Many were baffled as to why Australia had been given a wildcard entry to a European song contest, but Guy Sebastian graced the Eurovision stage to take home a respectable fifth place.
The evening’s winner was favourite Måns Zelmerlöw of Sweden, who took first place at the 60th anniversary Eurovision song contest at the Stadthalle arena in Vienna on Saturday night (Sunday morning AEST) ahead of Russia and Italy.
“I just want to say we are all heroes, no matter who we are, who we love and what we believe in,” Zelmerlow, 28, said on stage.
The competition marked Australia’s debut with Sebastian delivering his finely crafted funk-heavy tune Tonight Again.
Eschewing the usual tacky costumes and camp performances that have become a staple of the contest, Sebastian wore a smart blue velvet jacket and hat.
Prior to the evening he said there would be “no flying kangaroos” and in keeping with his promise instead showed off his dance moves alongside backing singers in an upbeat and chic performance.
Tonight Again was written by Sebastian with David Ryan Harris and Louis Schoorl.
The 11,000-strong crowd gave 33-year-old Sebastian, who was selected by broadcaster SBS to represent Australia, a rapturous round of applause.
Shortly before hitting the stage the former Idol winner and X Factor judge tweeted: “The phrase ‘music brings people together’ doesn’t get much more literal than this. Such a great positive vibe in the room.”
Sebastian was able to scoop 196 points. Awarding Australia a coveted 12 points was Sweden and Austria, the UK and Norway awarded 10 points, while Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Poland, Hungary, Netherlands and San Marino also gave the first-time entrant eight points each.
Reactions on social media to Sebastian were mainly positive, with some dubbing him Australia’s answer to American singer Bruno Mars or Britain’s Olly Murs.
Sebastian was not the only Australian on stage on Saturday evening. The Armenian entrant Genealogy featured Armenian-Australian opera singer Mary-Jean O’Doherty and came 16th.
This year also marked the first time Australians could vote in the competition.
Australian audiences allocated 12 points to Sweden’s Måns Zelmerlöw singing Heroes, and 10 points went to Russia which eventually took second place.
Russian entrant Polina Gagarina sang A Million Voices, which was co-written by Australian Katrina Noorbergen who also sang backing vocals.
The other countries to received Australian votes were: Italy (eight), Latvia (seven), Belgium (six), Serbia (five), Norway (four), Estonia (three), Israel (two) and Georgia (one), in a close reflection of the final tally.
Germany’s song Black Smoke was also co-written by an Australian songwriter Tonino Speciale. Sadly, the song received zero points and shared last place.
Host country Austria, which won the competition last year with Conchita Wurst, was not able to repeat its success this year. The Makemakes singing I Am Yours also came last.
The live broadcast began at 5am in Australia and will be aired again on Sunday evening.
SBS said Saturday’s semi-final alone became its highest recorded audience for a Eurovision broadcast with a peak viewing of 1,074,000.
Eurovision 2015: the top 10
- Sweden: Måns Zelmerlöw, Heroes (365 points)
- Russia: Polina Gagarina, A Million Voices (303 points)
- Italy: Il Volo, Grande Amore (292 points)
- Belgium: Loïc Nottet, Rhythm Inside (217 points)
- Australia: Guy Sebastian, Tonight Again (196 points)
- Latvia: Aminata, Love Injected (186 points)
- Estonia: Elina Born and Stig Rästa, Goodbye to Yesterday (106 points)
- Norway: Mørland and Debrah Scarlett, A Monster Like Me (102 points)
- Israel: Nadav Guedj, Golden Boy (97 points)
- Serbia: Bojana Stamenov, Beauty Never Lies (53 points)
• This article was amended on 24/05/15 with correct points awarded to Australia