25 February 2022
Credit to the Australian music industry, as it’s really come to the fore for Eurovision Australia Decides 2022. Eleven entries this year, including a TikTok wildcard entry, and nearly all are impressive in their own way. It’s also the first year that it’s difficult to pick one or two as likely winners, as the quality of the entries is also matched by their diversity of styles. Much will therefore depend on the night, with a brilliant performance or vocal presentation (or both!) proving decisive.
01 G-Nat!on – Bite Me
02 Erica Padilla – To The Bottom
03 Seann Miley Moore – My Body
04 Charley – I Suck At Being Lonely
05 Andrew Lambrou – Electrify
06 Sheldon Riley – Not The Same
07 Isaiah Firebrace & Evie Irie – When I’m With You
08 Paulini – We Are One
09 Jaguar Jonze – Little Fires
10 Voyager – Dreamer
11 Jude York – I Won’t Need to Dream
Like in previous years, the release of the songs has been a dribble, and only two have produced actual music videos for themselves. In that sense, I’ve tried to listen to the audio only to appraise them fairly, and deliberately not listen to the early songs too often so not to induce unfair familiarity. In future years, SBS really need to control the releases so they are at least within a week or so of each other. For example, Voyager released their song (and music video) over a month ago whereas G-Nation were only last week. The video with it was only a static image, so not even a lyric video that some did as the lower cost option.
In a year of so many quality entries, it’s also a year of many ballads, and several generic dance/club style a songs. There’s also three clear tiers of songs, with the bottom tier simply ok. Notably that’s Seann Miley Moore (the least inspiring of the lot), Andrew Lambrou (too repetitive) and Erica Padilla. Wasn’t there an Eric Padilla some time ago? I keep reading Erica as Eric, so the name resonates from somewhere. Erica is the TikTok wildcard entry and you sense To The Bottom isn’t as fully rounded as others. It’s nice enough and the voice is good, so it’s not to the bottom for Erica, only to the third bottom. She can be proud of that.
The remaining 8 songs are all excellent, with the separation between the middle tier of 4 and the top 4 is just that ounce of variation, uniqueness, distinction and personal appeal. Paulini, who emerged from the very first Australian Idol in 2003 that Guy Sebastian won, has a really groovy disco entry with shades of “It’s Raining Men”. She has a great voice and can perform live, so it’s embarrassing to place her 8th best. Indeed, it has been difficult to split this middle four, and I’ve adjusted it several times over the week. I had Paulini in fourth at one time, before I found more in others. Jude York‘s entry has a nice Christmas feel (some sections sound like Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You) and vocals are on point. Isaiah Firebrace, who represented Australia at Eurovision in 2017, is trying to return, and this time as part of a duet with Evie Irie. This is so much better than his terrible Kyiv 2017 entry. A really nice progression, great vocals, and the two mix well. G-Nation haven’t quite hit the spot as I hoped. Still good and full of energy, not to forget the several distinctive voices (there’s 6 in the group) and excellent harmonies. They reached the final of The Voice 2021.
My Top 4
Charley – I Suck At Being Lonely
The most evocative of the ballads, and stunning vocals. I know nothing about Charley so hoping she can replicate it all live and she won’t be lonely on the night.
Sheldon Riley – Not The Same
Another stunning ballad, and again, someone from The Voice. Sheldon has had two goes, reaching the final in 2018 and then the semi final of the All Stars edition in 2019. Clearly a great voice and the song is so powerful. Having seen some of his The Voice performances, I’m not convinced he’s the real deal live. It’s a little patchy depending on the song. If he’s found his right groove with this song, then look out.
Voyager – Dreamer
Powerful rock with an electronic flavour, that’s Voyager. They didn’t wait to get their song and video out and they’ve been the favourite of many fans online since. Some of this could be skewed due to their fanatical fans, especially as the band is out of Perth, so it’s a big chance for them to get some national and, potentially, international attention. Dreamer will live or die on the performance as the song itself seems a bit limited with its repetitious chorus.
Jaguar Jonze – Little Fires
Jaguar Jonze surprised (if not stunned) many with Rabbit Hole in the very first Australia Decides in 2019, and this time, with time to prepare a song specifically for the event, she’s arrived with this masterpiece. It has all the hallmarks I love in a song, notably that it’s more a journey than a song. It captures you at the start, takes you on a momentous ride, before subtly letting you go at the end. Then wrap it in Jaguar’s exquisite vocals and your masterpiece is complete. Jaguar is renown for her artistry to present a song, and if she can nail that on the Gold Coast on Saturday night, then you potentially have a winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, not just Australia Decides.
The running order is a huge indicatior as to the strongest entries. G-Nation given the start suggests it’s a strong song without a winning chance, so it’s used to get the show up and buzzing. After a couple of dull entries, Charley gets to shine in position four and then a break before Sheldon Riley. Towards the end, second last is typically seen as the new last position, and there we find Voyager. Just prior to them is Jaguar Jonze, while Firebrace & Irie and Paulini maintain the flow following Sheldon.
The betting market has Sheldon Riley the strongest chance, then Voyager and Charley. A caveat to this is that the market most people see is an international one. Sheldon seems the favourite of international Eurovision fans who are notorious niche in their tastes, and are also unlikely to appreciate uniquely more Australian styles like Voyager or Jaguar Jonze. While the domestic market still shows Sheldon as a favourite, it’s much closer, with G-Nation, Paulini and Jaguar Jonze leading the pack behind them. Online polling, which can be exploited anyway, has Voyager doing very well. Remember, this is a domestic competition that is decided by 50% a jury and 50% the Australian public.
Personally, it is out of Sheldon Riley, Voyager and Jaguar Jonze. It depends on how the mix of jury and public votes play out. You’d think Sheldon and Jaguar will excel with the jury, while Voyager might suffer. The reverse could be true with the public vote. Again, it depends on the night. So many quality entries and styles makes it quite unpredictable. Of course, I’m hoping it’s Jaguar Jonze.
Full Top 11
11 Seann Miley Moore – My Body
10 Andrew Lambrou – Electrify
09 Erica Padilla – To The Bottom
08 Paulini – We Are One
07 Jude York – I Won’t Need to Dream
06 Isaiah Firebrace & Evie Irie – When I’m With You
05 G-Nat!on – Bite Me
04 Charley – I Suck At Being Lonely
03 Sheldon Riley – Not The Same
02 Voyager – Dreamer
01 Jaguar Jonze – Little Fires
Eurovision Australia Decides 2022 starts at 19:30 local time (20:30 AEDT) on 26 February.