ESC 2017 Review: Australia – Third Time Comes Easy?

I’m absolutely not here to fight about if Australia should be included in Eurovision or not. I think Europe should be more concerned that the Aussies have been beating them at their own game…but can they keep on their winning streak?

These are my own PERSONAL rankings of what I think of 2017’s Eurovision songs but I’m also going to make some bold predictions about the eventual fate of the song. These will probably be very wrong for a variety of reasons including I have no idea what almost half the artists sound like live or what type of staging and song changes could be made. There’s plenty of songs that have been let down by their staging (2016 Spain for example) so in the end they’re just guesses in the dark.

Country: Australia
Artist: Isaiah [Firebrace]
Song Title: Don’t Come Easy
My Ranking: 34th (out of 43)
Semi Final: 1st Semi Final
Final placement prediction: 19 out of 26

Australia is a newcomer to the ESC stage though they’d be patiently waiting to join in the wings for years. They’ve experienced break out success as often happens for newcomers but there’s a weird backlash that seems to happen when you start off winning and I worry that curse will befall poor Isaiah.

Isaiah is 17 and a young indigenous singer from Australia. Winning the X Factor last year and releasing an album on the heels of that success he was even directly blessed by 2015’s entrant Guy Sebastian who was on the judging panel of X Factor. His song is written by DNA Songs, who also wrote Dami Im’s “Sound of Silence” which clinched second place last year after bowling over the jury. Isaiah seems like he’s a star on the rise and while he has charted in other countries before the release of “Don’t Come Easy”, it’s hard to get more publicity than ESC itself.

The song reminds me of those sad love songs that were popular in the mid 90s that sound almost like a country song (maybe owing to the few isolated notes or just the general overall tone of sadness). Absolutely Isaiah has the voice to pull off something more than this but I find myself stuck on the fact that this song, like Bulgaria’s this year, is written for someone a lot older than 17.

It’s no coincidence these songs ended up back and back on my list I think. I can hear some of the parallel between them. Heartbreak and love are good topics that are universal go-to’s for any song writer and they’re both wells that can get pretty deep if you like. This song however starts to make me feel uncomfortable right away with the disparity between the singers actual age and what the song writers age likely was. It almost feels like this song was written for some else and they just gave it to Isaiah at the last moment fearing they wouldn’t be able to write another one quickly.

A little up tempo wouldn’t have hurt this song but in the end, almost nothing can save it.

Lines like “I used to move in fast to erase my past” and “I’ve been afraid too long/Afraid of love”  or even the chorus:

Been burned too many times
To love easily
Don’t mistake me
My love runs deep
But it don’t come easy
It don’t come cheap

Would be great…in the mouth of a 30-something singer. Coming from a 17 year old this song takes on an accidental comic tone. Something between ‘edgelord’ and ‘fake deep’ or whatever the kids are calling it these days. At best you can read the song as how when you’re 17 it feels like you have all the experience you need and your one or two brief relationships that most people go through are the deepest, truest, and most important things that they ever happen to you. Looking at this song as a 30 year old who has lived almost twice that life it seems absurdist.

Ignoring all of that, even if sung by an appropriate age singer, this is not my genre of song. The song reminds me of someone who makes you jump through hoops to get to know them. No doubt the song will be delivered well on stage. The staging is likely to be minimal but I do hope they find a better outfit for Isaiah as the suit in the video makes him look somehow both cheap and over dressed at the same time. Aussies are likely to qualify based on their neutrality as a country and that the first semi final has much weaker vocalists but I think they’ll get passed over for top 10 this time around as this song doesn’t appeal to the teen vote as much as it should have (see: Sweden 2016 which I hated but made top 5) and it doesn’t connect with older viewers either.

Somewhere in the middle because winning don’t come easy.

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