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 Show. When 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.
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