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A 'Technicolour' look through Australia's Eurovision legacy

07 December 2023 at 12:30 CET
Jessica Mauboy represented Australia at the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 EBU / Andres Putting
We go full Voyager and take a browse back through Australia's relatively recent but rather rich Eurovision Song Contest history.

With the reveal of the 37 broadcasters participating at the Eurovision Song Contest 2024, we got the welcome news that SBS would indeed be returning, with Australia to compete in its 9th Contest in Malmö in May. 

Australia is the most recent country to debut at the Eurovision Song Contest. And since it started participating in 2015, the country's utterly infectious enthusiasm for being a part of it all has become an added bonus to be enjoyed at each event annually. 

But not only has Australia been superb at reminding us all just how magical it is to be taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest, the country has also been turning out some top-class results, too. And its impact can now be felt all across the Eurovision multiverse - from other nations' pre-selections, to other countries' interval acts.

Since debuting at the 2015 Contest in Vienna, Australia has competed in 8 Eurovision Song Contests. Quite impressively, they've achieved a Top 10 finish on 5 out of those 8 occasions; placing in the Top 5 twice and landing in 9th place three times.

Isaiah represented Australia at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2017 EBU / Andres Putting

Australia first waved g'day to Eurovision Song Contest viewers at Malmö 2013, when a minute-long video Greetings from Australia was broadcast as part of the show. It was to celebrate 30 years since SBS first started showing the Eurovision Song Contest to Australian viewers, and it showcased just how much its fans down under love the Contest.

After all, Loreen isn't the only Eurovision icon turning 40 in 2023; Australian viewership of the Contest was also born in 1983. Some say that life begins at 40, so the mind boggles as to what the Australians might have in store for us at Malmö 2024! 

Australia’s Sheldon Riley at the Second Semi-Final in 2022 EBU/Sarah Louise Bennett

A year on from Greetings from Australia, at Copenhagen 2014, Eurovision viewers got to see another video from Australia; this time a good-humoured skit in which Australia were pleading with the EBU to let them sing at the Eurovision Song Contest. Their wish was granted in the minutes that followed; for the Second Semi-Final interval act, viewers were treated to a satirical song about Australia moving to Europe, and then a performance of Sea of Flags from Darwin's own Jessica Mauboy. 

As we all by know, this was to be quite the positive omen for Australia at the Eurovision Song Contest. Ahead of the 2015 Contest the following year, it was announced that EBU associate broadcaster SBS had been invited to compete in the 60th Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna.

Guy Sebastian was given the great honour of being the first artist to represent the country at the competition, and he rose to the task with aplomb - giving Australia a Top 5 result with Tonight Again.

Guy Sebastian was the first artist to compete for Australia in 2015 Andres Putting (EBU)

Since then, Australia has really gotten into the spirit of taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest. And in 2019, it even introduced its very first national final. Eurovision - Australia Decides put the power into the hands of the Australian public to choose its Eurovision entry, and it's a pre-selection that plenty of Eurovision fans across Europe became accustomed to setting their alarm clocks for of a Saturday morning in February! 

Eurovision - Australia Decides packed in some high-profile names over the years, too. Some of the acts to have competed, but not scored victory, include drag superstar Courtney Act, the pop band behind the global hit Geronimo Sheppard, and the Y2K pop powerhouse Vanessa Amorosi, who gifted the world with Absolutely Everybody back in 2000.

Two more artists who competed in Eurovision - Australia Decides but didn't win are Voyager and Andrew Lambrou. But both eventually ended up making it to the Eurovision Song Contest anyway, in 2023; Voyager representing Australia with Promise and Andrew Lambrou performing for Cyprus with Break A Broken Heart.

Andrew is in good company when it comes to Australians representing another country at the Eurovision Song Contest. Most famously, Olivia Newton-John and Gina G both represented the United Kingdom at the Contest, in 1974 and 1996 respectively.

Australia's legacy at the Eurovision Song Contest might be short, but it's certainly been impactful. Its second entry - Sound of Silence by Dami Im - made it into the list of all-time top scorers when it finished in second place in 2016. And the 511 points it earned stands today as the 9th-highest points tally ever achieved at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Here's a bit of trivia for the next pop-culture quiz you're in charge of putting together: On the night, Dami Im had backing vocals provided by Swedish singer Anna Sahlene, who represented Estonia at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2002, and who participates as player 142 in the 2023 Netflix series Squid Game: The Challenge

The hit Australian film Muriel's Wedding celebrated the music of Eurovision Song Contest 1974 winners ABBA. But did you know that the hit Australian musical Muriel's Wedding celebrated the music of Eurovision Song Contest 2019's Australian act Kate Miller-Heidke? 

It's true!

Along with Keir Nuttall, Zero Gravity singer Kate Miller-Heidke wrote the music and lyrics for the musical adaptation of the 1994 cult classic. In the musical, her songs featured alongside the ABBA hits that were used for the film.

When Liverpool hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023, one of the interval acts for the Second Semi-Final was Be Who You Wanna Be; a celebration of self-worth and diversity performed by drag queen Miss Demeanour, Will Peaco and RuPaul's Drag Race UK season 5 finalist Tomara Thomas.

Amongst the medley of songs they performed, just one entry from the all-time Eurovision Song Contest canon was deemed essential enough to become part of the mix - Australia's 2018 song We Got Love by Jessica Mauboy.

Since its debut at the Eurovision Song Contest, Australia's influence has even been seeping into other countries' national finals.

Sweden's Melodifestivalen looked down under when it was searching for ideas on opening numbers for its 2016 pre-selection. As a result, we got Melodifestivalen hosts Gina Dirawi and Sarah Dawn Finer performing a Swedish-language version of Guy Sebastian's Tonight AgainDu Och Jag Igen.

Thanks for joining the Eurovision Song Contest party, Australia. And for hyping us up and keeping things going well into the early hours! 

We look forward to seeing what you deliver in 2024... And beyond.

The Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Malmö, Sweden on Tuesday 7 May (First Semi-Final), Thursday 9 May (Second Semi-Final) and Saturday 11 May (Grand Final) 2024.

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