Sheldon Riley has clinched a spot at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, after he won Australia Decides with his song ‘Not the Same.’
The competition, to choose Australia’s entry at the world-famous TV music festival in May, featured 11 performers and groups singing their entries before a big crowd at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Riley, who has developed a big following after his performances on The Voice, The X-Factor Australia, and America’s Got Talent, was tipped to win with his big ballad.
Riley performed wearing a black designer gown with a train and as in many previous performances had a crystal mask covering his face and a dark visual staging for his entry.
The 21-year-old belted out the song — which tells the personal story of him feeling different and not seen or heard when he was younger — but also the hopeful message of how far he has come since.
At a key point in the song, he removed the mask to a huge cheer from the crowd.
Riley became emotional after the reveal, but finished the song and there was a huge reception after his performance, which rated highly with both the public and the music industry-based jury.
He scored 100 votes to win by three votes from WA-based prog metal group Voyager, with Brisbane-based performer Jaguar Jonze in third on 91.
Riley will now represent Australia at Eurovision in May, where he will attempt to qualify for the final through semi-final 2 on May 13 (Australian time).
Voyager’s song, Dreamer, which featured driving guitars, mixed with synth and keytars, scored highly in the public televote, but fell short with the jury that provides the other 50 percent of the vote.
Jaguar Jonze’s song about her advocacy for change in the music industry amid the #MeToo movement and going public with the story of her own alleged sexual assault had a very visual staging.
She appeared standing in a shell that caught fire and disintegrated until she emerged for a fierce second half of the song. At the end of the song she burst into tears as she acknowledged the crowd’s applause.
Last year’s The Voice finalists, Adelaide girl group G-Nat!on opened the show with their song, Bite Me. The group featured tight harmonies and solid choreography in their up-tempo number.
One of Australia’s original reality TV performers, Paulini, who came fourth on the first season of Australian Idol back in 2003, sang her disco/gospel number, We Are One.
She used her TV and stage experience to deliver a confident performance, nailing her vocal and getting one of the biggest reactions of the night from the crowd.
For the first time, Australia Decides included a performer who won a spot in the final through the social media platform TikTok.
Melbourne-based Erica Padilla won the right to sing at Australia Decides after sending in a clip on TikTok that earned her the wildcard entry. She sang her own composition, To The Bottom.
Sydney-based Andrew Lambrou performed his dance-pop anthem Electrify, which also made history as the first song at Australia Decides to feature a verse sung in Spanish.
Seann Miley Moore sang his body-positive song, My Body, in a dress with a long train, carrying a rainbow flag and surrounded by four giant versions of himself on the big screen.
Gold Coast-born singer-songwriter Charley performed her heartbreak song, I Suck At Being Lonely, with the crowd waving torches behind her — she finished in fourth.
Isaiah Firebrace — who represented Australia at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, performed the duet When I’m With You with pop-punk newcomer Evie Irie.
Jude York finished the night with his ethereal piano-ballad I Won’t Need to Dream.
How the songs scored
Televote the jury and total
- Sheldon Riley — Not the Same: 50, 50 — 100
- Voyager — Dreamer: 60, 37 — 97
- Jaguar Jonze — Little Fires: 40, 51 — 91
- Charley — I suck at Being Lonely: 30, 33 — 63
- G-Nat1on — Bite me: 45, 11 — 56
- Paulini — We Are One: 20, 32 — 52
- Andrew Lambrou — Electrify: 35, 16 — 51
- Jude York — I Won’t Need to Dream: 15, 32 — 47
- Isaiah Firebrace/Evie Irie — When I’m With You: 10, 35 — 45
- Eric Padilla —To the Bottom: 25, 20 — 45
- Seann Miley Moore — My Body: 5, 18 — 23