IRELAND HAVE SURPRISED everyone – and most of all ourselves – by qualifying for the Eurovision final on Saturday.
To do that, Ryan Dolan – a nice young lad from Strabane – had to do valiant battle with the 15 other acts hoping to make it through. Here’s how it went down.
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Hello everyone! Hope you’re sitting comfortably.
The TV broadcast will be under way in a couple of minutes, just as soon as the judges have finished eviscerating people on Masterchef. So while we’re waiting let’s have a look at what our man has to offer, will we?
Tonight’s result will be determined half by televoting, and half by national ‘expert’ juries. The juries have already seen the acts (last night) and doled out their scores. But we won’t know what they are until later, when they’re combined with the televoting results.
Is your head hurting yet?
The bad news is that Ireland isn’t really fancied to win this first semi-final – we’re at 16/1 with the bookies, up against Denmark, who are 6/4 favourites to win the whole gosh-darn thing (according to Boylesports).
The good news is that there are some other songs which are fancied way, way less. So hopefully we might sneak through and reclaim SOME of the glory of the Johnny Logan days. (That’s J-Lo to you.)
IT BEGINS. And we’re already being treated to an interminable montage of Sweden. Including the bridge to Denmark where a gruesome murder takes place in TV’s The Bridge. So, that’s a good omen right?
Did you want to hear last year’s winner again? Good, because here it is. With a children’s choir, and a bonkers-looking lady in a red dress, and all.
She’s mingling with the crowd, who are all waving little lights. Is it too early to start crying?
For anyone wondering how to pronounce Malmö, we just got a lesson from the presenter. It’s “Mal-myeurgh.”
The presenter is explaining the voting rules, which are basically this: Don’t bother until it’s all over. Meanwhile, Marty Whelan is doing a little riffing. Good old Marty.
Earlier today he told the Irish Independent about the pain of Ireland getting nul points. “It still hurts – we take it very personally,” he said.
It’s alright, Marty. There, there.
And first up is Austria’s Natalia Kelly with Shine.
She’s gone for a restrained staging, with only her glittering silver trousers to keep us entertained. Frankly, this is not what we need to get us going. STEP IT UP, AUSTRIA.
While Austria are boring us into oblivion, Frances Byrne has a question:
YES. God yes. We’d like wine. Can someone bring us some wine?
Now Russia, who have dispatched Dina Garipova to sing What If.
She’s taken a few lessons from Westlife and banged a euphoric key change into the middle of her song. If she had a stool, she’d be right off it by now.
Ukraine’s entry is called Gravity. Ooh, I like this one. It’s got some pretty good strings going on in the backing track. And she’s totally standing on a rock in the middle of a steamy ocean.
Also, she was delivered onto the stage by a tall man in a leather jacket. Yep, Ukraine is getting our vote so far.
Marty Whelan is saying scathingly that the Netherlands have failed to qualify for the final since 2004. But let’s face it – they didn’t send Jedward and a turkey, did they?
People in glass houses, Marty. People in glass houses.
That said, I don’t know if the Netherlands are going to be breaking their losing streak this year, to be honest.
“It’s just very unusual,” says Marty about the Netherland’s song. Sort of in the same tone of voice your mam would use to say “Well, it’s different, isn’t it?” when she’s trying to be kind about your new jacket that she hates.
WHOA, what’s happening. The camera is going CRAZY and there are dudes in space suits rapping. Montenegro IN THE HOUSE.
For anyone without access to a telly, this is what Montenegro’s culture looks like:
The presenter is back, and wearing a new dress. “Now is the perfect time for you to get to know our country a little bit better,” she says, gently breaking the news that they haven’t sorted out the results yet.
The latest delaying tactic is a “comedy” sketch in which a Swedish artist dressed up in wacky clothes as “European Broadcasting Union spokesperson Linda Woodruff” pretends to tour the country.
If you aren’t watching, then… just thank God, that’s all.
We appear to be in the middle of another montage. I’ll be honest: I don’t even know what this one is for.
The votes have been counted, the presenter tells us in her Poppins-meets-Richthofen voice. “This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for.”
There is a cruel glint in her eye.
Pretty sure someone from the crowd just cried out in pain.
Ireland are through!
“Embrace me someone, will you quickly,” says Marty in celebration. What did we tell you? He’s got a voice of authority.
Everyone’s rooting for the Montenegran spacemen, right?
As well as Ireland, the other qualifiers are: Moldova, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, Belarus, Denmark, Russia, Belgium and the Netherlands.
I’m going to be honest: I’m pretty broken up about the Montenegrans. If the Eurovision doesn’t stand for rapping spacemen, then what DOES it stand for?
But I’m going to take a leaf out of Marty’s book, and remain stoic. Marty wouldn’t let news like this break him. He’d just give the secret finger to the organisers.
The presenter is warning us in threatening tones that she’ll “be back” for the second semi-final on Thursday – so that’s our lot for tonight.
We’ll be back on Thursday too, when my esteemed colleague Louise McSharry will be taking over liveblogging duties for the next 16 countries. Godspeed, Louise.
Thanks for all your (hilarious!) comments, tweets and emails. They helped me through this thing. See you Thursday!
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