Since debuting in 2015, the participation of Australia has been a big story for the contest. But with the country likely to enter its fourth entrant in Lisbon, what is next for the land down under for the contest?
Australia in Eurovision
In their first three years of competition, Australia has performed outstandingly boasting three top ten finishes. This includes a second place achieved by Dami Im in 2016. But after Isaiah’s disappointing televoting result in Kyiv, it is clear that the novelty of Australia taking part in the contest will no longer guarantee a high position in the future.
With the novelty fading, Australia is at a crossroads. They either cement the country as a Eurovision powerhouse or become just another country entering the contest. Germany, for example, went from a new powerhouse in the beginning of the decade with the help of Stefan Raab, to two last places finishes in the last three years. For SBS, the responsibility comes in maintaining the interest of the local audience and attracting local talent.
The Current Formula: Internal Selection
Many higher profile artists were approached to participate this year but did not wish to have the pressure to follow Dami’s result. Participation from big names such as the Veronicas, Delta Goodrem, Vance Joy or Troye Sivan would be a dream and would certainly keep Australian audiences engaged. But a big name means nothing without the right song.
SBS’s internal selections involved the selection of three talent show winners. This proves advantageous with the artists having experience singing on live tv in front of a million people. The talent show format familiarises them with the competitive element they will go through with Eurovision. As winner’s they are also proven to be popular among the public. But with comparing the televote response to Australia’s entries, Guy and Dami appealed to the public whereas Isaiah did not. The song may have played a part, but ultimately the biggest difference with Isaiah was the lack of experience. While he did win the X Factor in 2016 at 16, his performance experience before and after the competition was limited and it showed in the semi-final.
It’s best to send an experienced artist who can lift the song on the night. Talent shows prepare the singers for a Eurovision type format, making them a good choice. Established artists are also good as they bring the experience. But the drawback is the unfamiliarity with the competition aspect and the nerves that may come for singing for such a big audience.
The New Formula: A National Final?
Another possibility is the rumour of a possible national final selection process in 2018. This will evolve how Australian audiences watch Eurovision by giving them a say for the first time on who represents the green and gold. Based on past voting patterns, audiences are likely to go for more upbeat and fun songs. Belgium and Moldova, for instance, topped the final televote in the last two years. Similarly to the UK, Australia’s view of the contest may be more enticed to vote for a potential novelty act.
The delegation will need to find the best type of national final that both engages the local audience and continues great results once competing in Europe. They also face the challenge of attracting big names to compete against other Aussie artists in a public selection.
Australia is passing its novelty factor and in the future will need to stand on the song and performance alone. How will the delegation respond to this new phase of Australia’s participation?
What do you think is the best move for Australia? Is a national final the best idea or should they stick with the internal selection? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @ESCXTRA!