Australia will compete in this year's Eurovision Song Contest. Yup, that's not a typo. Just days after the country won the Asian Cup soccer tournament, organizers of Eurovision have announced Australia is an entrant for this year's pan-European musical kitsch-fest.
The Eurovision Song Contest celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, and organizers wanted to bring the world to the party. Australia, which has a long association with Eurovision, though never as a competitor, has come on board for the May 19, 21 and 23 event in Vienna.
Australia is one of 40 countries competing for the title, which this year carries the theme "Building Bridges." "It's a daring and at the same time incredibly exciting move. It is our way of saying 'let's celebrate this party together!'" says Jon Ola Sand, executive supervisor of the contest on behalf of the European Broadcasting Union. The EBU and host broadcaster ORF invited Australia to party with Europe.
It's by no means the first time Australia has participated in the annual competition. Australian pop artist Jessica Mauboy performed "Sea Of Flags" during the interval for the second Eurovision semi-final last May in Copenhagen. The indigenous singer, who was the reigning ARIA female artist of the year when she hit the stage in Denmark, was invited after organizers decided to reward Australia's SBS for its ongoing support. SBS has beamed the event into Australian households for more than 30 years. Olivia Newton-John, who is globally recognized as an Australian but was born in England, competed at Eurovision in 1974, when she represented the U.K. with the song "Long Live Love." The song finished fourth in the competition.
Following Wednesday's shock announcement, the word "Eurovision" trended on Twitter for the rest of the day Down Under. Many armchair pundits appear to want Kylie Minogue to wave the Aussie flag, while the likes of Darren Hayes, Delta Goodrem and even veteran rockers Midnight Oil have been put forward.
Australia will be allowed to vote in both semi-finals this year, as well as the grand final. According to organizers, possibilities are "currently being explored" to allow the public to have a 50 percent stake in the Australian vote via televoting.
The Austrian bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst won last year's 59th edition of Eurovision.