This year marks a turning point in Australia’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest as we host our inaugural Eurovision - Australia Decides event and live public vote/broadcast. For the first time, Australia will be in line with other competing nations that hold similar competitions to choose who will represent them at the Eurovision Song Contest.
This is where democracy will rule, with both live jury and television audiences around the country voting for their favourite Australian artist to be catapulted to the Eurovision stratosphere. This significant public vote will carry more sizzle and spice than the democracy sausage served up on election day – saucy condiments included. After all, we are selecting an artist to woo audiences with all their zest and creative flair on the Eurovision stage.
Not only will the winning artist have the support of the country behind them, as together we mouth the lyrics to Australia’s new pop anthem, they’ll also ride the wave of momentum in the lead up to the competition. We may see stores stocking newly minted Eurovision merchandise, plastered with the face(s) of our chosen artist, or devoted fans getting crafty with their DIY efforts to deck the halls (and themselves) with Eurovision glory.
Australia, we are on course to rewrite our history with Eurovision, so let’s get behind our handpicked artist and be among the excitement that Eurovision brings! Eurovision – Australia Decides is a game-changer and adds another chapter to Australia’s longstanding and beloved relationship with Eurovision.
How Australia’s love affair with Eurovision began
Eurovision is the world’s longest running song contest, dating back to 1956 when only seven nations competed.
Australians first got their taste of the song contest juggernaut – which consists of defining musical moments (hello ABBA), often bizarre performances (Russian grandmothers) and far-fetched glamour (Estonia’s 2018 entrant Elina Necgayeva) – back in 1983 when it was first broadcast on SBS.
Australians like to get in on the fun, regardless of the fact it’s occurring halfway around the world, and up until 2013, we were the perfect bystander. Australian audiences watched Eurovision unfold from the comfort of their lounge room parties while receiving an upbeat tutorial on the musical creativity and efforts of other nations.
Please welcome to the stage… Australia!
The Eurovision playbook was thrown out the window in 2014 when Australia was asked to perform in a historical half-time performance in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was the first time in the contest’s history that a non-European country had been invited to the Eurovision stage.
Darwin-born singer Jessica Mauboy introduced Australia to Eurovision audiences with her performance of ‘Sea of Flags’ broadcast to 125 million people around the world. The cheerful pop song touched on Australian stereotypes while living up to the quintessential Eurovision kitsch that Australians had become accustomed to over the years.
In 2015, Australia was invited by event organiser, the European Broadcasting Union, to take part in the contest as a wildcard entry. Host broadcaster that year, Austria’s state television network ORF, couldn’t refuse. This landmark invitation coincided with the 60th anniversary of the Eurovision Song Contest, which was held in Vienna.
SBS nominated ARIA award-winning, Malaysian-born singer Guy Sebastian to be Australia’s first ever Eurovision contestant, performing his pop song ‘Tonight Again’. Sebastian’s exuberant performance wowed audiences, and he finished at a commendable fifth place on 196 points.
2015 proved not to be a one-time only appearance as Australia was again invited to take part in the contest. Korean-born singer Dami Im was revealed as Australia’s 2016 entrant to compete in Stockholm, Sweden. Unlike the previous year, Australia had to battle it out on stage to gain enough votes from the Semi-Finals to compete in the Grand Final. Im was up to the challenge, belting out her power ballad ‘Sound of Silence’ and propelling Australia into a heart-stopping second (!) place on 511 points.
Following on from Dami Im’s mesmerising performance, the Eurovision baton was passed to The X-Factor Australia winner Victorian Isaiah Firebrace to represent Australia at Kiev, Ukraine in 2017. Firebrace’s soulful song ‘Don’t Come Easy’ came in at ninth place on 173 points.
Mauboy came to return her love for Eurovision in 2018 by competing in the contest for the first time in Lisbon, Portugal. Mauboy’s uplifting pop song ‘We Got Love’ finished at twentieth on 99 points.
2019 will be a defining moment not only in Eurovision history but in Australian music history too as for the first time, the public will have the voting power to decide who will represent Australia on stage at the world’s biggest song contest. Australia, let the voting begin!
Eurovision – Australia Decides will broadcast live from the Gold Coast on SBS on Saturday, 9 February at 8.30pm (AEDT). (Public voting will commence at 1:00am (AEDT) Saturday 9 February via www.sbs.com.au/Eurovision).