Song Title: “Tonight Again”
Artist: Guy Sebastian
Last year’s entry: None, but there was that Jessica Mauboy interval act.
It’s not actually that surprising that Eurovision is finally letting Australia play with them. Besides the island’s connection to Europe, they’ve been broadcasting the contest in some form since 1983. In 2006, they started airing the UK’s commentary on top of the show, and since 2009 they’ve had their own commentators at the event. While SBS (the Australian broadcaster) has done an “unofficial” Aussie vote since 2010, this is the first year where Australia will have an official say in the matter, and an official contestant representing them. No pressure, Guy Sebastian. How has time updated our opinions here at WEIO Eurovision Headquarters?
I still like this entry as a song, but I have a few thoughts as to why it may not do quite as well as people think. First, the more I listen to this song, the more derivative it feels. Sure, it’s pulling from what’s going on in the radio right now with its more soul-influenced sound, but I was hoping for something a little more original than a Sam Smith/”Uptown Funk” ripoff. Especially given the campier pop culture Australia’s contributed to the world, it’s a little disappointing to me that their entry’s so middle of the road.
When it comes down to the voting, I think the rest of the EBU that votes in this are either really going to like this song and shower it with points, or will really going to disagree with this outsider nation waltzing1 in without even needing to qualify for the semis and shut it out. I don’t see this landing in the middle of the rankings – it’s either near the top or near the bottom. I don’t think SBS needs to start worrying about which European capital they want to hold things in for 2016, though – there are enough other entries of “Tonight Again”‘s caliber that have enough home-region support to hold down the fort.
Big Five slackers2 take note: this is how you do a submission that bypasses the semi-finals. “Tonight Again” rivals Slovenia and Belarus in overall catchiness, the lyrics are on point, and it brings the appropriate level of “party” to the proceedings. If any other country submitted this song, I think it would still be sitting near the top of the favorites list just as it is now. I think Australia’s overall success is going to depend on how much sway Eurovision purists have on voting and the juries. Although the theme of this year’s Contest is “Building Bridges”, expanding the competition well beyond the EBU’s range may still rub people the wrong way. This will become even more complicated if Australia wins, as their one-time-only appearance may get an extended run.
After listening more closely and realizing just how strong this year’s field is, I’m still very bullish on Guy Sebastian. This is a well-constructed and catchy radio-ready song with no obvious major flaws, and no direct competition from other entries in the same genre. If I have any complaint, it’s that I personally would love to hear a little less pop and a little more funk. But that’s a strategic decision, and likely a wise one — Australia knows and loves Eurovision possibly more than anyone. Could this entry win? Ehhh … I think “Tonight Again” lands easily in the top five. There are just too many other great songs from nations that have geopolitical allies to count on. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Australia get a ton of 10s and 8s, but not quite enough 12s to land on top.