…or “Essentially Pop goes to Eurovision”.
It’s a lie really, Eurovision means a lot to me. Growing up in Australia my first ever album as a child was an Abba one, the Swedish winners having made their international largest impact in the Land Downunder. Australia loves Eurovision – and this year Eurovision showed that they also love Australia.
As a special event to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Singing Contest, Australia was invited this year to participate as a one-off wildcard entry. It seems that the “one-off” invitation might see Australia becoming a full-member of the competition: prior to the event it was understood Australia could only participate again if they won; such was Australia’s popularity that Jon Ola Sand, ESC’s executive supervisor, suggested the EBU was indeed considering offering them full-membership. Additionally, China is interested in participating, with that country broadcasting the competition this year for the first time.
Australia was represented by Guy Sebastian. Guy won Australia’s Pop Idol competition way back in 2003, and has since been a judge on that country’s X Factor, as well as releasing several albums. He finished in 5th position, scoring a full 12 points from both Austria and Sweden, as well as several 10s and 8s. Guy’s song, “Tonight Again”, is an earworm in the vein of Bruno Mars, and will no doubt receive a lot of airplay across Europe.
With a reputation for glitz, glamour, spectacle and sequins, the Eurovision Song Contest is actually a brilliant platform for up and coming artists. Last year’s winner, Conchita Wurst, is totally unavoidable in Vienna, advertising everything from handbags and makeup to the “Cash Back” programme with Bank Austria. Conchita’s voice even announces that you can “go anywhere you want, so long as you have a valid ticket” as you disembark the metro train at Burggasse-Stadthalle. Conchita’s self-titled debut album was released on 15 May and has already gone platinum in Austria.
Many other former Eurovision participants have seen their careers rise to a whole new level, including EP faves, Jedward. As a personal aside, I became a fan of the Dublin Duo through their first participation in ESC in 2011 – their fame spread across not only Europe, but around the world. Returning to the contest in 2012 the pair have consequently been woven tightly into the fabric of Eurovision, and have been a feature every year since. This year they were invited to walk for Jean-Paul Gaultier as part of the Life Ball, an annual gala held in Vienna. The 2015 event took on a distinct Eurovision flavour, also featuring Conchita, as well as Israeli singer, Dana International.
The contest was a hard-fought battle, with many early favourites not reaching the final, despite having excellent songs and fantastic performances. Not least of which was Molly Sterling, representing Ireland, her song, “Playing With Numbers”, sadly didn’t make the cut. It’s not over yet though for Molly. Still only 17 and one of the youngest participants in this year’s competition, the singer-songwriter has already achieved what many others her age can only dream about by performing in front of an audience of millions (both live and via television) on the Eurovision stage. The future is bright, and who knows, we may well see her again in future competitions.
Polish singer Monika Kuszyńska was formerly the lead singer of the band Varius Manx with whom she released four albums. In 2006 Monika was involved in a car accident and was left partially paralysed; she now has to use a wheelchair. After years of rehabilitation, Monika released her first solo album, “Ocalona” (Saved) in 2012. Monika was expected to do well with her song, “In the Name of Love”, but sadly finished in 23rd position with only 10 points. Still, with a powerful performance, it’s not the last we’ll have heard of Monika.
Faring slightly better was Aminata, singing for Latvia, who finished in 6th position with 186 and her song, “Love Injected”. Aminata’s dress was so tight and immobile that the singer actually had to be wheeled in onto the stage. She nonetheless gave a beautiful performance.
Bojana Stamenov, singing for Serbia, was an early hot tip, with her song, “Beauty Never Lies” written by the same team as Conchita’s winning entry last year. After storming through her semi-final however, Bojana finished in 10th place with 53 points.
Eventual winner Sweden, represented by Måns Zelmerlöw singing “Heroes”, featured a spectacular stage display. Was it the best song on the night? Opinions vary. We appreciated the Australian entry most of all. Having since heard “Heroes” on the radio, we suspect the song won by virtue of the staging. Regardless, Eurovision returns to Sweden in 2016, with word being that Stockholm shall host.
If you fancy attending the Eurovision next year, keep an eye out on eurovision.tv. Tickets generally go on sale late in the year or early the next.[youtube https://youtu.be/8dklJr1C1q8]