Australia Decides returns for a second year after its success in 2019. Ten new artists will compete in the Gold Coast for the opportunity to represent Australia at Eurovision 2020. Check out our big preview for the national final in Australia, written by our Australian reporter Joshua Mayne.
Casey Donovan – Proud
Donovan brings experience to this year’s line-up, with her career taking off after winning Australian Idol in 2004. ‘Proud’ is a ballad that appears to have some musical theatre influence. Donovan is currently a cast member in the ‘Chicago’ musical touring Australia, and will be able to use this to her advantage in her Australia Decides song.
It is fair to say that this song has gone under the radar compared to some of the other released entries. When sung live, however, ‘Proud’ has the potential to be a popular song amongst the jury. There are typically one or two dark horses in a Eurovision national final… and this may be one of them.
Diana Rouvas – Can We Make Heaven
After winning The Voice Australia in 2019, Diana Rouvas brings an entry to Australia Decides that showcases her impressive vocals. ‘Can We Make Heaven’ is an anthemic song that focuses on “the fact that we’re always learning, and that what you thought you knew changes every day”.
In a competition that requires not only a great song, but also a live performance to match, live vocals will undoubtedly be an advantage for Rouvas. She has already proven that she can win a singing competition, but can she do it again with the vote of Australia Eurovision fans?
Check out ESCDaily’s interview with Diana here.
Didirri – Raw Stuff
‘Raw Stuff’ is a gentle, touching ballad sung by young rising star Didirri. Amongst some of the other ballads in this year’s competition, this one stands out as particularly soft and vulnerable. Speaking to SBS, he said that he would “love to lead people into a quiet place” and take listeners into a different world for three minutes.
Didirri has a strong following amongst Triple J (an Australian alternative music radio station) listeners, and therefore may benefit from young televotes. A song of such simplicity is often risky at Eurovision, but it can pay off, as seen with the Netherland’s entry last year.
iOTA – Life
Submitted through the SBS song portal by songwriter Jesse Watt, ‘Life’ is a uniquely uplifting entry. Piano plays a prominent part in a song characterised by unpredictability. This entry stands out, and successful Eurovision entries often thrive on being different.
iOTA is a jack of all trades, with roots in music, film and theatre. Notably, he has played a character in The Rocky Horror Show, and Mad Max: Fury Road. There is definitely the potential that ‘Life’ could open the show, especially if there is dramatic staging to match.
Jack Vidgen – I Am King I Am Queen
Jack Vidgen rose to fame after winning Australia’s Got Talent in 2011 as a teenager. He signed a record deal shortly after, however began to fade from the public spotlight. After returning to television by competing in The Voice Australia 2019, participating in Australia Decides signals that he is sure about restarting his music career.
Vidgen was the first artist to release their entry for Australia Decides. ‘I Am King I Am Queen’ is intensely personal, and draws inspiration from his struggles since young fame. Delivering an emotional performance will be key to connect the viewers with his message.
Jaguar Jonze – Rabbit Hole
‘Rabbit Hole’ stands out from the rest as an indie-rock track. Born in Japan to a Taiwanese mother and Australian father, Jaguar Jonze brings a real edge to the competition this year. Her entry for Australia Decides is instantly catchy, and highlights her vocal grittiness and skill.
As for the live performance, she highlighted to SBS that she wants to remain the same performer that you would “see in the pub”. This raw style of performance could certainly pay off for Jaguar Jonze. However, it will also be a balancing act to ensure that it is captured effectively for a television audience. If staged well, this could be a popular entry.
Jordan-Ravi – Pushing Stars
19-year-old Jordan-Ravi is a rising singer-songwriter who last year competed on America’s Got Talent. Eurovision is a great platform for new artists to be discovered, and this certainly applies to Jordan-Ravi. He has a likeable and youthful persona, which suits his song well.
Notably, members of the Australia Decides alumni composed his entry ‘Pushing Stars’. The song writing team included Tania Doko and George Sheppard (from the band ‘Sheppard’). Jordan-Ravi’s entry is a strong pop song that will likely be widely enjoyed, but the question will be whether it has enough x-factor to win on Saturday night.
Mitch Tambo – Together
Tambo will be performing the only bilingual song of Australia Decides 2020, with ‘Together’ featuring Gamilaraay and English. Gamilaraay is an ancient language of North-Western New South Wales, and as an Aboriginal musician, Mitch Tambo will be shedding some important light on his culture.
‘Together’ is not revolutionary in its structure, but the empowering message is clear. It builds up to a strong bridge and final chorus, which has the potential to very impactful if staged well. Australia has had two Indigenous performers sing at Eurovision (Jessica Mauboy and Isaiah Firebrace), and with a stirring live performance in the Gold Coast, Tambo could join them.
Montaigne – Don’t Break Me
Montaigne has achieved a large amount of success within the Australian alternative pop scene. She now has an opportunity to break into the Eurovision sphere with her song ‘Don’t Break Me’. Written with song writing duo ‘DNA’ (who have written past Australian Eurovision entries), it is predicted to do well at this year’s national final.
As a seasoned live performer, Montaigne brings strong vocals and a commanding stage presence to the Gold Coast. This entry ticks a lot a boxes – it showcases vocals, emotion, and is melodically enjoyable. ‘Don’t Break Me’ is definitely a contender to win.
Vanessa Amorosi – Lessons of Love
After making fans wait to see what track she would pick off her new album, Vanessa Amorosi will compete in the Gold Coast with ‘Lessons of Love’. One of the favourites coming into the competition, her song shows off the strength and versatility of her vocals. A pop/ballad fusion, it is a likeable track that features peaks and troughs.
‘Lessons of Love’ has broad televote and jury appeal, which could see Amorosi finish high up the scoreboard. It also appears that European viewers like this song; therefore it could be a smart choice for Rotterdam.
This year’s edition of Australia Decides is arguably a wider-open contest than last year. Kate Miller-Heidke, Sheppard and Electric Fields were the clear favourites in 2019, whereas there won’t likely be a runaway winner this year. As is the case with Eurovision, staging and live performance will be critical to differentiating the acts.
Keep an eye out on ESCDaily for Australia Decides coverage from the Gold Coast.