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The highs and lows of Ireland at Eurovision

Hold us now, don’t cry… These songs are both amazing and not so amazing.

Hold us now, Johnny. Hold us.
Hold us now, Johnny. Hold us.
Image: Haydn West/PA Archive/Press Association Images via Press Association

LIKE AN ANNOYING cousin you only see at Christmas the Eurovision is rearing its head yet again. Today we found out who this year’s Irish hopefuls are, all of whom will fight to the death (sort of) to earn a chance to represent us at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden.

It’s an interesting bunch and it certainly feels like with Jedward out of the way, perhaps a new Irish pop act could swoop in and guide us to victory.

Ireland’s history with the competition is certainly impressive, having won the contest a record seven times and having three consecutive wins in the early 90s.

Since then we’ve had an interesting run even if it wasn’t always stellar. Now, we take a trip through the Eurovision vaults to bring you the highs and lows of Ireland’s time in the competition:

HIGH: Dana – All Kinds of Everything

Our first ever win at the competition still sounds oddly charming today. Also, the intro of Dana running about Dublin City Centre is a work of art in itself.

escbelgium3/ Youtube

LOW: The Mullans – When You Need Me

This number from 1999 feels like some kind of parody. The Mullans have deep voices. Very, very deep voices. Picture Ronan Keating’s tones at their most nasal and you’re nearly there.

The song is completely turgid but the weird car-crash quality of their voices singing over it will reel you in. It placed in 17th place that year, which feels a bit generous considering.

eurovisionfest / YouTube

HIGH: Linda Martin – Terminal 3

If you cut Linda Martin (we’re looking at you, Twink) she’d probably bleed Eurovision. She’s represented  us twice, mentored Jedward and is in many ways the female embodiment of Eurovision in Ireland (with all due respect to Niamh Kavanagh).

She won with Why Me? in 1992 but her 1984 entry Terminal 3 is in fact better. Yeah. We said it. It’s high-camp bubblegum with Linda wailing urgently over what sounds like a lost 80s TV theme tune. We want Rihanna to cover this with some kind of dubstep breakdown immediately. Go Linda.

Euroencyclopedic / YouTube

LOW: Donna & Joe – Love?

Poor Ol’ Donna & Joe. The third winner of You’re A Star were never taken seriously and their shot at Eurovision glory never caught on either. Love? never made it past the 2005 semi-final.

The weird subtext of a brother and sister duo singing about the pain of a romantic relationship is all there but drowned out by the fact that neither Donna or Joe seem particularly convincing on stage. There’s even an Irish dance break in the middle.

Love? is something of a stinker, but so hypnotic that it’s worth a rewatch. Funnily enough, Donna attempted to get a song into the Eurovision last year and it wasn’t half bad.

webuvision / YouTube

HIGH: Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan – Rock & Roll Kids

What. A. Tune. This is completely at odds with the usual Eurovision fare and even the kind of material Ireland was winning with the in two years prior but in 1994, Rock & Roll Kids cleaned up.

You can act like you don’t love this song but within seconds you’ll be an emotional wreck listening to this ode to lost innocence. Sob.

eurovisionfest / YouTube

LOW: Dustin The Turkey – Irlande Douze Points

Look, we all love Dustin but this is still ridiculous whatever way you look at it. Everyone’s favourite TV puppet entered the Eurovision with a weird techno-pop song with Dustin rapping about the competition’s tangled history.

It was taken by many countries as an insult (there were boos the minute he arrived on stage) but either way the sight of singing a turkey puppet pushed around on a disco-fied trolley is fairly memorable, even if it never made it past the semi-finals.

MusicOfTheWorld2008 / YouTube

HIGH: Eimear Quinn – The Voice

1996 was all about Eimear Quinn’s The Voice. It’s completely unlike anything we’ve won with since and still sounds rather good. It’s a bit like Enya taking a stab at a Eurovision entry with a traditional music flair that was presumably a nod to Riverdance’s popularity at the time (an act that started at the Eurovision in 1994).

The Svet91 / YouTube

LOW: Dervish – They Can’t Stop The Spring

This entry from traditional music group Dervish went on to be the only Irish Eurovision song to place last, gaining a mere five points in total (thanks Albania). Even watching it now it’s easy to see why this tanked. It has no real hook and while it’s a good idea to use traditional Irish elements, it has none of the impact of The Voice.

2006ESC2007 / YouTube

HIGH: Mickey Joe Harte – We’ve Got The World

This didn’t win when entered in 2003 but success here off the back of You’re A Star made it notable.

Mickey Joe Harte was the first winner of singing contest You’re A Star which sent its winner to represent us at Eurovision. This tune placed 11th the year it was entered and is still pretty catchy now, with bonus sexy backing singers an added layer of hilarity.

eurovisionairtv / YouTube

LOW: Chris Doran – If My World Stopped Turning.

Oh  dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Mickey Joe Harte may have used You’re A Star to his gain but his successor Chris Doran never quite managed the same. Winning series two of You’re A Star, Chris took this track, co-written by Brian McFadden (!) to the 2004 competition.

The dreary ballad placed second last and felt like an anticlimax after the goodwill set up by Mickey Harte the previous year. It’s still odd to watch now, there’s zero energy about the whole thing and Doran seems almost embarrassed to be there. Awkward.

escbelgium5 / YouTube

HIGH: Johnny Logan – Hold Me Now

This will probably always be one of the most memorable Irish Eurovision entries. Logan won with What’s Another Year in 1980 but Hold Me Now’s victory in 1987 was a true standout. It’s melodramatic, cheesy, incredibly catchy and 100% absolutely amazing.

Even a dodgy R&B remake Logan featured on in 2006 or that McDonald’s ad campaign in 2007 can take away from Hold Me Now’s general amazing-ness. Jedward’s Lipstick was big two years ago, but will it age as well?

Probably not.

hall3010 / YouTube

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