Tuesday, May 28, 2024

‘It’s like an out of body experience’ – Ireland’s Eurovision singer Bambie Thug on qualifying for Grand Final

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Non-binary act Bambie Thug and their song Doomsday Blue was one of the 10 acts selected to make it through to the Saturday night show.

The last time Ireland qualified from the semi-finals was in 2018 with Ryan O’Shaughnessy and his song Together.

Speaking at a press conference after securing a place in the final, Bambie Thug said: “I am completely dissociated and right now am having an out of body experience. I am super proud.”

“Our team is very small, and I am an independent artist and it is incredible we have reached here. Our country hasn’t been here since 2018, and I am the first non-binary artist to qualify.”

In recent weeks there have been ongoing calls for Bambie Thug to boycott the contest.

Asked if they would definitely perform at the Grand Final they said; “See you Saturday.”

Irish fans were overjoyed with the outcome, and praised the performance.

Erin Russell and Michael Foley had travelled from Bambie Thug’s hometown in Macroom, Co Cork, and were dressed like the star.

“They killed it,” Mr Foley said. “They absolutely represented.”

Bambie Thug, sitting in front of a tricolour with their catchphrase ‘Crown The Witch’ written on it, celebrated with the jubilant Irish team when the result was announced.

Their performance of Doomsday Blue was met with huge applause last night, as they performed in a candlelit spell circle before pretending to exorcise a demon.

They also performed a costume change to reveal a bespoke ensemble in the colours of the trans flag.

The singer said they did this as they intended to “shout from the rooftops about trans rights for ever”.

Bambie Thug performs the song Doomsday Blue during the first semi-final at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

A total of 15 acts competed in the first of the Eurovision semi-finals last night in Malmo, Sweden, for 10 slots in Saturday’s grand final.

The first semi-final included Sweden’s answer to Jedward; some dancing boxers; faux exorcisms; latex bodysuits; a black and white witch; and a pair of pyrotechnic hotpants.

It was by far the most ambitious and creative staging Ireland has sent to the contest in recent years.

The favourite to win the overall contest is Croatian act Baby Lasagna, with the song Rim Tim Tagi Dim and they qualified last night.

The song is a commentary on economic stagnation in Croatia and how many young people are being forced to leave the country.

Despite the serious underlying message, the stage show was spectacularly vibrant and involved pyrotechnics, projections of neon farm animals and musicians in knitted balaclavas thrashing about.

Dubbed the Swedish Jedward, twin brothers Marcus and Martinus performed their song Unforgettable representing the host country. It was a slick ’90s-inspired pop song with s headache-inducing flashing light show.

The Finnish act, Windows95Man, commenced the performance with a man hatching out of a giant denim egg before dancing about the stage in “naked” trousers, while the Polish act climbed to the top of a giant tower after two costume changes.

An estimated 100,000 people arrived in Malmo for the contest.

This year’s song contest has become highly political due to the involvement of Israel.

Bambie Thug performs the song Doomsday Blue during the first semi-final at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

There have been calls for the organisers of Eurovision, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), to expel the country.

In 2022, the EBU suspended Russia from the contest. That suspension was as a result of “consistent breaches of membership obligations and the violation of public service media values”. Shortly after, Russia withdrew from the EBU.

There are large organised protests due to take part across Europe this week.

There have also been calls for individual artists to boycott the event.

Some of the acts spoke about the tense political climate at the opening ceremony on Sunday night.

Albanian entrant Besa Kokedhima said: “I wish there would be no war ever”, while non-binary Swiss act Nemo said they thought it was “really important the protests are happening and there is room for them”.

Ukraine also took to the stage last night. The song contest has taken on huge importance for the country in recent years.

In 2022, Ukraine won the contest following the invasion by Russia. It was a clear message of support from the rest of the countries involved in the contest.

Ukrainian duo Alyona Alyona and Jerry Heil’s song this year, Teresa & Maria, is about female resilience in their home country.

The song has been staged by Tanu Muino, who has worked with Cardi B and Dua Lipa, and involves the artists scaling mountains and a projection of bombs falling from the sky.

UK act Olly Alexander gave audiences one of the most sophisticated performances of the night and received a huge reaction from the crowd.

During the performance of his single Dizzy, Alexander and male dancers dressed as boxers appeared to defy gravity as they hung upside down and sideways from the walls of a shower room.

Throughout the performance, the camera angles changed so it appeared the room was rotating.

Many excited Irish fans had travelled to Sweden for the performance, including former contestants Jedward, who are friends with Bambie Thug.

“Bambie was phenomenal. Absolutely amazing – they rocked Europe and it is what Ireland needed at the Eurovision,” they said.

“When Bambie came out the atmosphere was electric.

“The looks they are serving are amazing, they are rocking it.”

Dylan Colley from Dublin attended the dress rehearsal on Monday night with his friends Naoimh Ní Mhaolagáin and Ronan Watson.

“It is the best we have sent in years… This is what we have wanted for years,” he said.

Mother and daughter Orla and Angela Reilly had travelled from Kildare to attend Eurovision for the first time ever and had secured tickets for both semi-finals and the grand final on Saturday night.

“We have watched Eurovision religiously and this has been on the bucket list for years so we are delighted to be here,” Orla said. “Bambie is a breath of fresh air.”

Bambie Thug representing Ireland performs on stage during the first semi-final of the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest, in Malmo, Sweden, May 7, 2024. TT News Agency/Jessica Gow/via REUTERS

Stephen Carlisle is from Co Down and works for Eurovision fan channel Eurovision 365. He believes 31-year-old Bambie will change Irish attitudes to Eurovision.

“I think they could change perceptions of Eurovision” he said.

“In Ireland some artists are scared off Eurovision because it was seen as a career killer whereas they have shown it is something to actively embrace.

“They could do to Irish Eurovision what Sam Ryder did for the UK.”

In 2022, Sam Ryder came second in the Eurovision.

He was the most successful UK entrant in years and helped to dispel theories that the UK’s lack of success was down to external factors such as Brexit or political voting rather than the quality of song.

Last night, Irish fans were delighted when “Eurovision King” Johnny Logan performed Loreen’s 2012 winning Eurovision song Euphoria accompanied by a string orchestra.

Both Loreen and Logan are the only people in the history of Eurovision to win the competition twice.

Logan won with What’s Another Year?, which was written by Shay Healy, in 1980 and won again in 1987 with Hold Me Now, which he wrote himself.

For the first time ever, two of the “Big Five” countries, the United Kingdom and Germany, also performed during a semi-final.

All big five countries automatically go through to the grand final.

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