The Eurovision 2018 Review: Day 22

Crack out a damp party popper. We’re more than halfway through.

More than halfway through and still at the beginning of the I’s. See how Eurovision cocks a snoop at alphabetic symmetry, the musical tyke.

Since we’re talking maths (sort of), it’s appropriate that this entry brings us to the only country which can claim to have won more than 10 per cent of all Contests.

Twenty-two years ago, they’d won not far off 20 per cent of all Contests but that just shows how tempus can be a real bastard sometimes. It’s Ireland, of course, the nation whose unique approach to ballads bored the pants off us made them Colombian strength jurynip in the mid 1990s.

More than two decades after their last touch of the trophy, Ireland is now one of a few countries desperately searching for that last bit of the jigsaw to make their Eurovision campaign click with the voters.

And this year, they may just have found it. Down the sofa, covered in old jam and cat fur, mind – but still something which could complete the puzzle if given the right sort of scrub-up.

Together was to greeted with much enthusiasm when premiered on Irish radio In its studio version it felt a tad flat, something to add to the string of not-quite-there sausages pumped put of RTE since the turn of the century. But then we got the promo video, a joyous same-sex ballet round Dublin’s Temple Bar, celebrating that special feeling when you’re having a great night out as a couple that just works. That brought Together a few more approval points. Then we got the first live performances from Ryan O’Shaugnessy, a singer refined through his experiences at the live finals of Britain’s Got Talent, a lad who knows how to sell to a song to a crowd like Del Boy shifting hooky crockery.

And you know something? It works. Ireland could be on to something that works. After years of splicing semi-quavers in their melody labs, the sweat in the foreheads of those Celtic scientists seems to be paying off. There’s nothing groundbreaking about Together but there’s enough subtle shifts in its DNA to give it an appeal too a wider audience, perhaps even enough to shift it out of its semi-final.

When the lights dime in the arena, the crowd falls silent and it’s just the singer, their song and their audience, that’s when you know who’s going to do well at Eurovision. If they can saddle those 180 seconds and ride then with confidence and control towards the sunset, they’re halfway home. That’s what we can expect to see from the boy O’Shaugnessy and for the first time in a long time, a 21st Century Contest held in Dublin does not seem an entirely alien notion.

 

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