Australia’s new Head of Delegation Josh Martin has a strong belief that the second edition of Australia Decides will probe to be a factor for success at Eurovision 2020. “Any of the 10 artists could qualify for the final in Rotterdam,” he tells ESCDaily the day before the Australian final.
Ahead of Australia Decides, SBS Commissioning Editor for Entertainment and Australian Head of Delegation Josh Martin had a chat with ESCDaily about Australia’s journey to a second national final.
Developing a national final
Martin believes that creating an Australian national final was a natural and important step in the development of Australia at Eurovision. “We did internal selections because it was new and it was how it worked. I was dead keen to commission a national final.”
Australia selected their Eurovision artists internally from 2015-2018, and this brought great success. Three top ten finishes is an impressive achievement for a country new to the contest. But, after attending Melodifestivalen – Sweden’s famous and successful national final – Josh Martin knew that this was a format that could work for Australia.
“It felt right after Jess. Of course Jess was our first non-top ten finish, but it felt like the time was right. She had come full circle… it was the end of a chapter.”
He emphasised that the Australian delegation has taken a lot of inspiration from the Swedish national selection format, but added their own Australian twist.
“We just built on last year”
Last year’s inaugural Australia Decides was widely described as a success. As Martin noted,“it was ambitious for us last year, but we pulled it off. You always want to do more… I think we have taken it up a notch.”
The 2019 contest offered a diverse selection of performances, with influence from different cultures and genres. The same can be said about this year, and as Head of Delegation, Martin is keen to improve the show.
Staging was considered an essential component by Josh Martin. He underlined how it’s “a collaboration” between the delegation and the artist. “We have more props, and have done things like changing the stage a little bit. I think we learnt a lot last year. It was one to build on.”
After such a strong lineup in Australia’s inaugural national final, there are immediate comparisons being made between 2019 and 2020’s selection. However, Martin is confident in the quality of artists and songs that make up this year’s Australia Decides.
“We are lucky enough to have qualified every single year, but we can never take that for granted. As long as we still have amazing performances, artists and songs, we can only continue to do our best. Any of these ten artists could be qualifiers.”
He also feels that having a national final is key to continually improving and developing the quality of the artists and songs. “Having a national final is really important for us. It’s great for our skills – develop new staging techniques. It allows us to get better.”
Australia Decides to stay in the Gold Coast
This is the second year in a row that Australia Decides has been held in the Gold Coast. When asked about the potential of a new host city, Martin was clear and honest.
Currently, they have a partnership with Queensland, which enables them to put on the best possible show. He then elaborated that “there’s no plans to change [the host city] in the foreseeable future.”
Australia Decides 2020 will take place at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre on the 7th of February. The show will be broadcasted live on SBS from 7:30PM AEST, and will also be live streamed via SBS Australia’s Facebook from 9:30AM GMT.
Read our preview for the big show here.