Editorial: Name of the Game

10 May 2017 Amy Hetherington

Editorial: Name of the Game

Whip out the wind machine, pull on your platforms and perhaps don a dinosaur costume while you’re at it – it’s Eurovision time!

By rights, Australia should really be co-hosting this year’s contest; we were cheated out of our big win last year. Yes, Dami Im was robbed.

Or was she? In our latest edition, Eurovisions Professor (how glorious!) Alison Lewis explains the politics behind the world’s most prestigiously kitschy song contest. While self-confessed Eurovision-tragic Claire Isaac explains why Australia is even allowed to compete in the first place. And Molly Meldrum celebrates Eurovision superstars ABBA, explaining how he and Countdown played a part in helping them achieve world-wide domination.

As for our chances at winning this time? We’ll be cheering for 17-year-old Isaiah Firebrace, the 2016 X-Factor winner from Moama, NSW, whose voice draws comparison to Marvin Gaye.

“So far this is the biggest thing to ever happen to me,” Isaiah reveals over the phone. “The Eurovision song contest – I mean 250 million people worldwide! I feel so honoured and blessed, I can’t wait to get over there and meet everyone and have a good time. 

He’ll be performing ‘Don’t Come Easy’, written by the same team behind Dami’s second-placed hit ‘Sound of Silence’. A song he’s been performing and refining while touring nationally with Eurovision alum Jessica Mauboy, who along with Dami has been giving him tips. “The main thing they told me is to just take it in your stride, step by step – don’t get too ahead of yourself, don’t worry about placing at the top spot. Just go out on stage and enjoy the moment because you are probably never going to be on a stage that big again.

“I feel really lucky to be 17 and Indigenous and doing this massive big competition in Ukraine. I’m really proud of my people, and I want to be a role model for young Indigenous people. I do want to inspire all young people to follow their dreams – no matter how young you are.”

And who does he perceive to be his biggest competition? “I do have favourites. I like Italy with the dancing gorilla. I think that is such a fun concept for Eurovision; it’s something really silly. And I like Blanche from Belgium, she is the same age as me, her song is called ‘Lights’; I really like that song, too.” 

As for his own performance, Isaiah won’t give away too many stage secrets. “I’m performing in something I’ve never performed in front of, it’s quite long and I hope I don’t fall over – and that’s all I’m saying!”

All will be revealed from 10 May, when we’ll forgo sleep to tune in SBS for our annual dose of cheesy, gaudy goodness.

Amy Hetherington, Editor

This article first appeared in Ed#536 of The Big Issue. Grab a copy today for all the glitz and glamour of ABBA and Eurovision, as well as your usual favourites!