Often a fan favourite, but rarely in the final, Ireland has struggled of late. After Brooke’s sad non-qualification in Turin this year, Ireland wants to shake things up with their slightly updated version of Eurosong 2023. During the most recent episode of the podcast Éirevision, Head of Delegation Michael Kealy teased some interesting changes for the nation’s Eurovision selection .
Although the Irish HoD expressed his love for Eurovision in the the podcast, he explains how being responsible for Ireland’s participation is sometimes very stressful. Especially when there’s a lot of criticism after a selection show, as was the case last February. The “studio panel” — which also served as the national jury — sugarcoated its review for every artist, even when sugar wasn’t called for. After the live performances they gave their feedback but nothing constructive to say (according to critics anyway). Fans and viewers weren’t impressed…and neither was Mr. Kealy!
He doesn’t think it was good TV and says it will definitely not happen again.
Next year, the Irish selection will once again take place within a Late Late Show Special, Kealy says. The big difference: it will be communicated right from the start that the judging panel can give their honest opinion. He explains: “We need to make it clear that they can say whatever they want [… ] That’s part of the deal. […] This will also make good TV.”
But there’s even more to that: The studio panel won’t have the right to vote anymore. So they will only give their opinion of all participating artists. There still will be a national jury though, which will consist of other people who are not on the studio panel. The Irish Eurovision act will once again be selected via televote, national jury and international jury.
As Kealy reports, the pre-selection will be very interesting this time, as established acts are more open to Eurovision now than in the past. That’s because many artists can’t ignore the world wide success of Eurovision acts like Måneskin and Rosa Linn. Kealy teases an exciting line up for Irish Eurosong 2023: “I think you will be surprised by some of the acts [of the Irish national final].” Bands Wild Youth and Cruachan have already expressed their intention to take part.
Kealy also reveals that two fast-tracked acts are already set for the final. In total there will be six entries on 3 February, which is the provisional date for Ireland’s Eurovision selection. Playing with numbers is still a thing in Ireland, so Kealy spoils us with even more interesting numbers: RTÉ received around 330 songs. Some applications received by RTÉ are completely useless though (a reality all HoDs will be familiar with). Someone, for example, just covered songs by Oasis and Ariana Grande. Those are, of course, ineligible to compete at Eurovision.
? Our exclusive chat with Ireland's head of delegation, @michaelkealy1 is available now!— Éirevision ?? (@EirevisionPod) December 6, 2022
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A shortlist, consisting of 60 entries, already exists. At the moment, a jury is cutting down those songs to the final ten. Every judge is busy doing a ranking of their ten favorites and they will then hand it over to Kealy. He has already received some rankings and there are about three songs so far which are popular with everyone. The six highest-ranked songs will take part in the Eurosong final next February. The jury consists of music experts, people from RTÉ’s entertainment department and even Eurofans.
Another big topic: the language of the next Irish entry. Kealy says he understands that people would love to hear a song in Irish, as is the case in Junior Eurovision this year. But facts are facts: only one song out of 330 applications for next year is sung in Irish. Allowing a song to take part in the national selection only because of the language is not an option for RTÉ. Especially if the song itself isn’t strong enough. More specifically, Kealy says he doesn’t want to hear any plastic pop or soulless, manufactured songs. Eurovision has become much more authentic in recent years – so that’s what RTÉ is still looking for, according to Kealy.
Michael Kealy also talked about the coming voting changes for the Eurovision semi finals. He thinks it was obvious there would be changes after the irregularities of the 2022 jury voting. “There are countries who take advantage of jurors weaknesses. I think it’s a real shame.” Kealy states that he himself has never been asked to vote for a specific country. But he’s aware it happens regularly — and since at least 2013. That’s why he thinks it’s the right decision to let televoters decide from now on.
What do you think about Ireland’s way to handle Eurovision? Do you think it’s the right decision to have a national jury? Let us know in the comments below.