Australia selects Kate Miller-Heidke in first national final
This year Australia will participate in the Eurovision Song Contest for the fifth time, but it was the first time Australian broadcaster SBS actually hosted a national selection. So far, they had selected their performers through an internal selection with mostly success as a result; Guy Sebastian made it to top 5 in 2015, Dami Im finished 2nd in 2016, Isaiah made it into top 10 in 2017 while Jessica Mauboy last year finished 20th in the final. SBS managed to select 10 diverse entries with quite some big names for the national final Australia Decides. After beating Rupaul’s Drag Race finalist, Celebrity Big Brother winner Courtney Act (4th), ‘Geronimo’ hit makers Sheppard (3rd) and fan favourites Electric Fields (2nd), Kate Miller-Heidke emerged victorious with her pop opera banger ‘Zero Gravity’.
Kate Miller-Heidke, who has been active as a recording artist in Australia for over 10 years, received the most points of both the juries and televoters, but will she be able to convince both groups in the first semi final in Tel Aviv too? Eurovision fans on social media were quick to point out that Australia seems to follow the idea of last year’s Estonian entry. Elina Nechayeva reached top 10 with ‘La Forza’, a pop and opera crossover. To be fair to Kate Miller-Heidke, the opera vocals are about the only element the two songs have in common. ‘Zero Gravity’ starts out quietly until Kate shows off her range with some vocal acrobatics in the first chorus. For the second verse, a beat kicks in while the grande finale yet again chances the tempo. The song was written by Miller-Heidke and her partner Keir Nuttall, about a struggle with depression she experienced.
If you thought the song in itself was a bit extra, wait until you see the performance too! Kate and her team threw together a couple of Eurovision cliches, but executed them in a way they actually mean something. Miller-Heidke seems to be floating in her massive dress (referring to the title of the song) while the dancer in black who is flying behind her, seems to portray the depression she is fighting off. The risk with this song and performance is that it is so extra, that it is quite a lot to process. I have to admit that my initial reaction was more of a ‘what the hell did I just watch?’ than ‘let me pick up my phone and vote for this’ too. At least the performance won’t be easily forgotten!
Having said that, there is few adjustments that would heighten Australia’s chances in May. During the national final performance, it was sometimes hard to hear what Kate was singing as the balance between her microphone and the instrumentation seemed a bit off. If they manage to fix this and Kate hits all the big notes, I can see the jury falling for this. Even if it all does not work out, Australia at least served their first Eurovision kitch banger and for that we should be grateful.