Categorized | Editorials, Australia

Editorial: Australia should have a national final

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.

4 Responses to “Editorial: Australia should have a national final”

  1. Stephen Podesta says:

    I agree That doing a national selection will be fun and everything else said here, but Australians generally are not interested in Eurovision according to surveys.
    Doing a national selection on that basis would not work because of the costs involved and lack of interest, That’s why they choose a label like Sony that are the only ones that have supported SBS with providing there artists.
    Attitudes are different in OZ and they take there music seriously, but Australians don’t support there artists in the same way Europeans do and that is why xfactor and the voice have floundered in OZ in recent times.
    Australians think that winners of these show are a joke and none of the winners except Dami Im and Guy Sebastian have done any good and even they struggle to sell records, other winners have disappeared of the landscape because of lack of support for these artists. Australians just don’t take these artists seriously and any serious artists would not do Eurovision. Sorry to come across negative, but the OZ music scene is broken from the reality TV perspective and the interest is NOT there any more. Xfactor was canned this year and the voice will be gone after 2017.

    • Johnny Quansen says:

      I disagree.
      First of all, if us Australians take our music seriously, then wouldn’t having a national final for Eurovision accentuate this?
      Secondly, in Eurovision, success came in a myriad, with it being proven that Guy and Dami were loved throughout Eurovision.
      Onto your last argument, if the music aspect of television is dying, then shouldn’t we be reviving it through a national final?

    • Walter Luhrmann says:

      Firstly, I would like to put forward the idea that Australians are ‘generally not interested in Eurovision’ due to the lack of coverage by mainstream channels within our nation. This could be due to the private/public competition between media outlets. When using examples of more popular singing contests in our nation, it is clear that the interest is there for the format. Australians are not tired of singing contests, but rather the dry, mundane and methodical way that the major media outlets produce over commercialised, predictable singing contests. What you are getting at here is NOT the lack of societal demand for all this, but rather the hunger that Australians have for a different style of singing contest.

      You are right, these singing show formats produce ‘nobodys’. This suggests that they may need a bigger prize (oooooo, I’ve got an idea! What about an entry into the national final!). A national final will generate interest to the point that costs will not be a problem if the finalists from all these different dry, mundane singing contests in Australia were sent into a national final, with perhaps wildcards (maybe one per state). This would consolidate the viewers from various different singing shows and unify their viewership into this final.

      I find it incredibly contradictory that you say that Australians take their music seriously, yet do not take artists seriously. A simple solution to this would be to put the aforementioned idea into the contest, and then the credibility for these shows would increase. Let me also be clear, serious artists are not meant to do Eurovision. Eurovision is designed to help national icons and up and coming stars increase their fanbase to a regional, if not global level. ‘interest is NOT there any more’, this is something you said which is far from right. Why would there be criticism if there was no interest in it? You commenting here reaffirms the idea that there is interest in the Australian music scene. They just are not supported enough, and that’s where you recieve your distorted view from. ‘ the voice will be gone after 2017’ is a wild statement, as it was only started a few years ago and has a large fanbase still. It is a way to counteract the dry and mundane singing shows.

      A national contest would be exactly the correct way to generate and advance interests in Eurovision and provide a western, music-loving population exactly what they are looking for.

  2. Mark says:

    I don’t think SBS has the budget to pay for a decent National Final, nor do I think Australian audiences would be interested in watching one. I think big name artists would be happy to represent Australia at Eurovision; I don’t think they’ll be happy to be competing against each other to represent Australia so openly.

    I think we have to look to the history of the BBC’s National selection process to see how quickly the prestige of representing ones country at Eurovision can be deteriorated due to a televised selection process.

    But I would still be interested in seeing one. Either model the show after Melodifestivalen or Sanremo.

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