Dancing Russian grannies were so 2012. Many countries may have dabbled with more “seasoned” performers as their representatives at the Eurovision Song Contest, however 2017 has a decidedly more youthful look as a younger crop of performers prepare to strut their stuff in Kiev. Among the cluster of Gen Zers is our own Isaiah who happens to be one of three 17-year-olds all highly fancied to take out the top prize.
It wouldn't be the first time a teenager has won - the youngest ever victor was Sandra Kim, who represented Belgium in 1986. At the time of the contest, she claimed to be 15 years of age, but it was revealed after her win that she was actually 13. Second place getters Switzerland attempted to have her win annulled, but this came to no avail.
The youngest ever performer at Eurovision was Monaco’s Jean Jacques, who graced the stage in 1969 at the ripe old age of 12 and placed sixth. Kim will remain the youngest ever winner and Jacques the youngest ever entrant unless the rules regarding a performer's age are changed. According to the ESC rules as they now stand, contestants must be aged at least 16 on the day they compete.
A trio of 17-year-olds
Three of the more fancied entries this year will be performed by 17-year-olds. Belgium, Bulgaria and Australia each internally selected their entrants and happened to plumb for 17-year-olds to represent their homeland in Kiev. These performers may by young but these millennials are no strangers to singing contests as they’ve all tried their hand on a local version of either The Voice or The X Factor (or, in Bulgarian Kristian Kostov’s case, both).
Will Kostov’s “Beautiful Mess” be a beautiful success for Bulgaria? Or could the smoky husky vocals of Belgium’s Blanche result in us seeing the “City Lights” of Brussels in 2018? Or is it possible victory could come easy for our Isaiah and result in Australia’s first ever win?
Irish eyes are dying
It’s been a famine in recent years for Ireland at the contest as Eurovision’s most successful nation has sadly found itself occupying the wrong end of the leader board. Twenty-year-old former boy band cutie Brendan Murray will be dying to try and reverse this trend by performing a belter of a ballad during semifinal two. “Dying to Try”, which echoes any song on a Westlife greatest hits compilation, could be Ireland's best shot in years of qualifying for the main event.
Wilson Phillips reimagined
What’s better than one millennial on stage? How about three in the form of the stunning Dutch sister act, OG3NE. Lisa (22), and twins Amy and Shelley (21) conquered the 2016 Dutch edition of The Voice with their brilliant harmonising. They’ll be hoping to do the same at Eurovision this year with “Light and Shadows”, a song co-written by the trio’s father and Shelley’s boyfriend, which harks back to the days when Wilson Phillips sat atop the top 40.
It was second time lucky for Australian-born Anja Nissen at the Danish national selection competition, Dansk Melodi Grand Prix. The winner of season three of The Voice Australia, Nissen came agonising close to performing at last year’s Eurovision, having placed second at the same selection event for Denmark with the jaunty “Never Alone”. Second time proved the charm for the 21-year-old as she unexpectedly rode to victory this year with the R&B-inspired “Where I Am”. We may not be able to vote for our home nation, but we can sure send a vote or 12 Denmark’s way this year.
Stunning 23-year-old Jana Burčeska will attempt to dance her way out of semifinal two and shimmy her home nation of FYR Macedonia into the grand final for the first time in five years. Burčeska’s “Dance Alone” is a fabulously fizzy piece of electro-pop that, if staged and sung well, could see her stomp toward a top 10 finish.
Doing it for his… lover?
Sadly, not all of 2017’s Gen Zers are being lauded or heralded as potential winners. A prime example of this is 21-year-old Spaniard Manel Navarro whose “Do it For Your Lover” currently languishes at 200/1 odds to win. His entry should be a casual, breezy affair, but instead it's repetitive and well… a bit boring. The repeated use of the word "lover" - more than 20 times during the song's three minutes duration - really does not help his cause.
The Eurovision Song Contest will be broadcast over SBS’s Eurovision weekend - Friday 12 May, Saturday 13 May, and Grand Final Sunday 14 May at 7.30pm on SBS with LIVE early morning broadcasts begin Wednesday 10 May at 5am on SBS.