This Saturday morning (if you are in Europe) or evening (if you happen to be Australian), the land down under will decide who they will be sending up to Rotterdam in May. With ten acts fighting for the second ever Australia Decides title, it’s no wonder there is strong interest in the competition. Let’s see then, what our panel of Boris, Daniel, James, Melanie, Roy and Sean made of the first five songs…

Montaigne – Don’t Break Me

Boris – 7 – “WHY ARE THERE SO MANY BALLADS IN THIS NF. ugh. Anyway, Montaigne dragged out the release of her song a wee bit too long – “Don’t Break Me” is competent, but little else. Still, there is potential for greatness. Either Montaigne nails the many shouty notes she peppered her ballad with, catapulting “Don’t Break Me” into the High Score Stratosphere, or she fails, which will likely be hilarious if nothing else. Win/Win!”

Daniel – 9 – “A powerful voice and a very cool intro, this song has the making of a Eurovision hit. I love her offbeat, yet cool aesthetic. This song is as crystalline an example of high-quality Australian pop, with extremely high production value and superb vocal quality. Montaigne has one of the most solid cases this year to take the crown, and I think I am happy about that. She is powerful and delivers an equally powerful message. A great choice.”

James – 5 – “Someone’s been studying their ABCs of Eurovision song composition. Oh wait, it was written by the lads who did Dami Im, Isaiah Firebrace and Jessica Mauboy’s entries. This ticks a lot of boxes, for better or for worse. And by that I mean this is a perfectly serviceable entry for modern era Eurovision. It just lacks originality, and does Australia really want to return to pre-“Zero Gravity” or their current JESC form?”

Melanie – 9 – “Great voice, great production and great artist. The build is this song is amazing and mixes very well with the chorus. It’s a great mix of a mainstream pop song that has an indie edge to it. It keeps your attention for the full 3 minutes, I’m very curious how she will stage this song, but Montaigne is my pick to represent Australia in Rotterdam.”

Roy – 5 – “This sounds like a song that is meant to come alive when performed live. As a studio track I find it rather lacklustre, but Eurovision is a live show and thus this could actually be good. The song doesn’t ever really elevate musically. The beat stays pretty much the same and she just sings slightly different throughout the song. I can definitely see this being one of the highlights of the show with an epic staging and her shouting these lyrics with passion and emotion. I had hoped for a bit more…”

Sean – 7 – “I’ve been an admirer of Montaigne’s work for a few years so I’m thrilled to see her in the Australian selection! This isn’t her strongest song (check out Clip My Wings or I’m a Fantastic Wreck if you’re interested), nor her most original but it’s certainly geared up to allow her fantastic vocals to flourish on the Eurovision stage. It’s a song that wouldn’t sound out of place on the radio. Perhaps it is a little too ordinary to catch Europe’s interest but it’s a solid effort and one I will enjoy listening to further!”

Total = 42 (avg. 7)

Mitch Tambo – Together

Boris – 1 – “Is this what non-Australians believe “Australian music” sounds like? Because no self-respecting Australian should allow themselves to be slandered like that. This song pretends to be omg SO WOKE AND INSPIRATIONAL when in reality it is as shallow as a puddle. Which five year old is responsible for “We don’t have to fear if we’re together” and “No more hate! We will make a change”. My mind is blown (mostly this song is so basic the alkanines melted away my last remaining brain cells.) The aboriginal language bits, a plus in most scenarios, only exist to distract us from how stupifying this song truly is. Entries such as these are the ones responsible for the general sentiment that Eurovision is a musical purgatory.”

Daniel – 8 – “Oh, I love how this song combines the modern pop sounds with the aboriginal languages and even some indigenous instruments. While “2000 and Whatever” really introduced the aboriginal languages to the Gold Coast stage, this song showcases them to the Eurovision community. Musically this song is an epic pop-ballad that has comforting tones and can create a total moment on stage. While not the most powerful of its genre, this song adds intrigue in its reference to other cultures and its clear build-up.”

James – 5 – “Christ above, what a disappointment this is relative to his discography. Tambo has crafted several great songs that organically blend his Aboriginal Australian heritage with modern pop, but this is not one of them. Sure, he sings in Gamilaraay, but this song is so generic and so safe. Electric Fields from the 2019 national selection (and Tambo himself when you listen to his earlier work) push a unique sound that an outsider can enjoy and appreciate. But “Together” is a bang average paint-by-numbers Eurovision self-belief ballad with the thinnest of Aboriginal layers painted on. I can’t believe the guy who gave us the great “Walanbaa” also gave us “Together”.

Melanie – 5 – “I really love the ethnic elements in this song, but I have the feeling that Mitch tried to hard to make an Eurovision song. I just wished that it sounded more like an Australian song than a American song with some Australian elements. So please come back next year with a song completely in Australian traditional language and more digeridoo parts.”

Roy – 7 – “Already massive props for singing in a native tongue and adding the good ol’ didgeridoo. As for the rest, it is basically another basic pop-ballad that’s pleasant to listen to, but doesn’t shout winner to you. I can already see a didgeridoo on the Eurovision stage and we could add another language to the list, which is always lovely. Quite frankly it does make it all a little more interesting than all the other standard ballads in the mix. Cool song if it were to go to Eurovision, I would not be mad.”

Sean – 5 – “Kudos for bringing some traditional elements with this track, but it feels a little shoe-horned into a positivity power ballad. I feel like the Eurovision voters will see through the Australian-ness of this song should it reach the contest, so I’m not sure if it’d be a wise choice. Not the worst of options in this selection though.”

Total = 31 (avg. 5.17)

Jaguar Jonze – Rabbit Hole

Boris – 7 – “After 7 solid disappointments in the running order, I was praying for something that was both good and uptempo and lo and behold, Jaguar answered by blessing us with this avant garde rock song! “Rabbit Hole” is exactly what this dreary, disappointing, fun-averse NF needed, so forgive me if I inflate its score by just enough points so that she *definitely* wins this editor’s poll! Fingers crossed the same thing happens in Aus Decides proper as well!”

Daniel – 9 – “This song oozes aesthetics, like the Australian Billie Eilish. It is very punk while still being super poppy-sounding. I am super interested to see how this will be staged because a big part of its appeal is the quirkiness and the anti-pop feel. I think this is what is very musically relevant and has a certain mainstream appeal. It has that rock base and those violins in a harmony that works very well. I think thus far one of the most interesting and musically-superb entries.”

James – 7 – “It has a very ‘90s indie vibe to it, in that it’s a female singer songwriter dealing with some severe issues in a peppy song. The staging will be important for this, as the official video does us no favors in guessing what will happen. Problem is, you get the sense we will have another Conan Osiris on our hands (intriguing and unique song, crap staging). If Australia picks this, “Rabbit Hole” will be one of the most daring picks in Rotterdam. But I suspect there will be a sizeable audience receptive to this, even if the juries may be turned off (usually the other way around for Australia). But as mentioned earlier, the staging is the make or break with this song.”

Melanie – 7 – “Jaguar just took me with her in a race to the Rabbit Hole! You really have the feeling that you are on a run with her. The song sometimes feels very rushed and Jaguar take her listener with her in that rushed vibe. It’s a very original song, but I expected more of Jaguar.”

Roy – 8 – “Oehh, this already starts off lovely and surprising. It keeps me hooked throughout and never truly let’s me go. My major issue with it is it’s chorus. Something is missing for me, but I don’t know what. This would most certainly be another interesting song to send for Australia. It could be a massive dark horse as well since it will stand out in between the competition. I don’t get winner vibes from this, but I love myself something different and this is definitely that. Could be worth a vote Australia!”

Sean – 8 – “The quality of this song is clear to see! Jaguar Jonze brings a really well-produced, fast-paced indie rock song with a memorable, catchy chorus and a lot of room for a powerful live performance. Australia have perhaps gone with safe options since their debut in Eurovision (last year was not quite a full-blown risk) so I’d love to see them show some of their fantastic rock and indie scene in Rotterdam!”

Total = 46 (avg. 7.67)

Vanessa Amorosi – Lessons of Love

Boris – 6 – “Once Vanessa Amorosi was announced I – like many – had certain expectations for her. “Absolutely Everybody” was an uptempo serve. Like many – I imagine – I was disappointed when her entry was revealed to be an introverted ballad. “Lessons of Love” is fine, I suppose, but in the myriad of somewhat tepid love ballads this national selection is riddled with, I really had hoped for something more fun and enticing. At least Vanessa’s talent and maturity render me somewhat hopeful that she’s going to turn this song into an experience during the live show.”

Daniel – 5 – “I like the lyrics a lot, they are rather powerful for being such a traditional love pop-song. She has a great voice, and if she is able to deliver in the Gold Coast then that will be totally cool. I am not going to tip-toe around the fact that this song is rather basic in structure and chord progression, it even has slightly one of the end-of-2000s Jordin Sparks kind of sounds. While comforting and nostalgic, it would be a slight upset if that would represent Australia’s contemporary music scene.”

James – 7 – “Why is she sorry for the things her cheating douche boo has done? Unless her apology is for stabbing him in his unfaithful taint? At least for a breakup song, Amorosi is saying she’s moving on and nothing can bring her down, so there is a bit of empowerment there and not focusing on the bitter as a lot of her male counterparts have been doing at national selections this year. And she sings her moving on with great conviction, power and range. At 38 years of age, you want an example of how to move on from an iffy relationship with grace, and for the most part, Amorosi achieves this.”

Melanie – 8 – “Vanessa know how to nail a high note and she defintely shows that in “Lessons of Love”. It’s a great mix of a contemporary beat in a ballad. It’s very radio-friendly, but I just wished that her chorus were a little bit stronger.”

Roy – 6 – “So far a massive trend in Australia is that musically these songs seem very safe and the distinction is being made by the singer’s vocal performance. I find Vanessa’s voice very pleasant to listen to, but the song does very little to me again. I am not so sure if these safe slick pop ballads are the way to go for Australia. In my own little running order this is the best of them so far, but I wouldn’t send this to Eurovision either.”

Sean – 6 – “Can you believe it’s over twenty years since Absolutely Everybody? Well, this is a very different song to that, but Vanessa will be hoping that star power pulls through for her in Australia Decides. “Lessons of Love” sounds like a Sia track waiting to happen, and while the lyrics are bland and cliché, the overall package is solid and engaging enough to get a decent rating from me!”

Total = 38 (avg. 6.33)

iOTA – Life

Boris – 5 – “This song is a lifeline from the BALLAD HALF that is the rest of this tepid, bonedry selection by sheer virtue of being something else. Even then however, “Life” just feels aight? There is some indie drama to be had, but overall the impression it leaves isn’t a very deep one. “Life” never retains my attention without a strong visual component backing up the score. Sometimes we just have to name things they way they are: this composition is a missed opportunity.”

Daniel – 5 – “They certainly have an aesthetic to them. This is a rock-pop anthem with a strong embedded piano. Like many of the other songs this year, it has some very compelling lyrics. It also has an element of theatricality with the piano bridge and the instrumentation chosen for this song. This song definitely has a lot of sing-along potential. Nevertheless, it is a bit basic and not super interesting, it kind of is a good track and that’s about it in my opinion.”

James – 9 – “This is not what I expected from the flame-thrower guitarist from the incredible post-apocalyptic action masterpiece Mad Max: Fury Road. Somehow, I did not expect a Mika sound-a-like, but this is what we have, and it’s great. This is catchy, positive, and fun, and probably the most Eurovision friendly of the ten acts. His video, where he’s stuck in a closet, and then he runs out, takes off his onesie, and runs off butt naked, is a perfect celebratory example of what you want out of a Eurovision anthem. There are some dour, yet modern, acts in this selection, and I hope Australia is not tempted to favor slick yet bland over pure revelry such as this.”

Melanie – 7 – “iOTA is giving me glamrock vibes with his song “Life”. The song is weird, but in a good way. I’m very curious how the staging for this song would look like, so I have high expectation for this song in combination with the staging. I have the feeling this is going to be a visual spectacle.”

Roy – 6 – “Definitely something interesting to spice up the national selection. I enjoy listening to this, but to be quite honest, it is a bit better off being background music. It is tough to play super close attention to the song and the beats sometimes sound a bit clouded and tough to differentiate. The vocals are interesting, but I don’t think this will win or do well at Eurovision. I like it for what it is however and I can’t justify lower than a 6.”

Sean – 8 – “I wasn’t sure what to expect from iOTA but I had a feeling it would be good. “Life” is perhaps not as unique as I was expecting it to be but it’s an uplifting song with a rich, full sound and effective use of word painting and creative lyricism to bring your mood up. The performance will be interesting with this one as the anthemic feel of the song together with the audience of the selection could prove pivotal to this song’s chances.”

Total = 40 (avg. 6.67)

So, let’s see how things stand after the first five entries are reviewed…

  1. Jaguar Jonze – Rabbit Hole – 46
  2. Montaigne – Don’t Break Me – 42
  3. iOTA – Life – 40
  4. Vanessa Amorosi – Lessons of Love – 38
  5. Mitch Tambo – Together – 31

So Jaguar Jonze’s rock entry “Rabbit Hole” takes the lead, but will any of the remaining five acts rank higher with our writers? Find out tomorrow morning!

What do #YOU think of this year’s Australia Decides entries? Share your thoughts with us on our forum HERE or join the discussion below and on social media!

Load More Related Articles
Load More By Sean Tarbuck
Load More In 2020

One Comment

  1. […] Read part one of our reviews for Australia Decides HERE. […]

Leave a Reply

Check Also

Özkan Uğur, two-time Turkish Eurovision artist with MFÖ, has died aged 69

Özkan Uğur, one of Turkey’s most celebrated musicians as member of the band MFÖ, has…