In a new interview, Michael Kealy (RTÉ Executive Producer and Irish Head of Delegation) has shared new details about Ireland’s selection process for Eurovision 2023 — and drops some hints about the future.

Speaking to the Éirevision Podcast, Kealy outlined a few key pieces of information about the upcoming 2023 edition of The Late Late Eurosong Special. Chief among them are the following:

  • The Late Late Eurosong Special has been provisionally slated for Friday the 3rd of February.
  • RTÉ have received “over 300 submissions — around 320 or 330 songs.” Six acts will be selected to appear on the Eurosong Special.
  • A fast-track process may be implemented for established artists, sending them straight to the Eurosong Special.
  • The commentating studio jury will no longer vote. Instead, a separate National Jury will vote off-camera. These votes, alongside those of the International Jury and the public, will determine a winner.

“I think this time out you’ll be surprised by some of the acts,” Kealy teases. 

In the wake of Måneskin’s global success, he believes that established artists have become much more open to competing in Eurovision. Indeed, several recognisable names have publicly expressed interest in representing Ireland this year — such as folk-metal group Cruachan and pop rock band Wild Youth.

“This year it’s going to change.”

Last year’s Eurosong contestants. Image: RTÉ

Last year, Kealy believes, may have marked a turning point. “I was encouraged that we were beginning to attract people who […] are part of the music business,” noting the involvement of Nicky Byrne and Coronas frontman Danny O’Reilly. “And I think that’s where we need to go, because it is a professional song contest at the end of the day.”

Intriguingly, Kealy revealed that he has been pushing for a new national final for Ireland — one completely divorced from the Late Late show.

 “One of the things I suggested to [Alan Tyler, RTÉ’s new Head of Entertainment and Music] was […] a standalone national final […] that would exist on its own. […] I said, look, we’ve got this massive show that delivers this massive viewer audience, it’s turned a corner in terms of its viewer perception I think in the UK and Ireland. […] I thought we could at least put it on the agenda here that we could get a standalone show.”

While his petition to leave the Late Late format was unsuccessful this year, Kealy says that the idea “was received quite well, so I’m hopeful that it’s still on the agenda down the line. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for 2024, or 2023, who knows.”

Although the Irish delegation leader agreed that utilising the Late Late Show for Ireland’s national selection is flawed, some key changes have been made. In particular, Kealy reassures fans that this year’s studio panel will provide more honest feedback:

“I think the people in-studio should be able to say something more than an innocuous comment. I think they should show their colors to the mast about whether they like something or they don’t like something. […] It makes better television as well.”

Recently, the EBU set the fanbase aflame with the announcement that massive changes will be made to Eurovision’s voting system this year. Likely the most contentious change is that juries will no longer have a say in the Semi-Finals — a move which was probably made in light of last year’s irregular jury voting.

Kealy remarks that he was unsurprised by the existence of jury fraud. “I always thought that it’s too open to manipulation. […] I think it’s a real shame because it’s the complete antithesis of the competition.” At the same time, he noted that giving too much power to the televote would also be a bad approach.

When asked if Ireland would change its song selection criteria in response to the new rules, Kealy responded with a firm no. “We’re still looking for a song that’s going to be a Eurovision winner.”

Ireland’s chosen song must be something truly authentic, as opposed to something manufactured. “Give me somebody with a guitar and a bit of passion, and I think they’ll do better in Eurovision than [formulaic] plastic pop songs.”

For the full discussion, you can check out the Éirevision podcast here!

What do #YOU think of Michael Kealy’s comments regarding Ireland’s Eurovision fortunes in 2023? Are you happy with the changes to The Late Late Eurosong Special? Let us know down below in the comments, on social media @ESCUnited, on our Forum, or on our Discord!

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