Who is Bambie Thug? The Irish ‘goth gremlin’ leaving Eurovision fans ‘speechless’

Cork-born singer is the first Irish delegate to make it through to the Eurovision final since 2018, with fans hailing their dramatic staging and impressive vocal performance

Roisin O'Connor
Music Editor
Saturday 11 May 2024 08:07 BST
Eurovision fans react after 'unique' Bambie Thug becomes first Irish finalist since 2018

Ireland’s 2024 Eurovision contestant Bambie Thug is undoubtedly one of the favourites of this year’s competition, winning over more fans after their astonishing performance at the first semi-final.

The Cork-born singer, real name Bambie Ray Robinson, was voted through following their rendition of original song “Doomsday Blue”, a thumping industrial-techno pop song that features dazzling, artistic staging.

Bambie, who goes by they/them/their pronouns, is therefore the first Irish contestant to make it through to a Eurovision final since 2018. They been praised for what many have dubbed a flawless performance that will assert them as one to beat.

They will be competing against singers including the UK’s Olly Alexander, Croatia’s Baby Lasagna and Ukraine’s Alyona Alyona and Jerry Heil at the Malmö Arena in Sweden on 11 May.

Ireland’s Taoiseach Simon Harris hailed their achievement and said it was “time to bring the Eurovision back to Ireland”.

“Congratulations to Bambie Thug, who has qualified for the Eurovision final tonight,” he wrote on X/Twitter.

“Bambie will become the first Irish act in the Eurovision finals since 2018. It is time to bring the Eurovision back to Ireland and Bambie is the act to do it!”

Bambie Thug performing during the Eurovision 2024 semi-final
Bambie Thug performing during the Eurovision 2024 semi-final (AP)

Here’s everything you need to know about Bambie Thug ahead of the Eurovision 2024 final:

The self-described “goth gremlin goblin witch” and “Ouija-pop star” was born in Macroom, County Cork, to a Swedish father and Irish mother. Their aspirations for a career as an avant-garde pop artist began in their home town, they told the Irish Mail on Sunday, explaining that they spent “so much time in the field pretending I was in Lord of the Rings and talking to trees and making potions, and that was really lovely”.

Bambie initially trained as a ballerina, taking local classes before studying at Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa, then spending two years with the Cork City Ballet. “I loved Cork and I still love Cork,” Bambie told the publication, “but then I moved to London because I got a partial dance scholarship and musical theatre dance at the Urdang Academy in London, and so I moved over for that.”

They completed their degree before deciding to switch to a career in music, spending two years studying the art of writing pop songs and performing at open mics around London. After ditching a talent agency that apparently tried to turn them towards “bubblegum pop”, they began navigating their own career and “was lucky enough to meet people who really believed in the project”.

Before being chosen as the Irish delegate for Eurovision 2024, Bambie had been releasing music under their professional moniker for around three years, and had already attracted a devoted fanbase along with airplay on BBC Radio.

Irish singer-songwriter Bambie Ray Robinson, aka Bambie Thug representing Ireland
Irish singer-songwriter Bambie Ray Robinson, aka Bambie Thug representing Ireland (TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)

Bambie has expressed their excitement about representing Ireland at Eurovision, explaining that it feels “really beautiful” to be appreciated at home.

“There’s something that makes my heart so warm about having the country see my art, my stuff, because this is what raised me,” they said. “This is my roots, this is the ground that birthed me and is the reason I write the way I do.”

However, Bambie has also not shied away from criticising Eurovision organisers for allowing Israel to participate, amid its ongoing war on Gaza. They have echoed calls to ban Israel from this year’s contest, telling the Irish Examiner: “When things were going on with Ukraine, Russia wasn’t allowed to enter, so I don’t think there should be a rule for one and a different for another.”

Bambie has also objected to censorship of any displays of pro-Palestine support, after they were allegedly asked to alter their pro-Palestinian message ahead of their performance at the first semi-final.

Bambie Thug called out Eurovision organisers for censoring their pro-Palestine message
Bambie Thug called out Eurovision organisers for censoring their pro-Palestine message (TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)

They told a press conference in Malmö that they were forced to change their body paint in Ogham script (an early Medieval alphabet), which translated to “ceasefire” and “freedom”, a nod to the situation in Gaza and amid Israel’s inclusion in the competition.

“It was very important for me because I’m pro justice and pro peace,” Bambie said. “Unfortunately, I had to change those messages today to ‘crown the witch’ only (which was an) order from the EBU.”

A spokeswoman for the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said: “The writing seen on Bambie Thug’s body during dress rehearsals contravened contest rules that are designed to protect the non-political nature of the event.

“After discussions with the Irish delegation, they agreed to change the text for the live show.”

Organisers had previously warned that Palestinian flags and symbols would not be allowed in the Malmö Arena.

What about their song, “Doomsday Blue”?

Bambie Thug says they will ‘stand out’ to make Eurovision final

“Doomsday Blue” was written by Bambie Thug with co-writers Cassyette, Sam Matlock and Tyler Rydr, and includes lyrics that reference witchcraft, casting spells, and other nods to the occult.

“It’s a much more mature performance,” Bambie has said of “Doomsday Blue”, in comparison to their earlier work. Interviewed by Rock Sound, they explained they put the song forward because “it met all the requirements”, as well as being “a bit boundary-pushing” in the way it melds different genres.

“They shouldn’t really work, but they do, and for me it’s a bit chaotic, it’s very theatrical,” they said, emphasising that they want to give Eurovision fans “a show”.

“Also, I had three minutes to showcase multiple singing styles and vocal ability that I can do, so I just was kind of like, this is the one.

“I think it’s got something there for everyone,” they continued. “There’s spoken word at the start, there’s a pop chorus then there’s a screamy part and there’s a soulful, almost croony middle-eight, and then there’s the electro-metal breakdown where I get to scream my lungs out. I’m just a show-off, basically!”

Eurovision fans are championing Ireland’s Bambie Thug as one of the favourites to win
Eurovision fans are championing Ireland’s Bambie Thug as one of the favourites to win (EBU/Sarah Louise Bennett/PA Wire)

Suffice to say, Eurovision fans are impressed. In the YouTube comments of Bambie’s semi-final performance, many declared their jaws were “on the floor” during the berserk rendition.

Some also pointed out how Bambie’s performance proved just how essential staging is, with the dramatic effects and elaborate costumes ramping up the drama.

“The production on this performance will win the contest alone,” one fan declared. “Huge credit to the lighting and visual engineers.”

“The performance was magnificent,” another fan wrote on X/Twitter after watching Bambie sing in the semi-final. “Now go and win it Bambie Thug.”

Another enthusiastic Bambie stan announced that “Doomsday Blue” was “the most original performance we EVER had in the whole history of Eurovision... I’m so f***ing speechless THIS NEEDS TO WIN.”

How can I watch Bambie Thug perform in the Eurovision 2024 final?

Bambie Thug will be competing in the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 grand final on Saturday 11 May. You’ll be able to follow live coverage and updates via The Independent, and watch the contest live on BBC One.

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