Confirmations for Eurovision 2018 are rolling in, but we’re yet to officially hear if Australia will be invited back for another year. However, rumours are starting to build up suggesting that not only has the EBU invited SBS back for 2019, but the land down under will select their act with some sort of national final.
Last year, Australia confirmed their participation in mid-August. This year, we still haven’t heard whether the EBU’s Reference Group has again approved another guest invitation for Australia to participate. But rumours suggest this is exactly what has happened.
But not only does it sound like the EBU associate member has been invited back again, it also seems that this year Australia will introduce a national final to select their act.
The news surfaced on Twitter, in a tweet from journalist Dean Arcuri. Reporting from the opening of the AGMC National Conference, he noted that outgoing SBS CEO Michael Ebeid had suggested that “Australia will get to have a say in who we send to next years comp”.
Ooooooooh some great @Eurovision gossip from @SBS CEO @michaelebeid at the opening of @AgmcAustralia, looks like Australia will get to have a say in who we send to next years comp! @JOY_Eurovision @jaccidental ?????
— Dean Arcuri ???? (@deanarcuri) September 21, 2018
Earlier in the week, Australia’s Head of Delegation Paul Clarke left some intriguing comments in a public Facebook group. He said there was “some good news coming”, but that he was unable to say anything more.
This isn’t the first time the idea of an Australian national final has been raised. Last year Paul Clarke spoke of his wish for an Australian national final. He told a fan blog, “We want our own national final, our own competition that can lead up to a winner for Eurovision.”
Clarke also mentioned that SBS had spoken with schlagermaster general Christer Björkman about sharing his Melodifestivalen expertise with Australia. Clarke said, “We talked to Christer Bjorkman about coming to Australia.” He explained that Australia wanted Björkman to help them set up a national final.
The speculation around a national final also follows calls from Australians — both Eurovision fans and casual viewers — for SBS to involve the public in the selection of Australia’s song for Eurovision.
It remains to be seen whether public broadcaster SBS will have the resources to stage a national final on the scale of Melodifestivalen. The Swedish national final — a six-week touring arena show — is a costly production that no other country’s national final matches on scale.
However, Australia may take inspiration from more economic national finals. Britain’s Eurovision: You Decide is a one-night affair featuring six competing acts. It was most recently held at the iconic Brighton Dome, which has an audience capacity of 1,700.
Even more budget-conscious is the format the Czech Republic used earlier this year. They avoided a live show entirely and involved the public through an online vote. Music videos of the six competing acts were released online and fans then had a three-week voting period.
Australia has been an invited guest competitor at Eurovision every year since 2015. Their competing artists have all been internally selected singers with a background on television talent shows and signed to Sony Music.
Australia’s best results at Eurovision came in their first two years. In 2015, Guy Sebastian placed fifth with his funky number “Tonight Again”. The following year, Dami Im won the jury vote and placed second overall with her power ballad “Sound of Silence”.
However, Australia’s luck hasn’t been as strong in the past two years. Last year in Kyiv, Isaiah‘s “Don’t Come Easy” placed ninth overall, but the entry received only two points from televoters, boosted by 171 points from the jury.
In Lisbon, Jessica Mauboy‘s “We Got Love” was last in the televote with just nine points, but also benefited from a more sympathetic jury vote with 20 points. The song finished 20th overall.
Australia’s poor televote results in recent years suggest that SBS might want to get the public involved in the song selection process to help ensure Australia enters a song that will appeal to the public televote as well as expert juries.
What do you think? Should Australia involve the public in their song selection? What sort of selection should they use? Share your thoughts below!