Anybody who is surprised to learn this morning that Australia will return to the Eurovision Song Contest next year wants their head examining. The messaging might have been softly-softly ‘we’ll see how this goes’ last year, but the sub-text was quite clear.
The context of Austrlia’s involvement in last year’s contest seemed straightforward: Australia has watched it for years, got as excited by it as the rest of us for as long, so why shouldn’t they have a go? Their participation was a natural extension of their already considerable enthusiasm for the show and a nice way of celebrating 60th.
But Australia’s involvement was couched in fairly safe terms. The EBU was careful not to rock the boat too much, describing Australia’s entry as a ‘guest ticket’ and in no-way a permanent fixture. It felt like it was something of a one-off, or at least that was the idea that was being conveyed. Fair enough, they’re not a permanent fixture yet (and they have to participate in the semi-finals), but their return feels like it’s one step closer.
I should probably stop being such a grump. Their first appearance last year with Guy Sebastian was a cracking entry well-performed, something reflected in scoring too. Why shouldn’t a format change over time? Maybe a show needs to expand in order to keep it afloat. Maybe Australia’s involvement will give the show an injection of musical ‘quality’ too. I’m also aware that a great many other Eurovision fans see their involvement as a good thing. I’m far from representative.
For me though, I’m protective of the brand. It was always a stretch to describe Israel as part of Europe. It’s nigh-on impossible to do so with a different continent represented in the running order. What that means is that the brand name will have to change eventually, won’t it? And I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that.