‘It’s not a contest for beginners’ – Linda Martin says we need ready-made star singing ballad to compete at Eurovision

Former Eurovision winner Linda Martin says Ireland needs to send a star to Eurovision if we are to have any hope of competing.

Although Ireland has won seven times, including Linda’s 1992 victory with ‘Why Me’, she says we do not, as a nation, take it as seriously as other countries across Europe.

“We think we’re the centre of the universe over here.  We’re not,” she tells Independent.ie

“Russia is sending one of their biggest stars.  These people sell millions of CDs and the surrounding countries love these people as well.  It’s a different ball game. 

“We cannot send someone starting out these days unfortunately.  Europe has a completely different outlook on Eurovision. They want to win it and they try hard.”

This year Ireland is represented by Clare singer Sarah McTernan who will perform an up tempo song, ‘22’, with backing dancers and a colourful 60s inspired diner backdrop.

Linda says she has only heard the song once and describes it as “okay” and “not a bad song really”.  She believes a ballad would serve us better in the competition but admits “a good song will always rise to the top”.


“We just need a good song.  We always shone at ballads so I think that’s really the way for us to go.  Everybody is trying to do the disco club songs and they’re not for me,” she adds.

“Stick to the old formula – verse, chorus, verse, chorus, key change, chorus.  You need a strong singer, you need somebody strong on stage as well.  It’s not a contest for beginners.  I don’t care who tries to tell you different.

“So much is invested in the whole thing.  You don’t just appear that night, you have two weeks of rehearsals and interviews and you’ve got to learn the tricks of the trade. 

“If you’re talking 24/7 doing interviews and expect to sing at the end, it doesn’t work, your voice doesn’t hold up.  And walking out on that stage with the noise – you’ve got to be there to experience the noise – it’s frightening on the night, especially for someone just at the beginning of their career.”

Linda wishes Sarah well in the competition, and points out that however we fare in the running, Sarah has a fantastic platform to showcase her talent.

“All I can do is wish Sarah the best of luck.  It’s an amazing platform.  You don’t know who’s looking or the work that can come out of it if you’re liked on stage,” she says.

There has been opposition to Ireland competing in Tel Aviv this year, with LGBT members of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign recently writing to Sarah urging her to boycott the event and several prominent Irish artists, including Kila, Christy Moore and former Eurovision winner Charlie McGettigan, are taking part in a ‘Palestine: You’re a Vision’ concert at the bar venue of the National Stadium, which will also be live streamed, on the night of the final on May 18.

Linda, who will be gigging in Tel Aviv for the week of Eurovision, believes politics should not play a part in the event.

“I cannot do anything except music.  I don’t get into politics regardless of what I think at home with myself and who I vote for.  Eurovision is music and you have to keep that in your mind,” she says.

She adds, “Eurovision is such a big part of my life.  It’s been very good to me and I do support it.  I don’t live it now 24/7.  People think I’m immersed in it 100 per cent but I still work in Europe and that’s all thanks to Eurovision.”

Don’t miss this fabulous night of entertainment at the Eurovision Extravaganza of the year – The George May 10th 8 pm

Ahead of travelling to Tel Aviv, Linda will be a judge on the panel for the very first Alternative Eurovision at The George in Dublin on Friday May 10, in aid of Dogs Aid, the animal rescue charity of which she has been patron for the past 15 years.

She’ll be joined by fellow judge Delishus O’Tool and host Veda, one of the most popular drag queens in Dublin. 

The competition, sponsored by Equal Magazine, is open to anyone, with an original song or cover, and the prize includes cash, a professional photoshoot, a spread in the magazine and a chance to perform on the main stage at Pride in Newry at the 2019 UK & Ireland Pride Festival and Parade.

“It’s like a talent competition,” says Linda, “We’ve got various people dressing up as their favourite stars – Tina Turner, Lady Gaga – and it’s great fun and it’s only €8 in so it’s not going to break the bank.”

Read more: ‘I feel like it’s a good omen!’ – Sarah McTernan on singing ’22’ as the second act in the second Eurovision semi-final 

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