GOING FOR GOLD
Can Guy Sebastian bring Eurovision home for Australia?
Over the course of his career, Guy Sebastian has performed for the Pope, played live on Letterman and headlined stadiums.
But despite this pedigree, the seasoned performer admits the thought of performing his song Tonight Again on the Eurovision stage has him feeling “definitely nervous”.
“It’s one of those things you can’t prepare for,” he says as he readies to start the competition this week.
“But I feel I nailed those (prior high pressure) performances because I had enough runs on the board not to be overcome by my nerves. So I’m hoping that even though Eurovision is foreign territory, I’ll be able to draw on my experience and nail that performance, too.”
Co-host Julia Zemiro, who has commentated Eurovision for SBS since 2009, agrees it takes a special performer to get out in front of not just the stadium, but the 180 million people watching from home.
“Singing competitions are weird, aren’t they?” she speculates.
“Your favourite song won’t be mine, you won’t vote for people that I might vote for.
“But with Guy, he knows how to handle that kind of competition. Plus knowing he’s singing a song that he’s proud of will make such a difference.”
It’s been a long time though since Sebastian found himself being judged in a singing competition.
In fact, the last time he did so was on the back of his Australian Idol win when he came a disappointing seventh in the first (and last) World Idol.
“I was rubbish on stage,” he recalls of the time. “And I didn’t get to sing the song I wanted to sing, I had to do a rubbish version of (Louis Armstrong’s) Wonderful World.”
Having now moved into a judging seat himself on X Factor — Sebastian will return to the show this year — he says that performing in a competitive manner is something he failed to take into account when he said yes to Eurovision.
“I didn’t think about it and then I got to Europe to do a press junket and I felt that sickly feeling again,” he says.
“I’m not a competitive person, especially when it comes to music … It’s a pretty weird headspace.
“I actually had a bit of a moment where I had to try to remove myself from it and put it into perspective. And go, ‘OK, it is what it is, it’s my mind frame that matters and it’s not a competition to me. I’m just doing another gig, representing Australia.’ But it really messed with me for a bit.”
But while Sebastian may not be looking at Eurovision as a competition, Zemiro says his chances are looking pretty good. Having done a pre-tour of
Europe in the lead-up to Eurovision week, “people know the words already,” says Zemiro.
“Guy’s rating at No.4 to win,” she adds. “It’s an upbeat song which makes a difference. There are a lot of ballads in this year’s competition so it’s really important to get people dancing. His song will totally do that.”
Sebastian adds: “I don’t think I’ll win but I don’t think I’ll come last. But we’ll see.” The Eurovision stage can feel like “an Olympic ceremony,” says Zemiro. But despite that, we’re very unlikely to see live kangaroos or other Australiana flora and fauna when Sebastian performs. “I said I
“I’m not a competitive person, especially when it comes
GUY SEBASTIAN KNOWS HIS LIMITS
kangaroos as a joke,” he laughs of the rumours that have swirled around his alleged bizarre onstage requests.
“Of course I’m not going to fling live koalas into an audience. No, there will probably not be didgeridoos.”
What we will see is his proud wife Jules beaming from the sidelines. The pair has decided to have an adults’ only minibreak in Austria once the show has wrapped, leaving their sons Hudson, 3, and Archer, 1, at home.
“Parents don’t get a break,” says Sebastian of the planned two day holiday. “When you’re on holidays with your kids you’re constantly entertaining them. It’s pretty tough to get alone time. So it’ll be nice to have a few days to take in the beauty of Austria together.”
THE EUROVISION SONG CONTEST, SBS FROM MAY 20. GUY SEBASTIAN WILL COMPETE IN THE GRAND FINAL, TO BE SCREENED LIVE ON MAY 24, FROM 5AM ON SBS ONE AND REPEATED AT 7.30PM
Our man in Eurovision Guy Sebastian; (below) with wife Jules and newborn Archer;
with previous Eurovision winner