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Australia qualifies for Eurovision final

Music

Australia has qualified for the Eurovision grand final after 17-year-old Isaiah Firebrace was voted through in the first semi-final, amid a line-up featuring several wacky performances including a man in a horse’s head.

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The young singer from Moama in the New South Wales Riverina was third on the bill, performing the song “Don’t Come Easy” on a revolving stage in Kyiv in Ukraine on Tuesday night.

Firebrace gave a quick shout-out to people in Australia in a brief chat backstage after his performance.

“Hi everyone back at home. I’m thinking about you guys and, wow, this is incredible,” he said.

The first taste of Eurovision for 2017 didn’t disappoint, with some wacky performances, including a man in a horse’s head for Azerbaijan, inexplicably standing on a ladder.

But it was also a night for favourites, with Sweden’s Robin Bengtsson opening the competition with the catchy pop number “I Can’t Go On” and Portugal’s Salvador Sobral performing the jazzy-ballad “Amar Pelos Dois”.

Both are placed just behind Italy, which is favourite to take home the overall prize on Saturday night.

The new SBS host pairing of Joel Creasey and Myf Warhurst made their debut at Eurovision, taking over from Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang.

The pair commented on the first few songs during the live SBS broadcast early on Wednesday morning in Australia, but mentioned technical problems and disappeared until the 11th performance of the night.

Creasey did get the chance to make a clever quip about Ukraine’s trio of hosts Oleksandr Skichko, Volodymyr Ostapchuk and Timur Miroshnychenko.

“Let’s celebrate diversity with three white males,” Creasey said.

“Celebrate Diversity” is Eurovision’s motto for 2017.

While the viewers’ voting took place, last year’s Eurovision winner from Ukraine, Jamala, performed the song 1944.

The Eurovision jury from each country cast their votes based on the second dress rehearsals. Their votes counted for 50 per cent, with the viewers’ votes deciding the other 50 per cent during the live show.

Australia was one of 10 countries going through to the grand final on Saturday out of the 18 who performed in the first of two semi-finals.

The second semi-final takes place on Thursday night, and Australia has a vested interest, as the Danish entrant is 2014 The Voice Australia winner Anja Nissen, from the Blue Mountains in Sydney.

The Eurovision semi-final 1 qualifying countries are:

Moldova
Azerbaijan
Greece
Sweden
Portugal
Poland
Armenia
Australia
Cyprus
Belgium

SBS will broadcast the semi-final 2 live on Friday at 5am and the grand final live on Sunday at 5am (AEST).

-AAP

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