Ireland had a lot to be proud of in ’90s Eurovision, with some worthy winners. Simon ponders whether the emerald isle was treated with high points even when the musical offerings were not quite up to scratch. Oh Europe – where oh where did it all go wrong?

Ireland 1997: Marc Roberts – Mysterious Woman (2nd place)

In the 1990s, Ireland had nailed the trick of bagging the points from across Europe and kept playing the formula out. And who could blame them? If it ain’t broke…

But how much blandness does Europe need? Marc Roberts gave an assured and very professional performance of ‘Mysterious woman’ on home turf, but I couldn’t ever compute what gained it good scores, somehow eventually finishing in second place ahead of two Eurovision classics, the innovative ‘Dinle‘ and anthemic ‘Fiumi di parole‘.

Bland orchestration? Check. Bland lyrics? Check. Bland chord progressions and melody? Check. 157 points? Check!!

Perhaps I’d have thought more of this song if I didn’t think I had heard many incarnations of it before, but my abiding memory of the end of the evening was relief that Katrina et al had successfully prevented another Irish win.

Chief Editor: A non-schlager Europhile who's been doing this ESC writing malarkey since 2008, usually championing Eurovision's alternative or quirky offerings. My role at Xtra isn't too dissimilar from my previous life as a school teacher, but they're a well behaved class. Also responsible for dropping bum notes on a piano.

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