Big Aussie names vying for spot at Eurovision
AUSTRALIA'S campaign to win Eurovision 2019 just got serious.
SBS have revealed an impressive first round of A-list chart stars and a buzzworthy rising act to sing off for the right to represent us in Israel next year.
The eclectic bunch are Geronimo global chartslayers Sheppard, Muriel's Wedding composer, pop and opera shapeshifter Kate Miller-Heidke, Australia's Got Talent popera star Mark Vincent and genre-busting electro-soul duo Electric Fields.
Industry insiders have speculated wildly about the calibre of acts who would sign on to compete against other in the Australia Decides live television event in February on the Gold Coast.
Australia's head of delegation and television producer Paul Clarke is widely respected among the music community and has clearly alleviated any concerns the artists might have about getting into competition with peers.
Miller-Heidke, an artistic chameleon who has composed and acted in musicals and operas as well as reached the top 5 with three of her four pop records, summed up the feeling of most of the artists vying to represent Australia in Israel.
"I've never done anything like this before. I do feel vulnerable putting myself out there in a competitive setting," she said.
"I'm trying to ignore that element, and thinking of it as a very eclectic celebration of Australian music. I think there will be a lot of solidarity among the performers."
Clark has tried to assemble a field of singers who reflect both cultural and musical diversity.
Vincent, like previous Australian representatives Jessica Mauboy and Isaiah, getting a shot at Eurovision is one of those childhood dreams come true.
"This opportunity to compete in Eurovision - Australia Decides means everything to me," he said.
"I've been a Eurovision fan since I was young and love the incredible voices and talents that have emerged.
"I'm going to bring everything I've got to the stage. I've been working my entire life for this moment and I can't wait to perform for you."
The act most likely to surprise Australia, and perhaps the world, is the unique presence and performance of Electric Fields.
Indigenous singer Zaachariaha Fielding is a knockout vocalist and captivating live performer while keyboardist Michael Ross helps craft their singular sound which has been described as Daft Punk meets Deep Forest fronted by Nina Simone singing in Aboriginal language.
"The Eurovision Song Contest is the Olympics of camp!" they said.
"It's a flamboyant spectacle and we're excited to be part of the first ever Eurovision selection show on home soil.
"We want to tell a story on stage with fierce energy that will hopefully shoot through the cameras and out of the TV screens at home."
Sheppard would have the biggest global presence of the first four courtesy of their 2014 hit Geronimo which has accumulated more than 300 million streams and taken them on several world tours.
"We're excited at the prospect of representing Australia in what feels like the pop music Olympics," the band said in a statement.
The 10 contestants will be matched with an original composition selected from the more than 700 songs submitted for Eurovision selection.
They will inevitably be measured against the performances of our previous Eurovision campaigners, with Dami Im almost winning the title in Stockholm in 2016.
But as demonstrated by European fans snubbing Jessica Mauboy with their public votes last year despite her stellar performance, Australia still has a long way to go to get Europe on side.
Australian fans will vote for their favourite artist and song to go to the world's biggest singing contest during the live SBS broadcast at 7.30pm on February 9.
They can also check out the preliminary action at the Jury Preview Show on February 8 at 7.30pm and Matinee Preview Show on February 9 at 1pm, with tickets now on sale for those warm-up gigs and the live event.