Who wrote Brian's song?

by Richard West-Soley 244 views

2006 Eurovision Song Contest singer for Ireland, Brian Kennedy, has sparked controversy by crediting an Englishman as the co-writer for his Eurovision entry Every song is a cry for love. This contravenes Irish Eurosong rules, and has raised protest from some quarters and even calls for retrospective disqualification.

The credits on Kennedy's latest album, Homebird, clearly credit the writers of Every song is a cry for love as Brian Kennedy and renowned song-writer Calum MacColl, son of artist Ewan MacColl and brother to late singer Kirsty MacColl. As RTE rules state that Eurosong submissions should be written by solely Irish writers, it would appear that the regulations were broken.

Gesture of goodwill
Kennedy's management issued a statement in response to the news, maintaining that Kennedy is in fact the sole writer of the track, and the credit to MacColl on the album was nothing more than a gesture of good will to a close friend. Former Eurovision winning writer Shay Healy (Ireland 1980), who was on the expert panel for the Irish Eurovision selection 2006, supported this explanation: "I cannot see why Brian Kennedy would leave himself so open as to put Calum MacColl down as a co-writer on the album."

Indeed, both MacColl and Brian's manager Barry Gaster have insisted that the popular Irish singer is the sole writer: "It is Brian's song – Brian wrote it, Brian composed it" says Gaster. MacColl echoes this, though he did carry out part of the arrangement of the song itself. MacColl even tried to explain the credit as a possible misprint: "The credits on that album are a work of fiction, the sleeve is littered with misprints – it's a mistake. I arranged the piece but Brian wrote it."

Doubts remain
However, other artists and journalists are not so easily persuaded, and a few opinions have been quite vocally aired. Singer Kevin Sharkey, who also entered a song for the Irish selection, but was unsuccessful, puzzled sceptically: "I don't know any singer who would be so kind as to give a co-write on a song they had written themselves." Meanwhile, journalist John Waters, who earlier claimed that RTE had "moved heaven and earth" to attract Kennedy to Eurovision, was clear in his doubts: "This was against the rules of the contest and I believe he should be retrospectively disqualified. People may make a joke of Eurovision, but it is a competition organised by the national broadcaster and it is a betrayal of the public faith if the conditions were breached."

Svante Stockselius himself was drawn into giving his comment on the matter, although it is clear that Irish broadcaster RTE has the responsibility to clear the matter up. "It is up to each individual broadcaster to ensure that the rules are not broken. Obviously it is important for the EBU to ensure that members do not go outside the rules" explains Svante, while RTE reassures its viewers "the entry, Every song is a cry for love, was submitted to RTE as written and composed by Brian Kennedy." Whether the voice of doubt can be so easily quelled is another matter.

Richard West-Soley

Senior Editor

Richard's ESC history began way back in 1992, when he discovered the contest could fuel his passion for music and languages. Since then, it's been there at every corner for him in some way or another. He joined the esctoday.com team back in 2006, and quickly developed a love for writing about the contest. In his other life, he heads the development team at the learning resources company Linguascope, and writes about all aspects of language learning on the site Polyglossic.com.