How will Australia’s participation impact our perceptions of Eurovision?

As I was walking from class to class at my university, I heard the familiar sounds of Conchita’s winning Eurovision entry from 2014, ‘Rise like a Phoenix.’ At first I was like, ‘Hey, that’s Eurovision!’ but then I questioned why a Eurovision song would be playing on the loud speakers. This led me to think about how if it was any other song, say, a Katy Perry song, or a (god forbid) One Direction song, I wouldn’t have thought twice, I would have just swiftly moved away from the area (sorry 1D fans, sorry). But the point still remains, why was it so weird for me, someone who listens to Eurovision songs on the frequent, to hear a Eurovision song played out loud, away from the comfort of my trusty headphones?

Rise like a Phoenix playing at my university - what's next, an Australian tour?
Rise like a Phoenix playing at my university – what’s next, an Australian tour?

The truth is, although Australia has (mostly) welcomed Eurovision with open arms, there is still a lot of stigma associated with the contest. Generally speaking, those with a European background seem to view the contest in a more positive light, but for many, Eurovision is still seen as one huge joke. Numerous times, I found myself in situations where I’m faced with someone who has a preconceived view of what the contest is all about, and I’m constantly having to defend the contest, and to some extent, my love for the contest on a personal level. So, I’m wondering, will our participation in the 2015 change the way Eurovision is viewed in Australia?

This is still very much an open ended question, and we (or more specifically, I) will see the implications of our participation, at least on a micro, community level through friendship groups, fellow peers and family. I have already noticed that Eurovision is being talked about more in public media (albeit, still in a very superficial manner), and as a result of this, suddenly my status as a Eurovision know-it-all has some prestige. Friends who have previously seen the contest as a joke are now asking me to explain why Australia is in Eurovision (A question I answered here) and who our representative is, what our song is, am I happy with the choice, and the most important question of all – will Australia win? This is far more interaction than what I’ve had before with fellow peers, and I think this curiosity that I’ve personally seen will translate across into the ratings for Eurovision. I can confidently predict that ratings will be higher than ever, which is positive for the contest, and validates SBS in the quest to join Eurovision.

We love our Eurovision, but do we love it only superficially?
We love our Eurovision, but do we love it only superficially?

I’m also incredibly curious to see what the public media will do in the lead up to the contest, and after the contest. Could it be the case where we will have a number of the Eurovision 2015 songs in the iTunes charts? Will I hop into the car and hear the Estonian, or Belarussian song played on the radio? Will Australia take more interest in the contest in a less superficial way? Potentially nothing could change – Guy Sebastian’s performance could just be something mentioned at the time, but never mentioned again.

I think having Eurovision songs in the charts, or on the radio will broaden the minds of the listeners. The European music landscape is so diverse, and I’ve wondered why, for example, Loreen’s Euphoria wasn’t a huge hit here, when listeners are already listening to Swedish pop, like Avicii – whether they know it’s from Sweden or not is a different story! But I think about some of the songs from recent contests, and how they would perfectly fit into the Australian music landscape, which is already heavily dominated by British and American artists. I’m not so secretly hoping that Eurovision artists do make it in Australia, because I’m getting overly jealous of the European tours these artists do, and so many times I’ve wished these artists would visit Australia! Maybe that wish will come true, but for now, I’m going to sit back and enjoy Australia’s Eurovision rollercoaster, and I can’t wait to see where it leads us in the future.

EUPHORRRRRRRRRIIAAAA, forever until we reach Australia...
EUPHORRRRRRRRRIIAAAA, forever until we reach Australia…