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  • Writer's pictureHayley Bessell

Austria's history in the Eurovision Song Contest

26 October is a National Day in Austria where in 1955 the land locked country made a Declaration of Neutrality, declaring Austria permanently neutral after World War Two.

Austria is one of the longest competing countries at the Eurovision Song Contest, debuting in the second year of the Contest in 1957. Austria has won the Contest twice and they also hold the record for the longest period between wins, a gap of 48 years.

In celebration of their national day we take a look at Austria's history in the Eurovision Song Contest.

Early years

Austria made their debut at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1957, the second edition of the Contest.

For their first ever entry, they sent Bob Martin with the wholesomely named song 'Whine, Kleines Pony?' (Where Little Pony?). Unfortunately for their first Contest, Austria actually finished in last place and is officially the first ever last place in the Contest as the full results for the year before are unknown.

Austria were not bothered by the last place finish as they returned in 1958 with an entry that landed in the top five. However, the next few years Austria had mixed results including two last places.

Austria's first Eurovision win

Austria's first win at Eurovision actually came from an artist they had previously sent two years in a row, Udo Jürgens. Udo is an Austrian composer and singer with a love for Schlager, who had competed in 1964 with 'Warum nur, warum?' (Just why, why?) which finished in 6th place. The following year Udo was back with 'Sag ihr, ich lass sie grüßen' (Tell her, that I send her my love), which finished a little higher up, in 4th place.

Not to be deterred, Udo returned for a third time, and in 1966 he delivered Austria its first ever win with 'Merci Cherie' (Thank you Darling). The song was written by Udo himself and is actually a break up ballad. The song sung in German with a little bit of French, was the first Eurovision winning song to be sung in German. Udo Jürgens passed away a few years ago and is considered a legend in Austria.

In between wins

After Austria's first Eurovision win they did not compete every consecutive year. They took a break from 11 Eurovision Song Contests: 1969, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1998, 2001, 2006 and then finally the last break was between 2008 - 2010.

During that time Austria's results have been mixed, with five last places (Grand Finals and semi-finals combined), and in the semi-final era before 2014, Austria missed out the Eurovision Grand Final four times. However it's not all bad news as Austria have delivered some gems.

Over 48 years, Austria landed in the top 10 on 12 occasions, with three 5th place positions (1972, 1976 and 1989).

Austria's second Eurovision win

In the lead up to the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, there was much talk about "the bearded lady" and the rumours proved true. Austria had internally chosen drag-performer Conchita Wurst to represent their country.

Conchita Wurst had risen to fame in the few years before in Austria's TV talent programs. The song chosen for Conchita to compete at Eurovision with was a bond-esque power ballad 'Rise like a Phoenix' featuring relatable lyrics and Conchita's epic voice.

With no backing vocals or dancers, Conchita stood in a gold dress and belted out the song, delivering Austria their second ever Eurovision win.

Conchita went onto to jointly host the Contest the following year in Vienna, which also paid homage to Udo Jürgens who had sadly passed away just months earlier.

After Conchita's Eurovision win

Since Conchita's win in 2014, Austria has competed in every competition year (minus 2020 of course) and there have been some notable performances and decent results.

In 2016, there was a crowd favourite and the first Austrian entry to be sung purely in French, ZOE's 'Loin d'ici'. It proved to be very popular with fans in the lead up to the Contest, and finished in 13th place in the Grand Final.

In 2018, Austria shocked everyone by winning the Jury vote in the Grand Final and finishing in third place with Cesár Sampson's 'Nobody But You'.

More recently, Austria gave us a huge crowd favourite that had the entire stadium at Liverpool shouting "Poe Poe Poe Poe", which was this years entry, 'Who the Hell is Edgar?' sung by Teya & Salena.

It is plain to see that Austria have given us some fantastic Eurovision entries over the years and have much to be proud of. We can always look forward to what Austria brings each year to the Contest!

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