The Australian entrant for Eurovision 2017 will be decided via an internal selection, and although this system works, could it be improved? Australian journalist Joshua Mayne believes so in his latest guest editorial for ESC Daily.
We’ve only competed in the contest for two years, but Australia has been fortunate enough to witness two very successful results at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2015 and 2016. Guy Sebastian and Dami Im both knew how to handle the stage, and they had the song to match.
These two artists were chosen as Australian Eurovision representatives via an internal selection, made by Australia’s host broadcaster, SBS. There is no doubting that this system works, and it works well.
However, assuming that we remain in the competition (please let us stay, Europe), it might be the right moment to try a national final. A competition – hosted by SBS – where contestants could sing against each other for a place in the prestigious Eurovision Song Contest is suited perfectly to Australia. We love this style of competition.
Twenty-six countries are opting for national finals this year. This places Australia in the minority of nations, as we use an alternate selection processes. Australia shouldn’t take on this format simply because others are doing it. But the fact that it is a tried, tested and loved procedure is reassuring.
So why will this format work for Australia?
Australians love to compete
As Australian Head of Delegation Paul Clarke said in an interview to ESC Daily, “Australians love to compete”. He couldn’t be more right. It’s not necessarily about winning. It’s about the enjoyment and satisfaction that comes from taking part in something big.
A national final would enable Australian artists to compete on the stage in front of the nation, for the opportunity to compete on the ultimate stage, this, of course, being the Eurovision stage. Singing shows such as The Voice and The X-Factor has proven extremely successful in Australia. There’s no reason why a national final (which is effectively a one-night singing contest) wouldn’t work.
Eurovision viewing figures
A record number of viewers down under have been watching Eurovision since Australia’s inclusion, peaking at 4.1 million viewers in 2015 (across all three shows). These numbers are phenomenal, and could definitely increase if a national final is used as part of the entire ‘Eurovision experience’.
If Australians were able to follow an artist’s journey through selection in the national final, all the way to the Eurovision Song Contest, this would result in an increase of exposure for the artist and competition in Australia. After the representative is chosen, the anticipation for the main contest will only increase.
New names can make their breakthrough
Another benefit of a national final is the fact that it would be the perfect medium to unearth fresh, new talents. In Australia, music fans love to discover people with an aptitude in performing arts. Whether they are former contestants from a reality music show, or new artists looking to make a name for themselves. Australians would love to see what they have to offer to Australia for the Eurovision Song Contest.
Obviously SBS would need to introduce technicalities in regards to who exactly can compete, and how the selection system for the show will work. But I am confident they will figure that out.
The method that Australia currently uses for selecting a Eurovision artist works very well. SBS have done a brilliant job over the past two years selecting great competitors. The country of Australia should have full faith in them to choose well again for 2017.
However, changing the format to a national final would be beneficial for the fans and the host broadcaster. It would bring increased fan involvement, publicity and opportunity for artists.
Eurovision still has room to grow in popularity in Australia. And an annual national final to determine our representative for the Eurovision Song Contest could help do just that.