Darren Hayes to help choose Australia’s entry for Eurovision

SBS draws upon big guns with former Savage Garden singer, for the Eurovision: Australia Decides jury.

EXCLUSIVE: Singer Darren Hayes will help choose Australia’s representative for the Eurovision Song Contest this year.

Hayes is part of the Jury for Eurovision: Australia Decides, taking place at the Gold Coast Convention Centre this weekend.

The former Savage Garden singer is joined by vocalist Alexandra Rotan from Norwegian 2019 act KEiiNO, Millie Petriella from APRA-AMCOS, Emily Griggs SBS Head of Food and Entertainment and Creative Director and producer Paul Clarke.

The jury comprises 50% of the Australian vote with viewers deciding the other 50% via a Live vote on Saturday.

Paul Clarke tells TV Tonight this year the votes will be revealed in a model that resembles the points announced at Eurovision.

“We’re going to rank the audience votes for the first time, which is both to be fairer, but also more dramatic,” he explained.

“So the most points you can get is the same amount that you can get from the jury. An act might get 60 points from the jury (12×5) so we’re going to have the same with our audience vote. The highest audience vote will be 60. It’s a little more in line with Eurovision.”

There are 11 acts vying for the chance to represent Australia in Turin in May including 2017 entry Isaiah Firebrace, now in a duet with Evie Irie. There’s also an unsigned artist Erica Padilla, discovered via a call-out through TikTok which he describes as “really polished R&B song.”

Clarke notes some acts are emerging as favourites amongst die-hard Eurovision fans.

“Sheldon Riley’s piece is quite extraordinary. It’s almost like he was genetically engineered for Eurovision. It’s just an enormous gothic kind of Phantom of the Opera piece,” he continued.

“We’re doing something very exciting with Jaguar Jonze. Her song Little Fires is about the MeToo movement. The song involves fire. I can’t reveal any more than that but it’s really powerful, and kind of beautiful in its own way.”

He also nods to WA rockers Voyager and their lead singer Daniel Estrin.

“He’s got a Duran Duran kind of voice. It’s a really good song and people are really pumped about it.”

Also competing is Australian Idol graduate Paulini, who is “dressed up like a disco Khaleesi if you can imagine such a thing, with a team of Mad Max peasants around her,” Cypriot-Australian hunk Andrew Lambrou performing part of his song in Spanish, and vocalist Charley whose song is “very touching.. I love the end of it, where she goes out on an emotional roller coaster.”

Clarke likens Jude York’s haunting ballad to “an outtake from The Wizard of Oz” and says staging for Seann Miley Moore’s piece resembles Roxie Hart dancing with herself in the mirror in Chicago.

“He’s got a great voice but also a great look. A Yul Brynner vibe from The King and I…” he adds.

Evie Irie, who joins Isaiah Firebrace, is described as “a kind of P!nk Jr” for their duet, “a commercial track than the others” while The Voice grand finalists GNat!on will deliver a girl power performance.

“Some of the artists aren’t as well known as, as Kate Miller-Heidke or Sheppard but the good thing about this show has been that we’ve taken people like Electric Fields, who had a following of about 2000 people and brought them to an audience in Europe. SBS are going live On Demand (no geo-blocking), so anybody can see it in the world. For the performers that’s a really exciting thing,” says Clarke.

Hosted by Joel Creasey and Myf Warhurst, with Dylan Lewis as Green Room host, the show will open with guest act, Norway’s KEiiNO performing with Montaigne, who was denied two opportunities to perform in person in Europe due to the pandemic.

“We wanted to give Montaigne her moment of Eurovision. So she comes together with KEiiNO at the start of the show.”

Yet Covid may have inadvertently elevated the level of songs this year with lockdowns forcing many artists  to dig deep in their pursuit of expression.

On Saturday all 11 will get their chance to show Australia what they are made of and while Clarke can’t possibly have any favourites he is excited, if nearly exhausted, in the run up to the live broadcast.

“I’ve worked with the artists for six months. You’re just so invested with each of them but you’re constantly just trying to strengthen each of the performances in different ways,” he acknowledges.

“You have to work with them all like you want them to win.”


Saturday February 26 on SBS
NSW/VIC/TAS/ACT 8:30pm – 10:30pm AEDT
QLD 7:30pm – 9:30pm AEST
SA 8:00pm – 10:00pm ACDT
WA 5:30pm – 7:30pm AWST
NT 7:00pm – 9:00pm ACST

NITV all States / Territories:
8pm Isaiah Firebrace: More to Give
8:30pm Eurovision: Australia Decides

Voting will commence at 22:00 (10pm) AEDT on Friday 25 February 2022 and remain open until 21:45 (9:45pm) AEDT on Saturday 26 February 2022.

G-Nat!on: Bite Me

Seann Miley Moore: My Body

Isaiah Firebrace and Evie Irie: When I’m With You

Andrew Lambrou: Electrify

Jaguar Jonze: Little Fires

Charley: I Suck At Being Lonely

Voyager: Dreamer

Jude York: I Won’t Need to Dream

Sheldon Riley: Not The Same

Paulini: We Are One

Erica Padilla: To The Bottom (TikTok Wildcard Entry)

Who should win Eurovision: Australia Decides?

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