Australia’s SBS has just announced that Guy Sebastian, the first winner of Australian Idol, will sing for Australia at Eurovision 2015. He has not yet chosen a song. “Luckily I released my album in November,” he said at the press conference, “[so the song will be] something I haven’t previously released a single of…or I could write a new single in the next few days….I want it to be epic. I’m not tryng to work around what my single will be. I want it to represent us as a nation well. Either super fun or a big ballad that showcases my voice.”
Later in the press conference he clarified that he had narrowed it down to two songs, both of which are ballads. He also sang “Get Along,” saying that he wanted to sing this song at Eurovision, but it violates the Eurovision rules because it was released before September: “I wrote this at a time my son Hudson, now three years old, was in the womb.” Awww.
Guy Sebastian: Our reaction to Australia’s Eurovision singer
Why we wanted Guy at Eurovision even before the announcement
The SBS press conference
Marc Fennel, an Australian film critic and presenter, set the tone for a playful presentation show. He opened by poking fun of Australia’s participation in the “increasingly inaccurately called Eurovision Song Contest.” He later said that the opportunity for an Australian act to perform in front of 180 million viewers would “basically make them Oprah.” Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang, Australia’s Eurovision commentators, then relived some of their highlights from recent Eurovisions.
SBS managing director Michael Ebeid described their successful bid as “a four-year journey.”
It’s been a dream. Many people at Blink TV and SBS have been dreaming about wanting to get Australia into Eurovision and to play a bigger role. Our audiences have been increasing every year. We set out on this dream. People thought that Paul [Clarke, of Blink TV] and I were absolutley nuts. …a lot of people thought we should be institutionalized.
Clarke was chuffed. “All of the major and independent records have been hugely helpful. We were offered some very interesting people. I think everybody will be delighted with the outcome today.”
Australia’s Internal Selection
In recent days Ebeid told LGBT radio station Joy Radio that there wasn’t enough time to stage a national selection contest. The timing forced an internal selection.
“We’ve been in discussion with a couple of Australian key artists,” he said. He hinted that the media have been fairly accurate when guessing who Australia might send and that “there’s great talent that we get to choose from”. Our in-house team of musical unprofessionals had nine artists on our shortlist, including Guy Sebastian, Dami Im, Tina Arena, The Veronicas, Samantha Jade, Delta Goodrem, Rickie-Lee Coulter and Courtney Act.
Australia’s Three-year negotiations
Australia’s decision to appear at Eurovision wasn’t last-minute.
News.com.au recently published a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the three years of lobbying from Australia that it took for them to finally be invited to compete in the competition.
The idea was sparked when SBS first sent their own commentary team to Europe. Director Paul Clarke was so impressed by the spectacle that, “I thought that day I just had to be a part of it.” And for the past three years, SBS have lobbied the EBU to get Australia more involved.
The lobbying paid off, first in 2013 when Sweden invited Australia to send a short video celebrating the love of Eurovision down under.
And in 2014, Denmark invited Australia to provide the half-time entertainment, featuring a performance from Jessica Mauboy. This proved that Australia could deliver the goods and were ready to enter the competition for real: