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Monday, 28 April 2014 17:06

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Ireland

It has become customary for the editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Greig Watts, Joseph Zammit, Sharon Vaughn and John Scott from the United Kingdom, Malta, Sweden and the United States have been entrusted with the second semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 8th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and moving onto number #9, we catch up with Ireland (RTE) who will be represented by Canlinn ft. Kasey with the song Heartbeat co-written by Hazel Kaneswaran, Jonas Gladnikoff, Rasmus Palmgren and Patrizia Helander.

Kasey Smith is 23 years old and hails from the northside of Dublin. She is from a known family of singers going back to her grandfather who was a showband singer. She rose to fame with the BT Music Award nominated girlband Wonderland in 2010 under the tutelage of Louis Walsh and Westlife’s Kian Egan. After Wonderland, Kasey travelled to Nashville, Tennessee where she focused on her solo career, writing songs and getting as much on-stage experience as possible in the city’s vibrant music scene. Upon her return to Ireland, Kasey competed in the 2013 Eurosong competition where she finished third place with the song Kiss Me. In the 2014 contest, Kasey went one better, teaming up with traditional Irish music act Can-linn and winning the right to represent Ireland at the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen.

Heartbeat is a passionate song ‘that shows why we are recognised globally as makers of fine music’ says Kasey’s mentor Hazel Kaneswaran. The song was co-written by Hazel, who sang for Dove in 1996 and has since presented numerous TV shows and performed around Ireland; Jonas Gladnikoff, who wrote two successful Irish Eurovision entries, Et Cetera in 2009 and It’s For You by former winner,Niamh Kavanagh, in 2010; Rasmus Palmgren, writer of the current Swedish Idol winning song, and Patrizia Helander, Swedish Idol 2007 finalist and experimental artist.

Ireland is known to be the darling of the Eurovision Song Contest, having been triumphant on no less than seven occasions, the last one being back in 1996 when Eimear Quinn performed The Voice which in turn has no co-relation to the current television series. Since the introduction of the semi-final system, Ireland has had mixed fortunes at the event, failing to qualify in 2005, 2008 and 2009 and having managed to make it through to the final for the past four consecutive years with acts such as Niamh Kavanagh, Jedward and Ryan Dolan. RTE is definitely banking on this act to continue their recent bout of qualification whilst hoping to improve on the result achieved in the final.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 63%

Greig Watts: I like the start and the vocal has grabbed me, so I am wondering where the song will take me. Is it going to be dance or heavy chorus??? I bit of a mix, and all there’s an irish fiddle or something in there too for extra value. I guess its one of the naturalist flowing songs so far (to my western ear), will this be a song that hasn’t got enough else to make an impact, if it was just a song contest it could do well, but not sure that’s the case. Like the song though

Joseph Zammit: Oh Ireland. Poor poor Ireland. The emerald isle with the beautiful songs, whatever happened to you? You used to produce beautiful ballads, strong songs, and smile inducing melodies. And now you give us this. The equivalent of what a fading pop star would write and produce to have one final shot at a hit for the clubs to play but fails miserably. 

But please dear reader, do not mistake this song as any Euro-dance track, oh no no. Because even though they do not fit with the rest of the song, she decides to throw in a fiddle and a flute  to remind us that deep down she is still Irish. All she needed to do was bring in a leprechaun to do a rap bit in the bridge. Apart from that it has a generic yet catchy chorus in the middle that unfortunately, makes it very easy for it to get stuck in your head.

Sharon Vaughn: This story holds the track and her performance is strong yet not over-done. The song is current yet remains true to its Celtic roots.

John Scott: Interesting instrumentation for the song. The chorus is good, but I liked some of the other folky songs better.


Published in Editorials

Tráthnóna maith! Ireland will be making their selection for this years’ edition of the Eurovision Song Contest during the course of the evening with five (5) acts competing for the right to represent the most successful country in the continental competition. The emerald isle won the event on seven (7) occasions, the most recent being back in 1996 with Eimear Quinn and her song The Voice. Nevertheless, since the millennium, the nation has strugged to get into the top ten (10) despite reaching the final round of the competition every year since 2009. RTÉ, the Irish public broadcaster will be airing the selection process through a webcast being transmitted on the official website of the Eurovision Song Contest.

The Irish public broadcaster made the announcement of the five (5) mentors back in October as they kicked off a journey to find a suitable artist with the best possible song. Ultimately, the search did end up with a couple of interesting names, some of which are known through talent shows, others who have already been a part of the process and even newcomers. The music industry in Ireland is thriving and has been known to produce some fine acts throughout the years including none other than; U2, Westlife, Enya and Keith Hanley. In the meantime, only one (1) of the five (5) competing entries has broken through the charts thus far, with Eoghan Quigg being a new entry at #99 based on iTunes sales.

The Show (Part 1)

An ABBA tribute act is in the audience performing Waterloo, winning entry of the 1964 Eurovision Song Contest. Our host of the evening; Ryan Turbidy is literally getting the audience ready for the evening. This year, it seems that Ireland is making more effort than usual with RTÉ commentator Marty Whelan responsible for the backstage interviews. A trip down memory lane as we will be getting to meet Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan and Johnny Logan.

A non-Irish poll was organised throughout the week to seek the most recognisable entries from the Eurovision Song Contest and ranking in number five is; Nicole with A Little Peace. A panel of professional experts are present to comment on the songs including none other than; Louis Walsh, Linda Walsh,  Owen McDermott and a Eurovision Fan who is present on countless occasions when it comes to the Late Late Show Eurosong. A short interview with each of our panel members, and this is turning out to be an interesting chat show to be honest.

Song 01: Don't Hold On - Patricia Roe

A female singer/songwriter, and former runner-up of Eurosong in 1992 and 1993. Patricia is standing on a platform wearing a beautiful black/silver lace dress whilst accompanied by two backing vocalists; a gorgeous lady and a dashing young man, a drummer and a pianist. This is your typical run off the mill ballad which would not stand out in the Eurovision Song Contest. Patricia is truly an oustanding vocalist and you could feel the emotion pushing through the boundaries. The sound is really good this year and it seems that RTE is putting in the effort. 

I cannot fault this performance, that is for sure and I have a very good feeling that this will be in the middle of the scoreboard and will finish in third place. Whoa! Those high notes are seriously brilliant but this is too too dated. Nevertheless, what a very good effort from Malta's backing vocalist back in the 1994 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Song 02: The Movie Song - Eoghan Quigg

Second runner-up of the X Factor a couple of years back, Eoghan Quigg is back on stage wearing a bow-tie and sitting down on a stool playing the guitar. He is joined on stage by two male backing vocalists who are doing brilliant harmonies as well as two female violinists and a cello player. Eoghan is definitely enjoying his time in the spotlight and the performance is coming across brilliant, as if developed for the stage of the Eurovision Song Contest.

I am going to say this, the use of the lyric video is a fabolous idea, especially having also been used to full effect by Malta in the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. Eoghan is performing this brilliantly and it is going to be difficult for someone to take this away from him. Ireland have a strong entry with The Movie Song and they would be wrong to turn it away. Wonderful performance and that is something that Ireland does best.

Song 03: Heartbeat - Can-Linn ft Kasey Smith

.. in a beautiful green grown, Kasey Smith is off-key for the first part of the performance, whilst joined by two male dancers, two female backing vocalists and a female violinist. I can honestly see this on a stage at the Eurovision Song Contest but nevertheless, would lack in picking up votes, especially for the simple reason that Kasey is too stiff. This should have a vocalist who is dancing around the stage and not completely standing still doing absolutely nothing.

What I love about this performance though is surely the addition of the riverdance but instead of working the angle of using topless dancers, the dancers are fully clothes. The backing vocalists are in tune and the harmonies work well. Kasey and her vocals improved as the track went along but I am not truly getting the vibe of the song. I have no clue what they see in this one and why it is the bookies' favourite.

Song 04: Be Mine - Andrew Mann

A former participant on The Voice of Ireland, and also a runner-up of the Irish Eurosong a couple of years back, Andrew is clearly bringing in the rock element, somewhat required in any national final across the continent. His vocals are definitely on point and that is something which truly stands out in this song. Here I Am in 2012 was a much better entry but nevertheless, he is a brilliant performer. 

The staging of this song is completely appropriate but band type of songs never do well in the Eurovision Song Contest and Ireland should not do such a mistake. Well, this is the fourth song and presents an alternative type of entry. I mean, this is something which would not succeed in the international competition because it is more based on radio.

Song 05: You Don't Remember Me - Laura O'Neill

Billy McGuinness was seriously acting in a spiteful manner prior to the performance but nevertheless, I do not believe that he had any valid points considering that the expert panel does not have any say in the final vote. It would have been worse should those have been the actual jury. Laura is wearing a short red dress, maybe not the most flattering for her figure but nevertheless, the staging is seemingly done in a manner to compliment a James Bond genre.

Think Adele doing Skyfall, but required a little bit of work to be honest. It is a very good song and could do very well in the Eurovision Song Contest. I believe that this is one (1) of the two (2) songs which could do Ireland proud. I believe that this is one of the acts which has a very good chance of succeeding in the international market and create a career out of this evening.

The Show (Part 2)

Well, an extremely heated exchange between mentor of the fifth entry, Billy McGuinness and Louis Walsh and Linda Martin, for the simple reason that two of the acts were somewhat mentored by Louis Walsh. Nevertheless, Billy is livid and this is not looking good for Laura as it is reflecting bad for her. We have a recap of all of the songs performed this evening, a couple of adverts and now Johnny Logan who is back for a special guest performance.

He is performing Hold Me Now, winning entry of the 1987 Eurovision Song Contest .. and throws in a bit of Why Me? Johnny performing LIVE and sounding brilliant! Why cannot Ireland re-create their performances of the nineties? I still believe that Rock and Roll Kids could be a hit in the current format of the Eurovision Song Contest. Wonderful audience singing along to Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan's brilliant song. Standing ovation from the expert panel and the public loved it.


Galway: 12 points to Heartbeat

Cork: 12 points to You Don't Remember Me

Dublin: 12 points to Heartbeat

Limerick: 12 points to Heartbeat

Sligo: 12 points to The Movie Song

Public Vote: 60 points to Heartbeat

Winner: Heartbeat - Can-Linn ft Kasey Smith