• Ricardo and his fellow pop stars. (Supplied)
Before he became a Serious Journalist, our 2018 Eurovision spokesperson was on his way to pop stardom. Almost.
By
Ricardo Goncalves

1 May 2018 - 7:18 AM  UPDATED 1 May 2018 - 6:41 AM

Let’s be upfront about this from the start. I can’t really sing.

A career as a singer and dancer was never on the cards for me, but I loved music, followed the charts and was always curious about the music business.

My recollection of the experience is a little vague, but it started around the year 2000.

I was living in my hometown of Wollongong on the NSW South Coast, completing a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics and Marketing, doing some ad hoc journalism courses, working casually at WIN News as a reporter, and a sales assistant at David Jones.

I was a busy guy.

It was about then I saw a very small advertisement in a newspaper, calling for singers and dancers to get together at a hall in Newtown and audition for a new pop group.

So with nothing to lose, I drove myself up to Sydney in my green Suzuki Swift to audition.

I met Virginia, the momager. She was the one wanting to build a pop group for her daughter, Amelia, and who later I found out, sourced a silent investor to fund the recording of our demo.

There would have been about 50 people at the audition and we were asked to sing two songs of our choice; a slow song, and an uplifting song.

I belted out 'A Whole New World' from Aladdin, and 'This Is It' by Dannii Minogue. Cringe. It was the first time I had sung publicly.

"I didn’t have any professional dancing experience, unless you call my 10 years participating in a traditional folkloric Portuguese dancing group in suburban Wollongong as professional dancing. (It wasn’t)."

There was no Australian Idol or The X Factor back then, however, the first season of Popstars had just premiered on Channel 7.

The experience was just as you see it on TV.

A singer on stage, and a panel of judges. That panel included Virginia, Amelia and some others, who I now can’t recall.

So it was interesting to be part of a genuine audition process, pre-reality television.

After our vocal audition, we were asked to take a break as the judges decided who would continue with the process.

Some of us were called back later in the day for a choreography audition.

We lined up behind a professional dancer, were given a dance routine to Marcia Hines’ 'Time of our Lives', and then had to perform it to the panel of judges.

Mind you, I didn’t have any professional dancing experience, unless you call my 10 years participating in a traditional folkloric Portuguese dancing group in suburban Wollongong as professional dancing. (It wasn’t).

Then I drove home.

A few weeks later, I received a call on my Ericsson flip phone to say I was successful and if I’d be interested in joining the band.

I remember telling my parents, who were a little confused. They had never heard me sing, let alone of my small desire to be doing it professionally.

There were six of us in the group. Four girls and two boys. We were a very ethnically diverse bunch.

I’m not sure why we were chosen, and our style was yet to be decided.

Luckily for me, one of the girls, Lynn, was also from Wollongong, so I had a travel companion.

For just under a year, once or twice a week, Lynn and I would travel from Wollongong to Sydney’s Hills District in my little green Suzuki.

We had a number of commitments; one-on-one voice coaching, group rehearsal, song and lyrical writing sessions, and eventually, a choreography lesson.

I was like a duck out of water.

The 5 other members of the group were natural and skilled performers.

Each had music in their blood, were professionally trained and very, very talented.

Singing and dancing was their passion, and all they wanted to do.

I however, was being trained to be a journalist while studying business at university.

Music, for me, was just a bit of fun.

But it went from being fun, to anxious.

During our first dance lesson, I remember being told by the choreographer that I need ‘abs’. To this day, I haven’t been able to find them.

Secondly, as we continued to rehearse, it was becoming apparent I wasn’t as musically talented as my companions.

We eventually hit the studio, thanks to a private investor who funded the recording of our demo. Our producer’s claim to fame was working with former E-Street star, Melissa Tkautz on her debut single, 'Read My Lips'.

To be in a recording studio, laying down tracks was pretty surreal.

One at a time, we’d enter the recording studio, stand in front of a microphone, and sing the lyrics of a song we all wrote together, in various styles, in various harmonies.

'Don’t Wanna Let You Go' was our first track.

'See-Through' our second.

'Get Down', our third. (...Which we can’t seem to find. Remember it was the year 2000 and the internet didn’t exist, but I’m sure it’s somewhere in a drawer, on a compact disc).

Given we were still finding out feet, we recorded different genres of music, from pop, to R’n’B pop, and kiddie pop to see what would work for us.

We also had a makeover; haircuts, clothes and a photo shoot, just like you see in today’s reality shows.

But as we continued to record, it became even more obvious I wasn’t fitting in, and ultimately wasn’t needed.

I wasn’t being called into the studio when the others were recording, and even when I was, my voice was often auto-tuned and primarily used for subtle harmonies or softly spoken word as you can hear (or can’t) on the above links to two of the tracks we recorded.

Just as we completed our demo, Virginia, the driving force behind the group, hired a manager.

Six to nine months after the creation of our group, he called me privately for a meeting, and told me, that my vocal abilities weren’t developing fast enough to keep up with the group and that I was being let go.

I was upset, partly because I was cut off, but more so, because I wasn’t going to see my new friends anymore.

The group quickly replaced me with another guy, came up with the name, Sneaky Deep, continued to record and ultimately received a publishing deal with Warner.

They performed at a couple of shopping centres and launches, and then quickly disbanded.

I don’t know why.

As for me, I continued to study and work, before I landed my first job out of university as a finance video journalist and producer for David Koch’s production company Palamedia in 2001.

I haven’t really seen the rest of the group since, although we’re all friends on Facebook.

On reflection, I know that a career in the music business isn’t for me.

What is, is a career reporting on all businesses, large to small, in all industries from finance to music.

While I cringe a little when I think about the experience, I also smile at the same time because it gave me the opportunity to tick another item off of my bucket list.

SBS World News and Small Business Secrets  presenter Ricardo Goncalves will act as Australia's spokesperson at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final on May 13.  

Meet Australia's 2018 Eurovision jury and Australian spokesperson
Our own Ricardo Goncalves is set to announce Australia's votes to the world.

 

The Eurovision Song Contest will be broadcast live and in prime time exclusively on SBS from 9 to 13 May.

Primetime evening broadcasts

Semi Final 1 – Wednesday 9 May, 7.30pm, SBS 
Semi Final 2 – Friday 11 May, 7.30pm, SBS ** FEATURING JESSICA MAUBOY 
Grand Final – Sunday 13 May, 7.30pm, SBS

LIVE early morning broadcasts

Semi Final 1 – Wednesday 9 May, 5am (AEST) SBS and live streaming at SBS On Demand
Semi Final 2 – Friday 11 May, 5am (AEST) SBS and live streaming at SBS On Demand ** FEATURING JESSICA MAUBOY 
Grand Final – Sunday 13 May, 5am (AEST) SBS and live streaming at SBS on Demand

The Eurovision Jury was selected by SBS and had to meet the criteria set out by the EBU.

 

Semi Final 1: Meet the artists competing and watch their music videos 

Semi Final 2Meet the artists competing and watch their music videos 

Grand Final:  Meet the artists with an express entry to the Grand Final and watch their music videos