Editorials & Opinion

Xtra’s Pick of the 90s

Welcome back to our series of looks back at the history of the contest, as our editors pick songs from Eurovision history to talk about. Today, Peter brings you a song he has chosen from the 90s.

Ireland 1994: Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan – Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids (1st place)

In 1994, the contest was in the middle of a strange period. On one hand, it was very exciting as Europe was expanding and new countries were entering the fold, with seven making their debut in that year alone. At the same time, a duo of Irish ballads winning combined with a tendency for countries to enter deep songs with a message was making for a few rather mellow contests. This reached its absolute peak in 1994 and you could count the number of toe-tappers on one hand.

Ireland’s winning streak hadn’t yet become a running joke, but RTE wouldn’t have been blamed for panicking slightly about the prospect of hosting yet again. Therefore, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids’ is seen to this day as a light attempt by the broadcaster not to win. A gentle, nostalgic ballad sung by two old geezers about their lost youth, it’s a world away from the schlager winners of the 80s and even from the power ballads that had provided Ireland its recent victories. What juror would possibly vote for this, especially performing 3rd among the sea of blandness that was the 1994 contest? Well quite a lot of them did as it happens!

This isn’t one of the more fondly remembered of Ireland’s victories, and I’d go so far as to say this is one of the least fondly remembered winners among the fan community, especially as it pipped Edyta from Poland. However there’s something about the themes of drifting apart from friends and getting older that really get to me, and I kind of love the un-Eurovisionness of this, and the victorious underdog story I’ve kind of concocted for it in my head.

When Paul and Charlie performed this during the Irish tour celebrating Eurovision’s greatest hits, you could have heard a pin drop, and I found it indicative of the reverence with which Ireland view their Eurovision legacy, even the ones that would never be considered classics. I just find that, and this song, utterly adorable.

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