This year’s Eurovision Song Contest will take place Tel Aviv, Israel, after Netta Barzilai’s victory with her Anime-themed song Toy in Lisbon last year. The star-studded show will feature supermodel Bar Rafaeli among the hosts and an interval act by pop diva Madonna, who will be only the second international star to perform the interval in the contest’s history since Justin Timberlake in 2016. Israel last hosted the contest in 1999 after its win by transgender pop superstar Dana International.
Australia will be competing for the fifth time since Australia first entered the contest in 2015. We will be represented by Queenslander and former opera singer Kate Miller-Heidke, whose song Zero Gravity was chosen in the national final Eurovision – Australia Decides in February. Aussies will once again be able to vote during the live early morning broadcasts.
Norway – KEiiNO – Spirit in the Sky
For the win
You will be hard pressed to find a more ‘Eurovisiony’ song than Spirit in the Sky which is easily our pick for this year’s winner. It features traditional Sami music together with a drum beat reminiscent of Denmark’s 2013 winning song Only Teardrops by Emmelie de Forest. KEiiNO’s song is about the fight for equal rights regardless of ethnicity, gender or sexuality, with the help of Sami spirit animals called Sáivu-loddi, Sáivu-guolli and Sáivu-sarvvát. Drums, folk music, mythology – it pretty much ticks all our boxes.
Iceland – Hatari – Hatrið mun sigra
A love-hate relationship
Hatrið mun sigra makes it clear that Iceland is furious about placing 15th in 2018. Bondage-clad techno punk group Hatari sound like an even angrier version of German industrial band KMFDM. It is quite odd to see a group called ‘Hater’ with a song called ‘Hate will prevail’ at Eurovision, considering the contest aims to unify post-war Europe featuring songs about peace and love. Perhaps it is a work of satire in response to the usual, generic Love, Love, Peace, Peace. Whatever it is, it is unique and that is why we love it (or love to hate it).
Hungary – Joci Pápai – Az Én Apám
Return of an old favourite
Joci returns to Eurovision after representing Hungary in 2017 with Origo (Origin), a heartfelt song specifically about forbidden romance, but more broadly the artist’s struggle with his mixed Romani and Hungarian identity. In his hybrid rap and authentic Gypsy music style, Az Én Apám (My Father) is a moving tribute to the memory of Joci’s father who instilled his values of faith and spirituality.
Slovenia – Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl – Sebi
The dark horse
Zala and Gašper were both solo artists before becoming a very cute couple and they have been performing together since 2017. Sebi (Oneself) is a bittersweet ballad about two people who love each other very much needing to part ways in order to stay true to themselves. Zala’s deep, whisper-quiet voice is evocative of Blanche’s 2017 entry for Belgium, City Lights. Keep an eye out next month for this dark horse.
Russia – Sergey Lazarev – Scream
The bookies’ favourite
The former member of 1990s pop duo Smash! returns and is once again a bookmakers’ favourite after he previously represented his country in 2016 with You are the only one, finishing in third place. Scream represents the fears we all carry from childhood and some of these misconceptions can become anxiety as we grow up. Russia hosted the contest in Moscow in 2009 and has produced some of the contest’s most acclaimed artists such as Dima Bilan. And of course, who could forget lesbian schoolgirls t.A.T.u who went multi-platinum and topped the Australian charts in the early 2000s.
Watch the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest (SBS and SBS on Demand)
Semi Final 1 – Wednesday, 15 May at 5am
Semi Final 2 – Friday, 17 May at 5am
Grand Final – Sunday, 19 May at 5am
Semi Final 1 – Thursday, 16 May at 8.30pm
Semi Final 2 – Friday, 17 May at 8.30pm
Grand Final – Sunday, 19 May at 8.30pm