Winter is coming. And right across Europe artists and songwriters are busy preparing entries for their respective national finals. Broadcasters in Denmark, Hungary, Malta, Latvia, Moldova, and many more countries have announced their Eurovision 2016 plans. Deadlines have been set, rules published and dates finalised. But in Ireland everything is curiously quite.
Numerous queries to RTÉ have gone unanswered. To date, the most anyone’s got out of them is a sentence, when the Head of Delegation Michael Kealy told EurovisionIreland that the broadcaster is “still considering all options”. Ireland is a nation of tea drinkers, so it’s appropriate that we feel the need to spill some. Because while they say they’re looking at “all” options, we think Molly Sterling’s successor will be chosen internally.
Let us explain. Firstly, we can rule out any Melfest style national final or even a one night extravaganza a la Dansk Melodi Grand Prix. RTÉ announced its 2015/2016 schedule back in August, and the prime weekend slots are all full. The Late Late Show remains on Fridays, The Ray D’Arcy Show is new on Saturdays, while The Voice of Ireland sits comfy on Sundays. With week nights dominated by rating winning soaps, current affairs and factual/reality formats, there’s simply no space for a shiny new Eurovision programme.
We’re also inclined to rule out the Late Late Eurosong selection, which the station has used in various guises since 2009. In past years, details have usually been revealed sometime in October. Today is Halloween, the last day of the month and we still haven’t heard a thing. If we’re to have the act selected by late February or early March, that leaves only three full months to open submissions, listen to and review all the entries, take a break for Christmas and make a final shortlist. Given that it took four and a bit months to come up with 2015’s lacklustre line-up, it’s easy to see why we’re sceptical.
This all leads us to an internal selection, at least in so far as the artist is concerned. It worked well in 2006, when Brian Kennedy was chosen. But not so well when Dervish were picked the following year. If indeed 2016 is to be an internal selection – remember this is purely speculation – who would RTÉ send? You’ll recall that this is an organisation that felt that Alex Saint’s “She’s So Fine” deserved a Eurosong place. We’re not setting the bar too high. But at the same time, one would expect that a lack of hyperactive twins and sock puppets would encourage higher profile acts to put their names forward. We’ve wracked our brains and tried to get inside the psyche of the powers that be. The results are below. Think of this as a guess-list not a wishlist.
Legend has it, that Dervish were chosen after it was recommended that Ireland send a Corrs-style act. Nine years on, maybe it’s time to enter the real thing. Fresh from a decade-long hiatus, Eurovision could be the perfect platform for the family band to get back into the mainstream. Not that they ever really left, the break was due to personal reasons rather than diminishing sales. The group are huge on the continent and their comeback tour finishes in January, perfect timing if you ask us. Following the Common Linnets’ success with a similar-ish sound, an entry would be close to risk neutral. Go on, leave us breathless!
Practically unknown outside of Ireland, Liverpool-born Nathan Carter is the current poster boy for the island’s country music scene. His version of “Wagon Wheel” was unavoidable for close to two years, spending a total of 52 non-consecutive weeks in the charts and accumulating over two million YouTube views. His sound may not exactly be current, but the national broadcaster is definitely a fan. He’s a regular chat show guest and is set to be the star of his very own documentary, Stetson’s and Stilettos. There’s certainly potential for him to bring the fun-factor to Stockholm, and plenty of fans would appreciate his boyish good looks.
As a unit Westlife were virtually untouchable, with their easy-listening covers dominating European charts for 14 years. However, success hasn’t come to them so readily as individuals. Of the four, Markus Feehily has probably had the most interesting solo career. His debut album just dropped, with respectable if not spectacular chart placings. He needs a launch pad, *cough* Eurovision. The singer is already well got with fans, OGAE Ireland selected him for the OGAE Song Contest and he won our very own wiwivision. He’s surely up for the challenge.
Shane Filan and/or Nadine Coyle
Now for a cheeky two-for-one. As far as we’re concerned, both Shane Filan and Nadine Coyle should be on RTÉ’s radar. Like the rest of Westlife, Shane hasn’t exactly been top of the pops. Meanwhile, Nadine’s living in a world sans Girls Aloud, where Cheryl Fernandez-Versini has become the band’s breakout star. The two of them need to get back on track, and while we’d welcome both as soloists, we’ve got to say they sound pretty decent together. Their new duet “I Could Be” was even released just after the 1 September Eurovision deadline… hint, hint.
Louis Walsh’s latest boyband was the subject of Eurosong speculation earlier this year, but ultimately the rumours proved to be false. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be a shock to see them fly the tricolour in Sweden. Whilst they’ve experienced moderate success in Ireland, the group has struggled to break into foreign markets. If done properly, a Eurovision appearance could give them the kick start they need. Don’t forget, Walsh has a long history with Eurovision and was the man behind Johnny Logan, Linda Martin and Jedward.
The up-and-coming girlband were also rumoured for 2015. But as with Hometown it wasn’t to be, granted they did actually submit a song. The trio have been relatively quite since. However, they seem to have come back to life recently. Last week, the girls uploaded a cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (it makes Emmelie De Forest’s version seem gritty), and band member Michelle McGrath has said that Eurovision is still on her bucket list. Add in Leanne Moore’s three time stint as a backing singer at the contest, and we’d be very surprised if Liir aren’t in RTÉ’s mix. Did we mention their manager is Linda Martin? Odious men beware!
RTÉ often looks to the BBC for inspiration. Maybe they’d consider following the Brits 2011 to 2013 approach and send a heritage act. In hindsight, we know that that method wasn’t exactly the best. But early ’00s boyband Blue did give the UK a credible 11th place. Ireland has plenty of faded ’00s stars and Samantha Mumba sits atop the pile. Her name has been thrown about before, so there’s obviously an interest somewhere. Just two years ago, she made a mini-comeback, when she reached the Irish top five after appearing on The Hit. Her career revival quickly petered out, so Eurovision could provide a welcome boost.
Sticking with the early ’00s line of thinking, we’d also put forward B*Witched. After ten years apart, they reformed for the 2013 series of ITV’s The Big Reunion. They released an EP off the back of the show, but they’re not exactly living the superstar life since. Edele Lynch was a Eurosong mentor in 2012, so she obviously has a tolerance for the contest. The group would definitely generate plenty of headlines. Publicity equals high ratings and that equals euro signs for RTÉ.
Whether you like it or not, Daniel O’Donnell is one of Ireland’s most successful singers. He started out in the early ’80s, and even then his crooning was dated. Nonetheless, he’s hugely popular, particularly with ladies of a certain age. And it’s not just the women of Eire who’ve fallen for his charms. In 2012, he became the first artist to have an album chart in Britain every year for 25 consecutive years. He was a contestant on the current season of Strictly Come Dancing, so a Eurovision attempt wouldn’t be a complete shock. And Brian Kennedy did manage to break the top ten when he went. We’re not ruling wee Daniel out.
If RTÉ want to go big, they could send Celtic Woman – essentially Ireland’s answer to Il Volo. While the group is female and the music is new-age rather than classical, just like the Italians they are huge in America. They’ve had countless PBS specials, sell-out tours and Billboard charting albums. Ironically they’re practically unknown in their homeland and Europe, but a certain song contest could fix that. The current line-up includes Susan McFadden who competed in the 2003 national selection, while Eimear Quinn’s “The Voice” is part of their repertoire. Surely, they’d be up for bringing some Celtic realness to Stockholm. And we wouldn’t write-off the chances of any former members either, considering that there have been 13 “Celtic women” since 2004.
There are more acts that we feel RTÉ might consider or would be interested themselves. But we don’t think the likelihood of them jetting out to Stockholm is as high as the ones we’ve detailed above.
- Chris De Burgh, Mary Byrne, Una Healy, Kian Egan, Brian McFadden, Ronan Keating, Imelda May, Johnny Logan.
Not a chance!
Y’all can wish and pray 24/7 but we can pretty much guarantee that none of these acts would go anywhere near the Globen next May. We’re just being realistic.
- Hozier, Kodaline, U2, Enya, Sinead O’Connor, The Script, Damien Rice, Niall Horan.
Are we on to something? Or are we kidding ourselves? Remember, we’re just making an educated guess that Ireland are heading internal. RTÉ could easily pour a big bucket of cold water over us on Monday. What do you think?