There are a few reasons why it is tempting to spend a lot of time writing about the shouting match that broke out on the Late Late Show Eurosong 2014 Special between mentor Billy McGuinness and judges Louis Walsh and Linda “The Mother Goddam of Eurovision” Martin:
- It was easily the most entertaining Irish selection show since 2009, when the guest judge was Jerry Springer (who of course ended up trending on Twitter in Ireland during the dust-up). Instead of the host of The Jerry Springer Show, you got its spirit.
- Laura O’Neill, McGuinness’ mentee, sang “You Don’t Remember Me,” the title of which became raucously ironic just moments after she finished performing.
Of course, none of the drama on the Eurosong 2014 Special will matter to anyone watching Ireland’s entry during the second Semi on May 8. Only Irish viewers and diehard Eurovision fans are going to know what happened. But for now, it’s just nice to have something exciting to discuss, because the songs on display during the Late Late Show were not much to talk about.
Anyway, Ireland’s entry this year is “Heartbeat” by Can-linn featuring Kasey Smith:
Ireland finished last in 2013 with Ryan Dolan’s “Only Love Survives,” a bodhrán-propelled dance-pop track featuring two hunky dancers, two back-up singers, and a drummer. To remedy that sad state of affairs, Ireland has picked a bodhrán-propelled dance-pop track featuring two hunky dancers, two back-up singers, and a fiddle player. Thankfully, no one made hearts with their hands during their performance.
“Heartbeat” is Swedish schlager with a Celtic overlay. The tune is fine, but it doesn’t go anywhere. The verse doesn’t really distinguish itself from the chorus, and while Smith belts out the last go at the chorus, there’s no key change to boost the song when she brings it home. Smith is a good singer, but she is weak in her lower range, so there are moments where the instrumentation washes over her.
Linda Martin made the point that the dancers were a bit distracting, and I agree with her to a point. The Late Late Show performance space is small, so the Can-Linn dancers framed Smith tightly. On the big Eurovision stage, they may not be as much of a distraction.
Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy kept asking the judging panel if they had heard a song that could win Eurovision. No one really said yes, although Louis Walsh was a bit more upbeat about Ireland’s chances than the others. All “Heartbeat” needs to do is make the final and finish 25th or higher to improve on their previous result, and I don’t think it will achieve much more than that. This is the sound of a country playing safe and aiming for the middle of the table. Better luck next year.