Jedward from Ireland have qualified for Saturday’s final of the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest after making a huge impact on the European audiences gathered to watch the second semi-final of the annual musical event.
Following their success, the twins, John and Edward Gimes, 19, left journalists aghast at a press conference held for the ten acts who qualified in last night’s second semi-final.
Rules laid down by the Contest’s organisers, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), allow for a maximum of two questions for each act. However, when Jedward entered the room – jumping on desks and over chairs – all protocol was abandoned. The twins, already known in their native Ireland and the UK for their colourful enthusiasm, had barely been introduced to the assembled audience when they launched into a nonstop manic routine.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, the twins gabbled at a pace: “I’m John. I’m Edward and we’re Jedward. We can’t wait to meet all you amazing people. We’re one step closer to meeting Britney Spears. It’s awesome. It’s so cool that we’re successful in the UK and Ireland, and we can’t wait to be successful all around the world. All that’s on our mind is just going out there and being fun and smiling . It’s about creating a vibe so that everyone at home will go ‘wow’.”
Referring to their identical trademark haircuts, they they said that they “were more than a pair of sticky-up haircuts” and compared themselves to Abba – the supergroup most widely associated with Eurovision – adding: “Every act is different. When Abba first took part it was all about the outfits, then they took it to the next stage and so will we.”
Dancing about Germany’s Düsseldorf Arena stage, Jedward sang “Lipstick”, to a hall full of “Jedheads”, as 3,000 members of the audience wore the cardboard quiffs that had been flown in from Dublin earlier in the day.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Louis Walsh, their manager, said afterwards: “It doesn’t matter if Jedward don’t win Eurovision. Remember they didn’t win [the UK] X Factor. This is just another chapter of something that is becoming a worldwide brand. America is next. I think Jedward will be great role models for the kids over there.”
Despite winning the event on a record seven separate occasions, Ireland has not fared too well in the Eurovision Song Contest for a number of years. Its last win was in 1996, when Eimear Quinn sang “The Voice”.
The country’s first-ever win had been over a quarter of a century earlier, in 1970, when Dana triumphed with “All Kinds of Everything”. Between then and 1996, the Republic notched up wins in: 1980, with Johnny Logan’s performance of “What's Another Year?”; in 1987, with Logan, again, and "Hold Me Now"; then, consecutively, in 1992, 1993 and 1994 – Linda Martin singing “Why Me?”, Niamh Kavanagh with “In Your Eyes” and Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan with “Rock ’n’ Roll Kids”, respectively.
In 2008, Ireland entered the competition with Dustin the Turkey – a puppet television presenter from RTÉ’s The Den – performing “Irlande Douze Points”. Perhaps not surprisingly, the act failed to progress beyond the semi-finals. Kavanagh, who'd won in 1993, represented Ireland in the final again in 2010, but this time managed only 23rd out of 25.
Israel's Dana International who won the competition in 1998, with “Diva”, failed to qualify for the final this time round.
The 25 finalists are: Finland, Bosnia Herzegovina, Denmark, Lithuania, Hungary, Ireland, Sweden, Estonia, Greece, Russia, Switzerland, Moldova, Romania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Slovenia, Iceland, Ukraine, Serbia, Georgia, Germany, France, Britain, Spain and Italy.
The final will be held on Saturday, 14 May, in Germany’s Düsseldorf Arena. The event will be presented by Judith Rakers, Anke Engelke and Stefan Raab.