Ryan DolanAfter last year, I was beginning to wonder if Jedward would just keep coming back to represent Ireland at Eurovision every year, until viewers across the continent were treated to the disturbing image of two paunchy, bequiffed and hollow-eyed 47 year olds attempting to negotiate their trademark synchronised stage dive without their ankles succumbing to the effects of early-onset osteoporosis.

Thankfully for all concerned, they decided to step aside this year, leaving room for five relative unknowns to compete in the Irish National Final tonight, which was broadcast as part of chat show The Late Late Show. The song selection had been premiered on Irish Radio a couple of weeks previously, and consisted of three modern dance songs, a more traditional piano ballad and a half-Turkish pop-rock song. It was generally expected to be a two-way fight between the strongest dance-pop songs; Fire by Zoe Alexis and Only Love Survives by Ryan Dolan.

The problem with staging big modern dance productions in small studios is that it doesn’t really give much of an impression of the impact it might have in an arena. This issue wasn’t helped by vocal performances that ranged from hit and miss (Ryan) to completely unlistenable (Zoe). Only Aimee Fitzpatrick’s gentle ballad came out well, and as a result seemed like the obvious winner. However, melodically it wasn’t really all that strong and personally I struggled to hum it five minutes after hearing it – which never bodes well for Eurovision.

Evidently, the voting public had the same problem and ultimately Ryan Dolan topped the public vote despite coming second with the juries (behind Aimee). It basically sounds like everything Chris Brown has released in the past few years, but a bit cheaper. To be honest, while upbeat pop music is always welcome at Eurovision, I am starting to tire of this sound slightly, I feel this is too much of a pale xerox of a xerox of a xerox to make any significant impact. Still, Malta last year proved that a hummable song can be enough to make it over the finishing line under the right circumstances, so if he sings this better in Malmö than he did tonight then it’s far from a total write-off for the finals. I wouldn’t pre-book any tickets for Dublin – or indeed Millstreet – for May 2014 though.