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This coming Saturday night all European eyes will be focused on one event and one prize. It’s the 60th Annual Eurovision Song Contest and for the first time ever Australia will have a representative.

Yes that’s right, its not a typo, Guy Sebastian will be representing Australia in a Europe singing contest.

Now for those in New Zealand, Eurovision isn’t much of a deal, tucked away in the early hours of the morning on some channel no one ever visits.

But for those in Australia, a growing minority, Eurovision has long been a time when Australians can look to their northern hemisphere cousins and laugh with them, cry with them and get wound up in the excitement.

Eurovision is a song contest, just like American Idol, The Voice and X Factor, but what sets it apart is that is only held once every year and you not only sing a song for fame and fortune, you are representing your whole country on this global scale. And if you win your country gets to host the event next year. So there’s lots at stake.

How do you win?

Each country left in the competition gets to vote. 50 percent of the vote is by a panel of industry experts and 50 percent is by viewer voting, these days mainly by the official app. Each country ranks their top 10 countries and they are allocated points. You cannot vote for yourself. Many countries actually vote in blocks or boycott voting for other countries if they are at war or in political disagreement.

There are two semi finals and the best ten of each of those go on to the final where they join host country Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom and this year Australia in the final to make up the final 16.

Why is Australia in Eurovision this year?

Australia is pretty much as far away from Europe as you can get, yet this year they are making history by participating in the Eurovision Song Contest for the very first time.

Owing to its cultural and political ties to European countries, the Eurovision Song Contest has been televised in Australia by the public broadcaster SBS for over thirty years.

In honour of the contest’s 60th running and in recognition of the event’s popularity in Australia, it was announced in February that Australia was invited to compete in the 2015 contest as a special guest participant.

Although this will be considered a one-off event, Australia would, per Eurovision rules, still be able to return for the 2016 contest if it were to win.

Australia will be represented by former Australian Idol winner and X Factor judge Guy Sebastian. Take a sneak peak below at his Eurovision rehearsal.

So who should we look out for in the final?

Following Semi Final 1 we have listed a few that are worth watching in the final on Sunday morning.

 

Belgium: Loïc Nottet

 

Belgium: Loïc Nottet
Belgium: Loïc Nottet – Credits: Photography & Art Work by Josh Brandão
Photography & Art Work by Josh Brandão

Belgium’s Loïc Nottet appears to have channelled Kiwi Lorde’s monster global smash ‘Royals’ for his stripped back clicky entry into the 2015 contest. Young Loïc cites South Australia’s Sia as one of his idols and his cover of her hit ‘Chandelier’ is pretty impressive and garnered praise from the performer herself. A very controlled performance, very clean with just himself on stage with five back-up singers dressed in white. Has to be a massive chance to take this out

Estonia: Elina Born & Stig Rästa

Estonia: Elina Born & Stig Rästa
Estonia: Elina Born & Stig Rästa

The Estonian duo of Elina Born & Stig Rästa broke all local records this year in winning their national selection, Eesti Laul, by a whopping 79 per cent. Their act is not dissimilar to last year’s successful Dutch entry, which placed second overall, where the duo has traded Nashville sensibility for moody hipster.”Goodbye to Yesterday”

Serbia: Bojana Stamenov

Serbia: Bojana Stamenov
Serbia: Bojana Stamenov

The strong positive message of ‘Beauty Never Lies’, with lyrics such as “I’m different and it’s okay”, will resonate with the audience in Vienna and at home. And as the final third of the song transforms into a dance floor thumper bubbly Bojana had the hall dancing with joy n a moment that kindly felt like a cross between Family Bar and Arq.

 

Russia: Polina Gagarina

The best ballad in this year’s contest has an Aussie connection. One of ‘A Million Voices’ composers is Sydney ensemble Cassette Kids vocalist Katrina Noorbergen and will be performed in Vienna by the stunning Polina Gagarina. Although Russia’s sure to get a cool reception in the Wiener Stadthalle there’s no denying the power of this song. It’s big and it’s going to get lots of votes.

 

The qualifiers from Semi-Final 1 were:

Albania
Armania
Russia
Romania
Hungary
Greece
Estonia
Georgia
Serbia
Belgium

 

Semi final 2 will be held Friday morning Aust/NZ time with the final set for Sunday morning.

 

 

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