Don’t do it, Ireland.

Tomorrow night, Ireland will choose its entrant for Eurovision.

Unlike last year, when Brooke’s sass and charm and Primark Chaos vibe was a clear standout, this year’s entrants have a less obvious winner to me. (Remember, I am a banger slut! I want Eurovision to be a solid three-hour dance party with Duncan Laurence coming in to play Arcade and give me a pee break.)

To sum up the contenders:

  • Connolly, who has brought a beautiful and chill (if slightly bland) track in Midnight Summer Night
  • Leila Jane, who will be performing Wild – a similar beautiful and chill track with a bit of Montaigne quirkiness and Irish resentment tied up in it (and which is my personal favourite)
  • Adgy, who has turned up with a generic dance track that is compulsory to include in every National Final. It’s got the chunky horns that usually make me go nuts, but the whole thing feels really flat and tired, like a carbon copy of a carbon copy
  • Wild Youth, a band so generic that I forgot they were part of the selection process;
  • K Muni X ND are bringing Afrobeats with the song Down in the Rain, which is fun and fresh! Unfortunately for these boys, the lyric “Attacks from the Left and the Right/ They were coming almost every single day” just makes me think of the odious centrist “just ask questions!” rationalist that pollutes so much of our political discourse. It’s my hangup, K Muni and ND, but right now you sound like you’re going to ask me to subscribe to your Substack.
  • and…well, then we have the biggest elephant in the room.

John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, has come back with his band Public Image Limited and a song titled Hawaii. It’s inspired by his wife, Nora Foster, who has Alzheimer’s disease. Lydon has been her carer for many years, and this song is designed to evoke the happy memories they shared on a trip to Hawaii.

The reason behind the song is no doubt moving. Lydon should be commended for his obvious devotion to his wife. In particular, I’ve been moved by the way he’s talked about how he feels he owes this to her, after she’s taken care of him over their forty-plus year marriage.

But the song itself? It’s…pleasant. Soothing background music. Evokes a mild sense of nostalgia.

It is not, however, a Eurovision song.

Don’t get me wrong – I fully support Lydon releasing this single to bring more awareness to what he and his wife are going through. What would have been amazing is if he released it in conjunction with an Alzheimer’s charity, and pledged to donate a portion of each sale to that charity. Then, when he did the round of interviews, he could have spent the whole time talking about the comfort he hopes this brings to Nora.

But instead, we’ve got a situation where Lydon has to spend two to three minutes of every interview being asked about Eurovision – a show he has both purportedly never watched because it’s phony, and praised as a show that his parents would be proud to see him on.

It helps that the press can’t resist a headline that’s “Former Sex Pistol enters Eurovision!” But that’s sloppy shorthand that fails to recognise the complicated nature of John Lydon – a man who was thrust into the role of a public provocateur but in reality is someone who wants to spend time with his wife. It’s reliant on the outdated stereotypes of Eurovision as a contest full of plastic, disposable pop music.* And Ryan Tubridy is not going to be interrogating any of these surface perceptions on the Late Late Show. (He is likely to interrogate someone’s Nan during Eurovision, to hilarious results.)

I don’t think the casual viewer in Ireland is going to vote for Public Image Limited to stick it to the contest. I don’t think that the fans who have been listening to Public Image Limited’s music for years may even tune in. But it could happen.

That would be a mess all around. Entering the Eurovision whirlwind would take Lydon away from the wife he loves for a promotional whirlwind. Is he going to be interested in doing any pre-parties? (Not that that’s a requirement for participation, but it can help build fan support.) Will he likely be asked questions designed to elicit the most outrageous and unfounded statements at Eurovision? Yes, and these won’t land in a performance art, Sylvia Night kind of way – the act of someone who is deliberately being outre to get clicks. No, Lydon’s comments will solidify into hard facts for the ongoing Eurovision culture war, with those sniffing about ‘real music’ using evidence of his treatment as proof that the Eurovision community is not sufficiently cultured to appreciate his genius.

Because in the end, that’s all this entry will provide. Noise. Noise about Eurovision’s role in the music world. A weird footnote on Lydon’s wikipedia page. It won’t change his level of fame. It will be a noisy distraction in the time he has left with his wife, which is clearly very dear to him.

So Ireland, when you vote on Friday, think about this entry and whether sending John Lydon to Eurovision is really the counter-culture kick in the teeth the contest so desperately needs, or something which will just end up being sad. Lydon’s an adult. He’s made his choice to enter. But that doesn’t mean you need to send him.

*Please note that I love plastic disposable pop music and absolutely believe it should have a place at Eurovision. Case in point.

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