From Mr Eurovision to Australian Idols: Australian Performances (and Performing Australia)

  • Jessica Carniel


Australia’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest is hotly contested by media commentators and fans alike, but many agree that the Australian delegation has made an effort to submit quality songs and to present a consistent image of Australia as diverse. This chapter examines the various representations of Australia that have appeared on the Eurovision stage with a consideration of how this adheres to both national and international ideas about multiculturalism and diversity. It argues that the deliberate selection of artists with various Asian and Indigenous heritages disrupts the European connection narrative. By highlighting its postcolonial status and its more recent waves of migration, representations of Australia at the Eurovision Song Contest present an image of contemporary Australia poised to be a bridge between Europe and Asia.


Multiculturalism Representation Performance National identity 


  1. Adams, Cameron. 2015. “Guy Sebastian Isn’t the First Australian to Sing at Eurovision—Here’s the Others.” News.Com.Au, May 22. Accessed January 29, 2016.–heres-the-others/news-story/3a1cd7a783fe4c6168a88e5bfc04661f.
  2. Balibar, Etienne. 2009. “Ideas of Europe: Civilization and Constitution.” Iris 1 (1): 3–17.Google Scholar
  3. degli Alessandrini, Claudia. 2015. “Eurovision Song Contest: A Platform for European Identity Contestations and Imaginary Membership Narratives.” MA thesis, Universiteit Van Amsterdam, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  4. Edwards, Ken. 2009. “Traditional Games of a Timeless Land: Play Cultures in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities.” Australian Aboriginal Studies 2: 32–43.Google Scholar
  5. Eurovision Song Contest. 2011. Lordi—Hard Rock Hallelujah (Finland) 2006 Eurovision Song Contest Winner. YouTube. Accessed January 29, 2016.
  6. Eurovision Song Contest. 2012. Loreen—Euphoria—Live—Grand Final—2012 Eurovision Song Contest. YouTube. Accessed January 29, 2016.
  7. Eurovision Song Contest. 2014. Eurovision Song Contest: Down Under (Interval Act by Australia; Jessica Mauboy). YouTube. Accessed January 29, 2016.
  8. Eurovision Song Contest. 2015. Guy Sebastian—Tonight Again (Australia)—LIVE at Eurovision 2015 Grand Final. YouTube. Accessed January 29, 2016.
  9. Faruqi, Osman. 2017. “Cook and Sing for Us, but Don’t Date Us: What Reality TV Tells Us About Australia and Diversity.” Junkee, July 26.
  10. Gray, Stephen. 2015. “The Northern Territory Intervention: An Evaluation.” Melbourne: Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University.Google Scholar
  11. Gunew, Sneja. 2004. Haunted Nations: The Colonial Dimensions of Multiculturalisms. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Guy, Stephanie B. 2015. “Bodies, Myth and Music: How Contemporary Indigenous Musicians Are Contesting a Mythologized Australian Nationalism.” ESharp 23 (Spring): 1–21.Google Scholar
  13. Hage, Ghassan. 1998. White Nation: Fantasies of White Supremacy in a Multicultural Society. Sydney: Pluto.Google Scholar
  14. Hegarty, Siobhan. 2015. “7 Reasons Why Guy Sebastian Was Born a Eurovision Star.” SBS. Accessed January 29, 2016.
  15. Huijser, Hendrik. 2007. “Australian Idol Versus Cronulla: Whither the Postcolonising Nation?” New Zealand Journal of Media Studies 10 (2): 131–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Idato, Michael. 2018. “Jessica Mauboy Locks in We Got Love as Australia’s Song for Eurovision.” Sydney Morning Herald, March 6.
  17. Ismayilov, Murad. 2012. “State, Identity, and the Politics of Music: Eurovision and Nation-Building in Azerbaijan.” Nationalities Papers 40 (6): 833–851.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jordan, Paul. 2014. The Modern Fairy Tale: Nation Branding, National Identity and the Eurovision Song Contest in Estonia . Tartu: University of Tartu Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lam, Celia. 2018. “Representing (Real) Australia: Australia’s Eurovision Entrants, Diversity and Australian Identity.” Celebrity Studies 9 (1): 117–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McIntyre, Joanna. 2017. “Transgender Idol: Queer Subjectivities and Australian Reality TV.” European Journal of Cultural Studies 20 (1): 87–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Molloy, Shannon. 2016. “It Costs a Fortune to Compete and We’re 14,000 km Away … So Why Do We Bother with Eurovision?”–so-why-do-we-bother-with-eurovision/news-story/b53407a6444fe03f423ec38e2d1b3ea3.
  22. Mutsaers, Lutgard. 2007. “Fernando, Filippo, and Milly: Bringing Blackness to the Eurovision Stage.” In A Song for Europe: Popular Music and Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest, edited by Ivan Raykoff and Robert Deam Tobin, 61–70. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  23. 2016. “Olivia Newton-John Almost Didn’t Play Sandy in Grease.” January 26. Accessed January 29, 2016.
  24. Pagden, Anthony. 2002. The Idea of Europe from Antiquity to the European Union. Woodrow Wilson Center Series. Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press.Google Scholar
  25. Pardy, Maree, and Julian C. H. Lee. 2011. “Using Buzzwords of Belonging: Everyday Multiculturalism and Social Capital in Australia.” Journal of Australian Studies 35 (3): 297–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ramm, Jennifer. 1989. “Learning the ‘Australian Myth’: An Analysis of Australian Folk Songs.” Journal of Australian Studies 13 (25): 23–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Roxburgh, Gordon, and Paul Jordan. 2017. “Shining a Light on the United Kingdom: 60 Years at Eurovision.”, January 12.
  28. Scott, Rosie, Anita Heiss, and Brenda L. Croft, eds. 2015. The Intervention: An Anthology. Sydney: Concerned Australians.Google Scholar
  29. Screen Australia. 2016. Seeing Ourselves Reflections on Diversity in Australian TV Drama. Sydney: Screen Australia.Google Scholar
  30. Sieg, Katrin. 2013. “Conundrums of Post-socialist Belonging at the Eurovision Song Contest.” In Performing the ‘New’ Europe: Identities, Feelings and Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest, edited by Karen Fricker and Milija Gluhovic, 218–237. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Tan, Monica. 2016. “Graham Norton Is Right, Australia’s Participation in Eurovision Is Stupid.” Guardian, May 11.
  32. Van Ee, Dennis. 2017. “Australian Delegation: We Need to Be the Sweden of the South to Stay in Eurovision.” ESC Daily.
  33. Vuletic, Dean. 2018. Postwar Europe and the Eurovision Song Contest. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  34. Werbner, Pnina. 2013. “Everyday Multiculturalism: Theorising the Difference Between ‘Intersectionality’ and ‘Multiple Identities’.” Ethnicities 13 (4): 401–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. West, Chris. 2017. Eurovision: A History of Modern Europe Through the World’s Greatest Song Contest. London: Melville House.Google Scholar
  36. Wise, Amanda, and Selvaraj Velayutham, eds. 2009. Everyday Multiculturalism. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica Carniel
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Arts and CommunicationUniversity of Southern QueenslandToowoombaAustralia

Personalised recommendations