Pop singer Guy Sebastian has been chosen as Australia’s first-ever representative at the Eurovision Song Contest.
Sebastian is no stranger to the big stage of a fan-voted pop extravaganza. He won the inaugural edition of Australian Idol back in 2003, and he has gone on to a hugely successful recording career in his homeland. In fact, he’s the biggest success story yet to emerge from Aussie reality-TV.
Sebastian is the only homegrown male artist to have landed six number No. 1 singles and two No. 1 albums in ARIA chart history, and he has shifted more than 3 million combined singles and albums Down Under. His 2012 collab with Lupe Fiasco on “Battle Scars” hit No. 1 in Australia and reached No. 71 on the Billboard Hot 100; it’s now platinum-certified in the U.S.
The announcement was made Thursday morning with a ceremony at the Sydney Opera House. Eurovision (and Australia’s rep) trended on Twitter throughout the day.
Sebastian isn’t the first Aussie to perform at Eurovision. The singer’s Sony Music Australia labelmate Jessica Mauboy performed “Sea Of Flags” during the interval for the second Eurovision semi-final last May in Copenhagen, while Gina G and Olivia Newton-John have performed for the U.K. in years past.
Australia has been fast-tracked to the final of the competition, which this year celebrates its 60th anniversary and carries the theme “Building Bridges.” The contest will be held in Vienna and runs from May 19, 21 and 23.
Sebastian’s elevation to this pseudo-diplomatic role has had a mixed-reception. He’s used to dodging brickbats. “Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate, and it is what it is,” Sebastian quipped at Thursday’s press conference. “There’s way too many positives.” He added, “I’m stoked to be chosen.”
Social media accounts have been buzzing since Eurovision organizers confirmed last month that Australia would get its first crack as a wildcard entry for the kitsch-fest. The likes of Kylie Minogue and Sia Furler were among the fan-favorites for the job, while an online campaign was launched to encourage masked ’90s alternative-rock outfit Tism to reunite for the show. The petition gathered more than 14,000 signatures.