion about what has gone wrong in recent years, and an equally honest discussion about what is needed in terms of resources and personnel to start competing again”.

The Cavan–Monaghan based politician concluded that RTÉ should either take the contest seriously or not enter at all.

Media hits out at RTÉ

Smyth’s sentiments are echoed across the Irish media spectrum, with both broadsheet and tabloid publications taking aim at RTÉ.

“It’s a crushing disappointment for Irish fans of the competition, many of whom criticised our poor effort, which was admittedly a drab affair in a competition that’s all about energy, vibrancy and colour.”

The Irish Mirror branded “Dying To Try” forgettable, questioning the musical savvy of the “somewhat shadowy sect” who make up the Irish delegation.

“Eurovision has become an annual competition we now soullessly slog along through, awaiting the inevitable. Failure.”

The Irish Independent also blames RTÉ for Ireland’s “embarrassing run of Eurovision failures”. The paper hits out at the broadcaster’s selection method, and urges it to look north and seek inspiration from Sweden’s Melodifestivalen. While acknowledging that such a large-scale show wouldn’t work in the Irish market, the writer highlights the importance of record label involvement.

“And then there was us, poor Ireland with our hot air balloon that never got off the ground – there’s a metaphor in there somewhere.”

The Irish Times argues that “the mysterious cabal” who picked Ireland’s “plodding, tepid ballad”  must be held accountable. Much of the blame is attributed to the lack of fun — “there was no levity, no spark, he failed to soar and could only plough through an unnecessary key change in his balloon of doom.”

And therein began the campaign to select Samantha Mumba for Eurovision 2018.

Samantha Mumba for Eurovision 2018

The Times wraps things up by calling on Ireland to send early ’00s pop icon Samantha Mumba to Lisbon. The tongue-in-cheek closing paragraph reads:

As a nation we need to take back control of our song selection, we need to get passionate again, we must go back to our love by demanding that our next effort is sung by Samantha Mumba a bone fide pop star whose surname almost sounds like ABBA which is obviously a sign that this is our destiny. Mumba for Eurovision 2018. You know it makes sense.

However in an amazing twist, it turns out that the “Gotta Tell You” hitmaker is totally up for Eurovision. In response to the article, she took to Twitter and tweeted “I would LOVE to!” along with a number of emojis.

Eagle-eyed fans soon spotted that one of the icons was actually the Ivory Coast flag rather than the Irish one, but Samantha quickly clarified matters by adding “IRELAND please ignore my overzealous and incorrect enthusiasm”.

This isn’t the first time Samantha’s name has appeared in the Eurovision bubble. After scoring herself a top five chart comeback in the summer of 2013, rumours abounded that she was considering singing for Ireland at Eurovision 2014.

Further fuel was added to the fire when it was announced that she would release a single the same week as the now defunct Eurosong national selection show.

Ultimately, nothing came of the speculation and Kasey Smith and Can Linn ended up representing the Emerald Isle in Copenhagen.

What do y’all think? Are the media and politicians right to slate RTÉ? And could Samantha Mumba be Ireland’s Eurovision saviour? Let us know in the comments below.

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