Australia don’t have a long history at Eurovision, however they do have a successful history at Eurovision, even coming close to the win back in 2016. Since Dami Im’s second place getting performance, Australia has been slowly slipping. Last year marked the least successful appearance for Australia at Eurovision, so it begs the question – has the novelty worn off? This year it will be up to Kate Miller-Heidke to prove that the competitive spirit is still alive with her song Zero Gravity, but how will it compare to Australia’s previous performances?
Song + Vocals
It was both exciting and terrifying to hear that Australian broadcaster SBS were planning on hosting a Eurovision national selection as it could have gone one of two ways. We could have had a selection of D-list singers with average songs, or alternatively a selection of top Australian singers with diverse songs, and thankfully it was the latter. From that selection, it was clear that Kate had a strong pull with the viewers, as did Electric Fields however as we know, Kate Miller-Heidke managed to secure the win and would be our next representative with the song Zero Gravity.
The song is certainly an interesting one. It’s unlike anything Australia has sent before, and it is a risky song. The pop opera hybrid genre has been seen at Eurovision before. It has also translated to success for certain artists, think Elina Nechayeva last year with La Forza and even Cesar back in 2013 who participated with a popera number. In regards to the genre alone, many fans have placed Zero Gravity into that basket, and although yes, it shares similar traits and is genuinely a popera style song, Zero Gravity is so distinctly Kate Miller-Heidke that it would be a shame to see her compete with anything else.
Having wanted Kate to represent Australia since day 1, the bar was set high in terms of her potential Eurovision song. She has some fantastic songs from over the years, and in comparison, I cannot say that I like Zero Gravity as much. I would go even as far to say that when it was released, I was disappointed. It’s a song that can come across as quite disjointed and lacking, and it’s been clear to see that a lot of fans haven’t moved past that opinion.
I saw this performed live, and that was the first step in enjoying this song more. Suddenly it was stuck in my head and that was the distinct turning point for me. Listening to this song now, and I feel myself go on the journey, from that dark place of depression to suddenly the weight lifting. It’s a personal story that will likely be relatable to many people, but it’s packaged in a unique popera format which absolutely won’t be to everyone’s tastes but if anything, the club-like dance beat throughout most of the song will at least capture the hearts of some of the viewers who enjoy Eurovision for the upbeat numbers.
Act + Performance
As I mentioned before, Kate Miller-Heidke has been at the top of my wishlist for a while and that’s based around knowing her previous songs and knowing how suited to Eurovision she is due to her unique style. Looking at the performances from Eurovision: Australia Decides, Kate was easily the most polished and professional, and essentially the most ready to tackle Eurovision from the performance perspective. She is a seasoned professional and is a strong force in Australian music so I am glad that we do get to see her on the Eurovision stage, even if her song isn’t my favourite from her discography.
A song like this also does open opportunities for a unique staging at Eurovision. Her national final performance I thought was actually well suited to the song as it kept Kate fairly stable to focus on the vocals but yet didn’t lack movement due to the acrobat in the background. The acrobat also served a purpose in the way of sharing the message of the song, so in that sense I would have been happy to transport the dress and acrobat straight to Tel Aviv. However judging by the international reaction, the staging has been too closely aligned with Estonia of last year. Yes, they both sing opera and both had big dresses, but no the two songs and performances are not the same.
In that sense a new concept was needed for Eurovision, and I do believe that the team was working on something fresher for Tel Aviv. What we can expect is a great performance both visually and vocally that will be memorable for the viewers at home and also in the arena.
This song has definitely grown on me the more I hear it, and yes, some of that Australian bias has probably trickled through as well, but ultimately if Australia sends a terrible song, I will not be afraid to say exactly that. This song will not appeal to everyone, and it has created some doubts for Australian fans as to whether we will be in the final this year. I’d say that Australia will be through to the final, however more confidently so provided that the performance reaches its visual potential.