Does nobody play by the rules anymore?
Well, no. And in the case of the Eurovision at least, that’s absolutely wonderful.
2016 saw our friends from Down Under competing in the competition for the first time. The invite was a one-off, extended to Australian broadcaster SBS for the competition’s 50th anniversary.
It wasn’t a wasted one either, because Guy Sebastian – former X Factor Australia winner Guy Sebastian, to give him his full title – finished in a rather respectable 5th place at the Grand Finale.
His tune was quite the toe-tapping chart topper, which probably explains why I found myself humming a Bruno Mars track when trying to remember exactly how it went. For those of you who’ve forgotten/failed to tune in (for SHAME) here’s a little reminder.
The Aussies proved so popular among viewers and voters alike that the powers that be at ESC HQ (also known as the EBU Reference Group) decided to take a vote to find out if anyone wanted to give them another go. The result was a unanimous YES.
“Europe and Australia have a lot in common in regards to cultural values and when a broadcaster is so committed to bring great acts to the contest, the only right thing to do is to be inclusive,” said Dr. Frank Dieter Freiling, Chairman of the Reference Group. “This is also a way for many Australians to re-connect with their European roots, and celebrate our shared cultural values and understanding through music.”
E-U know we belong together, after all.
It won’t be an easy road for our distant cousins (who actually would have put the UK’s Electro Velvet in 9th position based on their televoting results) this year, though. While they enjoyed a straight road to the final in 2015, they’ll have to take on the infamous semis next year.
Many a Eurovision champion has fallen hard at the first hurdle – I’ve almost lost count of the number of times I’ve had to sob along to Jonny Logan on the sofa, remembering Ireland’s glory days – so it’s not like they won’t earn their place.
And just like last year, if they win they won’t even get to stage the show in 2017 – that duty will fall to a European host city, who’ll share duties with Australia’s state broadcaster and provide the venue.
So really, there’s no harm being done. Nobody’s going to expect us all to head half way around the world and revert to setting alarms like we did for the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
The best thing about Eurovision is that it’s all just a bit of harmless fun. It’s the one night of the year that we can put our silly hats on and have a good laugh, while the Scandinavians school us in Song Contest success.
2015 Eurovision Song Contest winner Måns Zelmerlöw representing Sweden in Vienna, Austria
Who cares if half the countries aren’t in Europe? Who cares if the UK struggles to avoid nabbing nil points? Who cares if Ireland probably won’t qualify EVER again? *stifles patriotic sob*
And when it comes to Australia competing for Song Contest glory, honestly, what’s another year?