19 January 2019
Everyone’s favourite one-off special Eurovision Song Contest guess has revealed their 10 candidates to compete at Australia Decides on the Gold Coast on 9 February 2019. Australia, who, as non-European Broadcasting Union member, still rely on a special invitation each year to compete, have ditched their arrangement of the past four years of aligning with record company Sony to send one of their stable. Many fans have been agitating for Australia to have an actual national final, and after two years of massive public rejection at ESC, and Sony likely exhausting their options of interested and viable candidates for Eurovision, the time has come to put national selection into the hands of the public. Well, in one hand. The other hand is the jury.
Not surprisingly, there’s no international Australian stars like Kylie Minogue or Sia, nor are there big domestic stars like Delta Goodrem or The Veronicas – both of whom have been popular fan requests over the years. On first look at the candidates, they comprise has-beens, never-beens and sometimes-beens, and only a few names ring a bell. While most are likely using Australia Decides and Eurovision itself to launch themselves to a greater audience or reignite a dormant career (as is generally the case in other countries), a deeper look does reveal some very talented individuals. There also seems genuine enthusiasm for Eurovision and for taking the event seriously. Despite all the hype, Eurovision has a niche following in this country, and most Australians and the music industry still consider it a joke. Most artists wouldn’t risk the humiliation of failing at Eurovision, much less lose to an amateur in a national final. The idea of competing is a strange notion for Australian artists, so credit to them for letting it all hang out.
Only six of the 10 songs have been released so far. The rest are expected a week before Australia Decides.
Sheppard – TBA
I only had a vague recollection of their name due to a hit song of many years ago called Geronimo. No truth to the rumour it was the theme song for the Navy Seals that killed Osama bin Laden. No information on the song yet other than the group announced a song called On My Way to be released on 1 February. Sheppard have also been often mentioned in social media by fans as candidates for Eurovision, and here they are.
Kate Miller-Heidke – TBA
A familiar name, and one often requested by fans. I don’t know any of her stuff. She’s been around for eons so is clearly a talented writer and singer. She’s quite quirky, which explains her name often mentioned in the context of Eurovision. No information about her song yet, so enjoy The Last Day On Earth.
Electric Fields – 2000 And Whatever
More like 2019 And Whatever, as their song is so trashy. Never heard of them until now. Apparently this electronic/dance stuff is their specialty. They tick the diversity box – something always big with SBS.
Courtney Act – Fight For Love
A drag queen that emerged on the very first season of Australian Idol way back in 2003, in which Guy Sebastian won. She apparently still has a decent following in Australia, and has established one internationally, even though she’s been invisible on my radar. Fight For Love starts really promisingly before degenerating into rather formulaic pop. It’s pleasant enough and could gain a decent chunk of the vote.
Mark Vincent – This Is Not The End
Apparently he’s a big opera star, which explains his anonymity to me. He won Australia’s Got Talent in 2009 and regularly performs at Sydney’s Christmas concert, Carols In The Domain. Yep, that further explains his anonymity. There’s a bit of Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way” in his song. It’s quite pleasant and will add to the variety of the event. I can’t see it win, much less do anything in Tel Aviv if it were miraculously selected.
Ayden – Dust
About as appealing as dust. A total no-name and the song is a dull plodder. He will need a strong live presentation to do well. An internet search reveals he finished fourth in The Voice of 2017 and reached the semi finals of Australia’s Got Talent in 2013. Easily the least interesting and appealing entry of the lot.
Leea Nanos – Set Me Free
Yet another no-name, and fair enough, as this is supposedly a “wildcard” entry. I guess that means they weren’t expected to add any amateurs, only established artists. That was until 16 year-old Leea Namos “blew the judges away”. She definitely has it. Set Me Free is best of the songs released so far.
Alfie Arcuri – To Myself
A vaguely familiar name, as he got fame winning The Voice in 2016. After Anja Nissen won in 2014, I dropped off through 2015 as most of the “talent” was quite lame and I haven’t been back since. This is a bit of “paint by the numbers”. It’s reasonably catchy; the issue is whether it can stand out enough.
Ella Hooper – TBA
A familiar name due her exploits with the band Killing Heidi 20 years ago. Yes, 20 years ago! She’s been off my radar ever since, so it will be curious to see the song she brings. She says about Eurovision: “I want to keep doing things that surprise myself and this is one of them. It’s something I never thought I’d do. As with everything I’ve been doing the last few years, I never thought I’d get Killing Heidi back together, I never thought I’d be competing to be in Eurovision. It ticks my ‘Never thought I…’ list.” With Hooper’s charisma and powerful voice, Killing Heidi brought an enigmatic rock sound, with Mascara their iconic hit back then.
Tania Doko – TBA
Another one from yesteryear, and was also the front lady of a popular group, this time the duo, Bachelor Girl. She’s still quite active in the music scene, being based in Sweden for the past several years and working with the likes of 2015 Eurovision winner, Mans Zelmerlow. Bachelor Girl’s style was of indie pop and her potential Eurovision song was originally pitched to Jennifer Lopez. Doko says: “This song has had many incarnations and lives, it was written five years ago, so I’ve re-written the lyrics so I relate to it more now. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. It’s never found the right home. Maybe I was always the one that was supposed to release it.” Not sure a rejection by Jennifer Lopez is a good thing or a bad thing. Given Doko’s pedigree and credentials, the history (so far) of the song, and the fact she was a last minute addition to perform it herself (she had submitted it for somebody else), there’s certainly great expectation she’ll present something superb. Bachelor Girl’s biggest hit was Buses & Trains.
Of the songs so far, it’s easily Leea Nanos with Set Me Free. Although, we obviously must wait for the songs from the big names of Sheppard, Kate Miller-Heidke, Ella Hooper and, especially, Tania Doko. Despite my ever increasing unease with Australia in Eurovision and apathy to even talk or write about them, Australia Decides is becoming an event of high interest and anticipation.