Why is Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest?

In 2023, Australia will be represented by the rock band Voyager. Photo: IMAGO/ANP

Sophia Sirman

On May 13, it’s finally time again: the Eurovision Song Contest takes place. But this year, many things are different: In 2022, the Ukrainian Kalush Orchestra wins the music competition – despite high hopes, this year’s ESC cannot be held in Ukraine. Several European countries presented themselves – eventually second-placed England stepped in and are now hosting the competition in Liverpool.

In addition to the (mostly) European countries, one participant stands out in particular: why is Australia actually allowed to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest?

ESC: This is how Australia came to participate

There is hardly a place in the world that loves musical competition quite like Australia. Down Under has followed the Eurovision Song Contest since 1974. At that time, an Australian competed for Great Britain: Olivia Newton-John took a solid fourth and Australians’ enthusiasm for the colorful event was born.

Australia was then allowed to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in 2015 as part of the contest’s 60th anniversary. The conditions were strict: a country had to immediately take first place to be allowed to participate again. However, pop singer Guy Sebastian achieved “only” fifth place – the dream of permanent participation seemed to have exploded.

Stockholm, Sweden.  May 11, 2016. Singer Dami M, representing Australia, performs during a rehearsal for the second semi-final of the 61st Annual Eurovision Song Contest. Vyacheslav Prokofiev / Tass Po ...

Dami Im finished second to Australia in 2016. Photo: IMAGO/ITAR-TASS

However, in the same year, the European Broadcasting Union, which hosts the ESC, announced that Australia would still be allowed to participate in the competition. But from now on, Australia will have to qualify for the final like all the other nations in the semi-finals. This applies to all countries except the “big five”: Germany, Spain, Italy, France and the United Kingdom.

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The following year, Australia reached number two with singer Dami M with her song “Sound of Silence”.

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Australia at ESC: These are the opportunities in 2023

This year, progressive metal band Voyager will be representing Australia with the song “Promise”. With this style they clearly stand out from the usual Euro-Pop, which is usually dominated by ESC. However, since the triumph of Italian band Måneskin in 2021, rock is making a comeback: Germany is also sending metal band Lord of the Lost to the race this year.

If you believe the current betting odds, neither Lord of the Lost nor Voyager can achieve the coveted high positions: Bookmakers see Australia in 16th place, and Germany in only 20th.

What happens if Australia wins?

If, against expectations, Australia win this year in Liverpool, the competition won’t be held down: that was agreed back in 2015. So now it stands to reason that if Britain wins, it will host the ESCS of Australia since they are both part of the Commonwealth. However, whether the UK will host two competitions in a row for other countries is questionable.

And why is Israel already involved?

Australia stands out in particular due to its extreme distance from Europe, but the other ESC participants are not on the European continent either. Perhaps the best known is Israel. Since 1973, the Mediterranean country has participated 43 times – and with great success: Israeli musicians have won the competition four times. Recently, singer Netta managed to win the Eurovision Song Contest for Israel with her song “Game” in 2018.

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While Israel is not on the European continent, it is part of the European Broadcasting Union. This is an association of broadcasters from all over the world. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia also belong to it: Strictly speaking, the three countries in the Caucasus are not in Europe, but each of them has participated in the Economic and Social Council several times.

Watch Australia’s Promise by Voyager here:

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