Ireland continues to hold the record for most Eurovision wins, having won the contest no less than 7 times since their debut back in 1965. In recent years, the nation has struggled to reach the heights of their past participations. It’s not uncommon to see Ireland remain in the semi-final, however this year they are hoping to reach the final with Lesley Roy and her new song, Maps. How will Ireland fare against the competition this year?
Anita (Eurovision Union)
Song and Vocals
We were introduced to Lesley Roy last year, where she was set to represent Ireland with the song Story Of My Life. If you remember back to our reviews last year, you will remember that I personally wasn’t the biggest fan of the entry, but was hopeful that we would see something a bit more modern this year. Fast forward a year, and we now have her new entry, Maps.
I am pleasantly surprised by this year’s entry, and while I certainly wouldn’t place it as a winning entry, it is significantly better than last year. Maps is an uplifting anthem that if performed well, could manage to make its way to the final. The song is unlike any other in the semi-final, which could also help it stand out in the crowd. The instrumentation of this song is stunning, with layers of sound all adding to the uplifting feel of the song. The drums are particularly strong, and they are intensified towards and during the choruses which gives a sense of anticipation for the punchy choruses. I also really enjoy the melodies of this song, which aren’t overpowered by the backing music.
As for the live performance, I do have some doubts solely based on her performance of Story Of My Life last year. The vocals weren’t particularly strong, and Maps demands strong vocals. There has been plenty of time to refine in preparation for Eurovision, so I do hope for a strong performance.
Performance and Act
The live performance will likely be make or break for Ireland this year. The visual performance will need to uphold the power of the song, and I think the use of lights and camera work will become particularly important. The performance should be dynamic, so I think having Lesley in the same position for the entire performance will lead to a static stage show. I don’t know if this song lends well to dancers, but there really needs to be something special, which could simply be in the backing visuals and lighting.
The more I listen to this song, the more I enjoy it. It is totally unique in the line-up this year, and that could help Ireland reach the final. That said, I think it will be totally up to the live vocal and stage performance. It’s all well and good to have a decent song, but it needs to be backed up with the total package.
Song and Vocals
Lesley Roy comes up with a pop anthem for Ireland, middle of the road in the good sense. These types of songs, non-offensive, tend to do well with the jury, but are sometimes forgotten in the televote. Especially in the first half of the show, this could be a risk. When it comes to vocals I was a little worried after last year and the struggles she had with ‘Story of my life’. But, the live performance at the Late Late Show showed Lesley being able to perform this song live as well, even though I have some doubts whether the performance was completely live. We will hear it in May, when the rehearsal takes place.
Performance and Act
Being a middle of the road song, I have the feeling it needs something to stand out. Just putting Lesley on stage with some visuals is not gonna do the trick. It does not have to become a circus with dancers, the total package needs to make sense. This can also be achieved with a special camera registration and effects. I believe this is necessary to make sure the performance will not be forgotten.
Ireland comes with an experienced musician and performer to Rotterdam and that is a very good start. The song is radio friendly and non-offensive and I can see it’s jury appeal. To gain enough points for qualification the Irish delegation needs to think hard about their staging and camerawork. Just throwing in some random dancers like in 2014 or a hot air balloon that had nothing to do with the whole story isn’t gonna do the trick again. Thankfully, in 2018, Ireland showed us they know what it takes to tell a visual story on stage.
Additional Scores from Eurovision Union and ESCDaily editors:
Average Score: 5.5/10