Despite being a runner-up on ‘Australian Idol’, Jessica Mauboy has cemented her presence in overseas music markets. Her singles have featured rappers like Snoop Dogg and Flo Rida, and her 2012 film The Sapphires even had a limited run in America. Just this month, Mauboy performed during the Eurovision Song Contest’s 2nd semi-final and became Australia’s first ever performer to grace that global stage.
Musically, Sea of Flags is just another four-chord song (see the Axis of Awesome’s Four Chord Song video on YouTube). Its production screams generic synth-pop, with backwards sounds in its intro, synthesized backing vocals and a gentle, galloping guitar riff in the background.
The lyrics are hardly poetic, but carry a nice sentiment in lifting the spirits of listeners. They certainly went down well in that flag-filled Copenhagen hall, with lines speaking of a united world with ‘colours connecting’, dancing and hope. The phrase ‘nation dreaming’ and the tribal drum arrangement are a nod to Australia (and Mauboy’s) Indigenous heritage.
Mauboy’s vocals are steady yet self-assured in the verses, before erupting with ecstasy in the chorus as she marvels at the beauty of a sea of flags. She also nails inspired ad-libs and harmonies in the final chorus, ending the track on a euphoric note (albeit without the corny line ‘one small step for Europe, one giant leap for Australia!’ during the live rendition at Eurovision).
Sea of Flags is harmless radio-friendly fluff that will certainly not extend the boundaries of pop music. Nevertheless, it’s still a better song than some of the Eurovision entries this year.