10 February 2019
In Australia’s first ever attempt at national final to decide its Eurovision Song Contest candidate, Kate Miller-Heidke convincingly won with Zero Gravity to land herself a spot in Tel Aviv for the 2019 contest. She won the jury vote by 4 points to Electric Fields, 48 to 44, with Sheppard 3 points further adrift. The televote was even more comprehensive with a 17 point margin to Electric Fields, 87 to 70, with Sheppard way back on 46 points. That left a combined total of 135 for Zero Gravity, 114 for 2000 And Whatever, and 87 for On My Way.
Kate Miller-Heidke was always the logical and best choice to win Australia Decides. Zero Gravity was the only song that defined itself as unique and quirky enough to bring something distinctive to Eurovision, and with the potential to really excel on stage. It was good to see Kate embrace the Eurovision extravagance with a massive dress and a woman on a bendy pole (who represented Kate’s “shadow self” – the parts she dislikes and wants to hide) to convey the meaning of her song (escaping from depression). Even then, she didn’t quite reach the heights (ironically) hoped as the finale lacked that rousing crescendo of the studio version. Her vocals couldn’t quite lift off – hopefully something that can be addressed for Tel Aviv.
Overall, the show was on a bit on the lacklustre side, with some of the first half of entries barely good enough for cruise ship cabaret. Part of that could be the sound quality, as it was quite flat and difficult to find a good setting on my sound system. Ella Hooper suffered the worst, and it could have been part of the reason Kate Miller-Heidke’s vocals didn’t project during the finale. Those that had managed to produce good vocals, the songs were a bit flat. The other issue is that it was all a bit low budget. The stage was small and effects were non existent. That contrast between Eurovision can take some adjustment. General production values were good for a first attempt. The hosts didn’t offend, the presentation videos of the artists were informative, and the post-performance interviews were good. They only need cut a few of the ad breaks and get into the first song much sooner than 25 minutes into the show.
Review & Scores
01 Ella Hopper – Data Dust (6)
She simply couldn’t quite transmit the energy that the song demanded. That’s likely to be the sound issues already mentioned, and being first. It can take the audience time to adjust to a new presentation. Loved the lace body suit, and a superb body after all these years.
02 Electric Fields – 2000 And Whatever (3)
They brought great energy and not much else. The song still sucks, and I hated the constant tongue poking.
03 Mark Vincent – This Is Not The End (5)
One of those with excellent vocals and a song not good enough.
04 Ayden – Dust (1)
Tried hard to save a dreadful song. Failed.
05 Courtney Act – Fight For Love (5)
A lot of acting, not enough courting. The song was always average, the routine was underwhelming, and she could barely hold a note.
06 Leea Nanos – Set Me Free (7)
Vocals lacked punch. She’s an obvious talent and brought a great song. It’s good that SBS gave her a chance as a “wildcard” rather than offload her song to a more establish artist linked to a record company.
07 Sheppard – On My Way (8)
Brilliant live. I was bedazzled by the blond on guitar so much that I didn’t think too much about the song. They did their stuff, were better than expected, and figured they were good enough for at least second place.
08 Alfie Arcuri – To Myself (5)
Voice good, biceps even better, song always average.
09 Kate Miller-Heidke – Zero Gravity (8)
She didn’t quite reach the expectations I hoped, with the pole woman not something easy to understand, and when she touched Kate on the shoulder, it looked like a mistake, causing Kate to hit a bum note. Artists always need to be aware that much of the audience won’t get these abstract elements and they can become a bit of a distraction. As said earlier, the rousing finale wasn’t there as per the studio version. Zero Gravity is what I call a “journey song”. It’s something that picks you up slowly at the start, takes you an undulating ride, then drops you off dramatically at the end. Without that finale, the journey isn’t complete.
10 Tania Doko – Piece Of Me (7)
Tania never had a chance with her song released only 4 days before the show while others had weeks for their songs to settle with fans. Following Kate Miller-Heidke probably wasn’t ideal either, as there’s always an immediate comparison. Being last can often have high expectations too. Despite that, she lifted an understated song with solid vocals and routine.
My Top 5
Kate Miller-Heidke – Zero Gravity
Sheppard – On My Way
Leea Nanos – Set Me Free
Tania Doko – Piece Of Me
Ella Hooper – Data Dust
The main change from my preview is Sheppard leaping into second. Ella and Tania switched spots. Average score was 5.6, which suggests a slightly above average show. The better Eurovision shows average over 6.
Mr Eurovision Jury
The official verdict from the Mr Eurovision household including my mother, sister and someone called Z, all songs scored out of 10:
Kate Miller-Heidke – Zero Gravity (32)
Sheppard – On My Way (29)
Leea Nanos – Set Me Free (28)
Tania Doko – Piece Of Me (27)
Mark Vincent – This Is Not The End (26)
Alfie Arcuri – To Myself (25)
Electric Fields – 2000 And Whatever (24)
Ella Hooper – Data Dust (23)
Courtney Act – Fight For Love (21)
Ayden – Dust (18)
We must commend SBS and Australian Eurovision officials for trying something new. It was a risk that the event wouldn’t be supported by big names, and while that aspect can definitely be improved as half the field came from reality TV, the more established artists, especially those currently quite active like Sheppard and Kate Miller-Heidke, really embraced the event and made a strong effort to win it. Sheppard were especially motivated by having t-shirts ready before their song was released, while Kate was highly active promoting herself and the event on her social media. All of them got into the Eurovision mood, especially with costumes and putting aside the competitive side of the event to enjoy themselves and support each other. That really is the point for such an event to grow. Eurovision is still treated quite skeptically and warily by much of the Australian music industry, and that an established artist is going, it’s a major breakthrough and actually represents the first time Australia is not sending someone with a background from reality TV.
Ratings were good for SBS with a peak of 282k viewers and just squeaking into the top 10 shows of the day. That 282k actually beats their marquee Sunday night Eurovision Grand Final broadcast last year by over 70k (200k also watched live at 5am), although, it’s way below some of the semi final repeats on Saturday night. In 2015, 640k watched the Saturday night broadcast of second semi final from Vienna, while Dami Im’s semi final in the same time-slot in 2016 got 599k.
The downside of this competition to decide Australia’s entry is the whinging and hate by sore losers. Fans of Electric Fields have been especially nasty and viral with their comments, and it’s really having a detrimental effect on the Eurovision experience. We used to watch Eurovision respectfully from afar and now we’re boorish and obsessed with winning. Even the whole “our Jess” fanaticism in Lisbon last year was tiresome, and now it’s manifested at national final level. It’s not good and it’s not right, and won’t encourage other artists to enter in future years. If you don’t like a song, move on. There’s over 40 other countries in the contest, so embrace something there that appeals. I hope Kate Miller-Heidke doesn’t misconstrue it as antipathy against her, as it really is only a small number of ingrates spitting the dummy among the entire universe of generally respectful Eurovision fans. Best to focus on those that voted for her and loved her song, as she won both the jury and televote and was clearly the deserved winner.
Kate after her win: “I’m totally overwhelmed! This has been a peak experience already, and I’m dying with excitement at what’s to come. Thanks to everyone who voted, and to all the other artists who provided such a brilliant, eclectic and stiff competition. I’ve had a ball, and I’m so grateful and thrilled that I get to represent Australia at Eurovision in 2019.”