Image Credit: Ken Nakanishi
After a disappointing end to their qualifying streak in 2021, Australia are looking to get back on form for ESC 2022.
Australia Decides made its return for 2022, and saw Sheldon Riley win the ticket to Turin this May with his song ‘Not The Same’.
Who is Sheldon, and how well he do in Turin? Keep reading to find out more…
Who Is Sheldon Riley?
Sheldon Riley was born Sheldon Hernandez in Sydney, Australia in 1999 to a Filipino father and Australian mother. He has Asperger’s Syndrome and is open about how this has been a big part of forming who he is today. It’s also one of the things that inspired him to write ‘Not The Same’ all the way back in 2015:
‘Not The Same’ is the story I never thought I’d ever feel I’d be able to tell. Written from the memories of a child who at age 6 was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, growing up in public housing, moving from home to home, unaware of my sexuality, among a deeply religious family. A path already laid that I would never be able to properly understand or interact with other people.Sheldon Riley on his Eurovision entry ‘Not The Same’
Before Australia Decides, Sheldon was a regular in TV talent competitions. He started out in 2016 of The X Factor Australia and was put into a boyband called Time & Place, who were eliminated in week 1 of the live shows.
In 2018, he returned to TV with an audition on The Voice Australia, to which he made it all the way to the Grand Final, placing 3rd. He made another appearance on the show as an All-Star contestant a year later, making it to the Semi-Finals. Due to his appearance and popularity on The Voice, he was soon signed by Universal Music Australia.
In 2020, he made it to the Quarter-Finals of America’s Got Talent.
Australia Decides 2021
In late 2021, he was announced as one of the artists for Australia Decides. Prior to the show, he told SBS:
It has always been the highlight, waking up at 5am every year to watch [Eurovision] from Australia. […] It would be an honour to represent Australia and bring my sparkle to EuropeSheldon Riley, SBS
On February 26th 2022 he was declared the winner of the show with 100 points beating firm favourites Voyager & Jaguar Jonze. Now, Eurovision Semi-Final 2 calls for Sheldon. He seems to be upping his performance from the national final, with his outfit sounding to be even more extravagant than before.
How Well Will Sheldon Do At Eurovision?
There’s no doubt Sheldon won’t make an impression at Eurovision this year. ‘Not The Same’ is a classic song that the members of the jury are bound to go for. With a repetitive chorus which in the end becomes quite memorable & an emotional display before the build towards the final section, Sheldon could be taking Australia back to the Grand Final.
He’ll perform 8th, between San Marino & Cyprus, both of which have upbeat songs that are expected to do moderately “ok” (Cyprus are 10th in the odds to qualify, San Marino are 9th), whereas Australia’s dark & dramatic ballad is in the top 3 of the odds and may make a big impression between both of these countries. However, Semi-Final 2 hosts two other great male vocalists in the form of Ochman from Poland, and Nadir Rüstəmli from Azerbaijan. Whilst Poland’s song ‘River’ isn’t really in the same category as Australia – its pacing is quicker – Azerbaijan look set to be the main challenger. Of course, all three could qualify, but it looks like there’ll be a battle for who can give the best performance on the night. He’ll also be challenged by other strong favourites in that semi-final such as Sweden’s Cornelia Jakobs, a country that often finds itself placing high with the jury. It looks like the televote may end up deciding the qualifiers this semi-final, and right now it’s quite hard to predict which way they’ll sway on May 12th.
You can listen to Australia’s 2022 entry below!
What do you think of Australia’s song for Eurovision 2022? How well do you think it’ll do in the contest? Let us know in the comments below!