All opinions expressed in this article are those of the person quoted and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the other team members or ESC United as a whole.

It’s 6 days to go until Junior Eurovision 2021, and we are counting down the 19 nations participating in Paris on Sunday, December 19, 2021.

Every day we will do an overview of a participating nation in alphabetical order, recapping how they got to Junior Eurovision, a brief history of the nation’s participation, a brief biography of the artist, and finally, our “expert” panel of editors give the entries a score out of 10 and a brief review.

Next up we check out Ireland, a country that hasn’t figured out how to do well in both Junior Eurovision and Eurovision in recent years.

Ireland’s history at Junior Eurovision:

Armenia, Belarus and Georgia have all outperformed their adult counterparts. For Ireland, it’s the opposite. Ireland has won seven Eurovision titles, including three by Johnny Logan alone (two as performer and one as songwriter). Ireland only debuted at Junior Eurovision in 2015, and they have performed about as well as Ireland have at Eurovision in the same time span. Ireland at Junior Eurovision is less Johnny Logan and more Sarah McTernan.

Though not for lack of trying, and Ireland has not been afraid to showcase Irish culture and Irish musical heritage. Ireland has to get the rub of the green some time though to date, 10th place in 2016 with Zena Donnelly’s “Bríce ar bhríce” is their highest placement.

Taylor Hynes’s “IOU” has quite the cult following, especially among editors at ESC United, but could only land in 15th for Ireland at Junior Eurovision 2018. Similarly, Anna Kearney’s “Banshee” retains a cult following, even though it placed 12th at Junior Eurovision 2019. Ireland bowed out of Junior Eurovision 2020 due to COVID-19 hampering its preparations.

Another quirk: though Ireland is allowed to sing entirely in English due its being an official or language of business or language of a sizable native population group in Ireland, Ireland has on five occasions sent more songs in Irish to Junior Eurovision than Ireland’s entire history in 50-plus years at Eurovision (once, with the recently passed away Sandie Jones at Eurovision 1972).

Before Junior Eurovision 2021:

Ireland once again used Junior Eurovision Eire as a method of selection for Ireland’s representative. Now Junior Eurovision in Ireland is supervised by TG4, a subsidiary of the independent Irish language network Teilifís na Gaeilge. Though owned by Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTE), by law TG4 has been independently run and operated since 2007.

While RTE solicits songs from the public and then hangs around and waits for whatever rubbish gets sent in the post (“Great! A song about kissing in a car in front of a council estate! Where’s our prize?”), TG4 has gone through the trouble of finding child talent, coaching and mentoring them, and then having them run through a series of heats, a semi-final, and a grand final.

Junior Eurovision Eire 2021 started with four Heats rounds, with the four winners advanced to the Semi-Finals. The second and third placed performer in each heat then faced off for a second song, where the winner of the duel also advanced to the Semi-Final. The Top Two of the eight Semi-Finalists then made it to the Grand Final, and third and fourth place went to a duel, the winner of which also made it to the Grand Final.

Most of the songs the kids performed were pop songs – both local and foreign – familiar to Irish viewers. In the Grand Final, the three kids had to perform two songs: a song they’d performed in an earlier round, and three songs that had won Eurovision for Ireland. In front of the three Eurovision winners themselves, who were the judges. Out of all this, Maiú Levi Lawlor emerged victorious over Lilyella Buckley in the Final Duel.

The Artist:

Maiú Levi Lawlor is a 14-year-old from Greystones in County Wicklow, Ireland. He is already a staple of television competition shows, having performed on Britain’s Got Talent and The Late Late Toy Show.

Lawlor took up piano playing at the start of the pandemic, and is also into basketball.

The Song:

“Saor (Disappear)” is a rockin’ anthem of youthful rebellion, with contributions from none other than the “Banshee” herself, Anna Kearney.

Niall Mooney is another Junior Eurovision Ireland regular and “Banshee” composer. He was also behind Ireland’s Sinead Mulvey & Electric Daisy and Niamh Kavanagh’s 2010 and 2011 entries, respectively.

Maltese producer Cyprian Cassar returns to join Ireland’s team, having also worked on “Banshee” and Ela Mangion’s 2018 entry for Malta.

Lauren White Murphy, Anna Banks Brendan McCarthy, Cyprian Cassar and Lesley Ann Halvey round out Ireland’s writing and production team.

With the background out of the way, here is what we at ESC United think of Ireland’s entry for Junior Eurovision 2021.

Providing their thoughts for Junior Eurovision this season: Boris Meersman (Belgium), Connor Terry (Oklahoma), James Maude (California), Melanie Otto (The Netherlands), Roy Postema (the Netherlands), Stefan Resimic (Serbia), Tyler Griffiths (Alaska), and William Carter (Texas).

The Verdict:

Boris – 8 – “After “IOU” and “Calon yn Curo”, I’m always excited to find out what type of ‘awkward middle-stage Pokémon‘ will be repping the Celtics at JESC.  ‘Teenrock littered with clunky pop culture rhymes’ (“C’est la vie” / “zoom TV” lmfao <3) is what they’ve chosen to serve this year and I’ve embraced it in all of its lametastic glory. <3″

Connor – 8.5 – “Maiu and Ireland really surprised me with this entry because I was worried that they’d go for a ballad with Maiu’s tone and past performances on the national final. However, this song will light up the arena in Paris and fill us up with joy and excitement – means I’ll have to bust out my Irish flag again for the final. Also MORE ANNA KEARNEY AT JESC?!? We are not worthy, truly. Ireland got this one right and I can’t wait to see this one live.”

James – 9.5 – “This reminds of the great Gaelic and Celtic rock renaissance of the 1980s, groovy rebellious post-punk with an attitude. The “Banshee” herself, Anna Kearney, pops in at the bridge like she is warning us of the youth rebellion to come. This is probably Ireland’s best effort of the past decade at Eurovision, both junior and senior.”

Melanie – 6.5 – “Ireland is bringing us some teen pop rock song in Irish. It’s bringing me back to my childhood somehow and I really love the nostalgic vibe in it. Also like the fact that their 2019 representative Anna got a little part in this song. Just don’t know if it’s strong enough to win this competition. I just hope he can bring the uplifting vibe on stage.”

Roy – 8 – “IRELAND?! Is this really you?! Firstly, Maiú’s voice is very unique. Then the song itself. It is such a cheerful pop-rock tune! It makes me want to move every time I hear. I feel like the difficulty in this song lies in the pace of the lyrics. The luck for Maiú is that such a rock song, if the vocals are a tad off, it doesn’t matter as much as with an EDM song or a ballad. Ireland could do really well this year and I am beyond excited!”

Stefan – 4 – “I just can’t go over the fact that he walked all over the cafeteria tables. Just kidding! But I have to say that it looks kinda hard for him to sing in Irish. It’s cheerful, it has good vibes, but I am still missing something.”

Tyler – 8.5 – “”Saor (Disappear)” is a song that captures the angst and feeling of wanting to get out during the pandemic, but in a way that also feels uplifting at the same time. I quite like the rock notes in the music, and the instrumentation is very energetic and lively. The sound mixing for Maiú’s lyrics though is a little low for my taste, but the song overall is quite a lot of fun, and hoping it does better than my other Irish Junior favorite, “IOU”.”

William – 4.5 – “Maiú is a super likeable and charismatic performer. Ireland is lucky to have him. But the song itself? I’m not sold. True, it has a great hook and a rocking music arrangement, but I worry this may become forgettable. The song doesn’t stand out in any particular way, so staging will be key. That being said, I have faith in Maiú’s ability to create magic on stage. He’s a talented kid. I think he’s willing and able to do some heavy lifting. I just hope the delegation does its part. This needs a creative staging concept to make an impact.”

Total: 57.5 points (Average = 7.188)

Looks like we’re going to have a strong Junior Eurovision this year with another entrant getting an above 7.0 average. How Ireland stages this will be a concern for Maui – and we have seen Ireland traditionally struggle in this department – but overall, but it does appear this slice of teen rock has some unexpected fans here at ESC United.

Eight countries in, here are our current rankings based on editor scores:

1.) Armenia – 67.5 points (Average = 8.438)

2.) France – 67 points (Average = 8.375)

3.) Georgia – 63.5 points (Average = 7.938)

4.) Azerbaijan– 59.5 points (Average = 7.438)

5.) IRELAND – 57.5 points (Average = 7.188)

6.) Albania – 53.5 points (Average = 6.688)

7.) GERMANY – 52.5 points (Average = 6.563)

8.) Bulgaria – 36.5 points (Average = 4.563)

What do #YOU think of Ireland’s 2021 entry? Do #YOU think it will it soar or will it disappear? Let us know in the comments below, on social media, or in our forum.

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