This week’s edition of Throwback Thursday is a relatively short look back to 2016. We’re taking you Down Under to Australia (although strictly speaking it’s the Globen in Stockholm) and remembering Dami Im’s performance of ‘Sound of Silence.’
I remember hearing the song for the first time, or rather, the short snippet that was initially released. I immediately thought of how Sia-esque the song was and how it managed to stick with me. Melodically it hits all the right buttons and Dami’s vocal is incredible. Australia had the weight (and money?) of Sony Music behind its entry – a clear statement of intent.
Feeling love through face time
Cut to Stockholm and we see the kind of staging that turns a good song into a great song; a potential top fifteen finish to a top three finish. The start of the performance sees a black background and a night-time cityscape scene on LED screens. Dami, glittering from her diamond-encrusted dress, is perched on an invisible box that sets her high up amongst the buildings and window lights. We hit the chorus and suddenly we get an upward movement of deep blue electricity from the LED screens all around the stage.
The second verse gives us cityscape but this time with Dami at the helm of some futuristic control interface. Onto the chorus again and the cityscape fades away to bring more electricity. Shoots of lightning are pulsating across the stage. We hit the bridge and Dami is off the box and walking towards camera. She turns and we get a visual of a sea of stars from the flashing lights issued to the audience. The stage explodes with more electricity and Dami closes the performance with a television-friendly, long, high note. Interestingly, the live performance was amended from the studio-recorded version. And for obvious reasons! Dami pushed the vocal to the limit with catchier ad-libs and a more dynamic finish.
This was the year of the new Melodifestivalen-style voting system. After the jury votes were announced, Australia were in first place, over 100 points clear of Ukraine. Surely that was it? But incredibly the televote was announced and we saw that the tables had turned. Australia were a long way behind Ukraine and Russia. As a result, when the two sets of votes were put together, Dami was just behind Ukraine in second place.
This week’s guest star
When we needed a guest star to comment on Dami Im, “Sound of Silence” and Australia in Eurovision in general, who better to ask than one of escXtra’s founding fathers; the one and only Liam Clark!
Back in the olden days (ie 2011; hihihi!) there was a group of people who decided to start their own Eurovision website. They had been working together at another site for some time, but had their own idea as to where they wanted the site to go. The wanted to give the readers something xtra. And did they ever!
Liam Clark; On Australia at Eurovision, Dami and his personal favorite
As an Australian of British and Norwegian background with an unusual fascination with Estonia, I had plenty of ‘teams’ to cheer for at Eurovision, but I never expected that one of them would be Australia itself. Initially I was afraid of our participation assuming we would be Britain 2.0 and treat the whole contest with at best humour, and at worst contempt before I remembered that as one of the great sporting nations, no matter what race we enter, we enter to win.
When Dami was selected as our sophomore entrant, I was very pleased. Having followed her on X-Factor I knew we had a professional singer who could belt it out of the park Every. Single. Time. The song itself, I don’t think was anything that exceptional. It was a nice song for sure, but for me it’s all about that live performance. The fact that she’s just a super nice, goofy, fun and kind lady also makes me fall more in love with her every performance. What a national treasure.
My favourite Australian Eurovision Song however is our Junior Eurovision Song from 2015: Bella Paige’s ‘My Girls‘. What can I say, I’m a sucker for an uplifting girl power anthem.
What our editors had to say…
I admire how Australia has arrived at the contest with respect for the event’s past, but not intending to follow the conventional assembly instructions for building a Eurovision song. Sound of Silence was a pretty unimpressive dirge as a studio recording, but Dami’s ridiculous live vocal really brought the music to life. Big ballad yes, but not really as Eurovision knows it. Thank you Australia for bringing a bit of variety, but in 2018, is it time to be really brave and show us what you are made of?
I hate to be the party pooper, but I never really liked this song. Dami Im is a great artist and she has some amazing songs, but “Sound of Silence” is just too bland for my taste. I can’t feel anything when listening to it and the performance was way too confusing for me. I knew it would do well with the juries, mainly because of Dami’s vocals, but I never expected this to actually place second overall.
I remember how excited I felt when we first got to hear parts of the song and I was really looking forward to hear the song in full. Having finished 5th the year before with a rather joyful entry, Australia showed us that they were eager to do very well and that they took Eurovision seriously by picking up a real contender to Stockholm. “Sound Of Silence” as a song stood out in a very strong year in my opinion, the chorus stuck right in your head without getting repetitive and Dami gave a stunning vocal performance on the big night. Visually the whole act looked fabulous and the song became a commercial success in several countries after the contest. Thank you Australia for offering us this diamond.
A highlight in Australia’s Eurovision Song Contest history. “Sound of Silence” was a gem of a song, performed by a marvelous vocalist with a great performance. Yet, on the night, I wasn’t cheering for her. I don’t know why, as she stood out in the best ways one could possibly come up with. Yet, on the night itself, it left me a bit cold… It’s however without a doubt Australia’s best effort ever, despite only having three entries so far. Neither “Tonight Again”, nor “Don’t Come Easy” clicked with me at all. Dami is their best entry ever and it will take some song to take that throne away from her.
Australia at Eurovision
Ok, deep breath, I’m going to say it: Australia should be welcomed at the Eurovision Song Contest! Can I open my eyes yet? Yes? Good. Of course, I jest. Australia has been welcomed with open arms and there is only a small, quiet voice in the far distance that disagrees. I have a penchant for pedantry. So, the fact that there are countries competing at Eurovision that are not strictly European nations, should really bother me…yet it doesn’t. Here is why…
Depending where you are in the world and when you’re reading this, today might well be Friday 26th January. Therefore, Australia Day. The nation’s official National Day celebrates its diverse people and landscape, and reflects on a somewhat difficult colonial history. Australia Day is very much about ‘community’ and bringing different cultures together as one. And where have we seen this before?
Eurovision is all about bringing together different nations of the European Broadcasting Union. It’s poignant that in today’s world of interconnectivity and globalisation, we see the EBU extending its reach to not just our closest neighbours, but to those further afield. I should point out that by ‘further afield’ I mean to include countries like Israel, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, to name a few. Oddly enough these countries do not receive the same criticism for participating at Eurovision as Australia, despite also not being in Europe.
We talk a lot about ‘othering’ and how we are prone to exclude those that we do not know, or with whom we have little affiliation. Think about the message it sends out to the rest of the world if we stand up and say “In Europe we welcome you, whoever you are, whatever our differences.”
So with that said…
Happy Australia Day, Love from Europe!
Hlynur will be throwing back to an artist who competed against Dami in 2016, but with a previous appearance at the contest. Who could that be, we wonder?
Which throwback would you like to read from us? Let us know in the comments below or on social media @ESCXTRA. Meanwhile, you could check out the throwback from last week.