Johnny Logan has described the team behind Ireland's Eurovision Song Contest entries as “They're like headless chickens, they know what result they want, but they don't know how to get there”. But the team responsible for selecting Ireland's last two Eurovision Song Contest entries is none other than the Irish public who selected their entries through a national final. The system did not bring Ireland success, but it worked rather well in Russia in 2008 and Norway in 2009.
The Irish public had a choice of six songs in Eurosong 2009. The selection had a variety of musical styles and performers and et cetera was widely perceived as the best up-tempo entry, a style that Ireland has rarely selected in the past. It featured Sinead Mulvey and Black Daisy, young Irish talent looking for a big break on the national and international scene, in much the same way that Johnny Logan did back in 1980 when he captured his first Eurovision Song Contest victory.
The Eurovision Song Contest is the world's most watched non-sporting event with an estimate 125million viewers. It gives artists and songwriters one of the biggest platforms to promote their talents and of the 40 or more countries that now enter, there can only be one winner. That's not to say that only one entry can become successful. The success of Iceland's Yohanna and Turkey's Hadise in finding chart success beyond their borders this year is well documented. Ireland's entry, whilst not released abroad, was one of the most popular acts at London's UKeurovision Preview Party in 2009 and the band were more than happy with the way that they were received.
The Eurovision Song Contest has a history of uncovering unknown talents who compete against some of the biggest stars in other counties and sometimes, international household names. Julio Iglesias, Cliff Richard, Olivia Newton John, Lara Fabian, Patricia Kaas, Anna Vissi, The Shadows, The New seekers, Nana Mouskouri and many other international names have entered and failed to win. Alexander Rybak, Abba, Celine Dion, Bucks Fizz, and Johnny Logan are just some names of singers and groups unknown beyond their borders that have won the competition.
National selections take many forms, from national finals, to marathon television shows such as Melodifestivalen and Melodi Grand Prix have delivered success at the Eurovision Song Contest, but they have also produced entries that have performed poorly. Talent shows such as Operación Triunfo(Spain) and Your country needs you (United Kingdom) have delivered good results for their victors. Internal selections of artists has seen success (Turkey 2003, Greece 2005) whether or not the public had a part to play in the song selection.
Even if the team behind the Irish bid had found the perfect Eurovision Song Contest entry to deliver Ireland's eighth victory, who is to say that the public would have agreed and selected that song for Moscow? Even if they had, could it have beaten runaway winner Alexander Rybak's fairytale?
HAVE YOUR SAY
Today, we are asking if there is such thing as a winning plan to find a Eurovision Winner. Certainly, PR machines go into overdrive in a bid to win the competition, Dima Bilan, Ani Lorak, Jade Ewen, Sveltana Loboda, Angelica Agurbash all saw fortunes spent on trying to claim victory in recent years, but only once did the plan succeed. Bucks Fizz, the 1981 winning act, was put together specifically for the Eurovision Song Contest, and that worked, albeit in a different era with farfewer competing countries. Is it possible to create a Eurovision Song Contest entry that will go on to win the competition in the future? Can broadcasters work to a formula with any guarantees of success?
What is the best way for broadcasters to select their songs and change their fortunes when countries have seen recent poor results? If the public are allowed to select from a choice of songs, will there be any guarantee that they will select the song with most chance of success at the Eurovision Song Contest? Have your say in the reactions section below.