John Lydon (a.k.a Johnny Rotten) and his longstanding post-punk outfit Public Image Ltd. are eying up an unexpected achievement: Representing Ireland at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest with a new song, “Hawaii.”
“Hawaii” — which also marks Public Image Ltd.’s first new song in about eight years — is far from the kind of maximalist pop Eurovision tends to produce. Instead, it’s an understated and emotional ballad Lydon wrote for his wife, Nora, who’s been living with Alzheimer’s for several years. The lyric video for the song features hand-written lyrics by Lydon.
“It is dedicated to everyone going through tough times on the journey of life, with the person they care for the most,” Lydon said in a statement. “It’s also a message of hope that ultimately love conquers all.”
Public Image Ltd. will perform “Hawaii” when they compete to represent Ireland at Eurovision 2023 next month. The group is one of six acts vying for the gig, along with Adgy, Connolly, Wild Youth, Leila Jane, and K Muni & ND. The televised contest will take place on Feb. 3, and the winner will be selected by the public, with input from national and international juries as well. (Eurovision 2023 itself will take place this May in Liverpool, England; the city is hosting on behalf of Ukraine, which won Eurovision last year but is still unable to host due to the ongoing Russian war.)
Public Image Ltd.’s effort to secure a spot at Eurovision 2023 come a few years after Lydon popped up in another televised singing competition. Back in 2021, he appeared on The Masked Singer, dressed up as the Jester. And, as he noted in an interview after he was unmasked, he took the unexpected gig also as a way to bring some joy to his wife, Nora.
“I thought it would be really good because it meant my lovely wife, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, might get a great sense of fun out of it if she managed to guess who it was,” Lydon said at the time. “We’ve lived together for 47 years, Nora and I, so she must have some clues as to who I am and what I can get up to.”
Along with trying to actualize their Eurovision dreams, Public Image Ltd. plan to release a new album later this year, with details to be announced soon. Their last LP, What the World Needs Now…, arrived in 2015.
This article was updated on 1/23 with the “Hawaii” lyric video.