(UN)FAIR DINKUM MATE? My reaction to Australia’s Eurovision debut

FYI: Prepare yourselves for a nonsensical stream of consciousness. I’m a bit pressed for time at the moment, but as an Australian Eurovision fan of the most neurotic variety, I can’t let this news pass by without letting everything that’s taking up my brain-space out on the loose.

 
On a day when you wake up and discover a shoebox in your fridge (I’m not even kidding, but that’s a story for another time) you start to believe that anything is possible.

That’s why, after hearing the news of Australia’s imminent participation in Eurovision 2015 just before I hauled my butt off to bed last night, thinking it HAD to be a joke…I now believe it’s for real. And I don’t know quite how to feel about it.

My initial reaction was perfectly in keeping with that of someone who has spent the past nine years obsessing over the contest from afar, wishing I could vote just once, and the past five-and-a-half years religiously blogging about what has become my favourite thing on the planet (FRIENDS and pizza aside).

That reaction = super-charged, wide-eyed, slack-jawed excitement. Sadly I couldn’t let out a melodramatic scream of ecstasy for fear of waking up the rest of the household, but I really, really wanted to. Because this is a very big – if very strange – deal.

shock

Conchita knows what I’m talking about.

Until now, the cringe-worthy Down Under skit + saving-grace performance by a foil-clad Jess Mauboy during Copenhagen’s semi two interval is the closest Australia’s come to competing – and fair enough, too. We’re not part of the EBU, nor are we the only non-EBU country to be fans and broadcasters of Eurovision (although we do tend to be more openly nuts about it). These are just two of the reasons why this move by Jon Ola and his cronies is, as the man himself described it, daring.

To return to my first assumption that Australia’s entry couldn’t possibly be legit, I figured we were in for another “participation” like last year’s, which struck me as unnecessary repetition. Actual participation would be plain ridiculous, right? But all bets are off in 2015, the year the ESC celebrates its 60th edition. The rulebook has been tossed out the window and run over by a succession of semi-trailers (most likely the ones carting the Melodifestivalen stage around).

Bending the rules within that book to the point of them breaking up like a piñata and sending bad-tasting confectionery raining down on Europe (if the reactions of the majority of non-Aussie fans are any indication) is a gamble. It’s one the EBU are willing to take, and have apparently been preparing to unleash for some time. I wonder if they expected the barrage of backlash and endless lists of negatives that are now plastered all over the internet.

Allowing Australia to vote (somehow) in both semi finals, despite us getting a free pass to the grand final, didn’t help matters – though the possibility of having some say in the twenty qualifiers AND the winner makes me want to scream again (which I still can’t). Not even the existing Big 5 and host country are permitted to do that, having been restricted to voting in the semi they are randomly allocated. I can’t help thinking the news would have been better received if we’d been placed in the shorter semi final, in spite of the EBU’s wish not to diminish the chances of an EBU member nation qualifying. As it stands, such special treatment in lieu of the 60th contest and Australia’s ever-growing fandom has rubbed many fans up the wrong way. I understand that. But I can’t help feeling a little victimised nonetheless.

Rest assured that this development had nothing to do with me (like you’d think it had. I’m telling you, my recent threatening of Jon Ola with a glitter-bomb bazooka had no impact at all). I never would have thought of campaigning to make this happen, but if someone in a position of power had approached me and said ‘Australia. Eurovision. May 2015. All we need is your permission and we’re good to go’, would I have said ‘As if!’?

No. I would have said ‘HELL YEAH!’, without thinking to delve into the potential consequences. Now, in the aftermath of the news breaking, and after attempting to see the situation from all angles, I find myself sitting on the fence.

As I have mentioned about 500 times throughout this incoherent rambling, I am Australian, and I am fixated on the ESC pretty much 24/7. Therefore it’s impossible for me to swallow the excitement that’s bubbling up inside right now (especially as it would probably just change direction and come out as a very long and very jubilant fart *lowers already low tone of blog with gas reference*). That prospect of having a say and cheering on my own country in a way I’ve only been able to do in the Olympics and Miss Universe (which, while epic in their own way, aren’t Eurovision) is incredible. Up until now, I thought I’d have to wait ‘til my well-timed European jaunt of (hopefully) 2016 to text in a bajillion votes for Sweden (unless I happen to be in Sweden, of course. Then I’ll just nip over the Øresund bridge into Denmark to vote). So in that sense, I couldn’t be happier.

However, I can’t ignore those cons detailed by fans all over Facebook, Twitter, Eurovision websites, and informatively summed up in this article. It will take until May and beyond to see how they all play out. In the meantime, the questions we have to ask ourselves include:

  • What will be the fallout of the Land Down Under taking on and possibly beating Europe at their own game?
  • How many countries of the world will hate us when they are barred from entering the contest in 2016 after this precedent has been set?
  • What is final frontier of EBU wackiness, if this ain’t it?
  • Will everyone fall for eurovision.tv’s annual April Fool’s joke now that such a seemingly hilarious proposition has turned out to be 100% true?
  • Will we be booed off stage like t.A.T.u or given a Conchita-worthy cheer?
  • How many people will fall asleep because the final will be, like, a whole five minutes longer (from what I can see this is a big issue)?
  • And, how many people will confuse ‘Australia’ with ‘Austria’? This is clearly the biggest issue of them all.

Some of these are petty cons (a slightly longer final? Oh, how dreadful!) but others signify that this decision has opened up a great big can of worms, one unlikely to be closed any time soon.

But why dwell on that when you could turn your attention to something much more important: discussing who it could be that will be representing us? Let’s examine this in brief. Two years ago I posted a list of who I’d choose in the fantasy-turned-reality land in which Australia competed. I still reckon some of these acts would be great flag-flyers – Delta Goodrem, Gurrumul, Guy Sebastian, Jess Mauboy and Samantha Jade are at the top of my preference list. They’re a mix of ARIA award winners and reality TV contestants, and it’s one of the latter who’s in the mix be name-dropped by SBS next month.

Our X Factor winner of 2013, Dami Im, could be a coup, as she’s got tons of stage experience and even represented us in the ABU TV Song Festival last year, alongside MaNga. Here’s a taste of what she’s capable of, for those unacquainted with the Dami Army.

As you can see, she also has strong costume game. The girl is unafraid of power shoulders and taking crystal embellishments right down to the tips of her toes. She’s made for Eurovision!

Oh god. I think I have to end this long string of miscellaneous musings right here, because it’s going nowhere unless ‘all over the place’ counts as a direction. I just had some stuff to get out of my system. EBJ will return to regularly scheduled programming from now on. That is until the EBU makes another announcement to let us know that the maximum number of people on stage is being raised to four hundred, and that costume reveals are now mandatory. I’d rather enjoy that second one. #teamcostumerevealforever.

One final note: for those who are very pro-rules and regulations, I get you. But the fact is that this is happening. Australia, like Santa Claus in December, is coming to town. So, to make the joke of the day that exploits Vienna’s slogan of choice, everyone’s going to have to build a bridge and get over it.

 

About Jaz

I'm Jaz, I'm 26, and I'm 110% Eurovision-OBSESSED. The contest is one big party, and I like to keep it going 365 days a year - that's why I write about anything and everything ESC on my blog. Come join the fun, and I promise you'll never have a nul-point experience! www.eurovisionbyjaz.com/

Posted on February 11, 2015, in Eurovision 2015 and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Good to have you REALLY join the party, Jaz! You going to take a bank loan and go to Vienna?

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  2. congrats, and nice reading, I personally have nothing against Australia’s participation, but they way they’ve done it really bothers me, why having the rulebook tossed out the window instead of changing some of the rules here and there? and what about the deadlines to confirm participation and all that?
    oh well, good luck, and I’m curious to see who you send
    Cheers!

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    • I think when it comes to the participation confirmation, we’re okay. This has been planned for a long time and no doubt all the paperwork and payments and whatnot were in when participation had to be settled. I guess the EBU just wanted to wait and drop the bombshell at a later date!

      I’m curious to see what represents Australia too. The rumour mill is turning at warp speed. I just want to be proud of whoever and whatever I’m obligated to cheer for!

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  3. Dami im is the best chance of winning euro vision, she is fresh, she has the best voice I ever heard and she has just returned from Sweden with a bunch of new songs, she is quirky gorgeous and she is different, they will absolutely love her.

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    • No doubt Europe would love her! But we shall see if she’s the one. I’d definitely rate her for the costume she’d wear.

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      • Yeah, Dami Im would run the ‘risk’ of actually winning for sure.

        Fortunately it could only happen with broad European support, so there’s no need to handicap your chances by, say, dipping into your rich veins of alt-rock instead;-) (Although a few of them could overturn tradition anyway).

        Here’s to an extra festive, and further de-Woganised, ESC season in Oz.

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        • I will be very interested to see how we do – Dami, alt-rock or neither! As a debutant, something other than last place for Aus is the best worse case scenario. I think those who are labelling us the winner with so little to go on are crazy. We’re not going to win because we’re a singing, dancing novelty in the contest. Get a quality act/entry to represent us, then we’ll talk!

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  4. Oh Jaz, oh Jaz, what have we done??

    As no-one can have failed to observe, the ESC-osphere is experiencing various degrees of bewilderment (and in some cases outrage) at this new development, including many hard- and semi-hard-core Australian ESC-ophiles (I had a bit of a long-winded ‘not-sure-this-is-a-good-thing’ vent myself, in support of a critical Ewan-Spence post on ESC Insight).

    But it is now a fait accompli, and in time we all need to be able to accept it … nay, embrace it.

    Perhaps easier said than done.

    But, consistent with the theory that the ESC itself is the solution to all of life’s dilemmas, I thought I would delve into ye olde ESC medical cabinet and see what spiritual balms are available there …

    Australia is in effect now in the position of being a nervous ESC virgin, with all the insecurity, clumsiness and premature guilt that that can entail. On top of that, we’re told that, unless we’re REALLY good (the best) we’ll just be a one night stand. Hey, no pressure!

    So, back in 2013 and 2014, we were there, but not actually taking part — we were effectively like Gigliola Cinquetti in 1964: “Non ho l’eta!” “Sorry, I’m here, but no, I’m not ready to go all the way!”

    This year, it seems, we are a young bride with some natural, youthful trepidation, but braced for the transformation to come, not unlike Lejdina Celo, singing for Albania in 2005: “finally my time is here … maybe I’ll cry … let the song begin, celebrate the dance within …”.

    Perhaps by May, we’ll be more like Gigliola the second time round (1974), with an emphatic, mature and confident “Si!” …

    And then, we may find, after an exhausting performance on 23 May, we’re collapsed in a heap, with mussed hair, and a ciggy in the mouth, but – like LT United in 2006 – are babbling contentedly “We are the winners … of Eurovision!” …

    Or are in a not-so-happy place, having a Jemini 2003 “Cry, cry baby” moment …

    Either way, there’s no turning back …

    Ali

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  5. Oh Jaz, you stifled that scream? If there was ever a time to lose it this news surely counts as one of them, consequences be damned. You could always cover with whatever was in the shoebox made you do it!

    On topic, I read the inclusion of Australia as an offering of good will and songsmanship/gamessongship. It’s the 60 year anniversary and ESC wants to do something novel, go for it. I understand the rules are rules view and would agree with it 100/100 times. Given the circumstances surrounding the celebration in Vienna this year it strikes me as a “We Are One” gesture. And isn’t that what it is all about?

    My chief concern is: will there be a national final? I’d hate for you to be deprived of the pagentry, pomp, and circumstance if instead an artist will be handpicked by the powers that be. Keep that glitter-bomb bazooka handy to ensure the appropriate selection process occurs.

    As for potential representatives, I can listen to Delta’s Mistaken Identity without halt and my five-year-old self was crazy about Kylie’s version of Locomotion at the time. So, with my meager knowledge of the current Australian music scene, Delta would be the first name to come out (Kylie is too obvious and what good would that do anyway?), but I do like what I’ve heard of Dami Im so far. Just, please, don’t send Iggy. Pleeeeaaase.

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    • I’m not sure the shoebox excuse would have held up. There were figs in it, as it turned out! But I have taken a raincheck on the bloodcurdling scream for later use. Possibly when Australia hits the ESC stage for the first (and most likely last) time!

      No national final for us, sadly. You inspired me to consider storming into the SBS headquarters brandishing my bazooka, but unfortunately it’s too heavy and dangerous to take with me on a flight over to said headquarters. An email that is at first pleading, then aggressive might be my approach instead. I’ll let you know how it goes…

      I am a Delta Goodrem fan from way back (despite a lot of Aussies disliking her for some reason). She is glorious and amazing and I would LOVE her to represent us. But it seems like we may end up with a new, hopefully good, discovery. Even if it is a name, that name will not be I-G-G-Y. I can assure of that! Although Eurovision is so fancy, and we already know.

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    • * assure YOU of that.

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