THE Australian invasion of Eurovision will be fought on two fronts with Anja Nissen joining Isaiah Firebrace at the 2017 grand final in Kiev, Ukraine, this weekend.
The 21-year old representative for Denmark claimed her berth in the world’s biggest sing-off by unleashing the powerful pipes which won The Voice in 2014.
And she did it with another Australian composition, Where I Am, which she co-wrote with producer Michael D’Arcy and former X Factor finalist Angel Tupai.
“It means so much to me. It feels like I have really been accepted by my country having an Australian background and Danish heritage,” she said.
“I have been lucky to be accepted by both of my homelands.”
Nissen started crying at the qualifiers’ press conference when asked about the support of her family.
“Even though I have gone all the way to Denmark and they (live) in Australia, they have supported me through thick and thin, through everything. Again, that phrase, I am so lucky.”
Raised by Danish parents in the Blue Mountains, Nissen has been campaigning to represent Denmark at Eurovision for the past two years as her post Voice pop career stalled.
Anja celebrated her semi-final victory with her extended family including parents Betina and Birger, grandparents Egon and Grethe Ostergaard, her cousin Anne Bordersen and her husband Jorgen and her childhood babysitter Megs Gander.
“I told her ‘Anja, one day I am going to pay a lot of money to see you on the world stage’ and she said ‘No you won’t Megs cuz I’ll get you in for free’,” Mrs Gander said.
When asked if Nissen had made good on her promise, Mrs Gander laughed and said “No, I had to fly across.”
While Nissen and Isaiah don’t figure highly in the betting to win, anything can happen on the night. Luxbet has Isaiah at 101-1, with Nissen at 67-1. The favourite being Francesco Gabbini’s catchy song Occidentali’s Karma at $2.10 to win.
Eurovision 2017 favourite Italy’s Francesco Gabbani’s Occidentali’s Karma
Isaiah and Nissen have won hearts among the diehard fans of Eurovision which is watched by more than 200 million viewers globally.
Ten artists were selected from the 18 countries competing in the second semi final.
Those who polled the most votes from the juries and fans to advance to the grand final were Bulgaria, Belarus, Croatia, Hungary, Denmark, Israel, Romania, Norway, The Netherlands and Austria.
While she didn’t make the cut, pregnant Macedonia representative Jana Burceska created history as voting closed and her partner proposed to her on camera.
Joining Isaiah as another popular teen performer at Eurovision 2017 is the Bulgarian entrant Kristian Kostov, who could be the missing One Direction member and impressed with a flawless rendition of his epic synth pop ballad Beautiful Mess.
Born and raised in Moscow, the 17-year-old should sweep up the votes of Russians living throughout Europe after their home country contestant was forced out of the competition when the Ukrainian hosts banned their contestant for political reasons.
The host country banned her from travelling to Kiev for three years because the wheelchair-bound Yuliya Samoylova performed a concert in Crimea in 2015 after it was annexed from Ukraine by Russia.
Another crowd pleaser this year is the Romanian duo Ilinca and Alex Florea with Yodel It, a bonkers mashup of folk, rap and pop. And they have laser cannons which Florea fell off during rehearsals.
Belarus indie pop entrant NAVIBAND have funked up their folk song Historyja Majho Zyccia and deliberately didn’t provide an English translation, choosing to promote their native language. Yet everyone still sang along to the chorus chant.
The strongest vocal group of the competition is the Netherlands’ OG3NE, with the trio of sisters Lisa, Amy and Shelley Vol harmonising perfectly on Lights and Shadows.
They cite legendary Australian group the Bee Gees as their inspiration and sound remarkably like our own country siblings The McClymonts.
The successful countries now join the 10 countries who made it through the first semi final and the Big 5 — UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy — and host country Ukraine in the Grand Final.
Portugal and Sweden join Italy as the countries to beat.
SBS will broadcast the contest live from 5am Sunday and repeat it at 7.30pm
Originally published as Anja joins Isaiah in Eurovision final