This Saturday Australia will hold their first Eurovision national final. Quite who will be watching in Australia is debatable given Eurovision, whilst popular, remains a niche event. In 2017 just over 500,000 watched live. It was on at 5am, so we can excuse the low viewership. However, the 5am viewers are what I would describe as the hardcore Eurovision viewers and it’s these people who I deem are most likely tune in. Moreover, SBS only has a 5.7% market share as of 2016. Let’s be kind and accept it has risen since then to between 6%-7%. That is still low. It is the Australian equivalent of the UK’s Channel 5 or BBC3.
Anyway, here’s the lineup in running order:
- Ella Hooper – Data Dust
- Electric Fields – 2000 and Whatever
- Mark Vincent – This Is Not The End
- Aydan – Dust
- Courtney Act – Fight For Love
- Leea Nanos – Set Me Free
- Sheppard – On My Way
- Alfie Arcuri – To Myself
- Kate Miller-Heidke – Zero Gravity
- Tania Doko – Piece of Me
Aydan’s Dust doesn’t really tick any boxes. Franka failed to qualify for Croatia with a similar sounding song last year. Alfie is competent without being particularly threatening. Ella’s Data Dust has an Eesti Laul charm which has the makings of a great radio song, but would struggle at Eurovision. Courtney Act’s Fight For Love is crying out for a stronger bass line and rhythmic piano accompaniment. This should be a no-holds-barred handbag-house banger, but it’s just so disappointingly tame.
Leea and Tania both have Nordic national final inspired songs: Set Me Free is the superior entry, though Piece of Me will probably be more favoured by the televote. To explain, Set Me Free is that cold electronic Norwegian song that everyone hypes because Karin Park is singing it, yet it fails to make the super-final. Piece of Me is the more accessible pop song that makes the Danish super-final.
Mark Vincent is a more than adequate popera singer, but he’s not Il Volo. He’s not even Didrik Solli-Tangen.
So on to the higher rated acts:
Kate Miller-Heidke’s Zero Gravity is messy and disjointed but it is very Australian with its anthemic components… apart from the Malena Erman parts of course. It’s plastic, yet at the same time it is distinctive. There’s lots of hype from certain quarters of Wiwi and the wider fan community. From a betting perspective I would normally oppose these views; however, one has to be careful and consider what Australia would typically vote for.
In 2015 Beauty Never Lies was 3rd on the Australian televote. In 2017 Hey Mamma! was top with Yodel It! in second. Last year Australia gave their top televote points to Denmark’s Vikings. Does that look like a 100% trustworthy televote for market leader Sheppard?
Incidentally, Sheppard are the only credible act to take to Tel Aviv. On My Way boasts a simple, uplifting radio-friendly melody, yet it is a tad safe and restrained in places – the middle eight could be much more explosive! If the live performance is also too restrained, then the televote might gravitate to one of the quirkier songs. They are currently miles ahead on Spotify streaming stats, yet that is no surprise given the record company backing; they have ensured a front page listing on Spotify which may have exaggerated the song’s popularity in relation to its closest rivals.
Maybe Electric Fields will pick up the stray votes? Even so, I don’t know where the hype is coming from for 2000 and Whatever. I have major concerns over their ability to perform the song live and to attract votes in Europe should they get that far. Let’s face it, 2000 and Whatever is quite a messy track with the yelp! screeches during the verses. On the plus side it has a world music feel and a suitably colourful staging concept may help Electric Fields appeal on home territory.
The result be will decided by 50/50 split between the jury and televote. I understand the jury will consist of at least Christer Björkman, an SBS executive and Wiwi Bloggs. Christer’s support for Sheppard isn’t guaranteed. The SBS exec will probably vote on instructions from higher up. If William from Wiwi is the judge, then he’s already stated that Zero Gravity is his favourite, which might have impartiality issues. That’s something for SBS to sort out if indeed William is the official judge. There will probably more jurors, but this lineup – mixed with the Australian televote – doesn’t fill me with confidence.
The jury members for their national final:
- Paul Clarke (Head of Delegation Australia)
- Josh Martin (Commissioning Editor, Entertainment at SBS)
- Fifa Riccobono (former CEO of Albert Music)
- Milly Petriella (Artist Service director of APRA, a music rights organisation)
- Christer Björkman (producer of Sweden’s Melodifestivalen)
The running order has been sawtoothed between non-contender and contender with it potentially favouring Kate and Sheppard. And for all their apparent popularity, Sheppard aren’t showing on the daily Spotify top-200. THIS IS A NICHE SHOW WITH A NICHE AUDIENCE!
Good luck to whoever is gambling on this event!