Brooke: “Eurovision will be a learning curve”

Ireland’s Eurovision entry for this year, Brooke, is hoping to launch her track ‘That’s Rich’ through this year’s competition and to make strides in her burgeoning music career in the process. The Derry native won what’s become a traditional Late Late Show contest to reach the main event in Turin, and has singled out qualifying for the final as a primary aim, something Ireland hasn’t achieved since Jedward a decade ago.

“I was never nervous before” Brooke says of her appearances on The Voice in the past. “I think that was because it was other people’s music. This is my own song, I’m the creative director of the whole thing, I designed the costume. That adds an extra level of fear for me. Of course it’s a different level, too, compared to anything I’ve ever done. In The Voice I only performed to an audience of about 400 people, and the Late Late was 200 people. This is a stadium in front of 200 million, so it’ll be a learning curve.”

“I was reading and fascinated by Debbie Harry and by 80s music in general,” Brooke says of the background to ‘That’s Rich’. “My parents love 80s music so I grew up seeing Blondie, Genesis, Mike and the Mechanics, I just love that stuff. I wanted to emulate them, something timeless, music never ages in my opinion.”

“It’s an experiment really, ‘That’s Rich’ is the first song I ever wrote, I wanted to create something fun. Songwriting can be very invasive and personal. I was in a lot of ‘situationships’, never anything substantial, at the time, and I thought it would be easier to write about them all together than to write about one thing. So it’s about this energy being wasted, and the sound is very inspired by Blondie.”

“I’d never written a song before and it wasn’t done for Eurovision. It was a learning thing, really. For me, the people that I want to see are performers, not just artists. I want to see a show, so I try to be a performer, too. Every time I write music, I visualise what it’ll look like when I perform it.”

“It’s going to look very sleek, lots of playing with the camera and my dancers. It’s going to be energetic, chaotic, and colourful. Getting into the final is my goal. I think that would do so much for me as an artist. I actually never knew there was a semi-final.”

Secret Garden: An Instrumental Career Built On 90s Eurovision Stardom

Unquestionably Ireland’s most famous ever Eurovision took place in 1994. As well as an Irish win, through Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan’s ‘Rock N’ Rolls Kids’, a far more lasting legacy was established through the first-ever performance of Riverdance at The Point.

Because of the win, the contest returned to Dublin in 1995, a Eurovision long thought to have been deliberately lost by the home team, due to the cost of hosting the event the following year. In an odd twist, though the winner that year, Secret Garden, has substantial Irish links. Irish-Norwegian instrumental band Secret Garden (representing Norway) had met at the contest in 1994, and through their unusual (for Eurovision) haunting track ‘Nocturne’, brought a little Irish glory through violinist and Naas native Fionnula Sherry. The band have always lived apart, working together across two countries, with songwriter Rolf Løvland based back in Oslo.

Amazingly, 23 years after forming, and following Sherry’s spectacular recovery from two broken arms back in 2015, the pair are still going strong, and have just released the first ever version of their other big hit ‘You Raise Me Up’ to feature the vocals of Johnny Logan. Logan made the original recordings, only to be bumped in favour of Brian Kennedy on the single that was ultimately released, a point of some dispute with Logan that has finally been cleared up all these years later.

“It’s like a full circle being back,” Sherry says ahead of the pair’s Late Late Show performance just ahead of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. “I’ve actually played in a lot of Eurovision’s with the orchestra, as we were having that nice run of wins at the time.”

“We connected in ’94, and thought maybe we could do something together,” Løvland recalls. “I had a lot of instrumental tunes I was working on. I started to send some songs over to Fionnuala, and that was the beginning of Secret Garden.”

“I don’t think there’s been another song like our since,” Sherry admits. “We juxtaposed the idea of instrumental and lyrics, the vocal part was the introduction to the song [Nocturne], and the outro. It was planned for the album, the development of Secret Garden. It was halfway produced, and then it was suggested we do something very different for Eurovision.”