Australia has been invited to compete at the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest as part of the enigmatic contest’s 60th anniversary celebrations.
It follows a lauded guest performance by Australia’s Jessica Mauboy at last year’s finals event in Denmark and won by Austria which will hold this year’s show.
“It’s a daring and at the same time incredibly exciting move. It is our way of saying let’s celebrate this party together!” contest supervisor Jon Ola Sand said upon the announcement.
Australia’s multi-cultural broadcaster SBS has been given the task of nominating the country’s entry who will be fast-tracked straight in to the grand-final, due to be held in Vienna on 23 May.
SBS posted a video featuring one of its Eurovision co-hosts Julia Zemiro announcing they are thrilled about the invitation. Zemiro’s fellow co-host Sam Pang comically suggests they need to get in touch with Olivia Newton John, Air Supply, Midnight Oil, 1927 and AC/DC to see if they might represent the nation.
“SBS has been broadcasting Eurovision for over 30 years and we have seen how Australians’ love of the song contest has grown during those years,” the channel’s managing director Michael Ebeid said in a more grounded statement.
“We are very excited to have secured this historic opportunity for Australia to be represented on the world’s biggest stage and are honoured that the European Broadcasting Union has supported us to achieve this ambition.”
The 2015 Eurovision finals are expected to attract a global television audience of 195 million.
‘One-off’ for Australia would become two if we win
Due to the “one-off nature” of its participation, Australia had been granted a wildcard for the final “to not reduce the chances” of regular the semi-final participants, the European Broadcasting Union has said.
Australian fans will be allowed to vote in both of the semi-finals, as well as the grand-final.
Traditionally, the country that wins Eurovision has the duty to host the following year’s finals extravaganza. However, should the Aussie act win the 2015 contest, next year’s show will be held in a European city but Australia will be permitted to defend its title.
Aussies have been there before
Australia has an historic affinity with the schmaltzy pop song carnival which commands a dedicated and ever growing legion of devotees down under.
As well as Mauboy’s performance last year, Aussies have in the past represented the UK at Eurovision, including the New Seekers, Gina G and Olivia Newton-John. Following the exposure down under with Newton-John’s participation in 1974, that year’s winners Abba went on to have their greatest success outside of their native Sweden, in Australia.