Aussie Eurovision Superfans Give Their Grand Final Predictions
Australia may only be a relatively recent addition to Eurovision, but the love for the international song competition has run deep down under for years.
Ahead of Sunday's Grand Final, we caught up with a few of Eurovision's die-hard fans to see their feelings on the contest this year, and their predictions for Australia's own Kate Miller-Heidke.
Meet the fans:
Speaking to Senior Lecturer in Humanities at USQ, Dr Jess Carniel, writer Claire Isaac, the creators of Eurovision Podcast 'Aussievision', Mike and Dale, as well as James and Andy -- two superfans who are currently in Tel Aviv -- we wanted to know what they really thought about Australia's chances at finally taking out the top prize.
In case you were wondering the range of fans we spoke to, Dr Jess has published a book on Eurovision and Australia last year -- with a second edited collection on the way later this year -- and has been watching since she was a child.
"There was a lull in my teenage years but I returned to the Eurofold in my early twenties and for many years hosted viewing parties with friends that were a big part of our annual traditions," Dr Jess told 10 daily.
"Last year, I was lucky to go to Lisbon as part of my research," she said. "It was an amazing experience, not in the least because the live audience get to see how the staging is set up to produce a smooth television experience for everyone back home."
James and Andrew, writing to 10 daily from Tel Aviv after watching the first Semi-Finals, are attending their second Eurovision after deciding to head to Portugal last year.
"I'm the longer Eurotragic out of the two of us," Andrew admitted. "It all started with Eurovision watch parties in Melbourne about 10 years ago." James and Andrew had only been together for a few months when the first Eurovision rolled around.
"I was a bit reluctant at first but, seriously, have you heard some of those tunes? This was 2012 the year of 'Euphoria' -- only one of the best songs ever written and performed," James said.
Like Dr Jess, Claire has been watching Eurovision since she was young. "I grew up in the UK but it dropped off a bit. I kind of watched it on and off for years until I went in 2015 to Vienna when Guy was the first Aussie," she said. "I went as part of a press thing not related to the show, ended up meeting Conchita Wurst and going to the grand final and reporting for 'Woman's Day' when I worked there."
Since Vienna, Claire also went to see Dami Im's near-win in Stockholm, and also found herself on the dancefloor in Kiev in 2017. "I am hoping to go again next year actually," she said.
Aussievision's Dale and Mike admit they've both been fans since the '90s: "A pivotal moment being Australia's Gina G representing the UK with the classic, 'Ooh Aah... Just a Little Bit'," they said.
The pair's love for the show continued to build momentum, "from going to parties to hosting parties, watching the live broadcast illegally at 5am and then going to the contest itself in 2016 and 2018."
"We're both massive sports fans and this basically brings that together with our love of all things camp, competitive and political. The voting is just as much fun as the music," they said.
"In the last few years, we went from fans to kind of crazy super fans. There are six months of national contests to choose their Eurovision representative," they said. "We’ve been up watching things like Lithuanian and Ukrainian TV from 3am every Sunday morning. It’s a little worrying."
Biggest surprises of this year:
Dr Jess: Australia's surge in popularity since rehearsals began is a little bit of a surprise -- but also not, as I was confident in Kate Miller-Heidke's potential to capture the hearts and minds of the press, juries and Eurofans worldwide.
Apart from that, [Ukraine's entrant] Maruv's withdrawal was a shock and a surprise. She was a strong contender to win. It was, however, an important reminder of how the politics of the contest can work internally during the national selection season, as well as during the May event itself.
James and Andrew: We were shocked to see San Marino qualify. His vocals were totally off on the live performance and sure, it’s got some novelty factor, but really queen?
Voters picked him over the traditional Polish-slash-pop banger or whatever the hell Portugal is?
Claire: I was surprised how bad Russia was this year and I laughed my head off at San Marino.
Dale and Mike: We would have to say the diversity of acts. France chose a queer YouTube star who has a really powerful performance, we have the BDSM dystopian post-punk anti-capitalists singing in Icelandic and our very own modern take on pop-opera with Kate up a seven-metre pole. But as crazy as they sound, the acts themselves are quality and all have a chance of doing super well.
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Can Kate Miller-Heidke score Australia's first win?
Dr Jess: Viewed objectively, Kate Miller-Heidke was one of the most solid performances of the night (or morning). The sheer physicality of the performance is impressive -- singing opera is hard enough without doing it while waving about on a stick, so one can only imagine the kind of core strength and breathing control that she would have had to work on in preparation for this performance.
Andrew: If you’d asked us a month ago we’d have been bearish. She was looking super low in the odds and honestly, we were worried she might barely qualify for the final. But it’s been remarkable seeing how that’s changed in the last couple of weeks. Her staging is unlike anything we’ve ever seen on a Eurovision stage before and the crowd absolutely loves it.
James: Kate has an amazing voice and it’s a great song, but that’s not enough to win Eurovision. Where the song really comes to life is on stage, when she’s literally swaying on a giant f***ing pole metres above the ground.
Andrew: It’s a bad omen to talk up Australia’s chances, but the mood for "Zero Gravity" and Kate is infectious. Whatever the result, Australia should be extremely proud. Kate has proven we are worthy of the contest and can bring cutting-edge stuff to Eurovision.
Claire: She is extraordinary and I think she will do as well as Dami... if not take the top spot. She is theatrical, poppy and odd -- three reasons why songs do well. I see it being close.
Dale and Mike: Kate’s stage performance is stunning. It’s hard to bring a truly original idea to Eurovision and they’ve done that -- nothing like this has ever been done before. Then throw on top her incredible vocals and it’s a great Eurovision package. Never say never… but we’re not sure Europe is ready to crown a pop-opera style song from the other side of the world. Saying that, we think she can get a great result -- top 10 or even top five.
Who do you see winning Eurovision 2019?
Dr Jess: I’m always circumspect about answering this because I am inevitably wrong! Even though they are not my favourites, I’m inclined to side with the bookies in favour of the Netherlands and Sweden -- but the second semi-final might change opinions on that, and nothing is ever certain until the end of the voting. I do, however, think that Australia has strong chances for a top five finish.
James: The second semi-final is full of big contenders this year and that’s going to be a hell of a show. It’s on stage that songs live or die, so we’ll soon find out whether the likes of Sweden, the Netherlands and Russia live up to the hype.
Andrew: Those three songs are all extremely strong and any of them could take the prize if they can transform the recorded songs on stage. But you’ve got to remember this is Eurovision and there’s always room for a dark horse. Iceland this year is anti-capitalist, heavy metal BDSM-inspired and has an honest-to-God death drop in the middle of the performance. That counts for something and you never know what the final might deliver.
Claire: Look it's hard to tell at this point but everyone loves the Netherlands and it's really catchy. I love Estonia too and he's cute but the staging isn't great... I HOPE our Kate does it. She's simply spectacular. And it's an earworm, no?
Dale and Mike: This is the most open contest in years! We have two amazing ballads from the Netherlands and Russia, a gospel pop banger from Sweden and the wild card of Iceland. If we had to bet (and we have) we’d go with the handsome Russia superstar Sergey Lazarev.
The second Eurovision Semi-Final will air SBS Friday at 5 am and again at 8.30 pm and the Grand Final will air this Sunday at 5 am and again at 8.30 pm on SBS.
Featured image: SBS / Supplied.