Will Ireland go from Johnny Logan to Johnny Rotten at Eurovision?

16 January 2023, 12:59

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By Mayer Nissim

John Lydon and Public Image Ltd are unlikely possible entrants for Eurovision 2023.

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John Lydon and his band Public Image Ltd raised eyebrows last week when they announced that they would compete to be Ireland's entry at the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest.

Despite Eurovision's always eclectic lineup, Lydon – known as Johnny Rotten when he was in his first band the Sex Pistols – isn't the most obvious choice to play there.

You could argue that his second band Public Image Ltd is perhaps even less likely competitor than the Sex Pistols.

Formed in 1978 after Lydon quit the punk legends, the band's initial anti-rock, bass-heavy, experimental and dub-influenced sound would be unlike anything heard at Eurovision before.

After several line-up changes over the decades, Lydon is the sole original member, and while the band's current sound is a little more traditional, the music made by Bruce Smith, Lu Edmonds and Scott Firth is still miles away from most acts in the competition.

John Lydon with Public Image Ltd
John Lydon with Public Image Ltd. Picture: Getty Images

Public Image Ltd – also known as PiL – aren't yet confirmed as Ireland's entrants for this year's contest.

The group were one of six acts who will compete on the televised The Late Late Eurosong 2023 Special on February 2 to earn the spot.

Lydon and co are up against 'Too Good for Your Love' by ADGY, 'Midnight Summer Night' by CONNOLLY, 'We Are One' by Wild Youth, 'Wild, by Leila Jane, and 'Down in the Rain' by K Muni & ND (Kofi Appiah and Nevlonne Dampare).


PiL's song is called 'Hawaii', and is inspired by Lydon's relationship with his wife of 40 years Nora Forster and her ongoing struggles with Alzheimer's disease.

"It is dedicated to everyone going through tough times on the journey of life, with the person they care for the most," John said.

"It's also a message of hope that ultimately love conquers all."

Public Image Limited - Public Image

While the country has underperformed in recent years, Ireland has a strong Eurovision pedigree.

The country has a record SEVEN wins in the competition, and is the only country to win three times in a row, coming top of the leaderboard in 1970, 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996.

They also have racked up four runner-up spots as part of their total 18 placings in the top 5.

Johnny Logan is the only performer to have won the competition twice, bringing home the trophy in 1980 with 'What's Another Year' and 'Hold Me Now' in 1987, and he also wrote 1992's winner 'Why Me' for Linda Martin.

Lydon and PiL have acknowledged Logan's achievements by posting a playlist of his music on their own Spotify feed.

"I'll be eternally grateful for another year with Nora," Lydon told The Guardian.

"That's how it is for us now, but I'd be proud to represent Ireland and I hope this is taken seriously. They've gone from Johnny Logan to Johnny Rotten."

Johnny Logan - 'What's Another Year' | The Late Late Show | RTÉ One

He added of performing on live TV: "I’m going to be absolutely terrified and stage-frightened and all those things. The realisation of how big an audience this is is mind-numbing."

Of representing Ireland, the country of his parents' birth, Lydon said: "They'd have been over moon at the idea of me representing Ireland. But my dad would be going, 'Don’t mess it up'."

'Hawaii' will be released on 7" vinyl later this year and will also appear on the 11th PiL album, the follow up to 2015's What the World Needs Now...

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