They’re back. Tonight, Jedward were selected to represent Ireland for the second year running following their respectable eighth last year.
This time they return with ‘Waterline’, which plunders a throwback sound popular at the moment with the likes of One Direction. You can watch the twins perform it in the Irish national final here. It’s the kind of song you might expect from the original ‘Footloose’ film, an 80s paean to an even earlier generation of toe-tapping teen pop.
Even if the dance moves are very reminiscent of last year, the song is a little more straightforward than ‘Lipstick’. Opinions on Eurovision forums have generally reckoned that the song is less immediate than ‘Lipstick’ and requires more vocal ability, both of which, the argument goes, may prevent ‘Waterline’ from also reaching the top ten. I’m not so convinced about either of these ideas, but then I felt uncertain about Jedward’s fortunes throughout last year’s contest.
Firstly, I think ‘Waterline’ is immediate enough. The initial line of the chorus gets stuck in your brain easily after one listen. True, there are fewer hooks than in ‘Lipstick’, but ‘Waterline’ is arguably a more coherent piece of pop. It certainly compares well with a lot of the dross that has been selected so far. This is what you’d expect from Swedish songwriter Nick Jarl, who has written for Westlife among others.
Secondly, it’s really not that difficult vocally. The range required by the song is pretty narrow, and the staccato nature of the chorus is undemanding too. The vocals we heard for Jedward’s number tonight in the poor acoustics of the RTE studio were much stronger than they were in the Irish final last year, with the obvious help of four backing vocalists. There should be no problem on this front in Baku.
This bodes well for Jedward’s hopes to qualify for the final. Just as importantly, Ireland has been drawn in the second half of the apparently weaker first semi-final. This heat doesn’t contain the wealth of voting blocs of the second semi and among these minnows, plenty have already selected songs that seem unlikely to set the scoreboard alight
Examples so far include those already mentioned in our article on the promising Danish entry: Albania, Switzerland and, Cyprus. We can now add to these Hungary (Compact Disco with ‘Sound of Our Hearts’) and Latvia (Anmary with ‘Beautiful Song’). The alleged leak of the effort from Montenegro suggests it can be added to this list, and nothing in the Finnish selection shows particular promise either. I can’t see the juries going for Austria’s selection tonight from Trackshittaz either.
Many others are yet to show their hand, but it seems likely that managing a top ten place among these 18 should be within Jedward’s compass, as long as ‘Waterline’ is not a disaster in Baku.
But without the knowledge of just how effective it will be on stage, I think it’s too early to say how well Jedward might do in the final. We can only speculate based on last year’s performance with a reasonably different song.
I’d like to see the staging look sufficiently different from last year too. In 2011, Lena returned for a second year running, and though obviously attaining an inferior result, managed to bring something new to the arena, bagging her a top ten finish.
It is true that recent Eurovision comebacks have tended not to do so well. Some still managed a respectable result, such as Sakis for Greece in 2009 and Zdob si Zdub for Moldova in 2011, though others, like Chiara for Malta in 2009 or Charlotte Perrelli for Sweden in 2008 fared much worse.
Nonetheless, the twins’ eighth place from a poor draw of six last year was pretty impressive. They scored well with the western half of the Continent, especially in Scandinavia, beating Sweden’s Eric Saade to the Danish 12, for example. Arguably it doesn’t help them that the Scandinavian countries have some decent entries this year, but then again Sweden and Denmark performed strongly last year, and that didn’t stop the twins doing well in this region.
If they want to improve upon eighth, they’ll have to hope that eastern Europe sits up and takes notice this time. Media efforts in this direction during the rehearsal period failed to reap any significant reward last year.
There are two opposing lines of argument you can choose between here: ‘Waterline’ has a very American sound that may not help it in this part of Europe; or you could say it’s a much more generic pop song than ‘Lipstick’ and may gain wider acceptance as a result.
So a perfectly good case can be made either way on whether Jedward can repeat their top ten finish this year. What does seem more predictable is the large amount of hype that will follow their efforts, and their elevated position in the market as a result.
This may bring some lay opportunities. Their price certainly became incredibly unrealistic in last year’s win market, for example. It was just difficult to know how far to take one’s scepticism. I was grateful that my caution meant I stuck to betting against them in the semi and final top 3 market rather than going against a top 10 finish.
It’ll be a fine line again this year, I’ll wager, though the rehearsal period will once again be crucial for assessing Jedward’s likely finishing position. What do you think of their chances with ‘Waterline’? Do let us know in the comments box below.