Ireland’s recent showing at Eurovision have been a far cry from their heyday in the 1990’s. A failure to qualify for the last 4 years has left many fans wondering what is going on at the Irish broadcaster, RTE. Following the fourth consecutive failure to qualify in Kyiv, RTE regrouped and in August 2017 they held a forum to try to work out where it went so wrong. The forum was attended by Irish music industry professionals, fans, a representative from Eurovision.tv and the Austrian Head of Delegation who shared his experience of internal selections. After lengthy discussions about options for the future, it was widely agreed that the focus should be on the song, not necessarily the singer. By partnering with the Irish music industry, RTE hopes to attract established song writers to submit songs for consideration. In September 2017, RTE invited submissions from “accomplished songwriters and performers with a proven track record of success in the music industry”.
All went quiet after the call for songs was announced but this didn’t stop the rumour mill from spinning. First up was pop star Samantha Mumba who tweeted that she would “love” to represent Ireland following the failure to qualify in Kyiv. This was followed up by a rumour that former Sex Pistol frontman, Johnny Rotten was in contention with reports that he had submitted a song called “Pleased to Meet You”. This rumour turned out to be true with Rotten confirming that he was interested in representing Ireland. RTE, however, had other ideas and declined the offer. Perhaps the memory of Dustin the Turkey was still too fresh in their minds.
Fast forward to January 2018 and speculation mounted that RTE were about to make an announcement related to their Eurovision entry. It was widely speculated the electro pop duo, Heathers, were going to represent Ireland in Lisbon. However, it soon emerged that negotiations had fallen apart over the song choice. As experienced song-writers, Heathers were not keen on performing song penned by another songwriter. RTE then said that they had secured a “male solo singer with TV experience” and would be making an official announcement in due course. A few hours later, eagle eyed fans spotted a tweet from singer-songwriter, Ryan O’Shaughnessy with the caption “Big announcement coming tomorrow” and an Irish flag emoji. The cat was out of the bag.
After 24 hours of speculation, RTE announced that Ryan will represent Ireland at Eurovision 2018 in an official press release. RTE announced that over 300 songs were submitted for consideration and the song “Together” was chosen after being selected by a panel of music industry professionals who listened to and judged the shortlisted final entries. Ryan is a former child actor turned pop star who is no stranger to competitions. He appeared on both the Voice of Ireland and Britain’s Got Talent and has released 2 singles that reached the top 10 in Ireland and the UK. He also has a Eurovision connection with his uncle, Gary O’Shaughnessy representing Ireland in 2001. Following the official announcement, Ryan provided further details about “Together”. It was co-written by Ryan, Mark Caplice and Laura Elizabeth Hughes and is a nod to the one of Ireland’s winning entries, “Rock and Roll Kids”. Together is a gentle ballad that showcases Ryan’s vocals and the music video is very cute. If RTE can get the staging right then maybe, just maybe, Ireland can break their recent streak and sneak into the final.