Pulses race as Can-Linn & Kasey’s “Heartbeat” wins in Ireland
Emotions ran high at RTÉ Studios on Friday night as the Irish public made their choice for Copenhagen. Of course, the participating singers all had their hearts in throats waiting for their turn to charm the public, but there was just as much drama amongst the panel on “The Late Late Show” as there was for the performers.
Just as there has been since 2011, a mentorship system has been used for the Irish selection. Mentors select the song, the singer, and help mold the performance at the National Final level. Of course, as “LLS” is a talk show at heart, a panel of Eurovision pundits were on hand to discuss the entries as they were presented. Putting those two entities together gave viewers more than they had bargained for…
One of the members of the panel was “X-Factor” judge and musical manager Louis Walsh, who seemed to favor the performance of Eoghan Quigg, an alum of the show, and Kasey Smith, who he had previously worked with when she was in the girl-group Wonderland. When Billy McGuinness, mentor of Laura O’Neill, publicly called Walsh out on his unseemly link to one of the acts and the unfair possibility of favoritism (awkwardly, right before O’Neill’s performance, completely overshadowing it), fellow panelist Linda Martin was quick to defend Walsh, calling McGuinness “an odious little man” and a “gobshite”.
But we’re here for the music, are we not?
After all of the drama, Ireland picked a winner with support from both the Irish regional juries and the voting public: Can-Linn and Kasey Smith’s “Heartbeat”.
Infused with traditional instruments such as the fiddle and bodhrán, “Heartbeat” was written by an team made up of mentor Hazel Kaneswaran as well as Swedish songwriters Jonas Gladnikoff, Rasmus Palmgren and Patrizia Helander. Gladnikoff also co-wrote Ireland’s entries in 2009 and 2010, as well as numerous National Final entries from all over the Eurovision sphere. Kasey Smith, as mentioned earlier, is a former member of Wonderland and participant in last year’s National Final, coming in third place with “Kiss Me“.
There’s a lot of potential in this song, but it needs to be taken out of the Late Late Show studio for it to blossom fully. The studio’s stage is small, and its acoustics less-than-ideal. On Eurovision’s stage, there may be enough room to incorporate the dancers that appeared during the National Final, but on the LLS, the cramped quarters were just unsuitable for the staging that Hazel may have envisioned. In the long run, the dancers might not even be needed at all; the fiddle and bodhrán are enough to identify “Heartbeat” as Irish, so incorporating traditional dance into the mix might just be gilding the lily.
Ireland came in last place in 2013’s Final (even though, granted, they were able to qualify out of their semi, which is no small feat). They’ll be in the second half of the semifinal that the United Kingdom can vote in, which bodes well for their chances to at least equal Ryan Dolan’s placement; but can Can-Linn and Kasey surpass it?