• Dale Roberts

The history of Australians competing in Eurovision national finals



The first Australians to compete at Eurovision were Peter Doyle and Marty Kristian as part of The New Seekers in 1972 with 'Beg, Steal or Borrow'.


However, Australia's connection with the Contest started 15 years earlier in 1957 at the UK's national selection show for Eurovision.


In fact over the last 64 years, Australians have competed in many national finals across Europe without making it to the Eurovision stage.


We take a look back at these artists and the legacy they left for Australia in the Contest.



Lorrae Desmond

Festival of Popular British Songs 1957 - United Kingdom


Although we have no record of the song she performed, Australian Lorrae Desmond competed in the national selection show for the UK's first ever Eurovision entry.


Desmond had a long entertainment career in Australia. She was the first female Gold Logie winner for hosting her own variety program in 1961, 'The Lorrae Desmond Show', but slightly younger viewers know her best for the role of Shirley Gilroy on 'A Country Practice'.




Frank Ifield - 'Alone Too Long'

A Song for Europe 1962 - United Kingdom



Frank Ifield is an iconic British-Australian country music star known for his slight yodelling tone.


He is an inductee in the ARIA Hall of Fame and the Country Music Australia's 'Roll of Renown' and had no.1 hits in the UK and Australia as well as the Top 10 in the United States.


Born in the UK to Australian parents, he returned Down Under for much of his early career before he returned to Britain in the early 60s.


He competed in 'A Song for Europe' in 1962 with the pop (not country and unfortunately no yodelling) song 'Alone Too Long' finishing runner-up to Ronnie Carroll.



The New Seekers - 'One by One'

A Song for Europe 1972 - United Kingdom



The New Seekers were selected as the act to represent the United Kingdom at Eurovision in 1972. The act was formed after the group 'The Seekers' disbanded and included British performers as well as two Australians - Peter Doyle and Marty Kristian.


A national final was held to select their entry with six songs taking part.


BBC viewers sent in postcards with their chosen act and of course 'Beg, Steal or Borrow' won with 62,584 votes and would go on to finish 2nd at Eurovision.


The song that finished runner-up was 'One by One' which came in a little further back with 27,314 votes. However it still was successful as the B side single on the release, 'Beg, Steal or Borrow' and also featured on their album 'We'd Like to Teach the World To Sing'.



Olivia Newton-John - 'Angel Eyes'

A Song for Europe 1974 - United Kingdom



Australia's global superstar was selected to represent the United Kingdom in 1974 and followed a similar process for her song as The New Seekers.


Six songs were performed with 'Long Live Love' coming in as the winner with 27,387 votes while Olivia's preferred song 'Angel Eyes' finished runner-up with 18,108 votes.


When performing the song in 2013 in Brighton (where Eurovision 1974 was held) she told the crowd,


"The song I really wanted to sing was this song (Angel Eyes), it finished 2nd when people in the UK were voting for it, but it remained my favourite'.

As runner-up the song featured as the B side to 'Long Live Love' and on the album of the same name. The song was also co-written by Australian Keith Potger who was one of the founding members of The Seekers.



The Shadows - 'Stand Up Like a Man'

A Song for Europe 1975 - United Kingdom



The Shadows represented the United Kingdom in 1975 and included Australia's own John Farrar. The national selection followed the same format as The New Seekers and Olivia Newton-John.


It was a close affair with eventual winner (and Eurovision runner-up) 'Let Me Be the One' finishing with 17,477 votes ahead of 'Stand Up Like a Man' on 14,294 votes.


Also in the selection was 'Cool Clear Air' written by Australian Doug Flett and Guy Fletcher (who would later be part of Dire Straits) as well as 'No No Nina' by John Farrar himself and another Aussie Pete Best (who did the score for Crocodile Dundee as well as famous ad jingles for 'Slip, Slop, Slap' and 'Life, Be It'.


'No No Nina' finished last in the selection but John Farrar would go on to have a successful career working with Olivia Newton-John writing and produced some of her biggest hits including ‘You’re The One That I Want’, ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’, ‘Magic’ and produced Newton-John’s ‘I Honestly Love You’ which won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1975.



Frank Ifield - 'Ain't Gonna Take No for an Answer'

A Song for Europe 1976 - United Kingdom



Our British-Australian country artist came back for a second go at Eurovision in 1976 after competing in 1962.


That year the national final format changed and 12 different artist and songs competed.


Unfortunately for Frank, his song 'Ain't Gonna Take No for an Answer' (disappointingly again without his trademark yodel) received a very solid no, finishing a distance 12th and last place to winner Brotherhood of Man with eventual Eurovision winning song 'Save Your Kisses for Me'.



Tony Monopoly - 'Leave a Little Love'

A Song for Europe 1977 - United Kingdom



Tony Monopoly was born Antonio Rosario Monopoli in Adelaide, South Australia.


After appearing as a child on TV show Kangaroo Parade, he became a Carmelite monk at age 16 and stayed in the order for five years.


He had a successful career in Australia before going to the UK in the 70s reaching no.25 on the charts with his self-titled album.


He competed in 'A Song for Europe' in 1977 finishing 9th out of 12 entries behind winners Lynsey de Paul and Mike Moran with 'Rock Bottom'.



Gina G - 'Flashback'

Making Your Mind Up 2005 - United Kingdom



After Brisbane's own Gina G made her impact on the Eurovision world in 1996 with 'Ooh Aah... Just a Little Bit' she disappeared from the music scene due to legal disputes with her management.


In 2005 she made a comeback and entered the British national selection show 'Making Your Mind Up' with the song 'Flashback' co-written by Gina herself.


She unfortunately lost out to Javine's 'Touch My Fire' (as well as Katie Price's 'Not Just Anybody') finishing fifth out of five entries.



Anja Nissen - 'Never Alone'

Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2016 - Denmark



After winning The Voice Australia in 2014 Anja Nissen worked on music in both the United States and Denmark. The singer is Australian born and raised by Danish parents which saw her Eurovision focus go towards Denmark.


She competed in the Danish national final 'Dansk Melodi Grand Prix' with the song 'Never Alone'. The song was co-written by 2013 Eurovision winner Emmelie de Forest as well as American Mozella who was behind Miley Cyrus's global hit 'Wrecking Ball'.


Unfortunately for Anja she finished runner-up (by a margin of 42% to 36%) behind Lighthouse X and their song 'Soldiers of Love' which failed to qualify in Stockholm.


Anja would return in 2017 with the Australian written song 'Where I Am' to book her place in Eurovision where she made the Grand Final in Kyiv.



Malo' - 'Ciao'

Destination Eurovision 2018 - France



Born Malory Pablo Legardinier, Malo' competed at the French national final 'Destination Eurovision' in 2018.


Although he grew up in France with his father, his mother is Australian and he spent several years here recording his first album 'The Old Way' in 2011. He also won the Northern Beaches Festival Award in 2012.


At Destination Eurovision he finished in 3rd after placing 7th with the juries but 2nd in the televote behind Madame Monsieur's 'Mercy'.


His song went on to chart at no.45 on the French charts.



Xonia - 'Discrete'

Selecţia Naţională 2019 - Romania



Xonia was born and raised in Melbourne to Romanian parents and after some early success in Australia her career break through came in Romania.


This saw her compete in the Romanian national final Selecţia Naţională in 2019.


In the second semi-final she performed a striking snake like dance routine (coming off her history as a dancer) and finished 9th out of 12 entries, unfortunately not making the Grand Final.



With a long history of Australian artists in Eurovision national selections and a strong multicultural background, it's inevitable we will see more Aussies turn up across Europe competing.


We will more than happily get behind these artists, as long as they don't beat Australia at Eurovision!