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Australia: National Final Preview

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:

  1. Ella Hooper – Data Dust
  2. Electric Fields – 2000 and Whatever
  3. Mark Vincent – This Is Not The End
  4. Aydan – Dust
  5. Courtney Act – Fight For Love
  6. Leea Nanos – Set Me Free
  7. Sheppard – On My Way
  8. Alfie Arcuri – To Myself
  9. Kate Miller-Heidke – Zero Gravity
  10. 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!

About Gavster

ESCtips Owner   I’m a qualified designer and dedicate a lot of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.


  1. Hi Gav,

    I read this about the jury:

    “The jury, who will comprise 50% of the scoring consists of Christer Björkman, producer for Eurovision & Melodifestival; Fifa Riccobono, former CEO of Alberts; Milly Petriella, Artist Service director of APRA; Josh Martin, Commissioning Editor, Entertainment SBS; and Paul Clarke, Head of Australian Eurovision Delegation.”

    When it comes to SBS, this is a channel that brings international news and documentaries. This is sometimes even without subtitles, which won’t help for the market share. It does have a focus on the many European minorities, who are fans of Eurovision. As you say it’s of course just a small group who wake up for it in the middle of the night. Many people watch with delay in the evening. At least, that was my experience a couple of years ago when I was there during Eurovision.

    I think Shepherd should have enough fans and jury support to win Saturday. But the song is not so special that it’s going to be a guaranteed victory, so I won’t touch this national final. If they win, I’d say a ‘decent’ score in May can be expected, but it won’t be a contender for the victory.

    • I’m not sure Sheppard is their best bet at Eurovision. I think Zero Gravity is by far their best option, despite the risk. I have no idea how the vote will go. If the juries are doing their jobs (and this isn’t just designed to fix it for Sheppard), then she’ll win the jury vote. Probably not the televote. It’ll be either a close win for Kate or a runaway for Sheppard. I can’t see Electric Fields doing enough for a victory.

  2. I’ve absolutely no idea who will win. If it’s down to song quality then its surely between Kate Miller Heidke, Sheppard and Electric Fields. All would be worthy representatives for Australia. If only the UK had even one of these songs! My personal favourite is Electric Fields. In its recorded version 2000 and Whatever is the best track I’ve heard so far in any of the Eurovision pre-qualifiers.

    My concern is the live performance. Not the vocal quality – from what I’ve seen they are very strong live, but on the difficulty in reproducing the vocal distortions live, given Eurovision rules. The EBU surely need to look at this, because more and more tracks are relying on these kinds of vocal effects for artistic reasons rather than to cover for dodgy singing.

  3. Ze-e-e-ee-ro Gra-a-a-aa-vity!!

  4. Have just watched videos of the jury final.

    Electric Fields’s staging disappointed. Sheppard should borrow Ella Hooper’s staging for the final rather than that garish colour fest they served up. Kate Miller Heidke had the most successful night and is probably now the front runner.

    Courtney Act’s staging also impressed, but with so many strong songs to choose from let’s hope the Aussies don’t send this to Eurovision.

  5. “It is the Australian equivalent of the UK’s Channel 5 or BBC3”
    As an Aussie this made me laugh because this is honestly being generous. SBS has a very niche viewership indeed.

    Lots more people watch Eurovision during the evening, so the audience is definitely more than 500000.

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