Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!
Singer Isaiah Firebrace has secured his place representing Australia in this year’s 62nd annual Eurovision Song Contest.
Although referred to as the “grand final”, what this really means is that Firebrace has made the final 26.
The nine other countries that have qualified for the grand final are Moldova, Azerbaijan, Greece, Sweden, Portugal, Poland, Cyprus and Belgium.
Georgia, Albania, Montenegro, Finland, Iceland, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Latvia all failed to make the cut and are going home without a shot at Eurovision glory.
According to the official site, there are two semi-finals, each with a total of 18 countries. 10 from each group are selected and then join the Big Five (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK) and the host nation Ukraine to win the title of Best Song in Europe.
The Big Five automatically make the final because they are the largest contributors to the competition’s organising body, which is a nice way of saying they buy their way in. Boo.
It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing for Firebrace, who had some trouble with a rogue revolving stage and missed a high note during his performance of “Don’t Come Easy”. At least, the crowd, judges and voting public didn’t seem to mind.
Wait a minute…Best Song in Europe? What are we doing there?
Australia was originally invited as “special guests” for the 60th contest in 2015, but partly due to the success and popularity of our entrant, Guy Sebastian, we were allowed to stick around.
Another factor is that SBS, which has been broadcasting Eurovision for 30 years, is a member of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which is a qualification for entry.
Australia isn’t the only “non-European” country to take part either. Israel has been competing since 1973 and there is the small matter of ahem, Brexit.
Last year, Dami Im represented Australia in the 61st Eurovision in Sweden, where she won the jury vote, placed fourth in the televote and came second overall.
— Andrew Brown (@AndrewBrownAU) March 7, 2017
17-year-old Firebrace won the eighth season of X Factor Australia last year.
He is from a large Aboriginal family in the town of Moama and he hopes his new public profile will help improve the lives of young people.
“It’s definitely something I want to do is to inspire young Indigenous teenagers, and not only Indigenous, non-Indigenous kids as well,” he told SBS. “Just to never give up on your dreams no matter how young you are. I think age is just a number.”
The Eurovision Song Contest will be broadcast over SBS’s Eurovision weekend – Friday 12 May, Saturday 13 May, and Grand Final Sunday 14 May at 7.30PM on SBS with LIVE early morning broadcasts begin Wednesday 10 May at 5AM on SBS.