RTÉ are being reported to have decided to select their artist internally for the Eurovision Song Contest 2016. According to the Irish Independent, they have internally selected Nicky Byrne to fly the Irish flag in Stockholm.

The 37 year old rose to fame as part of the Irish boyband Westlife. During fourteen years of that band, the group sold 11.1 million albums and 6.8 million singles in just the United Kingdom. Their biggest hit was a 2001 Billy Joel cover, Uptown Girl.

After the group split up in 2012, some members continued an active career in the music scene, like Shane Filan. Nicky Byrne has however not released any solo material yet. His Eurovision entry would be the first of his solo efforts in a post-Westlife life.

The choice for Nicky Byrne would be surprising on one hand, less so on the other. RTÉ have been stubborn for years have been scraping the barrel for quite a while now. Yes, one could argue that they’ve qualified in four of their last six attempts. When you however see that one was a former winner, two were Jedward and one came dead last in the final, there’s still quite a bit you can improve on when you’re RTÉ. Add to that that both Can-Linn ft. Kasey Smith and Molly Sterling failed to qualify and you’ve got recipe for change. Fans have been calling for change for a while, mainly asking for the national selection to be taken away from The Late Late Show and its venue, where sound quality is… well, good enough to let Pastora Soler sound like a three year old. Change was necessary for Ireland and so it’s not surprising that they appear to have gone internal.

As for Nicky Byrne, he has a good reputation and a Eurovision connection. Byrne has been the Irish spokesperson since 2013 and by now, he will know what Eurovision looks and sounds like. He’s no stranger to big audiences, he’s no stranger to Eurovision and looking at his non-existing solo career, there’s not a whole lot he has to lose anyway. His TV presenter career seems to have crashed down as well, with his The Million Euro Challenge on RTÉ1 being axed after just six months in 2015.
There’s no result to defend either – after a non-qualification, things can only get better. So if there’s ever a year for a former band member hoping to restart a music career, it’s 2016 for Nicky Byrne. It’s not surprising he’d be an artist RTÉ would now think of.

You can’t be aiming for the top of the market straight away. You’re not going to get Enya or The Corrs (2016 reunion and all) to do Eurovision. But you can always ask an artist like Nicky Byrne to take the first step. With his selection, RTÉ would be taking a step in what may be the right direction.

Time will tell though and we hope to hear more about this news soon.

Media Liaison: One of the founding members at escXtra. I'm the Dutchman who loves every little idiotic Eurovision fact there is. I usually listen to a lot of Eurovision music, but when I'm not, I listen to country music, schlager and pop, but mostly artists like Tina Turner, Emma, Ilse DeLange and Helene Fischer. On escXtra, you can find me doing pretty much anything that needs doing: Interviews, liveblogs or just your daily portion of news!

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