Ireland may have a spotty record with the contest as of late, but we mustn’t forget their brief return to Eurovision greatness in 2011 and 2012. Jedward brought a whole new level of camp, madness and…well…Eurovision-ness to the contest, but also backed this up with two solid efforts. In this throwback, I will be paying tribute to their first and more successful entry – “Lipstick”.
Two stars are born
John Paul Henry Daniel Richard Grimes and Edward Peter Anthony Kevin Patrick Grimes, the artists currently known as ‘Jedward’, basically became household names in the UK the moment their now-iconic X Factor audition aired at the height of the show’s popularity. Despite not being the strongest singers, the duo possessed an undeniable charisma, which carried them all the way to the live finals. Theyeven ended up beating fellow Eurovision alum Lucie Jones in one of the most infamous sing-offs in the history of the show. They went on to finish in 6th place, behind the likes of Olly Murs and Stacy Solomon.
This was far from the end of the Jedward story; the duo went on to sign a management deal, a three-album deal with Universal Music Ireland and a sold-out tour in the years following their X Factor stint. In other words, the duo became one of the major success stories of the show’s run, and remain one of the most memorable acts of all time. Releasing three albums in itself solidifies that fact, especially since the pair were never acclaimed for their vocal prowess.
Why Jedward were perfect for Eurovision
Coming off their series of X Factor at the end of 2009, Jedward entered Eurosong 2011 to compete for the Irish ticket to Düsseldorf. After coming second in the jury vote and winning the televote, Lipstick won the selection. For a country that rarely takes many risks in selecting their entries, this was lightning in a bottle for Ireland. At a push, this was a moment of Ireland returning to their former glory.
In a pre-Euphoria world, the Eurovision landscape was very different to what it is now. Düsseldorf 2011, not a particular strong year (see: the winning song), was very much at the tail-end of the gimmick phase of the contest. As such, Lipstick remains a wonderful reminder of what many fans initially loved about the contest, and what many casual viewers and non-fans still associate with the contest. It’s energetic, it’s the right kind of tacky, it has a huge and memorable chorus, and the lyrics are accessible for non-native-English-speakers. In other words, its success (an 8th place finish) was very deserved.
Breaking down the performance
Albeit dated by more recent standards, the performance and overall package of Lipstick holds up to this day. The styling, the intense lighting, the dynamic camera cuts, the…um…attempts at choreography…this performance is ‘Classic Eurovision’ in three minutes. I would go as far as to call it visually arresting. The highlight of the performance is the genuinely incredible ‘twin brother as reflection on floor’ gag at the start and the way their synchronicity completely collapses as the performance progresses. By the end of it, they are literally jumping as and when each of them feels like it. The cherry on top of the cake? THAT busted double cartwheel. What a feast for the eyes this was.
Even though it is very ‘of its time’, there is still a place for this brand of camp at the contest. The issue is that it simply will not do as well in a present-day contest. Like Jedward themselves, this performance remains in a perfectly-preserved chapter in the pop culture archives, not to be repeated or replicated. They tried to do just that, with arguably stronger song, and it wasn’t as successful, but I’ll leave that for a future Throwback. For now, let us enjoy this glorious performance:
Here’s what the others had to say:
After several years of failures, Ireland tried their luck with the twin duo Jedward and “Lipstick” which brought the country back to the top-10 and a respectable 8th place in Düsseldorf. I remember liking the song back then, it’s popish, danceable and Jedward provided with a memorable performance which as a whole has aged pretty well today.
Jedward always spread so much fun. Moreover their 2011 entry is such a good song to just let go and dance and enjoy the moment. Their hyperactivity is spreading to the audience, and they might not hit every note, but you can see how they enjoy their time and always give 120%! I really liked their two entries so far and their success was deserved. And I think their songs aged very well and I never get bored listening to them.
“Lipstick” is definitely one of those songs that I wouldn’t even call guilty pleasures, since for a pop song at that time it was such a competent act. The whole staging just elevated the great song that was already there. Jedward (despite not being everyone’s cup of tea) are certainly very experienced performers and know how to own a stage. The song feels fresh, modern, dancy and it has such a memorable quality about it that I still find myself listening to it even 8 years after its release.
When initially selected as the Irish entrant, I thought “Lipstick” and Jedward was the Irish attempt at a bad joke. Well, the joke was on me when the stage performance at Eurovision was coherent and enjoyable for its three minutes. They might be A LOT but they’re nice guys – personally, Waterline was the better song and the better performance but the ‘marmite’ nature of Lipstick and it’s aggressively catchy chorus was why it was ultimately more successful.
Next time we’ll be back to pay tribute to yet another Eurovision entry of yesteryear. Up next, it’s Sean with “Krasi, Thalassa Ke T’ Agori Mou” from Greece 1974.
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