She sang her way to third place during the fourth season of The Voice of Ireland. And in 2019 Sarah McTernan will literally be the voice of Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest.

The 25-year-old stunner has a rich and sonorous voice. And while she can hit the high notes, she seems particularly at ease in the lower registers. Her covers of Jessie J’s “Who You Are” and Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy” show off her control and precision, but, perhaps more importantly, an ability to tap into emotions like longing and despair.

At Eurovision she’ll bring all of those qualities to bear in “22” — a thoroughly likeable entry about a woman struggling to move on from her ex. The “22” lyrics” cast Sarah as the woman left behind. Looking toward the future doesn’t seem to be her strength, as she remains fixated on the number of her Mister’s house. As she sings: “I see 22 it’s like deja-vu, boy, if you only knew.”

Decidedly vintage, the song tells that story through a mid-50s rock sound — with clear shades of pop and rhythm and blues.

What do the “22” lyrics mean?

ABBA said the winner takes it all, and it’s something Sarah’s character embodies well. Her other half has said sayonara, but he’s still on her mind. “I see 22, oh when I think of you lately, that’s all I do.” 22 — the number of his house where they kissed, among other things — becomes a symbol of what she had and ultimately what she lost.

The line between longing and psychotic obsession seems rather thin here, and you could be forgiven for reading the lyrics as slightly stalker. “Don’t you know that I, I’m always driving by.” If he did he might take out a restraining order. Especially if he got wind that she feels totally empty — bar the pain welling up inside: “This time, I messed it up, but I can’t give you up, your face is all I’ve got.”

Sometimes the best way to get over an ex is to find someone new. But Sarah’s protagonist won’t be doing that anytime soon because “every time I’m with somebody I’m confusing him with you”.

Sarah never reaches climax — there is no Mariah moment where the pyro shower can fall. But that’s OK. The song stands out because of that. Instead of that yeah, yeah, yeah moment Sarah’s song progresses in a linear way and she mixes it up with her lyrical narrative. She moves from being obsessed to wanting to take action: “Oh I know, I’ve always been afraid to say how I feel, but this has got to change.”

Let’s just hope for his sake she doesn’t move in to #23!

22 lyrics — Sarah McTernan

I see 22, oh when I think of you
Lately, that’s all I do
Don’t you know that I
I’m always driving by
Want to come home to you

Now I know, I’ve always been afraid to say
How I feel
But this’s got to change

Every time I’m with somebody I’m confusing him with you
Anywhere I go reminds me of the things we used to do
And I dream about our street where we kissed out of the blue
at your house number 22

I see 22 it’s like deja-vu
Boy, if you only knew
This time, I messed it up
But I can’t give you up
Your face is all I’ve got

Oh I know, I’ve always been afraid to say how I feel
But this’s got to change

Every time I’m with somebody I’m confusing him with you
Anywhere I go reminds me of the things we used to do
And I dream about our street where we kissed out of the blue
at your house number 22

All alone tonight
Wishing you were laying by my side
So I just keep on driving by
To pass the time

Every time I’m with somebody I’m confusing him with you
Anywhere I go reminds me of the things we used to do
And I dream about the street where we kissed out of the blue
at your house number 22

Oooh
Oooh
Oooh
Oooh

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Charli Cheer Up
Charli Cheer Up
1 year ago

Hungary’s ByeAlex sent a song like this in 2013. Juries actually liked it. Hoping for the same result for Ireland this year!

NectaneboSecond
NectaneboSecond
1 year ago

I had read this article with sheer pleasure. The inescapable sense of humor makes it really interesting.

Mark Pumphrey
Mark Pumphrey
1 year ago

I like the song. At first I thought she was singing, “I’m a tranny, too.” That may have been a more memorable lyric!

SoldierOfLove
SoldierOfLove
1 year ago

Bootleg Taylor Swift.

Skiwalko
1 year ago

I always picture this song being played in some little bar in a small town. It’s very sweet and light, something Ireland is good at doing. I just hope she won’t meet Molly Sterling’s fate.

Joe
Joe
1 year ago
Reply to  Skiwalko

What a heartbreaker. That and Blackbird trump all other unfortunate non-qualifiers.

Joe
Joe
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe

In both cases the staging torpedoed it. I will agree they could’ve staged them both much better than they did but never really figured out how, so they were out the door early.

Joe
Joe
1 year ago

This is 100% about how it plays live. I want it to qualify so much and it’s in a seriously tough semi. It could either make it or not, really one or the other, but fingers crossed she gets Ireland in again.

ESCelebrate19
ESCelebrate19
1 year ago

I agree regarding City Lights- what a good entry that was! I do think we can get only judge Sarah’s song once it has been performed live a couple of times and we can see if the song has merits on its own beyond the studio version.

ESCelebrate19
ESCelebrate19
1 year ago

I’m glad to see some dancers and that the song will be presented as a bop. Sarah has a real presence and will stand out and be memorable. The song journeys well and it does not need Whitney or Mariah tonsil operatics. I hope there is an interesting visual on stage alongside the song.

Stevie
Stevie
1 year ago

Great Song best of luck Sarah

Colin
Colin
1 year ago

I’m a bit annoyed that in this day and age, any kind of lingering or processing will be called “obsessive” without a second thought. This song says nothing about her stalking him or being abusive. It’s simply an inner process of her not being able to forget. Moreover, the song implies that she did something to hurt him while they were together and wants to make amends. I actually like lyrics and don’t find them creepy at all. The song itself is way too subtle to make a big impact on me.

Reeve
Reeve
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin

Nowadays…
lingering is stalking
seducing is grooming
looking without consent is jail time