The song was perfect. The dress was perfect. The hype was perfect.

Okay, so in hindsight we were never going to win the thing. But for a long moment there they really made us believe it was possible.

And the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 is … a Korean-born Australian? One who would have celebrated not with champagne but with a glass of lemonade?

It was too good to be true. For all the logic that Eurovision famously doesn’t follow, this perhaps would not have been in the spirit of Europe – not the Europe of the twenty-first century battling a declining birthrate, an ageing population and the (perceived) threat of immigrant and refugee “hordes”.

Photo by Rolf Klatt,

I love Eurovision because it consistently provides a good dose of the extravagant, the random, the kitsch, the political and the ridiculous. I love it for all the moments that make you exclaim: “What on earth is that?” and “Are you serious?” and “I. Just. Can’t.” I love it precisely because it’s not intended to be a fair contest of talent.

All that being the case, I guess I shouldn’t be too sore about Dami getting robbed of Eurovision glory.

Photo by Andres Pulling for the EBU, found on

Insisting it’s all about the music and the songs? Sure, if you say so.

The fact that the show seems to be far more popular in Australia than in Europe itself? Sure. I mean, that’s why they invited us first to perform in 2014, and then to compete in 2015 and 2016.

Banal banter between the hosts, who also periodically break into song and dance numbers? Sure. Thank you, Mans and Petra.

A costume that lights up? Sure. Thank you, Bulgaria.

Ageing men with mediocre voices trying to be a boy band? Sure. Thank you, Denmark.

A country music act amidst the power ballads? Sure. Thank you, Netherlands.

Lasers everywhere for the hell of it? Sure. Thank you, almost everybody.

Twirling acrobats completely unrelated to the theme of the song and who don’t interact at all with the singer? Sure. Thank you, Israel.

(A hologram of) a man performing naked and accompanied by wolves? Sure. Thank you, Belarus.

The United Kingdom scoring nil point (or maybe a little more) despite having a half-decent act? Sure. Thank you, European Union politics.

An American performing at half-time? Sure. Thank you, Justin Timberlake (and I really mean thank you, JT – you made my day).

Bloc voting? Sure. Thank you, everyone in Eastern Europe.

An assortment of eccentric C-grade celebrities milking their 15 seconds of fame before finally announcing where their country’s 12 points is going? Sure. Thank you, Europe.

But, Eurovision victory for a non-Caucasian representing a non-European country, who can actually sing and blows everyone else’s diamantes, sequins and glitter out of the water? Mmm … I’m not sure Europe is ready for that.

Dami Im’s Sound of Silence was the right kinda song. Her fabulous dress was the right kinda outfit. She was a good 109 points ahead of the pack after official jury voting. But then public voting officially pushed Ukraine’s haunting (ie. depressing) number into the top spot.

Ukraine’s was a performance full of wailing and disappointingly low on glitz.

And so, alas, the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 will be held in Kiev.

Sorry, Australia. Maybe next time. Maybe not. We’re like the baby brother who’s thrilled about being invited to play 52 pick-up with the big kids – they raise our expectations, but then the joke’s on us.

Still, I wonder if it might actually be better this way. Coming in a close second gives us both an achievement to be proud of and good grounds for complaint. And there’s nothing more Australian than gloating about moderate wins while having a good whinge about the stuff that matters, right?

#robbed #damiarmy #aus #eurovision #ihearteurope


Postnote: As noted above, Australia came second overall in the contest. But we were the clear winner as voted by the official country juries (50 percent of points), and came third in the popular vote (50 percent of points). This article provides an interesting breakdown of the numbers.

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