Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Why Ryan could never hit right Eurovision note

Strong performance: Ryan Dolan
Strong performance: Ryan Dolan

Sometimes life's just inexplicable. Take poor Ryan Dolan.

Ireland's man at the mic gave a great performance of Only Love Survives at Eurovision. Everyone sold it well – Ryan, the greased up bohdran players, the dancers. (The only glaring mistake was Ryan's Joey Boswell leather trousers – never a good look, lads). And it was a better than average song, not that much different from the the eventual winner from Denmark. Heavy on drums, vaguely Eurodisco, it would be hard to actively dislike.

Indeed, following Ireland's qualification from the semis, the song was selling so well that it broke into the mid-week charts of several European countries.

While UK entry Bonnie Tyler, despite a bravura performance, was never going to do well – what on earth was the thinking behind that choice? – Ryan was tipped as being in with a chance.

So, how did the Strabane man end up in last place with a miserly five points? Could it be that old bogeyman, politics?

For years, Ireland was the Eurovision country and it's still the most successful in terms of wins. It was a standing joke that it couldn't afford to host the bash year after year.

Some of the success was due to Ireland pressing all the right buttons. While part of the all-conquering Anglo-pop music scene, it still had a tradition of taking Eurovision seriously, with songwriters who could give Europe exactly what it wanted to hear. But Ireland was also everybody's favourite "other team". A friendly Switzerland, they charmed everyone and annoyed no-one.

Now the old blarney seems to be wearing thin. With the entry of the Balkans, the -stans and eastern Europe generally, poor old Ireland is in danger of being edged out. Ireland isn't that small or cute anymore. (Maybe also it's increasingly contemptuous 'Dustin the Turkey' attitude towards the contest was clocked by all those "irony-free" Europeans.) Don't despair Ryan. It isn't really your fault. Come home to Tyrone for a break, take stock and then get back out there. It's not your fault you can't turn back the tides of realpolitik.

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