Although their history at Eurovision is brief, Australia had a successful run, reaching the final with various success while in the final. This was until last year, where the nation achieved their first non-qualification with Montaigne. Hoping to return to the final is Sheldon Riley, who won his ticket to Turin through the national selection, Eurovision: Australia Decides.
Song and Vocals
Sheldon Riley is a name that often pops up as a potential Eurovision artist for Australia, so once he was announced as a participant of the national selection, it was clear that he would be the competitor to beat. Presenting an emotion-led ballad, Sheldon is given the opportunity to show his authentic self within both performance style and vocally.
Not The Same is very much a classic style of ballad. It begins in a delicate way, with understated vocals. As it hits the first chorus, we get a taster of what’s to come. Sheldon begins to show his abilities, without giving away too much. The instrumentals start to amp up through the second verse, although I wish they had pumped up the orchestral elements even further. The bridge of the song is a highlight, with Sheldon conveying pure emotion.
The biggest criticism of this track is the repetitive nature of the song. The chorus is simple, often repeating the same lyrics. In a sense, it feels like a flex from Sheldon to be able to just belt out the vocals. With that said, the vocals are top notch, and the lyrics are meaningful and relatable for many viewers at home.
Performance and Act
One of the reasons why fans often put Sheldon’s name forward is for his performance style. Sheldon became well known in Australia for his eccentric performances on The Voice, and that style can easily be transferred to Eurovision. The Eurovision stage is the perfect platform for Sheldon to be authentic, while singing a song that is meaningful to him, and I think that will resonate with both juries and televoters.
The other big factor about this performance is the mask. Regularly I would say that anything that limits viewers from connecting with the artist is a negative, but I think should he remove the mask on stage as he did in the national final, this may actually turn out to be a truly emotional moment.
While I don’t know that this is the strongest song Australia could have put forward, I think it is certainly enough to send Australia back to the Eurovision final – and comfortably so. Sheldon is sure to impress juries with his vocals, and I think the televoters will also resonate with the song.
Song and Vocals
Strong live vocals by Sheldon Riley in his performance at Australia Decides. He intonates the song a bit differently when compared to his studio recordings, and puts more emotion in the performance in the live act. The lyrics can be relatable to people, but also come across a bit bombastic and too much, combined with the act and vocal powerhouse performance.
Performance and Act
The song is a bit repetitive but this is being covered up by a strong live performance, despite Sheldon not connecting to the viewing audience because of his mask. It gives the performance a strong and memorable hook, but it is also the weakness for both jury and televote. When the mask finally comes off, Sheldon needs to work on opening his eyes and then finally making the connection to the viewers. An essential improvement in May.
After missing out on a spot in the final in 2021, I expect Australia to return with this performance. I say performance, because I think Sheldon lifts this song to another level by his strong live vocals and mysterious act where he stays hidden throughout most parts of the song.
Average Score: 7.6/10