Nicky Byrne Ireland first rehearsal 2016

It’s almost two weeks since Ireland crashed out of the second semi-final at Eurovision 2016. The once dominant nation finished a lowly 15th out of 18 entries, tying with 2008 for their lowest ever placing in the contest. For Nicky Byrne the pain is still raw and he continues to search for answers. In a recent radio interview he raised a whole range of possibilities including snobbery, politics and the existence of a “Eurovision mafia”. According to the “Sunlight” singer, not even U2 could secure victory for Ireland.

The ex-Westlife star spoke of his Stockholm adventure on Monday’s The Ray D’Arcy ShowWhen a caller suggested that he should reunite with his former bandmates, Nicky poured cold water on the idea, questioning if even U2 could succeed.

Obviously, it’d bring more audience from a Westlife point of view. But I don’t know… Listen, I think you could send U2 and I think it doesn’t really matter anymore.

He could be right — neither band has had a hit single this decade. Although, one suspects Nicky has his doubts for different reasons.

Nicky denied that there’s a special formula that Ireland should adopt, declaring that the “Eurovision mafia” are already planning next year’s winners and losers. Y’all might bat your eyelids incredulously at such a bold statement, but not Eurovision 1992 winner Linda Martin. She and Nicky discussed the matter, and apparently it’s the hardcore Eurovision fans that determine the results from the start.

I think there’s no formula to winning. I think there’s a big Eurovision ‘mafia’ that are planning next year’s Eurovision now, and certainly come January they’re looking at what countries are going to do what. And somehow – and I don’t know how you do it because I was talking to Linda Martin about this the other day – you need to get into that top five or top ten with the Eurovision hardcore fans from the start.

We were always popular; we were always, ‘Oh, the guy from Westlife’s doing it. Oh, it’s a decent song. Oh, they’ll do well’. But we were never like, ‘Oh, have you seen the Russian entry? Have you seen the French entry?’ And I could never work that out.

So the key to success is to become a fan favourite. If only Iceland’s Greta Salóme had known about this… oh, wait.

On whether politics was a factor and if he played the game, Byrne responded:

We played. We did every selfie, we shook every hand – we were holding babies at one point. I don’t think it’s that,” he continued. “I think every year is different and I don’t think you can copy the year before. Do we come up next year with a young Justin Bieber or a real female diva?

He tackled politics more directly in previous interviews. Speaking on his own radio show after his elimination, he highlighted the apparent wipeout of western countries.

“Whether you can believe all this type of stuff or not I’m not sure but I do know the likes of Ireland, last night Denmark didn’t qualify, Ireland, Norway, and the night before Finland, Iceland so a lot of the western European countries are out.”

Ultimately, seven of the final top 15 were “western”.

Despite taking shots at numerous aspects of the contest, the occasional radio host acknowledged that the success of some countries is down to their national selection formats, citing Sweden’s Melodifestivalen as an example. Prior to his internal selection, RTÉ used the chat show based Late Late Show Eurosong format. Byrne also admits that Ireland’s biggest problem is a lack of budget and snobbery, while he fears that his failure could discourage other big names from entering in the future.

The big thing in the back of my mind was, ‘If I do well here – as in well for Ireland – I think you could look at anybody [taking part]. I would have been saying to any band or any artist, ‘Get yourself in there. Get your name in the hat, because it can only – if you do well – be good for you and the country’.

In spite of everything — his non-qualification, the Eurovision mafia — Nicky has no regrets about representing Ireland.

I really felt we could get Ireland with this song back to where, I felt, it belonged. I love the Eurovision and I won’t not love it.

Is there truth to what Nicky says? Can Ireland ever win again? And what are your thoughts on the Eurovision mafia? Let us know below.

Follow all our Ireland Eurovision 2016 news.

Photo: EBU

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Kinuyo
Guest
Kinuyo

I thought the song was actually catchy but unfortunately the vocals were just not strong enough. All the finalists were strong singers even though some songs were a bit boring. Ireland might have done better if it was sung by someone else. I hope it doesn’t discourage other big names from trying out. Ultimately it still gives them exposure. Is it possible to pay to get in the final like the big 5? I suspect one of these days one of the current big 5 will decide to drop out of it because they keep doing badly. Then eurovision might… Read more »

Criticca
Guest
Criticca

Well France finally achieved a Top 10 finish after several years of bad placings so go figure. Ireland almost had it in the bag in 2013 if they had gone with The Movie Song by Eoghan but no..they choose generic tap dancing track & the following year *pushed* for a 16 y.o. girl in a piano with a boring song thinking it would be Common Linnets 2.0. Just host another NF with same quality of songs like in 2013 & let the quality speak for itself rather than the ‘trend’ of the previous contest.

Tomas Patrick Davitt
Guest
Tomas Patrick Davitt

The song was BAAAAAAAAD.
the hardcore eurofans thought it was bad, the televote thought it was bad, the juries thought it was bad. How in denial can you be? The Song was nowhere good enough, the vocals weren’t good enough, the production wasn’t good enough. Get over yourself Nicky with these conspiracy theories!!!!

TJH
Guest
TJH

Winning Eurovision is hard for any EBU-country but giving the best effort and choosing the best possible song from the national final could work as a good start. Ireland, you missed and wasted a good chance to take a top-15 place last year by not picking up Erika Selin and Break me up. The up-beat Avicii-country-style was very in back then. Kom igen, Irland! We miss you <3

Oxana
Guest
Oxana

is there anyone who already pointed at Irish jury voting pattern? no?
check it carefully and draw virtual map with countries they gave points to. interesting, isn’t it?
Is there any other jury to give #1 to UK while top songs and central + eastern countries got nothing? with such attitude towards songs I doubt anyone would want to share points with such country.

karminowe.usta
Guest
karminowe.usta

In my opinion Nicky can`t sing in live. Sorry, but he isn`t good vocalist. I really like this song but in studio record. In live is horrible.

WTF
Guest
WTF

Talk about ungrateful, he didn’t even finish in the bottom 3! Considering the generic crap Ireland sent, that surely has to be considered success…

Denis
Guest
Denis

What’s Linda Martin even doing commenting? She like Nicky, RTE and Ireland have no clue whatsoever to the formula. People should be careful to when she speaks about “knowing what works”. It’s not 1992 any-more, Linda. And again, Nicky seems to overestimate himself. Thinking he was top 5 material with the fans, which he never was. So he’s right that being a fan favourite is usually a good thing. Sadly he never was one to begin with. I hope RTE at least are aware of some of the problems and amend them. Cause if they continue to live in denial… Read more »

Ern
Guest
Ern

He didn’t do a very good job!!

The song was fantastic, but vocally he was not good.

Also, I think Nicky is a bit old to be singing “bubblegum” pop like this. No man over 30 should be singing such a silly pop song like this.

beccaboo1212
Guest

Omigod, I’ve been a U2 fan ever since was ten (10), and now I’m sixteen (16). The trouble is, I never went to any of U2’s concerts. 🙁

Darren
Guest
Darren

@Manu fr
Yeah Nicky is still very famous in Ireland, he has a popular radio show and he presents some tv on RTE such as “The Hit” and “The Million Euro Challenge” he’s pretty much a household name here and the United Kingdom too, he’s about to appear on Soccer Aid charity football match with Louis Tomlinson and Robbie Williams etc.

OR
Guest
OR

New cover of hovi star at the biggest entertainment news paper in Isarel
http://pplus.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4806774,00.html
hovi talks about everything including what really happend with Holland singer

Mario = Legend
Guest
Mario = Legend

Sunlight was never a favourite. People think it’s fine but in the middle of all songs it was trash. Just like ‘walk along’ by NL last years. It was NOT a qualifier and Europe agree. Get over it already. Everything was very bad and it sucked. All this rubbish to do with he could sing fine is not true. He had worst voice of anyone this year for me. Very bad. Like a school child with a breaking voice. Croaky and disgusting. It had no support not even from the Irish. He will not be successful solo artist. Never in… Read more »

Maru fr
Guest
Maru fr

Light Star
When he has left group? If he released his debut solo album now. He remained in group until it hasn`t stopped being popular? He has no ambitions at all!

mawnck
Guest
mawnck

Garbage song, garbage performance, garbage staging, garbage result. If U2 showed up and sucked that badly, they wouldn’t have qualified either.

Some boyband members NEVER grow up …

Ciarán
Guest
Ciarán

He has a point but he just does not realise his voice and song wasn’t good enough for the final. I agree my country will probably never win again but we don’t try hard enough maybe 2017 will be better, we’ll see.

OR
Guest
OR

@Light star thanks you are sweet, but if u can read the comments in this third they start provoke me…so i have no choice but answering to them…i know we israelis or at least many of us have a shurt fews..but we are good and worm frienly pepole …with us it’s what u see is what u get no epikorsey only the truth come visit someday u will have so much fun here 🙂

Maru fr
Guest
Maru fr

Is he popular in Ireland now?

OR
Guest
OR

I think that ireland shoud ask the coors to represent them next year…its a fantastic beautiful group that combines irish beautiful melody at their amazing song’s..it will be amazing..they will win for sure!!!

Alex
Guest
Alex

@Robyn: Spain’s performance was musically outstanding – whether the visuals were what they needed to be to get the votes is a different matter.

Alex
Guest
Alex

It’s pretty easy to diagnose why Ireland didn’t qualify: the song was generic and uninspiring. I thought they might pull out a surprise qualification because Nicky’s performance was good and people are familiar with Westlife, but it really would’ve been a surprise.

musicfan
Guest
musicfan

Not a NAME wins the ESC! Its the song & performance !

Mark B
Guest
Mark B

Sunlight was a timeless generic pop song. It wasn’t bad, but it was nothing to get excited about. When it came to staging, where was the sunlight? I expected a lot of bright white and yellow light – that would have made it stand out from the crowd. Nicky’s vocals on the night also lacked a punch. In a strong year, Sunlight lacked the spark that motivates people to get up and vote for it.

Shy
Guest
Shy

Oh boy. Who the hell told him that he had “a decent song”? THE ONLY reason why he didn’t get anywhere is because his song was annoying crap. Dear Nicky – stop surrounding yourself with “yes” people that will always praise you and say how awesome you are at everything. And don’t confuse politeness with reality. No one will tell you in your face that your song is crap and has no chances. They will politely praise you. Just like american talk show hosts were congratulating Lindsay Lohan (in her face in interview) on her “Liz and Dick” disaster. That’s… Read more »

OR
Guest
OR

Maybe you all should stop writing personal insulting comments about nicky , if u dont like his song it’s fine, but dont trash about him..not everything regarding to the staging connect to him..maybe he didint have badget like russia or belarus.. Give him some respect please!!! And for my opinion he is very good singer and he have looks of a star..im sure he will secseid with his solo career

Oxana
Guest
Oxana

Pavel,
“national languages”? I like this idea. 10 years ago we had better diversity and ethnic feeling than now. I’ve noticed one funny thing how artists copy previous winner. after Ruslana won and Kyiv hosted, almost all songs that year had drums, big and small, Moldova got granny to play drum, Romania (if I’m not mistaken) played urban variant of drums and so on. but at the same time these acts maintained own feeling. I missed it this year.

Rock Me
Guest
Rock Me

He was bad.End od story.

Oxana
Guest
Oxana

one thing he said is true – U2 won’t win this contest, as it lacks key features to do well, leave alone to win!
what will win: voice, charisma, passion, tune that can grow on you in 1 minute. pick from artists who can deliver instead of “big stars” who has nothing to surprise. Westlife wasn’t best band ever, they had questionable vocal abilities and terribly boring tunes even back then. Who told to Nicky that he alone can win? hmm.

Maya G
Guest
Maya G

Well he’s somewhat of a sore loser. It sucks not to qualify and it sucks even harder to not qualify 3 times in a row. When my country (Israel) didn’t qualify 4 times in a row people started to blame diaspora and neighbor voting and even cried antisemitism. Then came Nadav last year and poked a huge hole in that theory, and the same happened with Estonia, The Netherlands and Latvia who didn’t do well for a few years in a row, until they did. Ireland is indeed at a disadvantage compared to Scandinavian/Ex-USSR/Balkan countries when it comes to televoters,… Read more »

The Brightest Falling Star
Guest
The Brightest Falling Star

@Zak

Don’t watch it, nobody cares.

lmk
Guest
lmk

You didn’t qualify because your vocals are ordinary and the staging is boring compared to the similar performance from Donny. Look what Australia has done for these two years! They have taken this contest seriously so they have served with qualities but what has Ireland done for these years??? Sent a singer from a boy band(not even a front man who can actually sing) with a boring act!!

Zak
Guest
Zak

He us right. The organisers plan we must be the winners in advance. It’s s fact that Azerbaihan’s victory was corrupted. Armenua and Turkey crashed out of the semis, so that the Turkish diaspora and Eastern bloc had to vote in favour of Azerbaijan. Look at the views. It can’t be a winner. Russia won because they made a pressure on juries and list this year, as Ukraine was being pushed forward. That’s true that Nick’s failure will discourage big stars join that party. And juries vote based in bookies’ predictions. What is disgusting book use have insider information when… Read more »

Pastora Soler haha!
Guest
Pastora Soler haha!

Oh come on NIcky, let’s be clear

Your song wans’t a favourite because it was just … soooooo simple

And your voice??? Do u REALLY want to speak about that?

The staging… mehhh

You are handsome and that’s all about your entry this year.

Laburnum
Guest
Laburnum

You crashed out because everything was just awful. The winning formula is literally: don’t be awful.

Huh
Guest
Huh

I agree with some of his points and others’ points here. In the end, he should have kept his mouth shut. I don’t want his image to be in a negative light just because he abruptly cried over spilt milk about not qualifying. Just accept defeat with dignity. You didn’t hear any complaints from Juri and Rykka this year.

cheesecake
Guest
cheesecake

By the way, I am actually surprised about the fact that Ireland (according to Wikipedia at least) confirmed participation for 2017. I really thought they might withdraw.

Racal
Guest
Racal

I can understand he’s disappointed, but he’s being a bit unfair… He comes from a country that won the contest SEVEN times. Ireland can win again, they just need to send a good song and performance. If a country like Belgium managed to score top 10 two years in a row, if an eternal loser like Austria won, Ireland can do it. I like Nicky Byrne, but this song was just bland and had no musical interest whatsoever, that’s the only reason he didn’t qualify. No need to look further. I don’t believe that neighboring and political voting influence the… Read more »

cheesecake
Guest
cheesecake

Is he serious? His statements are ridiculous.
First of all, it’s not enough to just send a well-known artist/band. What you need is a good song (combined with a good voice and good staging at best, dear Ireland!).
Second, the passage about the “Eurovision mafia” has to be a joke. Is he really such a bad loser that he makes up stuff like that?
And last of all: Western countries get screwed systematically? Just look at the past 10 winners – there’ve been more winners from Western Europe.

Michael
Guest
Michael

Wow what a whiny bitch!!!!!Maybe is because your song sucked….

Mar
Guest
Mar

lol what a sore loser, what I love the most about his statements is that they hit all the marks:
Ridiculous conspiracy theory: check
Blaming politics and diaspora: check
Saying the East has an advantage over the West: check
Saying your country will never win again, even if they have Michael Jackson’s ghost on stage: check
Self-critizism: nowhere to be found.

Maybe next time try a song that isn’t boring and annoying, a singer who doesn’t sound like he’s about to snap his vocal cords during the chorus and a staging that doesn’t contradict the message of the song 😉

Denis
Guest
Denis

He’s right in one account: U2 wouldn’t win either since they haven’t been relevant since 2000. They clang on to nostalgia and old memories of when they used to have good songs. Honestly, this only makes Nicky look like the sourest loser ever. Let it go and move on, Nicky!. Ireland has already confirmed participation for next year. I think he overestimated the song and himself. It was a good song yes, but not that good. And the performance was so weak.. There is a formula yes, but it’s not focusing on what will work on ESC stage. That seems… Read more »

Pavel
Guest
Pavel

Having Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Sweden, Norway singing in their own languages would have slashed their victory chances in the long run so EBU should go back to the rules of 90s: live orchestra, national languages, less politics.

Fatima
Guest
Fatima

It would be great if there really was a Eurovision “mafia”, with William or Deban as the co-Dons and us commenters as the consigliere.

Fatima
Guest
Fatima

He’s not acknowledging what was good about the songs which did do well. All of the top five were completely different songs and acts, but all with big performances and memorable staging. That’s what made the difference. Neither the UK or Ireland made much of an impact when it mattered.

Robyn Gallagher
Editor

Spain was another huge fan favourite this year, to the point where the said fans were making (not entirely seriously) death threats after the criticism of the rehearsal staging. It was even a favourite to win! But the Eurovision mafia couldn’t save “Say Yay!” from a disappointing performance…

Darren
Guest
Darren

I agree with a few things Nicky has said, but a lot of what he said is just making him seem like a sore loser. I agree that certain countries are favoured over other, I could never imagine Ireland doing better than Russia, Sweden, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Armenia even if we did enter an amazing song, there is a certain aspect of popularity in Eurovision or a mafia as he says. BUT there is a lot more reasons as to why Ireland failed to qualify. The song, while pleasant to listen to, just fell flat compared to other entries this… Read more »

OR
Guest
OR

@ jr esc nl i wrote”we” becouse some other commentators here wrote they dont like “slow down” any way l i dont have anything against holland or duch pepole..say hi to Ana franck house. …… By the way i read today that hovi will preform at Amsterdam gay parade, so i think that there are some duch pepole that love hovi

Ron
Guest
Ron

Having heard the full radio interview, Nicky wasn’t as bitter as his words sound on paper : he was bright and bubbly and talking half jokingly much of the time. I do think though he’s overestimating how good his song and performance was and is in denial about the fact they simply weren’t good enough. To be honest, I don’t think an internal selection is a good idea for Ireland. The song bombed in the charts and ratings on RTE were very poor, meaning the entry failed at all levels, not just on the scoreboard. They should return to the… Read more »

jr esc nl
Guest
jr esc nl

@or
”what happens ??we hurt the feeling of your girlfriend Douwe Bob??”
why do you say ”we”. looking at the comments it looks like you’re the only one complaining about douwe and our so called ”neighbourvoting”

Pavel
Guest
Pavel

Make all the countries sing in their own languages and in two-three years Ireland will be back on winning ways.