Nicky Byrne confirmed for Ireland with "Sunlight"
Following Albania, Ireland becomes the second country to reveal its song for Stockholm, as Irish broadcaster RTE today confirmed that former Westlife member Nicky Byrne will represent the country in the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 with the song “Sunlight.”
Departure from Eurosong
By choosing both the artist and song internally, Ireland is departing from its late night Eurosong format which had been in use for the past eight years, with mostly poor results in Eurovision. Ireland last qualified for the Grand Final in 2013, where Ryan Dolan ultimately ended up in last place. The country’s best score in the past 10 years was achieved by Jedward in 2011, when they placed eight, but the success was not repeated by the duo the following year.
“We have a long and proud history with Eurovision, but we’ve had mixed results over the last few years. Myself and Head of Delegation Michael Kealy took a serious look at our approach, reviewing the entire process and the Eurovision Song Contest itself. The competition is constantly evolving and RTÉ has to be flexible in how we approach it in order to put our best foot forward. Direct selection has proven to be a successful method for other countries and we felt that this year it would give us the best chance at success,” said John McHugh, Head of Entertainment RTÉ to Eurovision.tv.
The broadcaster has now chosen Nicky Byrne for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. Born in 1978, the pop-singer is best known for his years in the highly successful boyband Westlife, originally signed by Simon Cowell in 1998. Before the group disbanded in 2012, they had sold over 45 million records and achieved 14 number-one spots on the UK single charts.
Nicky originally started out playing football for Leeds United, before turning to pop music and successfully auditioning for Westlife. He has hosted several TV-shows and many Eurovision fans will recognize him as the Irish spokesperson as he presented the votes in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Married to his wife Georgina since 2003, Nicky has two twin sons and a daughter.
Naturally, Nicky is very excited to represent his country in the Eurovision Song Contest. “Like many of us, I have grown up watching the Eurovision Song Contest. It always brought great excitement to our house down through the years and I was lucky enough to see Ireland win it on many occasions. I have a great memory as a nine year old, of dancing around our sitting room in a tri-colour sweatshirt when Johnny Logan lifted the trophy in 1987. The Eurovision is a TV show and song contest like no other and for the past three years my Eurovision experience has gotten better and my affiliation grown stronger, as I have proudly delivered the Irish votes live from Dublin. This year I go one step further, and actually walk on that stage to represent my country, I am honoured RTÉ have chosen me and believe in this song like I do,” he said to Eurovision.tv.
Sunlight, the song for Stockholm
The Irish song for Stockholm is called “Sunlight,” written by Wayne Hector and composed by Ronan Hardiman. With Wayne having previously worked with Nicky on Westlife, the song has been specifically created to fit his vocal abilities.
“The song is called Sunlight and I co-wrote it with two of the music industry’s legends; producer and writer Ronan Hardiman and songwriter Wayne Hector. I have always felt this song had something different, something special. I also look forward to re-visiting Sweden, a country where we had so much success with Westlife over the years and I can’t wait to be a part of what I’m sure will be an amazing show in Stockholm. Ireland, I will give it my best shot. Sweden… here we come!” Nicky said to Eurovision.tv.