As one of the last few countries to confirm for Tel Aviv, Australia had been leaving Europe wondering as to whether they would be invited back to compete for the fifth time at Eurovision in 2019.
Europe can now breath a sigh of relief, with broadcaster SBS confirming that Australia will return to Eurovision in 2019, before announcing a ‘shake up’ of the candidate selection process.
Outgoing SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid confirmed to Australian television blog TV Tonight that Australia has been invited back. He hinted however that the entry process is expected to change, moving away from the internal selection process that SBS have used since entering the contest back in 2015. Ebeid says:
“We’ve been doing it this way for 5 years and we’re looking at how we can up the ante and mix it up a little bit. It’s safe to say we will be announcing something in the next month or so. We’re putting some finishing touches on some plans at the moment.”
While Australia does go big and expensive at Eurovision, we should not be expecting a selection process as big as Sweden’s Melodifestivalen — with Ebeid confirming the selection process would focus rather on getting Australians to choose from an established range of artists:
“I would love to get Australians more involved in selecting our artist to represent us. We don’t have the money to do The Voice or Australia’s Got Talent, and it wouldn’t work with an emerging artist. But we are looking to do something a bit different with some experienced artists.”
Looking for an experienced singer would toe the line from recent years, with each previous entrant Guy Sebastian, Dami Im, Isaiah Firebrace and Jessica Mauboy all proving well experienced and signed with record label Sony BMG (despite all originally hailing from reality show competitions.). Ebeid concedes experience trumps novice:
“It’s a hell of a lot of pressure and we’ve seen a lot of people freeze on stage when they get up there. There’s 14,000 people in the auditorium and 200 million at home. So you need someone with the experience to get out there and own the stage, with a machine behind them of choreographers, set designers, costume and a record label.”
And while SBS has always chosen their artist from Sony BMG, Ebeid suggests that there is potential to move away from this association.
“Every year we absolutely scour all the record labels. We actually came very close to going with Universal last year. But at the end of the day what I look for is best artist possible, and not the record label. Sony has just happened each year to put forward the best person possible.”
Ebeid’s suggestion that SBS were close to signing with Universal in 2018 adds further fuel to the fire that Ricki-Lee Coulter was a potential candidate for Lisbon. The singer revealed her ambitions back in 2017, and tweeted of rumours just before Jessica Mauboy was announced as the candidate back in December.
If SBS choose to move to a selection process with Universal, we might see the likes of artists including previously wished-for artists including Tkay Maidza, Matt Corby or former The Voice Australia winner Alfie Arcuri.
Who would you like to see Australia send to Eurovision in 2019? Let us know in the comments below.