Marty Whelan ireland Eurovision 2017 national final 2018

He’s been the Irish voice of Eurovision for close to two decades. But, after four consecutive years of an Ireland-free final, Marty Whelan — RTÉ’s commentator — isn’t happy. In fact, speaking to The Herald, he says he finds the whole situation “very upsetting”. To further compound his misery, he maintains Ireland is “doing nothing wrong” when it comes to the contest — zero, zilch, nada!

Despite his lengthy tenure in the commentary booth, the radio and TV host remains flummoxed by the unpredictable nature of Europe’s favourite music show. To his mind, Salvador’s win was an anomaly, while the likes of Jamala, Måns Zelmerlöw and Conchita Wurst owe their victories to “pyrotechnics and dancers and mini-skirts and shouting”. Unfortunately we don’t know Marty’s thoughts on the use of candy stripe balloons, oily half-naked drummers and water features.

“We’re doing the best we can. There’s nothing wrong with it. This year, you could say, ‘How could a song from Portugal, sung in Portuguese – how could it win? But the song was gorgeous and it won. That doesn’t normally happen. Normally it’s pyrotechnics and dancers and mini-skirts and shouting and roaring. It wasn’t that this year, it was different… So you just try and send the best you can”.

There’s a saying — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Yet, in spite of his assertion that there’s nothing wrong with RTÉ’s approach to Eurovision, Marty’s not averse to floating a few alternative ideas.

“Maybe it’s time for a National Song contest again, maybe it isn’t” or “Maybe we need to make a song ourselves and those of us who have an involvement over the years need to sit in a room and have a conversation”.

Or maybe we should leave the veteran broadcaster to his maybes and stick with Nicky Byrne’s suggestion — call in wiwibloggs!

For the moment, we can only speculate on Ireland’s intentions for 2018. The powers that be are due to meet in the coming weeks, and only then will the current process be reviewed and any new plans implemented.

“We’re having a meeting in a few weeks’ time about it. But the point is, we can have meetings till we’re blue in the face but all we can do is have a plan. It doesn’t mean it’s going to work… It just means, ‘here’s another idea.’ Brendan was good this year and the song was decent. But it didn’t get through. It’s four years in a row and we don’t need that again. We need to be in the final so we’re just going to see if we can come up with another formula.”

Ireland at Eurovision 2017 — the fallout

Marty Whelan might think nothing’s wrong — even if he is looking for another formula — but the presenter is in the minority.

In the aftermath of Eurovision 2017, Ireland’s leading media outlets were highly critical of RTÉ and, more specifically, the team that chose its song.

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 blamed RTÉ for Ireland’s “embarrassing run of Eurovision failures”. The paper hit out at the broadcaster’s selection method, and urged 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.

The Irish Times argued 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.”

The “national disgrace” — as The Irish Times labelled it — even made it as far as the houses of parliament. Fianna Fáil, the biggest opposition party, called for a fundamental review of Ireland’s approach to the pan-European spectacular.

In the midst of the furore, early noughties pop princess Samantha Mumba and Ireland’s infamous 2008 act Dustin the Turkey have both thrown their names into the mix for 2018.

What do you think? Are you in agreement with Marty? What is the reason for Ireland’s string of bad results? And how can they rectify things for 2018? Let us know in the comments below.

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Steve
Steve
3 years ago

Maybe stop sending kids that owe Louis Walsh money?

Leacol
Leacol
3 years ago

They could always ask if they could share the cost of the Contest and become one of the automatic qualifiers.Let’s be honest,the UK would probably not have qualified for many ,or any ,finals in the last few years were that not the case.

Branko
Branko
3 years ago

Song was not the problem this year. Ireland came 12th in Televoting and Jury, but only 13th in combined voting (stupid maths). Performance was not very good, something was missing. That balloon thing was disturbing. It looked cheap and was not so creative in real on stage. Singer was also too nervous, maybe due to his age or lack of experience in front of such a live audience. Such a shame, because Song was at least emotional and had potential in studio version.

Marcus (Day One)
Marcus (Day One)
3 years ago

The problem with Ireland is they’re living in the past trying to relive the glory days. We’ve won 7 times is all you hear from them. Let’s face it a lot of that was due to only 3 countries singing in English. They keep sending mediocre songs and think that because those songs won for them over 20 years ago it will somehow work now. Rte needs to look to Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Belgium. Countries that up until recently were the worst at eurovision but now they’re becoming powerhouses. Internally select a decent artist and give them a decent… Read more »

Ted
Ted
3 years ago

Good point, I totally agree. Bulgaria had qualified only 3 times out of 11 tries (2007, 2016 and 2017), and look at them. They made it! The Netherlands had a record of 8 non qualifications in a row, before Anouk was their representative in 2013. Belgium did poorly too, before Loïc Nottet did amazing in 2015. Ireland should leave the 90’s ballads and focus on modern music (look at Latvia in the past 3 years)… Samantha Mumba was good, one hit wonder in early 2000. Ireland needs a national selection with young artists from The Voice and X-Factor, good songs… Read more »

mel
mel
3 years ago

Many people are blaming televote era (pre 2009), but for me it has nothing to do with the fact that was ”televote era”.
-First that some epic songs are from mid-2000.
-Second, the trend was changing anyway, with/without juries.
Just like Enrique Iglesias and Eminem were not successful anymore, the same happened with Eurovision, not juries came with the change, the times were changing anyway.

Bgc
Bgc
3 years ago

Marty’s a nice guy but he always refuses to criticise (even constructively) the Irish entry because that would reflect badly on RTÉ, who pay his wages. He seems quite out of touch with modern Eurovision despite commentating on it for so long. When was the last time a flashy “miniskirt-wearing” performance won? Greece 2005, I believe? The last outrageously over-the-top performance to have won? Lordi 2006, and they won because they had a song that was very catchy and accessible; it wasn’t all about the monster costumes and heavy makeup. You could argue that Conchita Wurst was a gimmick, but… Read more »

Bronski
Bronski
3 years ago

I remember Louis Walsh on the ‘Late Late Show’ back in december, when Brendan was introduced as the Irish act – looking back, he seemed very set in his idea of what Brendan should sing when he asked people to send in song ideas – why not open it up to be not just love songs, but lots of subjects/ genres?. The fact he went with a song written by a guy who’d written Westlife hits and a guy related to John Newman showed just how he only used his industry connections – coming up with a ballad straight off… Read more »

Wilander
Wilander
3 years ago

I have an idea Marty, start the clean out with yourself and exit the commentary booth. You’re simply not up to it. Next the HoD and his ultra conservative boring team need to go. Use this July meeting as an idea session and potentially look to hire the ‘thisispopbaby’ team on a year contract to manage the 2018 stage show. Bring in a new ‘in-touch’ HoD (a la Eduardo Grassi) and team from within the music industry, not the RTE in-boys club. Then either do a selection of 5 songs with a well known artist – think outside the box… Read more »

Maya G
Maya G
3 years ago

I think Ireland’s problem is that they’re playing it very safe, and in ESC it’s ‘Who Dares, Wins’. It’s all formulaic and familiar, but without the hook and effectiveness of the Swedish songs that while being formulaic still possess umpf and panache.
Obviously Ireland has the disadvantage of not having any automatic votes from allies, but neither do other countries that still manage to qualify regularly (e.g. The Netherlands, Israel, Austria). Ireland is abundant with musical talent, they can do great if only RTÉ takes on a new approach.

Colin
Colin
3 years ago

He is (partially) right, as their 2015 and 2017 songs were very good and better than some which did qualify. There is probably *something* wrong, though, but I’m afraid it would be hard to pin-point one common denominator. Each song had it’s own reasons not to qualify. 2014 had a weaker live performance and 2016 was really generic. However, I am sorry for Molly and Brendan, as they deserved to qualify. I guess Molly’s song could have been shut by a running order (Although the same ‘deathspot’ didn’t stop Nathan Trent, Geneology or Maja Keuc from qualifying), while Brendan was… Read more »

Fatima
Fatima
3 years ago

He’s not going the bite the hand that feeds him, is he?

Möhrant
Möhrant
3 years ago

Occasionally the contest sees good entries get unlukcy and not make the final for no good reason (eg: Estonia 2017, Iceland 2016, Israel 2014 and many more), but I don’t think Ireland is one of those cases. They had a good singer and some decent staging this year (apart from the balloon), but their song wasn’t up to scratch. And as we’ve seen many times, sometimes a good singer just can’t elevate a song that isn’t good enough (Macedonia 2016 🙁 ).

CookyMonzta
CookyMonzta
3 years ago

Nothing wrong, eh? When next year they fail to qualify more times than they have won, tell us again that everything is rosy.

Peter Baston
Peter Baston
3 years ago

Terry Wogan couldnt get used to the UK’S poor showing in recent decades either, blaming just about every other nation and voting bias instead of calling on the BBC to get serious about the contest once again.

Cedric
Cedric
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Baston

Same with Peter Urban, the German commentator :/

Branko
Branko
3 years ago
Reply to  Cedric

Peter Urban is not a good commentator. He is biased and very unprofessional. Hope he retires very soon.

Polegend Godgarina
Polegend Godgarina
3 years ago

4 non-qualifications in a row and he thinks everything is fine? Bless his heart.

L'oiseau
L'oiseau
3 years ago

Well I guess he just gave the solution: send a “gorgeous” song, which is something that Ireland hasn’t been doing so often. On this year, I guess his voice was very annoying and didn’t match his persona somehow. Also I think the whole staging was a bit kitch. The song asked for something much more simple and heartfelt. I have the impression that Ireland is desperately trying to follow the trend and not doing what it does best, which is good songs.

Robyn Gallagher
Admin
3 years ago

Btw, I’m not saying that chart success is everything, but it’s interesting that Jedward’s “Lipstick” reached No.1 in Ireland (and is still an iconic pop hit), while “Dying to Try” didn’t even chart.

It’s one thing for other countries to not like a song, but when even the home audience isn’t all that thrilled by it, it’s hard to consider it a good song choice.

Ron
Ron
3 years ago

That’s why I’m opposed to the internal selection for Ireland. Very hard for the public to get behind a song they didn’t pick. It might work in other countries but the Irish public seem completely disinterested in this way of selecting the entry.

Gloria
Gloria
3 years ago

This just proves the 90s bias before the language rule was abolished. Irelands lucky goose egg to sing in English (with UK) is gone (along with 100% Juries), now its level playing field and they just stopped trying it seems.

Shona
Shona
3 years ago

The song was “just” decent and nothing more. That’s not a winning formula is it? So their potential plans should focus a “winning formula” with regards to the song, the singer and the staging. The studio version should be an earworm. The live version should have the ability to deliver the same and the staging should be something that everyone would remember and talk about.

Ern
Ern
3 years ago

Ireland hasn’t been doing that badly at Eurovision in recent years. They made top 10 in 2006 and 2011. That’s better than Belarus, Switzerland, Poland and some other countries. Molly Sterling and Nicky Byrne had good songs, but sadly their live performances were very flawed. It’s especially sad in Molly’s case (because she was vocally very good), but she made a HUGE mistake by bringing that piano on stage with her. This year, the song was very dull …. and the contest was full of dull songs. Brendan had a unique singing voice, but I don’t think that was enough.… Read more »

IGC
IGC
3 years ago
Reply to  Ern

Yes- I can agree with that. They are doing nothing wrong except for trying to play safe. They need to mix the styles up a bit. Too many countries ( including my own Australia ) are playing the same game – and as a result – a good song can get eliminated. You need something to attract the audiences attention – and get them to like it. And – I picked Albania and Georgia in the first semi lol.

Bartosz
Bartosz
3 years ago

Ireland’s thinking is stuck in the 2000s and they should start taking it seriously. The entries that didn’t qualify this decade were either boring or horrible with the exception of 2015, which deserved to qualify. They’re also is denial when they say their songs are good like bitch nah why are you lying, especially during the national final years.

Ron
Ron
3 years ago

RTE are doing plenty wrong but I sense Marty is too close to the HoD and the powers to be to voice any criticism.

Interesting to hear of the meeting to discuss the way forward in July. There’s already talk of an open day at RTE at that time where interested parties would be invited to give suggestions.

Tomás Patric davitt
Tomás Patric davitt
3 years ago

Marty is a complete idiot and does not represent any Irish Eurovision fans who are even remotely in touch with Eurovision, current music or reality.

The song was mediocre and got a mediocre placement. It didn’t chart well in Ireland so Irish people didn’t even like it. So why should Europe.

Jo
Jo
3 years ago

Old and grumpy. That kind of person who thinks only old-fashioned songs are good.

Robyn Gallagher
Admin
3 years ago

He reckons that winning performances normally go have songs with “pyrotechnics and dancers and mini-skirts and shouting and roaring”. This sounds more like the sort of songs that were winning in the mid 2000s – the ethnopop era. This is what worried me about Ireland – a lot of the people involved don’t seem to pay close attention to current Eurovision and instead base their ideas on how things were 10 or 20 years ago. As I’ve said before, this is as crazy as if Sweden, instead of entering “Heroes” or “Euphoria”, sent a trio of blond brothers with a… Read more »

anihc
anihc
3 years ago

And 2011 winner

Darth Thulhu
Darth Thulhu
3 years ago

Yeah, it’s just not connected to reality.

I mean, if Ireland wanted to go full 2000s-ethnopop with a song in Gaelic, that would at least be an Improvement. It’s not the dominant style at the moment, but it’s at least somewhat more current and viable. Hungary 2017 reached the Top Ten with that, and Montenegro 2015 and Belarus 2017 both made the Final. So it’s not as crazy as yet more theatre-seating-era balladeering.

Mara Donna
Mara Donna
3 years ago

Or even 1984….

Jonas
Jonas
3 years ago

I’ve watched RTÉ’s coverage the last couple of years, and let me tell you this – Marty Whelan is not fit for purpose. I’m sure he is a lovely fellow, but he has no business being in the commentary booth. He brings nothing – he doesn’t set the scene, he doesn’t give background information, he talks incessantly without ever really saying anything at all, he chews and gurgles his “sweeties” and Baileys on occasion, he constantly makes references and in-jokes to his other projects like his radio show and game show (as if we’re all supposed to be intimately familiar… Read more »

Ron
Ron
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonas

Agree Jonas, he strikes me as utterly disinterested in Eurovision and as such is a very strange choice to be commentating on the two semis and the final. Why not bring in someone with a known passion for Eurovision? He rarely says anything during his commentaries to suggest he’s immersed in the Contest or its history.

Honeybooboo
Honeybooboo
3 years ago

I really believe Brendan was far better than the song and staging he was given. A very good looking young man with a strong, unique voice meant he had a lot of ‘selling points’, shall we say. With the right song and staging ( I’m sorry, but the balloon idea was so random, no matter the excuse of it supposedly representing ‘love’ – I think even Brendan probably didn’t believe that would be the audience’s first thought). But they made it all far too young and whimsical, and he wasn’t able to fill that stage as an overall package, because… Read more »

Chris (frostyw)
Chris (frostyw)
3 years ago
Reply to  Honeybooboo

I agree, Brendan did a bang-up job on the song. I actually found myself nearly moved tears when he hit all of those note progressions, which surprised even me. Maybe it’s a little dated, but he did the best with it, as the singer, as he possibly could have.

Honeybooboo
Honeybooboo
3 years ago

I’d heard of Brendan since his Hometown days and always admired his voice – its such a beautiful, pure and distinct voice that, with the right song, the performance could have been magical and memorable. You’re right, he definitely did the best with what he was given.

Dox
Dox
3 years ago
Reply to  Honeybooboo

Balloon was for supplying helium for the singer haha

Chicken Kyiv???
Chicken Kyiv???
3 years ago

Rather than copy last year’s winner Ireland needs to consciously go in the opposite direction. Portugal won with a slow song, sung in its native language, which means next year at least a dozen other countries will send slow songs in their native languages. So Ireland should send an upbeat song in English if it wants to stand out. Because Portugal had no gimmicks other countries won’t have gimmicks so now is the time to have a gimmick to make you stand out. (whereas if everyone sends gimmicks the non gimmick act stands out) It’s all about going in completely… Read more »

Justin K.
Justin K.
3 years ago

I’d actually love to see Irish Gaelic in a hook/chorus much like Bulgaria did with Poli Genova in 2016. Similar to Portuguese, Irish doesn’t sound very harsh so it would be great in a ballad, but bucking the trend and going upbeat would be great for Ireland.

L'oiseau
L'oiseau
3 years ago

I am not sure if this logic applies. Portugal’s song came after another ballad and with a song with no gimmick. Also in the past you have years in a row where the same kind of upbeat act won like between 2001 to 2006.

Chicken Kyiv???
Chicken Kyiv???
3 years ago
Reply to  L'oiseau

Jamala and Salvador both had ballads but they are worlds apart. 1944 is a dramatic female power ballad just like what Georgia Albania Switzerland Malta etc tried to copy and you could understand the message and the story (feel sorry for me Russia are bad)

Whereas Salvador was opposite in that we had no idea what it was about it was much slower there was no dramatic bits to it.

You are right though the trend in only kicks in around 2006 before that we had 3 excellent winners but all quite similar

4li3n
4li3n
3 years ago

Also Armenia and Hungary have something in common with Jamala, ethnic feat eletronic beatings. (a throwback to 2016) Jamala – 1944 is something more than Hungary and Armenia. It’s curious but my heart beatings are following the instrumental beatings! I don’t care about the political lyrics, I understand her feelings and how beautiful is her song! Her song is so genuine and meaningful for her! I’m so happy when Ukraine won, I know she wasn’t the first choice for jury and televote, but for me she is so far better than Australia and Russia! Who knows the next winner can… Read more »

Justin K.
Justin K.
3 years ago

It’s concerning that Whelan thinks they’re doing *nothing* incorrectly. I won’t say they’re not trying (and by trying, I mean they’re at least mixing up their song selection-ish), but they’re not quite utilizing their selected vocalists the best they could. Out of the four NQs, Molly Sterling had the strongest voice yet the quietest song (although we can’t knock her for writing it herself), while the other three had notes they either couldn’t hit or it didn’t fill the arena properly. Jedward and Ryan Dolan both had songs they could handle vocally with good production, and that was enough to… Read more »