How Australia Became A Part Of Eurovision
When news broke that Australia was set to compete in the 60th Eurovision Song Contest, there was a mix of shocked, amused and excited reactions from around the world.
The UK edition of The Guardian called it Eurovision’s “most ambitious” move yet, while the conservative US news website Breitbart.com says it’s a sign the organisers “intend to stretch the definition of Europe even further”. Meanwhile, countless other news publications around the world try to remind everyone that it’s called Eurovision, not Aussie-vision.
“Australia participating in Eurovision? Is this another Tony Abbott ‘captain’s pick’? There’ll be another spill,” one UK commenter on The Guardian’s article says.
But, one-the-nose political jokes aside, is it really that surprising?
According to SBS, this kind of collaboration has been in the works for a while. The broadcaster says it has aimed to increase Australia’s involvement in the competition for several years, as Eurovision’s popularity here continues to grow.
“[This] deal is a result of SBS’s ambition to increase Australia’s presence at Eurovision following the success of Jessica Mauboy’s performance last year in Denmark,” a statement from SBS says.
“Australia’s enthusiasm for the contest has been embraced by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the 2015 host broadcaster ORF who have invited SBS to send an artist to compete as a wild card entry for 2015 in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the contest.”
The EBU says the inclusion of Australia in the Grand Final adds “an extra dimension” to the contest and also means they are walking the talk when it comes to the theme of Building Bridges.
“It’s a daring and at the same time incredibly exciting move,” the Executive Supervisor of the contest Jon Ola Sand says on behalf of the EBU.
“It is our way of saying; let’s celebrate this party together!”
SBS has been broadcasting the Eurovision Song Contest for over 30 years, and last year’s show smashed television rating records with 2.18 million Australians tuning in. The social media hashtag #SBSEurovision also trended worldwide at the time, indicating just how much power the event has in Australia.
Besides the huge fanbase here, it’s also worth pointing out that Australia is not the first country outside of Europe to be included in the contest. Israel entered for the first time in 1973, followed by Azerbaijan (which spans both Europe and Asia) in 2008.
Add to that the fact that Australia still technically answers to Queen Elizabeth II, and this is a one-off inclusion (unless we win), and it seems like just another way to keep Eurovision as quirky and crazy as it always is. We could even say it makes the song contest more “outlandish”.
Image credit: Thomas Hanses (EBU)