Aussie star set to shine at Eurovision
ON the eve of the Eurovision Song Contest final, the overwhelming favourite to win the 2019 title is The Netherlands representativeDuncan Laurence.
His piano ballad Arcade emphatically leads all the pundit and betting polls but many commentators and fans in Tel Aviv refuse to rule out an upset victory by Australia's Kate Miller-Heidke.
The epic staging of her performance, her otherworldly vocal range and one-of-a-kind song Zero Gravity all combine to make our pop angel on a bendy pole a definite contender.
Miller-Heidke has been placed second in the Eurovision field by fan and blogger polls and bookmakers since the completion of the second semi-finals on Friday morning.
She has a competitive advantage having scored the highly favourable position of performing second last in the roll call of 26 acts in the final.
That should keep her performance fresh in the minds of the fans when voting opens after Spain's Miki closes the night with La Venda.
Other contenders rounding out the top 5 in the polls are Sweden's John Lundvik and his gospel-pop song Too Late For Love, Switzerland's Luca Hanni with his pop banger She Got Me and Italy's Mahmood with his slice of Euro urban pop Soldi.
Miller-Heidke isn't thinking about winning.
She has enough to focus on with shimmying up that five-metre poll, being wheeled out onto the stage in 30 seconds before she has to start hitting stratospheric notes and effortlessly using her body weight to soar above the stage.
And, as she told the Australian media after her flawless semi-final performance to advance to the final earlier this week, it would mess with her head to contemplate hearing the mind-blogging announcement:
"And the winner is Australia". "No, I just can't think like that," she said.
"Sometimes the rankings and whatever will start to play on my mind but I am just going into it with the idea I am part of one of the biggest celebrations, one of the most whackiest, most eclectic concert line ups ever.
"It's the kind of craziness that would never be seen anywhere else on the planet and I love it, I am totally here for it.
"I am just here to be a part of it and I can't get caught up in which rank will I come because it will damage my psyche, I have a very fragile ego."
In the early hours of Saturday morning (AEST) Miller-Heidke delivered yet another confident presentation of Zero Gravity, flanked by her graceful Strange Fruit acrobat dancers Emily Ryan and Emma Waite.
A stray strand of hair caught up in her crown aside, her jury final set scored huge applause and some standing ovations in the press centre and also generated a deafening roar from fans in the Expo Tel Aviv arena.
That non-televised performance was screened only for the professional juries representing the final's 26 countries who cast their votes today.
Those votes comprise 50 per cent of the total, with the other 50 per cent from fans after Sunday morning's televised final.
The Australian team, broadcaster SBS led by managing director James Taylor and our Head of Delegation Paul Clarke, are diplomatically optimistic about Miller-Heidke's chances. But for them it may also a case of be careful what you wish for.
There is zero doubt Team Australia would be ecstatic to win - we are a nation that prides ourselves on punching above our weight to snag world titles - but staging the Eurovision Song Contest is an enormous undertaking.
It takes months of negotiation and planning and such a mammoth music television event doesn't come cheap.
Reports have estimated the budget for the 2019 contest in Israel at more than $40 million, funded by sponsorships, a government loan and licence fees from participating broadcasters.
SBS has more than 35 years experience broadcasting Eurovision, five years of competition and the successful first selection show Australia Decides staged in February on the Gold Coast under their belt.
Should Australia realise our Eurovision fantasy and win, we would co-host the event with another European country.
Those pesky time differences - and Euro pride - rule out staging it down under. The leading co-host contenders would be London, Berlin and Paris.
Watch the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest final live from 5am (AEST) on May 19 on SBS, with live streaming at SBS On Demand. The prime-time broadcast airs from 8.30pm and will also be available to stream afterwards at SBS On Demand.