Speaking to The Irish Sun, former Eurovision winner Johnny Logan and Eurovision arranger Frank McNamara have criticised the Irish selection process for Eurovision 2021, calling Lesley Roy’s entry “not an Irish song.” However, despite this criticism, there is a lot of support for “Maps” from Irish fans.
Both Johnny and Frank are unhappy with the way Ireland selects it’s Eurovision entries each year. They are critical of the lack of involvement from the Irish public, as well as from Irish songwriters and producers, claiming that RTÉ are choosing Ireland’s entries “behind closed doors”.
“I don’t feel we have we have an Irish entry because everything is done behind closed doors. I don’t think the Irish people have anything to do with the song apart from clapping it when it’s on. I don’t think we have anything to do with the selection process.” – Johnny Logan
Lesley Roy has worked on her 2021 entry Maps with a host of international songwriters and producers, with the song being selected by a panel made up of industry professionals and Eurovision fans. This is something that Frank McNamara has criticised and he claims that he was not approached to be part of the panel for 2021, despite having two Eurovision wins behind him: “No, I have never been asked and I fundamentally disagree with how RTÉ now selects Ireland’s entry behind closed doors.
Johnny Logan and Frank McNamara both say that they are speaking up for Irish songwriters, who have been left out of Ireland’s Eurovision selection processes over the years: “Irish songwriters like Phil Coulter or Shay Healy launched their careers writing for Eurovision. As if the past year hasn’t been bad enough for songwriters, musicians, and producers. The fact that they were blocked from getting involved with Eurovision couldn’t make it any worse…”
Both Logan and McNamara are reminiscent of the good old days, when Ireland were topping the scoreboards with win after win, and when their entries would always be chosen via a national final, involving Irish songwriters and the public: “I don’t know why we can’t go back to the old days of a National Song Contest. It worked, that’s why Ireland won the contest a record seven times.” – Frank McNamara
Despite all of this criticism, RTÉ have defended their decision to internally select Lesley Roy for a second consecutive year due to the cancellation of the 2020 contest, with a spokesman for RTÉ saying: “We have tried many different selection methods over the years, which have included juries, public votes and a mix of public vote and juries. Like a lot of other Eurovision participants in recent years we have opted for an internal selection which involved different listening panels made up of music industry professionals and Eurovision fans, shortlisting entries. A public vote is not something we would ever rule out for future Eurovision song contests”.
Do you agree with Johnny Logan and Frank McNamara? Would you like to see Ireland bring back a national final? Let us know what you think in the comments below!