Kate Miller-Heidke has done it. The Aussie pop queen has soared to great vocal heights from her pole perch five metres above the stage to impress semi-final voters and progress to the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest grand final.
Her top 10 finish in the first semi-final against 16 other countries in Tel Aviv today maintains Australia’s perfect record of advancing into the grand final of the world’s biggest music event.
The other countries who have booked a berth in the weekend’s event are Greece, Belarus, Serbia, Cyprus, Estonia, Czech Republic, Iceland, San Marino and Slovenia.
They now join the Big 5 — the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany — and host country Israel who all automatically qualify for the final.
Miller-Heidke, who was chosen to represent her country at the first ever Australia Decides selection show staged by SBS in February, arrived in Tel Aviv earlier this month at long odds to progress to the grand final.
Her epic popera song Zero Gravity, inspired by her recovery from a two-year battle with post natal depression after the birth of her son Ernie in 2016, initially polarised Eurovision diehard fans and critics.
At a press conference today, Miller-Heidke said when the audience started singing along during the performance, it was “the most joyous noise I have ever heard”.
“We come from a country very far away and it means so much to be accepted and even embraced by the Eurovision family,” she said.
“I can’t believe I am here; I am so grateful.”
She finished off with a shout out to her son Ernie.
“Be a good boy for your dad!” she said.
Since her first rehearsal about 10 days ago, when she unveiled her awe-inspiring and world-first singing performance atop an acrobatic pole, Miller-Heidke has raced up the ranks of countries to land high in the top 10 in her semi-final.
She has generated a groundswell of goodwill among fans captivated by her flawless three-octave vocal range and the eye-popping staging which features two dancers from the acclaimed Strange Fruit performing arts company.
She has also made an overwhelming impression on the European media covering the event, topping every press poll after her rehearsal and jury semi final performances.
The singer has also inspired the nickname hashtag Kate Miller Spikey with her ornate Eurovision crown and drawn angelic comparisons with her Steven Khalil designed costumes which features a three metre-long sparkly skirt of crystal-adorned layers of tulle.
Zero Gravity cracked the million streams mark on Spotify a week out from the semi final and is closing in on two million views for her official video on YouTube.
Her note-perfect rendition of Zero Gravity and graceful movements on that bendy pole wowed the juries who cast their votes yesterday after a non-televised run through of the first semi.
The combined jury votes comprised 50 per cent of the total vote, with the other half decided by fans after the semi had concluded.
The 37-year-old singer, composer and theatrical performer has harboured a dream to represent Australia at Eurovision since we were invited to join the contest in 2015.
Since then all of our artists — Guy Sebastian, Dami Im, Isaiah Firebrace and Jessica Mauboy — have progressed to the grand final.
Im came tantalisingly close to winning in Sweden in 2016.
With the Netherlands, France, Italy and Sweden leading pundits’ predictions to take out the 2019 title, Miller-Heidke isn’t daring to dream about a Eurovision win.
“I’m not allowing my fantasies to run that wild. If I can deliver a performance I am proud of, I will have won,” she told News Corp Australia.
The first semi was opened by Israel’s Netta Barzilai who won last year in Lisbon with her quirky pop song Toy, therefore bringing the 2019 contest to Tel Aviv.
The final 10 contestants will be drawn from the second semi which is broadcast and streamed live by SBS on Friday (AEST) from 5am.
The grand final will be watched by more than 200 million people and will feature a performance of two songs from Madonna.
Australian fans who didn’t set the alarm for 5am today can watch a replay of Miller-Heidke’s performance and the entire first semi-final on Thursday from 8.30pm.
Kathy McCabe is in Tel Aviv as a guest of SBS.