Eurovision hots up before big night


The countdown is on ahead of Australia's historic appearance at the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest - with scandal and a touch of Jessica Mauboy bringing a taste of Australia.

The countdown is on ahead of Australia's historic appearance at the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest.

Indigenous songstress Jessica Mauboy will become the first guest singer from a non-EU country to perform at the event, and it's already promising to be another flamboyant year of kitsch, colour, and even a little controversy.

Reporters in Copenhagen had their first up-close-and-personal chat with Mauboy, flanked by SBS Eurovision commentator Julia Zemiro and Paul Clarke from production house Blink TV.

Aussies have competed at Eurovision before, but Mauboy's performance is seen as the next step in Australia's growing relationship with Europe's annual explosion of musical mayhem.

The details of her song are however still being kept under wraps.

"It's a very empowering song about my country, so giving a bit of my culture to your country and many other countries around the world," Mayboy said.

"It's very very special for everyone to be hearing this song for the very first time on the night."

Her performance will be preceded by a video package, which includes a 3D animation showing Australia being plonked in the middle of Europe's North Sea, officially becoming part of the Eurovision spectacular.

Mauboy's press conference was among dozens taking place in Copenhagen overnight. The contest, which reaches an international audience of around 180 million people, remains one of the world's longest running programs.

Favourite under fire

The favourite to win's this year's contest is Aram MP3, who sings Armenia's entry "Not Alone". It starts as a slow symphonic ballad, before erupting into a barrage of dubstep.

But he remains on the outs with many Eurovision fans following his comments about Austrian competitor, Conchita Wurst.

The drag artist, whose real name is Tom Neuwirth, will take to the stage despite conservative protesters in Russia and Belarus lobbying to have the performance banned.

According to The Independent newspaper, Aram MP3 also claimed Wurst's lifestyle was "not natural" and the artist should "eventually decide whether she is a woman or a man".

But Wurst appeared before a packed press conference in Copenhagen, basking in plenty of support for her message of tolerance and artistic freedom.

"Everybody asks, "Why do you have such a comedic surname when you have such a serious message?" Because I am both," Wurst said.

"We're not just black and white, we're all funny and serious and that's why I created this act."

Wurst's song "Rise Like A Phoenix" (with a videoclip that channels both "American Beauty" and James Bond) is also among the top favourites.

Eurovision's first semi-final will screen on Friday, May 9 at 8.30pm on SBS One.

The second semi-final will be on Saturday, May 10 at 8.30pm.

The grand final is on Sunday, May 11 at a slightly earlier time of 7.30pm.

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