9 March 2017
#WEGOTLOVE is the song and #WEGOTAGOODONE sums it up. Bang on one minute past midnight last night Australian eastern time, Jessica Mauboy’s song that she’ll sing for Australia at the Eurovision Song Contest in May was finally released. We knew it was We Got Love all week thanks to the #WEGOTLOVE hashtag promoted by her, and if you’re reading “we got a goo done” instead of “we got a good one” in the other hashtag, it might be that too. It will depend on the actual live performance in Lisbon and, to my knowledge, goo is one element yet to appear in a song presentation. Let’s remember, when we’re in love, it really is a gooey kind of experience.
Love is what We Got Love is all about and it’s a well produced, albeit formulaic song, that gets a bit repetitive by the end. It seems to have been written specifically to try win Eurovision, as it contains the obligatory hooks and key changes, and is not something typically that Mauboy sings. She’s more R&B than this “fast food” dance/pop. On initial listen, it didn’t hold with me, and that feeling remained after 5 listens, which is a concern when the goal is to grab the audience on the first strike. Listening again in the morning, after allowing it to seep into my conscience, it did improve, and now it has that pleasant sense of familiarity you like when hearing a favourite song after a break. How much of a favourite it could become, that is tricky. It’s second tier at present. Given the strength of some of the recent songs released, it might stay that way.
In comparison to previous Australian entries, it’s the second best at this stage. Guy Sebastian’s Tonight Again in 2015 was easily the most instantly likeable, while Sound Of Silence was more a showcase for Dami Im to shine than a great song. As for the disaster of Isaiah Firebrace’s Don’t Come Easy last year, we learnt really quickly it can come cheap. So Mauboy has a solid platform upon which to build, albeit with a song that doesn’t have the scope to lift it to any stratospheric level like Sound Of Silence did. While Mauboy has a good voice and sounds quite pleasant in the song, she’s no Dami Im when it comes to letting it rip on the stage either. Her strength is in her natural groove, and in it, she’s high quality. So it’s really about keeping her there rather than trying anything unnatural.
Australia’s done well with the selection process too. Last year Firebrace was rumoured for weeks, if not months, to be Australia’s representative, and was ultimately selected despite a ridiculous pretense of mystery pushed onto the public. The underwhelming response to the rumours of Firebrace only became worse once he was confirmed. In contrast for 2018, Australia followed the far more ideal approach of releasing the artist way in advance, and later the song. That builds excitement around the artist so the focus of discussion is all towards the song. Consequently, the response to We Got Love has been quite favourable, with no dissent towards the artist because we’ve long accepted it’s Mauboy. Youtube Likes and Dislikes, which is a reasonable indicator, is currently running about 5 to 1. While that’s not spectacular, it’s good enough, and is even better if you consider during the initial hours of the song’s life it was 3 to 1. If there is criticism about We Got Love is that it’s another Sony advertorial for the fourth straight year, complete with the same songwriting team of DNA for three years now.
Australia is in the weaker second semi final, particularly that there’s one less song than the first semi final, and also the standard of songs seems a bit lower. Australia has traditionally been the juries’ pet, and that will no doubt continue, especially with Mauboy being of aboriginal descent. That will tickle their subconscious bias, as there’s nothing elites – and particularly music industry elites – like to do better that make a political or social statement with their votes. Facts are that while the juries’ great benefit is to attract diversity in music to Eurovision, they are notoriously known for down-voting obvious public favourites and countries they consider of “questionable” status. We saw that with both Italy and Russia in 2015, and terribly against Russia in 2016. With a strong vote from the jury, all Mauboy needs to do is provide a tidy live performance, and she’s through to the final. From there, it’s probably a mid-table result, unless she can miraculously pull a “Polina Gagarina”.
Dissent Against Australia
As with anything to do with Australia and Eurovision, calls were frequent and strong across social media questioning Australia’s continuing participation in the event. This will be an ongoing issue while the European Broadcasting Union remains vague on Australia’s status. Trying to head off expectant complaints, the official website’s article about Australia’s song was compelled to say, “Australia is permitted to participate in the competition as the broadcaster SBS is an EBU Associate”. This is blatantly misleading and fundamentally incorrect, and is only designed to spread ignorance and placate dissent.
Simply by checking the EBU’s own website it clearly states, “It is important to note that associate membership does not grant access to the Eurovision system.” In terms of being a full member: “Membership is for broadcasting organisations whose countries are within the European Broadcasting Area, as defined by the International Telecommunication Union, or are members of the Council of Europe.” The page continues to say, “Members also enjoy all the benefits of EBU membership including participation in the Eurovision Song Contest”.
It is unequivocal. Australia has no rights to be in Eurovision. Being an associate is irrelevant because none of the other associate members get a shot. That Australia “loves Eurovision” is as irrelevant as it is way overstated. That we’ve been in it for four years is irrelevant. That we send good songs is irrelevant. That the EBU “likes us” is even irrelevant. We don’t fulfil the membership rules, the financial obligations, or even broadcasting obligations of Eurovision content throughout the year (Eurovision is actually a network, not a show).
Australia’s participation is simply by an ongoing invitation, to which all the legitimate Eurovision nations acquiesce. The invitation can be just as easily revoked, and it would be if one or two of those nations threatened a boycott ESC over Australia’s involvement. We’re actually a blow-in that potentially steals a grand spot spot from a traditional nation who has paid their dues over the years and fulfilled all membership requirements. Some even get banned for failing to meet their obligations, like Romania in 2016, while Australia swans around with immunity. Oh yes, as Julia Zemiro also says, we don’t add anything to Eurovision other than another English language song. Worse than that, they’re manufactured songs all for the glorification of the Sony record label.
The endearing feature about Eurovision all along was of its quirky European nature and the fact we were not in it. We’re already losing that fun frivolity as evidenced by declining TV ratings, and now we obsess over ourselves rather than gaze with wonder over the entire event. Either the EBU make a transparent and fair process for ANY associate member to participate, or 2018 is Australia’s last Eurovision. If we had any sort of scruples or restraint, we’d voluntarily withdraw anyway. This saga must end.