While Australia are still the relative newcomers to Eurovision, they really feel like an established part of the contest now. So much so in fact, that they even got their first non-qualification last year! I personally loved Montaigne’s entry last year but it wasn’t to be and she didn’t even get the chance to attend in person. Sheldon Riley is this year’s hopeful with his song “Not the Same” and he WILL be physically present at the contest (fingers crossed) having already attended several of the pre-parties.
Sheldon won the Australian national final this year, coming second in both jury and public vote to emerge as the overall winner. He’s no stranger to live singing contests though, having competed in Australia’s X Factor and The Voice and also appearing in America’s Got Talent. His win at Eurovision – Australia Decides is his most prominent success to date. “Not the Same” is cowritten by Sheldon and is a song on his very personal experiences of growing up with Asperger syndrome, unaware of his homosexuality, moving house frequently and with religious parents.
Sheldon is one of several very strong male vocalists in the contest this year, and “Not the Same” really is a showcase of that vocal ability. Sheldon emotes strongly through his live vocal, and the result is both haunting and heart wrenching, and combined with the costume theatrics, amounts to a memorable performance. It’s an entry to be respected, though given it’s very serious nature and slower pace, it’s not one I put on repeat (but I don’t skip either).
Sheldon has been overwhelmed with this opportunity and had a whale of a time visiting Europe for the pre-parties, delivering great live vocals in spite of being full of a cold/sore throat at a time. I think there has been some quite unnecessary unpleasantness thrown at him online (and am certain homophobic in part) which I just don’t understand people’s mindsets for that.
Will this bring back Australia to their qualifying ways? While I don’t think it is a dead cert, I think this stands a pretty good chance. His live vocals and song quality will pick up jury votes and there should be enough of a public vote (both UK and Ireland vote in his semi-final) to take him through. I’m interested to see what he will do for his costume and staging – it will be memorable I am sure.
Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 2015
Appearances (excluding this year): 6
Best result: 2nd in 2016
Last year’s result: 14th in semi-final (did not qualify)