Punk icon John Lydon is in the running to represent Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest with his band, Public Image Ltd (PiL).
The former Sex Pistols frontman, who formed PiL in 1978 following the groundbreaking band’s split, is among six acts competing for the Eurovision opportunity, with the winner to be chosen by a combination of national jury, international jury, and public vote in February.
PiL’s entry is an emotional ballad titled Hawaii, described as a love letter to Nora, Lydon’s wife of more than 40 years, who is living with Alzheimer’s disease.
In the song, Lydon, also known as Johnny Rotten, reflects on their years together, and in particular, one of their happiest moments in Hawaii.
The performer said the track is as close as he will ever come to bearing his soul. “It is dedicated to everyone going through tough times on the journey of life, with the person they care for the most,” he said in a statement.
“It’s also a message of hope that ultimately love conquers all.”
Remember Celine Dion and Gina G?
While Lydon’s parents were from Ireland, Eurovision has never had any rules on nationality for contestants – you might remember Canadian star Celine Dion winning for Switzerland in 1988, for example, or Australian Gina G representing the UK with chart-topper Ooh Aah… Just a Little Bit in 1996.
The rules of the Eurovision Song Contest only stipulate that there cannot be more than six performers on stage, but how they are chosen is up to the participating broadcaster from each country.
This year’s contest is taking place in Liverpool in May.
While Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra won the 2022 contest, organisers ruled it would be unsafe to host the 2023 contest in the country due to the ongoing war. As the UK’s Sam Ryder came second last year, the BBC stepped in to host the show instead.
The UK is yet to announce details of its potential entrants.
For Ireland, the other acts in the running alongside PiL are Adgy, Connolly, Wild Youth, Leila Jane, and K Muni & ND.
While Lydon is still probably best known for his music with the Sex Pistols, PiL, with varying line-ups, have been going far longer than the two-and-a-half years his first band were together.
Since they formed in the late ’70s, PiL have had five UK top 20 singles and five UK top 20 albums. Following their eighth album That What Is Not in 1992, the band took a 17-year break before reforming in 2009.
A new album, their first since 2015, is planned for later in 2023.
Ireland has won Eurovision seven times – more than any other country – but has not qualified for the grand final since 2018.
The six acts in the running this year will perform on a special Eurosong edition of Ireland’s Late Late Show, broadcast on RTE, on Friday 3 February.