Conchita’s runaway win in 2014 eclipsed everything Austria had sent to Eurovision before, and will continue to do so for a long time to come too. A compelling song, with a strong story, replete with a beautiful stage presentation. In the bag. Nicely done.
But, aside from the country’s 14 top ten places, don’t assume that Austria has always known how to ‘do’ Eurovision well. Many of the country’s back catalogue have been forgettable, indistinguishable, ill-conceived or unfathomable.
If you’re looking for their most pleasing melodies and competent executions (one and the same in some cases), you need to be looking as far back as adorable Gary Lux singing the celebratory ‘Kinder dieser Welt’ (8th place, 1985), or his melodically bittersweet ‘Nur noch Gefuhl’ (20th place, 1987) – just be sure to overlook the sax break and his voice faltering towards the end. Poor love. Such a strong jaw line. Such a sweet smile. Exactly the kind of chap your mother would be pleased you introduced her to.
You might also look at Austria’s 1993 entry ‘Maria Magdelana’ (14thplace) sung by Tony Wegas. It was his second appearance at Eurovision with a considerably more interesting number than his first appearance in 1992.
From then on, there was a half-arsed attempt at funk (13th place, 1997) and a committed if conspicious gospel number (10th place, 1996). Let’s not spend any more time than we absolutely have to on The Rounder Girls (all personality but no real song – 14th place, 2000), or the nauseating ‘Du Bist’ from Tie Break who lacked as much skill at competent intonation as the song lacked melodic interest (21st place, 2004).
Manuel Ortega was eager, lean and fit as a butcher’s whippet straddling his microphone in his stonewash jeans, but his song ‘Say A Word’ was infuriatingly repetitive (18th place, 2002). God only knows how Alf Poier got to fourth place in 2003, and to this day none of us know what the hell was going on in 2012 (failed to qualify). Still, ‘Y’Asi‘ in 2005 was a lot of fun, even if it was misplaced and failed to qualify – that there Sebastian Fuchsberger on trombone was adorable.
With this backstory, Austria’s win in 2014 was a breathtaking achievement. It also makes the Make Makes failure in 2015 to score a single point all the more incredible. Austria looked like they’d got themselves back on track – perhaps not destined to acquire Sweden’s reputation for reliably good Eurovision pop, but at least a place at the top table through hard work and determination.
This year’s song (above) – ‘Loin d’ici’ sung by Zoe – fits nicely into that Austrian Eurovision heritage. Sweet bordering on the twee, there are echoes of Vanessa Paradis ‘Joe Le Taxi’ at the bridge. On the whole however the song is trying too hard. It’s dainty and cutesy with a chorus that fails to deliver what the verse promise placed in the first. Just to make matters worse, the lack of a satisfying melodic conclusion in the chorus leaves me hanging distinctively unsatisfied and possibly just a little annoyed with it.
Not everyone agrees. I see a lot of fans get quite excited by it. But of course, this isn’t a song-writing competition. No.