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11th Jan 2023

Irish Eurovision competitor John Lydon calls contest ‘absolutely awful’ and ‘disgusting’

Stephen Porzio

‘The whole thing of it is disgusting to me’

John Lydon, one of the contenders to represent Ireland at this year’s Eurovision with his band Public Image Ltd, did not mince his words when asked if he watched the contest every year.

Appearing on RTÉ’s Drivetime on Tuesday (10 January), the former Sex Pistols member responded: “Absolutely not.”

He then went on to describe the show as “absolutely awful” and “disgusting.”

“The songs, the whole thing of it is disgusting to me,” he explained.

“I’m a songwriter. I perform live and these shows, they just come off so dreadfully phoney to me.

“But you know, look here we go, we’re giving it a chance to break out of that mould.”

Public Image Ltd are one of six finalists that will compete to represent Ireland at this year’s Eurovision in Liverpool in May.

The acts to represent Ireland at the contest will be chosen by a combination of national jury, international jury, and public vote.

Despite not being a fan of Eurovision, Lydon seemed delighted to be given the chance to compete to represent Ireland with the song ‘Hawaii’.

The “heart-wrenching” track is described as a love letter to John’s wife of nearly five decades, Nora, who is living with Alzheimer’s, and sees him reflecting on one of their happiest moments together in Hawaii.

“What a fantastic opportunity these people have given me,” he also told the programme.

“I wrote this song, I cried my eyes out writing it and recording it and for them to have appreciated it and put it forward like this.

“I mean my wife, when she sees this, it’s going to melt her.”

Lydon said he cares for Nora full time, stating: “She’s absolutely alright. I mean, I don’t notice the changes because I am there 24/7.

“But occasionally, when people come over they comment: ‘She’s losing weight,’ but that’s obviously going to happen.

“She has bits of her memory, she can remember things say 20 years ago almost perfectly but can’t remember two minutes ago.

“It’s up and down, it’s incredibly stressful, the physical aspects.

“But I love her so much, it’s absolutely alright and to be able to write a song about that, remembering a really wonderful part of our lives, which was a holiday in Hawaii.”

When it was put to Lydon – whose mother was from Cork and father came from Galway – that representing Ireland at the Eurovision may not be very punk, he joked: “It’s incredibly punk!”

He added: “That’s the irony of it all. Life throws up the unexpected at you occasionally and here it is. Here I am representing Ireland.

“I spent 66 years pretending to have a London accent to the point where it’s become like the dominant factor in me.

“Let’s face it, the English would never give me the opportunity, would they? Ungrateful sods that lot are.

“I guess they’re stuck with Prince Harry but you lot got Johnny.”

Asked how he plans to shake up Eurovision proceedings, Lydon admitted he had “no idea”.

“Apparently, I have to do karaoke over a backing track, which is something I’ve never done in my life,” he joked.

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