EUROVISION: Hello, Vienna!

The Matchmakes represent Austria this year, can they follow in Conchita's steps and give Austria the double?
The Matchmakes represent Austria this year, can they follow in Conchita’s steps and give Austria the double?

People from all over Europe have gathered in Vienna this week eagerly getting involved with this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. However, whilst a lot of column inches and bandwidth is being handed over to potential winners, this blog is taking a different tact. Eurovision is a chance for the host country to show their country off to over 150 million people – and following this through it’s time to look at Austria’s Eurovision record!

Starting with hosting duties, this is just the second time that Austria has hosted the contest. The last time

Austria played host, Eurovision was a much smaller affair. The year was 1967 and Vienna played host to 17 countries. Vienna had earnt the right to host the contest following the previous year’s contest where Udo Jürgens secured Austria’s only other victory with ‘Merci, Cherie’. On that occasion it was the United Kingdom who eventually won with Sandie Shaw singing ‘Puppet On A String’.

In terms of Eurovision success, Austria’s record is actually quite chequered. Having made their debut in 1957 Austria had to wait ten years for their first victory, and then another 47 years for their second which Conchita delivered last year. Aside from first place this is country that has never come second or third – but last on seven occasions. In addition Austria has had periods of non-participation, most recently withdrawing from the three contests held between 2008 and 2010. When it comes to voting Austria is a friend of the United Kingdom and Ireland having given both countries the highest number of points in grand finals over time. This has also been reciprocated by both countries as well.

As we all know just because a country doesn’t win the contest very often is no reflection on their entries. I’ve been watching the contest since 1992 and over that time some of the Austrian entries have been my favourites – so here’s my top five Austrian entries!

1997: One Step – Bettina Soriat (21st, 12 points)

What a tune and performance! As Terry Wogan said this act had ‘choreography to die for’ – and it definitely did. This has always been one of my favourite entries from costumes to dancing to the tune  – if I wasn’t so biased towards Katrina & The Waves entry in 1997 this would definitely be my top entry of the year. It’s also significant because this is the first entry I televoted for!

2004: Du Bist – Tie Break (21st, 9 points)

Being drawn 2nd in Eurovision is like being handed a curse on a plate. No entry from that position has ever won the contest. I’ll also admit that the performance on the night wasn’t the best – however in the run up to the contest this was one of my favourites. Yes, it is standard boyband ballad material, albeit sung in German – but I still think it’s underrated.

2002: Say a Word – Manuel Ortega (18th, 26 points)

Another underrated entry. Fast paced, catchy and fun, it is another entry I still listen to. Maybe the performance didn’t capture the energy of the song, or maybe the singer just attempted too much of a Cliff Richard (c. 1973) impression in his stature. Either way I’ll let you judge for yourself.

2011: The Secret Is Love – Nadine Beiler (18th, 64 points)

The staging of this act was so effective it more than deserves its place in nutleyone’s top five. Nadine stood on a circular raised platform surrounded by dry ice and delivered the first verse a cappella which I think always impresses on the Eurovision stage. It was a brilliant comeback after three years absence.

2014: Rise Like a Phoenix – Conchita Wurst (1st, 290 points)

You cannot consider Austria’s top five recent entries without giving some credit to last year’s winner. Sounding like a bond theme, a mesmerising background this performance was a metaphor equality and acceptance in every way. A well deserved winner… now can they do the double?