7 February 2020
It’s the second year Australia will have a national final to decide its Eurovision Song Contest entry, and it seems a much even year than 2019 when Kate Miller-Heidke was clearly the best entry with Zero Gravity. She also was the only one to really take it seriously with presentation, and that factor also hinted at her potential to unleash at Tel Aviv 2019. That she was second favourite to win once rehearsals started proved it. She would eventually finish ninth in the grand final.
This year’s event will be headlined by the appearance of retiring Eurovision executive supervisor, Jon Ola Sand. He’ll make a special guest appearance at Australia Decides and has already made interesting comments to local media. Notably that he thinks Australia can win Eurovision (he probably says that to everyone) and also clarified Australia’s continued involvement in Eurovision and the dogmatic rejection of inviting anyone else. While we know Australia were invited for a special “one off” appearance for the 60th anniversary edition in 2015, the return in 2016 was mostly justified as the start of expanding Eurovision to the world.
So where are these other countries in Eurovision? Quite simply, they don’t have a domestic audience, and “If you don’t have a domestic audience, why should you participate if no one cares?”. That’s an elitist and quite disturbing approach, and is contemptuous of a country like Kazakhstan that actually has territory in Europe, and is constantly snubbed because associate member status is insufficient for them, unlike for Australia. Then Sand falsely implies countries like USA, China and Brazil are not associate members of the European Broadcasting Union when they actually are. Furthermore, the only reason Kazakhstan is not a full member and therefore granted automatic access to Eurovision is the European Broadcasting Area doesn’t quite extend far enough east. Ironically, if Kazakhstan were in north Africa or the Middle East, they’d be in. It really stinks they miss out while Australia swans around on the same associate member status and its niche audience of 200,000 people at a ridiculous time of the morning.
Clearly there’s an agenda at play with Australia. The EBU’s attempts to start a Eurovision Asia have constantly failed, so it’s hoped Australia’s continued participation can help generate publicity in the region to eventually get it going. With another three years of guaranteed participation after 2020, no doubt the EBU’s dream is actually for Australia to win Eurovision and host it here. While people mumble about logistics and the timezone, Australia is really only sitting on plane a bit longer, while the timezone problem is overcome by holding the main event – the performances and everything else – the previous evening, then hold a live results show at 7am (this could be a free entry event). For Europe, the telecast would be a seamless transition.
Personally, the EBU have it all wrong. They should hold a mini Eurovision for associate members in early March, and the winner goes to semi final 1 at Eurovision in May. Think of it like a national final that other countries hold, except it’s for EBU associate members. That would make for a fair and open path for associate members, and actually directly spread Eurovision around the globe.
Australia Decides – Running Order
01 iOTA – Life
02 Jordan-Ravi – Pushing Stars
03 Jaguar Jonze – Rabbit Hole
04 Jack Vidgen – I Am King I Am Queen
05 Vanessa Amorosi – Lessons of Love
06 Diana Rouvas – Can We Make Heaven
07 Mitch Tambo – Together
08 Casey Donovan – Proud
09 Montaigne – Don’t Break Me
10 Didirri – Raw Stuff
My Top 10
10 Didirri – Raw Stuff
No, this is not a reversal of the running order. One of the worst songs I’ve ever heard. So dreary and the vocals gnaw – like really piercing the ears. Very rare do I stop listening to a song before it finishes, and this one I had to stop 30 seconds before the end. The only reason I can see it placed last rather than early is so people don’t become comatose and miss all the other songs.
09 iOTA – Life
More like death. I at least got through this one. While energetic and vaguely interesting, it’s simply not my style of music.
08 Casey Donovan – Proud
Famous for winning Australian Idol in 2004. Pleasant voice, dull song. Being part aboriginal and a somewhat sympathetic figure will ensure some votes, especially from the jury.
07 Mitch Tambo – Together
Reached the final of Australia’s Got Talent in 2019 (so I read), Tambo is another artist with aboriginal heritage, and notably performs with a crest and feathers on his head. That will endear him further to those that like “diversity” in their quotient when casting votes, as too will his song sung partially in an aboriginal language, particularly the verses. Those parts are quite good; it’s the chorus that falls flat and makes the entire song a bit bland. To balance that, he’s still riding a wave of popularity from his reality TV appearance, and with a likely enigmatic performance, is one of the favourites.
06 Jack Vidgen – I Am King I Am Queen
An interesting character who won Australia’s Got Talent in 2015 as a teenager, disappeared, then popped up on The Voice last year, reaching the semi finals. Noted for his strong voice, his song helps showcase that without really being compelling in itself. Most likely a mid-placed finish.
05 Diana Rouvas – Can We Make Heaven
Recent winner of The Voice as a returning “All Star”, this showcases her great vocals and is a pleasant song. Probably too meh to do much at Australia Decides, which has really been the problem with Rouvas as a recording star all along. She might as well have won a trip to Wuhan for all the good her victory on The Voice has done for her career (other than get on the stage of Australia Decides).
04 Jaguar Jonze – Rabbit Hole
An exotic mix of a Taiwanese mother to an Australian father and born in Japan, Jaguar Jonze extends that exoticism to her music too. There’s quite a seductive quality to her voice, and her song typifies that Australian pub/indie rock vibe. Unless she can blow up the stage with a crazy performance, Rabbit Hole is a bit too once-paced to win. I just welcome her presence at Australia Decides and it proves yet again that these national finals are just as much about discovery as they are about finding a winner.
03 Jordan-Ravi – Pushing Stars
A strong songwriting team behind this, notably George Sheppard and Tania Doko, it’s very bouncy, and does remind you of those classic Sheppard songs. Whether it can provide the big moments on the stage that you typically need to excel, that is the issue.
02 Vanessa Amorosi – Lessons of Love
The most high profile artist this year, albeit now in the veteran stage, Amorosi burst onto the national stage in 2000 with Absolutely Everybody. The lesson of love here is that it takes a few listens to get into Lessons Of Love, and you sense the success of this depends totally on Amorosi wowing the audience with her powerful vocals. If not, absolutely everybody will be pleased that she tried.
01 Montaigne – Don’t Break Me
Easily the most impressive on first listen, and still holds up after a week and comparing to the others. Such a dramatic song and has enough quirks and moments to really stand out. Vocals are on point too. It’s almost a “journey song” like Zero Gravity last year, and placed 9th just like Kate Miller-Heidke was makes Montaigne one of the big chances.
Curiously, the two artists with aboriginal heritage have been placed towards the end. SBS is a “multi-cultural” broadcaster, and in the era of internal selection, the artists sent were of Malaysian, Korean and aboriginal descent or heritage. Last year Kate Miller-Heidke broke the mould by being white, and they’d probably prefer that not be repeated.
I don’t care one iota about iOTA, and it seems the organizers don’t either by placing him first. Amorosi in the middle and between several low key songs either side shows they want her to be the mid show peak. Montaigne in 9th is the finale before the encore, except we don’t really care about the encore other than to consider a bit longer our votes from the first nine. Curiously, Kate Miller-Heidke was placed in 9th position last year too.
It looks like it’s out of Montaigne, Amorosi and Tambo to be top three, with either of the first two to win. Personally I’d take either of those. Montaigne is the better song; Amorosi the most potential to be the best on stage. We’ll find out Saturday night, 8 February 2020, Australian Eastern Time.