Australia may just have a shot at winning this year’s Eurovision after the country’s representative Sheldon Riley secured a slot to compete in the finals this weekend.
While the results brought heartbreak for those who failed to secure a spot in the finals, Australia was among the 10 countries that made it through the next round, delivering a performance praised by many viewers.
Proving he was not one to forget, Riley brought style, big vocals, and a drive to win as he performed at the contest’s second semi-final in Turin, Italy, on Thursday, May 12.
Riley, who first rose to fame on The Voice Australia back in 2018 sang his hit ballad, Not the Same, a song inspired by Riley’s experience with Asperger’s Syndrome and feeling different from the people around him.
Speaking to Eurovision World, the 23-year-old explained how he wrote the song himself and didn’t want anyone else writing his piece.
“It’s dark, it’s orchestral, it has this big moment. I’ve been telling people to just be prepared. It builds and then visually there’s this massive thing that happens, that gives an answer. And helps people understand me,” he said.
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Landing a slot for the finals means Riley’s song and performance had captivated both the professional judges from the competing countries as well as the “tele-voting” TV audience.
Riley performed his emotionally-charged single wearing an extravagant custom-made ensemble by Melbourne designer Alin Le’Kal.
The all-white outfit weighs over 38 kilograms and features over 90,000 pearls, crystals and pristinely white feathers.
The look also boasts big, voluminous sleeves, balloon styled suit pants and a dramatic floor-sweeping feather-lined cape.
To tie everything together, Riley wore a crystal headpiece with a sparkling crystal veil that cascaded over his face and down to his chest.
“This design was something different to what Sheldon usually wears. He usually goes for black and dark colours, but this time we wanted to go for an angelic look, lots of white. Something avant-garde and otherworldly,” Le’Kal told DailyMail Australia.
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The young artist took to celebrating his feat on Instagram, writing: “I still CAN NOT believe I just watched Eurovision FROM EUROPE LIVE!!”
“I’m so SO thankful for this experience. Sending my love to all the countries and their delegations!” he wrote.
Riley and the other representatives from the successful nation who made the cut for the final will join “the big five”- Italy, Germany, France, Spain, and the UK- as they compete to win Europe’s highest musical honour.
Although this isn’t the first time Australia has competed in the European competition, Riley’s advancement to the finals continues to prove that the country will continue to chase the Eurovision glory.
The 66th Eurovision Song Contest final will air live from 5 am on Sunday, May 15, on SBS with a repeat on Sunday night at 7.30 pm.