Tue. May 28th, 2024

Electric Fields is representing Australia at Eurovision – how did they get into the contest?

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May16,2024
Key Points
  • The 68th Eurovision Song Contest is taking place in Malmo, Sweden.
  • The duo Electric Fields is representing Australia with the song One Milkali (One Blood).
  • Australia has been participating since 2015, but why is the non-European country allowed to compete?
This week, will make history when they bring Yankunytjatjara language to the Eurovision stage with their entry One Milkali (One Blood).
Vocalist Zaachariaha Fielding and keyboard player and producer Michael Ross will compete in Semi-Final 1 on Wednesday, where they will be the first Eurovision act to perform in an Aboriginal language.

They are the ninth contestants to represent Australia in the competition, which millions of people worldwide watch each year.

But why is Australia — a country at least 14,000km from Europe — involved in the contest, and how did it all start?

Why is Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest?

The Eurovision Song Contest — also known as Eurovision — started in post-World War Two Europe and has been broadcast annually since 1956.

Throughout its history, it has almost entirely involved countries from the European Broadcasting Union (hence the name).

But for Australia, Eurovision started long before it was first invited to compete in the song contest; audiences across the country have been watching Eurovision for more than 30 years since SBS first broadcast it in 1983. 

In 2018, the semi-finals and grand final were watched by around three million Australians.

History made

In 2014, Darwin-born singer Jessica Mauboy made a guest appearance at the Eurovision extravaganza in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Mauboy got the audience singing and dancing with her track Sea of Flags, which touched on Australian stereotypes while living up to the quintessential Eurovision kitsch.

Australia’s wildcard entry into Eurovision

In 2015, everything changed.
That year, Australia was invited by the European Broadcasting Union to take part as a wildcard entry as a result of SBS with production partners Blink TV pushing to increase Australia’s presence at the contest. 

Australia was given a wildcard entry straight to the grand final. 

Guy Sebastian performing on stage at Eurovision

Guy Sebastian represented Australia at Eurovision in 2015. Source: Kerstin Joensson/AP

SBS announced singer Guy Sebastian would represent Australia at the 60th anniversary of the contest in Vienna, Austria. 

His performance of Tonight Again marked an important celebration of Australian music, diversity and culture, and scored 196 points, taking Australia to fifth place.

What is Australia’s best result at Eurovision?

Despite 2015 being declared a “one-off”, Australia was invited back the next year.

In 2016, South Korean-born Australian singer-songwriter Dami Im was announced as Australia’s competitor in Stockholm, Sweden. 

It became the first time Australia fought its way out of the semi-finals by gaining enough votes to qualify for the grand final. 

Im came second, wowing the crowd in Sweden with her song Sound of Silence. 

Which Australians have competed in Eurovision?

Singer Isaiah Firebrace, who won the eighth season of the TV reality music competition The X Factor Australia in 2016, was chosen to represent Australia in 2017 in Kyiv, Ukraine. 

He came ninth with his song Don’t Come Easy.

In 2018, Jessica Mauboy returned to Eurovision as an official entrant in the event in Lisbon, Portugal.
Her uplifting pop song We Got Love finished 20th on 99 points.

In 2019, Kate Miller-Heidke won the inaugural Australian final of Eurovision — Australia Decides which was held on the Gold Coast. The competition was introduced to determine the country’s Eurovision representative.

Kate Miller-Heidke performs Zero Gravity during the 2019 Eurovision - Australia Decides final at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Kate Miller-Heidke won the inaugural Australian final of ‘Eurovision – Australia Decides Source: AAP

She said her song Zero Gravity was inspired by coming out of depression after the birth of her son, Ernie, in 2016.

“It’s a personal song … It feels like the song is rooted in deep emotion for me,” she told SBS News.

She finished in ninth place with 284 points.

Table showing Australia's results at Eurovision

Australia’s best result at Eurovision was in 2016, when Dami Im finished second. Source: SBS

What happened to Eurovision during COVID-19?

In March 2020, the Eurovision Song Contest — which was scheduled to be held in Rotterdam in the Netherlands — was cancelled for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Singer-songwriter Montaigne had been set to represent Australia after winning Eurovision – Australia Decides in February that year with their original song Don’t Break Me.
In April 2020, SBS confirmed Montaigne would represent Australia in 2021.
Australia did not send a physical delegation to the competition due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; with a pre-recorded video of Montaigne performing their song Technicolour beamed into the venue and on screens across the world.

They did not qualify for the final.

The following year, Sheldon Riley made the final with the song Not the Same, placing 15th.

In 2023, Australia’s entry Voyager placed ninth with their hit Promise.

What happens if Australia wins Eurovision?

Australia has not yet won Eurovision.
The grand final will see a panel of music industry leaders and viewers from all participating countries cast their votes for their favourite of the finalists.

If Electric Fields wins, the duo will be asked to perform their song One Milkali one more time before taking home the iconic Eurovision glass microphone trophy.

Six members of a band pose behind the Ukrainian blue and yellow flag. One member is holding a glass trophy which is shaped as a microphone

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra with the Eurovision trophy after they won the 2022 contest, held in Italy. Source: Marco Bertorello/AFP

The winning country traditionally becomes the host of the next Eurovision Song Contest, as has been done every year since 1981, with the exception of Ukraine.

Kalush Orchestra won Eurovision in 2022, but Ukraine could not host in 2023 due to Russia’s invasion, and the competition was instead held in Liverpool, England.
When Australia was invited to participate in 2015, Eurovision stipulated future song contests could not be hosted in Australia for logistical and financial reasons.
Instead, a European co-host would stage the competition on Australia’s behalf.

The Eurovision Song Contest is held from May 8-12 (AEST) and will air on SBS and SBS On Demand.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Electric Fields is representing Australia at Eurovision – how did they get into the contest?”
  1. As an Australian, I’m proud to see Electric Fields representing our country at Eurovision. It’s amazing to see them bringing Yankunytjatjara language to the stage, showcasing our rich cultural heritage to a global audience. Australia’s involvement in Eurovision may raise some questions, but our love for the contest runs deep, and it’s a joy to be a part of this musical celebration.

  2. It’s great to see Electric Fields representing Australia at Eurovision! I believe it’s a wonderful opportunity for them to showcase their talent on a global stage.

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