Australia held its own on the Eurovision Song Stage, with Guy Sebastian earning us fifth place with his upbeat jam “Tonight Again”. Australia hustled a special invite to compete in Eurovision for the contest’s 60th anniversary in Austria, and bleary-eyed local fans braved the early hours of Sunday morning to watch and vote in the final live.“We have no neighbouring nations that were giving us [points], but we got so much support over here,” Guy told SBS after the final. “The reaction to the song and the performance was mind-blowing… I hope I have done you proud, and I thank you so much for waking up, for supporting me. I felt everyone’s wind in my sails.” SBS newsreader and national treasure Lee Lin Chin fronted Eurovision’s 200-million-odd audience to reveal which countries we were allocating our points to.
Swedish hunk Mans Zelmerlow’s winning song actually had a backstory. Clad in tight leather pants, Mans sang his Avicii-esque pop number “Heroes” against an interactive backdrop featuring small stick figures and the knockout performance won him the contest. At the post-show press conference, Mans explained the meaning behind the visuals: the cartoon stick figure on screen was his 10-year-old self who had been bullied. Mans played the role of his real-life friend who rescued him. “We should stand up for the weaker in society and make them stronger,” he said. Mans, who is a famous pop star-type in his home country, apologised last year for a controversy over anti-gay remarks of his that surfaced in the media but took the opportunity at Eurovision to give a message of inclusiveness to the crowd. “I’m so happy and I want to say thank you for voting for me,” he said onstage. “I want to say we are all Heroes, no matter who we love, who we are or what we believe in – we are all heroes.” And he once covered Miley Cyrus while swinging naked on a wrecking ball on live Swedish TV, so there’s that.
Russia’s performer is probably always going to be booed. This year, blonde Russian beauty Polina Gargarina came in second place after delivering an emotionally-charged performance of her song “Million Voices”. But every time she was awarded points, she got booed, multiple media reports claimed. The prospect of a Russian-hosted Eurovision may have been uncomfortable for many but a host was forced to remind the audience that the contest was about the music, not politics. Couldn’t hear the heckling on TV? UK newspaper the Daily Mirror reported that it was removed from the broadcast and cheers were piped in using what they hilariously called “anti-booing technology.”
As for the majority of the other finalists? They disappointingly brought impressive production values and impeccable taste to their performances in the competition that was once legendary for its garishness and kitsch. How dare they! Adorable Belgian teen Loic Nottet, who successfully channelled Lorde’s sound and her seizure-like dance moves for his song “Rhythm Again”, nosed ahead of Guy Sebastian into fourth place. Illustrious Italian opera trio Il Volo got third place with “Grande Amore.”
But last year’s winner, the captivating Conchita Wurst, is still the queen. As well as taking on co-hosting duties at this year’s show, the glamorous drag star also took every opportunity to spruik her fabulous new album, Conchita. She performed her 2014 winning song “Rise Like A Phoenix” and the electronic stomper “Firestorm” during the final. “I think ‘Firestorm’ would be my Cher-esque number and I guess my Celine Dion-esque song would be ‘Pure’. We also have Shirley Bassey on ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ and ‘Where Have All The Good Men Gone’. It’s a very colourful mix of music genres,” Conchita said of her album in an interview with Eurovision.tv during the contest. “I had about 300 songs from all around the world and I was listening to all of them. It was a long process.”