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Sex Pistols star loses Eurovision bid to represent Ireland

February 4, 2023

Former Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon, better known as Johnny Rotten, failed in his bid to represent Ireland. He lost out to the band Wild Youth with their song "We Are One."

John Lydon of Public Image Ltd attends The Late Late show Eurosong Special Preview Press Day at RTE in Dublin
The former Sex Pistols frontman sought to represent Ireland at the 2023 Eurovision Song ContestImage: Brian Lawless/empics/picture alliance

Seventies punk rock icon John Lydon, better known to Sex Pistols fans as Johnny Rotten, lost out in his effort to represent Ireland at this year's Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool.

His song, "Hawaii," about his wife's struggles with Alzheimer's disease, did not make the cut. Instead Ireland's Eurovision spot went to the rock band Wild Youth and their song "We Are One" during the televised competition Friday.

Lydon's punk band Public Image Ltd. had hoped to bring attention to the struggles of Lydon's wife Nora. The band formed after the Sex Pistols split up in 1978.

"It's going to be difficult for me tonight," Lydon said following the results with his band falling short.

Lydon was born in London of Irish parents. His mother's family is from Cork, while his father is from Galway.

This year's Eurovision Song Contest final is to take place in Liverpool, England, on May 13. Organizers in the UK say the contest this year will celebrate Ukrainian heritage and the music traditions of Liverpool, including the Beatles.

Eurovision: Broadcasting from a bunker

The contest was founded in 1956 as part of European reconciliation efforts in the postwar period. Nowadays, more than 40 countries compete in the annual song competition.

The previous year's winner traditionally hosts the contest the following year. Ukraine won in 2022 with the song "Stefania" by Kalush Orchestra. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), however, determined it would not be safe to hold the contest in a country undergoing an active invasion by Russian forces.

The role of 2023 host nation therefore went to the UK after its act Sam Ryder finished second. 

ar/msh (AFP, AP, dpa)