Ireland: Press reaction not happy

by Gavin Murray 46 views

Ireland, winner of the Eurovision Song Contest for a record seven times, is reflecting on its Eurovision flop, finishing last place with only 5 points, last Saturday. The Irish media have reacted in unease saying although that the eastern block voting played a major part in our failure, the song, 'They can't stop the spring,' was too folk and traditional for a song contest that contained boom-bang-a-bang!

With the press in general denouncing Ireland's performance this year, one solution kept appearing all the time: pull-out of the competition. However, RTÉ remain reserved on the matter, saying that the Irish need to "reappraise our approach", giving light that Ireland may still enter next year.

Dervish are naturally disappointed but are looking forward to accompanying Irish President Mary McAleese on her state visits to Latvia and Lithuania next week.

Out of all the major press articles in Ireland, one article stood out, the article written by John Waters, who co-wrote the song They can't stop the spring, which was sung by Dervish.

Below is the article written in the Irish Times newspaper published Monday 14th May 2007, don't forget you can react to the article below!

Who could want to stop the spring?

There was a brief period in the early hours of Friday when I went halfway to meet the possibility that Ireland might come last in Eurovision, writes John Waters

It wasn't that my belief in our song or in Dervish's performance of it suddenly imploded, but that I remembered, having watched the semi-finals, what we were involved in. Nothing had changed except to get slightly better in the way things had been getting incrementally better through the week.

We had, we remained certain, a good song. Rehearsals were going well. Cathy Jordan was singing beautifully. The response from the floor of the auditorium during rehearsals was warm and connected. The Finnish technicians were dealing with every issue we raised. The steady optimism that I'd felt was growing and deepening.

But now I felt myself contemplating not merely defeat but the possibility of being completely stuffed, of coming last, of not garnering a single vote.

It wasn't a fear of voting pacts or of any identifiable trend in the songs which had emerged from the semi-finals. It was neither a premonition nor anything rational, simply an awareness that if this thing can make dreams come true it can also make nightmares real. Suddenly I felt cold.

Then the feeling went away, as the logic of the semi-final results appeared to take shape. I didn't, and don't, buy into the conspiracy theories, the talk of voting pacts or the belief that the contest has become, irreversibly, "The Eastern European Song Contest".

I reiterate my belief that the emerging patterns of voting are much less about tribal affinity than cultural, as in musical, recognition.

I repeat: the issue is not tone-deaf neighbourly loyalty but the fact that, clearly, East European countries share a musical ear, whereas the popular culture of the West becomes increasingly fragmented and diversified. What I saw as having emerged from Thursday night was a collection of reasonably good songs, varied, a bit time-warped, but also interesting, absorbing and of a reasonable musical quality.

In the shadow of the question-mark left by Lordi's victory a year ago, this seemed like it might be good for Ireland. Just as I didn't accept the idea of crude voting loyalties, I didn't see Lordi as mere kings of spectacle. I still feel there was a coherent musical message behind last year's result (just as there is a coherent musical message behind this year's result, even if, for the moment, I freely admit that I have only the vaguest idea what this might be). In the warmish Helsinki light of Friday, I made a choice to take comfort from what I had half-digested of the previous evening.

Nothing of this prepared me for Saturday night. It was utterly, unspeakably, crushing. It may seem daft, but I have never in my life felt more disappointed, not just for myself, but for Dervish, for Cathy, for the wonderful team of people from RTÉ and for my co-songwriter, Tommy Moran.

I console myself with the idea that it wouldn't be possible to enter this arena without risking this level of rejection. If we refuse to take risks, we shut ourselves off to reality's capacity to make dreams come true.

This is this. If we were to set out again, we might not start from where we did. I remain proud of our song and of Cathy and the band. The feeling we got from home during the week was tremendous.

This was a necessary toeing of the water. We went to Helsinki in a spirit of taking part and enjoyed ourselves tremendously up to the meltdown. To be part of this extraordinary event was a privilege and a pleasure. For as long as I live I'll not forget the hour I spent walking about between the dressing rooms just before Saturday night's show, encountering the artists from 23 other European countries going through their paces – warming up their vocal cords, doing their physical jerks and, despite intense rivalry, sharing their hopes and expectations.

It would be a pity to allow disappointment to turn any or all of us against entering Eurovision and trying to win.

But we went to Helsinki with the intention of winning – and came last. I'm not interested in blame or excuses, but only in establishing not so much what we did wrong as what we failed to understand in order to get it right. Above all, we need to look at the victors and the near-victors and see how they did it. If Eurovision's centre of gravity has drifted east, we need to ask ourselves if we are prepared to do what is necessary to compete and occasionally have a chance of winning.

The central questions gravitate around the cultural implications of the still relatively recent collapse of the Berlin Wall. The taste gap between East and West can be addressed in one of only two ways: radical introversion or a more enthusiastic opening up to the new. I prefer the latter.

They can't stop the spring. We can't stop the spring. Who could possibly want to stop the spring?

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