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Eurovision 2023: PiL and John Lydon to compete for Ireland’s spot tonight

The legendary punk singer competes to represent Ireland tonight (February 3)

By Joe Goggins

John Lydon with Public Image Ltd, 2013
Lydon qualifies to represent Ireland through his parents.(Photo: Σπάρτακος/Wikimedia Commons)

John Lydon has revealed that he’s “terrified of getting it wrong” as he competes to represent Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest.

The punk icon’s Public Image Ltd. will be one of six acts battling it out for the right to fly the Irish tricolour in Liverpool in May when the matter is decided tonight (February 3) on a special edition of RTE’s The Late Late Show.

Lydon is up against Adgy, Connolly, Wild Youth, Leila Jane and K Muni & ND on tonight’s programme, which will see the winner chosen by a panel of national experts, an International jury, and a pubic vote. PiL’s chosen song is ‘Hawaii’, penned by Lydon as a tribute to his wife of nearly 50 years, Nora. She is living with Alzheimer’s disease. The song “is dedicated to everyone going through tough times on the journey of life,” according to Lydon. “It’s also a message of hope that ultimately love conquers all.”

Speaking to Radio X this morning, he said: “I don’t know what I’m going to go through doing this today. I’m even shaking now thinking about it. It means the world to me, this is our last few years of coherence together. And I miss her like mad.”

“I miss my missus,” he went on. “if you keep voting for me I’m going to miss her even more. He went on to say that he was “terrified of mugging it up, getting it wrong, letting people down – mostly letting Nora down”.

The 2023 edition of Eurovision will take place in Liverpool on May 13; the contest is usually hosted by the previous year’s winner, but after war-torn Ukraine won in 2022, the right to stage the competition passed to the second-placed country, which was the UK thanks to Sam Ryder’s strong showing with ‘Space Man’. 

“This is something that I watched when I was young with my parents,” Lydon said of Eurovision. “I remember Johnny Logan, I remember Cliff Richard, I remember Sandy Shaw – and now Johnny. It’s as good as any other way of listening to music, I don’t have any prejudices about things like that.”

Both Lydon’s parents were Irish, making him an Irish citizen and thus eligible to represent the country at Eurovision. “I’m as much Irish as anybody else by blood,” he said. Ireland has won the contest more times than any other country, with seven titles, but has not qualified for the main event since 2018.