Hot on the heels of news that Australia has been officially granted a crack at Eurovision for the third year running, Music Feeds has checked in with the boss dog of our proud nation’s official Eurovision squad, Paul Clarke, to find out where their heads are at with selecting our vocal combatant for 2017.
After reality TV-hatched pop stars Guy Sebastian and Dami Im brought Australia Top 5 glory over the past two years, the pressure in on to maintain the same hot form in 2017. But that doesn’t mean the Eurovision Delegation are looking for an artist who fits a similar popstar mould. In fact, all bets seem to be off this year.
“I think you need to keep it really open,” Clarke tells Music Feeds. “I’m completely open, and everyone at SBS is just completely open to a group or a duet — it’s just who’s the strongest for this year, you know? It could be a DJ with a vocalist, it could be anything.”
This means that anyone from Flume and Alison Wonderland to the hot-tipped Veronicas could be on the cards. And in response to our suggestions of a heavier homegrown act like Jet or Parkway Drive, Clarke reckons “they’re really good choices!”
“You know, different people have made different suggestions to me,” he says. “Jimmy Barnes’ manager joked that it might be his year [laughs] but it was just a joke.”
When prompted about the possibility of actually recruiting Barnesy, Clarke says, “They’d know what kind of people we were then, wouldn’t they?
“It wasn’t a serious thing though, I think [Barnesy’s manager] just really liked the idea of imagining it — maybe in his kilt.
“But the fun thing about this time of year is that I get to meet a lot of the different record companies and management and just talk through who’s a potential, and so we’ve really only just started that now.”
Something that will play a big part in the delegation’s decision about who to ultimately send into battle for Australia is the official theme of Eurovision 2017, which at this point has yet to be unveiled.
“Last year, the theme was ‘Come Together’,” Clarke explains, “and there was something about Dami’s story — it was this really positive immigrant story that I thought would play really well in the year that Europe had had of huge migration and lots of people being displaced.
“I thought Dami’s story would be a positive one. And she really went over so well there, and that was a part of [the decision to pick her as our official contestant]. So it’s just waiting to see what they’re looking to present in Ukraine, and what the theme is, and who isn’t recording/who’s available next year and could do it.”
There are a few big Aussie names who seem to be off the cards already. Delta Goodrem’s apparently been ruled out of contention due to scheduling conflicts with her role on Nine’s The Voice, while Clarke says rumours that Tame Impala could be tapped to perform — or frontman Kevin Parker recruited to compose our official song entry — are nothing but “journalistic speculation” at this point.
“I don’t know that Eurovision is high on Kevin Parker’s agenda for what he wants to do,” Clarke says. “And look, Eurovision is a very different stage to the one that Tame Impala choose to play on… I’m a huge fan of Tame Impala but — you know — you have to leave your own tastes at the door and think ‘What is the audience’s taste?’ and ‘What are Eurovision looking for, at this time?’
“It’s a TV show – you’re wanting to bring a big audience to the show for Australia, and you’re wanting to bring the right artist that the European audience are going to vote for.”
The Delegation have until March of next year to figure out which Australian act best fits all that criteria, so they’re still in the very early stages at this point.
“We’ve got some time and we’ve started running to see who we can find,” Clarke says. “So we’ll keep you posted.”
Gallery: Who We REALLY Want To See Represent Australia At Eurovision 2017