For the first time since their debut participation in 2015, we have been treated to an Australian national final. “Good evening Europe, and good morning Australia” has been a staple of the recent Contests. But finally are friends from down under were able turn the tables. What better way to soothe the literal and metaphorical hangover from Eurovision: You Decide than Australia Decides and a bowl of Crunchy Nut? Bliss!
Whilst I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was “All Killer, No Filler” the general quality was so high there was little need for ‘filler’. This morning’s spectacle felt akin to when France first aired Destination Eurovision last year. The strength of that selection signalled France’s newly found desire to compete at the Contest. Whilst I don’t think any of us doubted Australia’s will to win Eurovision before before this morning, this still felt like a statement of intent. Given that some countries with well established national selections seem to struggle filling a ten strong lineup, Australia Decides holds up well in comparison. Whilst there was a clearly defined ‘Big 3’ the others in the lineup kept up the overall quality of the show. Ella Hooper was a marvellously fun show opener, 16 year old Leaa Nanos showed great potential and had Courtney Act’s vocal been as strong as her performance she would’ve sailed through with aplomb.
Praise must be heaped on the overall tone & presentation of the show also. AD felt like it embraced the modern, vibrant, present day Eurovision Song Contest. The show rightly celebrated Australian participation as well as the Contest as a whole. Take note, un-named other broadcasters. I’m afraid to say I knew little of our hosts before the show, other than the fact it was Joel Creasy who referred to Surie’s stage invader as a ‘cockhead’ last year. This sense of humour was present throughout with both Joel and Myf Warhurst delivering a great script. They even did well without it when it took some time to set up for the winner’s reprise. Safe to say that if Oz does secure that win in the near future Petra & Måns may have competition for the best female/male presenting duo.
And now to the aformentioned ‘Big 3’. The first two teaser clips of Sheppard’s ‘On My Way’ did lead me to believe they had a chance at winning not only the NF but the Contest as a whole. However, on the night something just fell flat with their live performance. Whether it was the lacklustre fake guitar playing or the not quite there vocal that did it? I don’t know. But the fact they were overshadowed by their adorable Grandmother says all you need to know. With regards to Electric Fields this was probably THE performance of the night. Zaachariaha’s stage presence sold 2000 and Whatever to within an inch of it’s life without ever looking OTT, it was a truly stunning job. No matter how hard I’ve tried, however, I just can’t find a connection to the song. Contrary to most it leaves me cold so personally, 2nd place was the right call.
However, Kate Miller-Heidke’s Zero Gravity was in my personal opinion a deserved winner. Of course, it’s not original: we’ve seen the big dress before, we’ve seen the acrobats and the great “huge face on LED screen” epidemic of 2017 seems to have returned also. The three minutes was actually so full of Eurovision tropes it felt like a Love Love Peace Peace redux. Whilst I do think the staging looked messy and does need simplified the song is utterly glorious. I remember listening for the first time and the sheer joy that flowed through my veins at each twist and turn grabbed me there and then. I find the last minute of the song, resplendent with the rousing chorus behind Kate’s vocal, so captivating I’m not surprised both jury & televote chose it as their winner. With a 42 strong playlist there’s room for many genres and styles to cater for all tastes, there’s no such thing as a universally loved Eurovision song. I presume there’s even someone out there that dislikes Love Shine a Light. Safe to say, I don’t care to meet that person.
However, result aside, it’s safe to say Australia Decides was a well run, entertaining show. I sincerely hope every Ozzie feels a sense of immense pride in finally seeing their own national final. My hope is that it will continue and becomes as much a part of the NF season as MGP, Eesti Laul and Melfest. Bonza mate!