The there is an adage among the Eurovision cognoscenti – that you need "the song, the singer and the dress."

Australia's entrant Jessica Mauboy has been on the ground in Lisbon for two weeks refining her performance and has, in both the second semi-final and the grand final rehearsals and jury show, locked down all three.

Speaking ahead of Sunday morning's grand final, Mauboy described it as "a magic moment".

Mauboy has performed the song on the Eurovision stage twice in full rehearsal and eight times in competition.

Jessica Mauboy on stage rehearsing for this morning's Eurovision grand final in Lisbon, Portugal.

Photo: Thomas Hanses


Eurovision requires four performances for each heat, including a "jury show" which is assessed by a professional jury and the live telecast, which is voted on by the TV audience.

The two scores are integrated to find the final result.

Australia has a strong track record at Eurovision, ranking 5th, 2nd and 9th in our three past years of competition, but 2018 is an unusually strong year and there are at least a half-dozen countries expected to dominate the competition.

They include Cyprus's Eleni Fouriera, Estonia's Elina Nechayeva, Israel's Netta, Denmark's Rasmussen and Moldova's DoReDoS.

Denmark's Rasmussen on the stage at the 63rd annual Eurovision Song Contest.

Photo: Thomas Hanses

Though is officially discouraged, clusters of European countries often vote in blocs, giving each other their highest scores, such as Cyprus/Greece, Denmark/Finland/Iceland/Norway/Sweden, Estonia/Latvia/Lithuania and so on.

Though Australia, a relatively new entrant in the competition, has not fallen into a voting bloc there is a noticeable trend identifying which countries tend to score us well; they include Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Poland and the United Kingdom.

Elina Nechayeva from Estonia performs La Forza at Eurovision.

Photo: AP/Armando Franca

Speaking before the grand final, Mauboy said she was running on adrenalin.

"I am pumped," she said. "I am thinking about what it's going to feel like, how I am going to move, and that is all going to change again."

Though the week-long event has run smoothly, it has not been without incident; the European Broadcasting Union expelled the Chinese broadcaster from the event after it censored two performances in the first semi-final.

Mall, performed by Albania's Eugent Bushpepa, was cut because it featured performers with tattoos and Together, performed by Ireland's Ryan O'Shaughnessy, featured lyrics and visual imagery about a same-sex relationship.

The semi-finalists, including Australia, advancing to the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Photo: Andres Putting

The Chinese broadcaster Mango TV could not give the EBU an assurance that the performances, both of which booked slots in the grand final, would not be censored again so the EBU tore up its broadcasting agreement.

"[The censoring of the two performances] is not in line with the EBUs values of universality and inclusivity and our proud tradition of celebrating diversity through music," the EBU said in a statement.

It is also, somewhat controversially, the first time since the introduction of the semi-finals in 2004 that Azerbaijan, Romania and Russia failed to qualify for the grand final.

The six-decade-old song competition has served as the launchpad for a string of high-profile artists, notably ABBA, who won in 1974 with Waterloo, Celine Dion, who won with Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi in 1988 and Brotherhood of Man, who won in 1976 with Save All Your Kisses For Me.

Jessica Mauboy in a candid moment after her stunning semi-final performance at Eurovision.

Photo: Andres Putting

More recently, the contest has launched artists such as Lordi, who won with Hard Rock Hallelujah in 2006 and Conchita Wurst, whose anthemic Rise Like a Phoenix in 2014 has become one of the most memorable Eurovision songs of the past decade.

The grand final of the 63rd annual Eurovision Song Contest is airing live on SBS; it will be replayed at 7.30pm; the two semi-finals and grand final can be replayed via SBS On Demand.

The journalist travelled to Lisbon courtesy of SBS.

Comments disabled

Michael Idato

Michael Idato is a Senior Writer based in Los Angeles for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Morning & Afternoon Newsletter

Delivered Mon–Fri.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here