The presence of Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest is a constant reminder of how every country should be approaching the competition. Since the country gets to participate as a special guest, they seem to be going above and beyond in making sure they do not squander the opportunity. After last year’s phenomenal performance by Dami Im, finding an appropriate followup is an additional challenge.
Since a powerfully delivered ballad by a winner of Australia’s version of The X Factor worked last year, SBS will be returning to that well this, having selected the most recent champion Isaiah Firebrace to represent the continent. Here’s his song “Don’t Come Easy”:
Jeezy creezy, Australia’s here to play again, y’all. This type of song normally isn’t my jam, but Isaiah’s vocal tone is incredible and somewhat unexpected. I’m reminded of France’s Amaury Vassili (2011), who had incredible carriage despite his slight frame. Assuming he can deliver on the vocal on the live stage, Australia could be making another run for the gold medal.1
Delivering a strong stage performance is going to be the determining factor of Isaiah’s success. The video for “Don’t Come Easy” doesn’t do a great job of mixing the sound with the on-screen performance. This could be an issue with editing, direction, or perhaps Isaiah not being great at lip syncing, but he’s going to need to bring the gravitas. I doubt that will be a problem–shrinking violets do not win The X Factor.
Australia’s eating your lunch, Europe, and I am here for it.