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  • Writer's pictureFleur Menezes

Austrian National Day - their five iconic Eurovision songs

Guten tag!!! Today is Austria National Day.

Austria National Day has been celebrated since 1955 when the Austrian Government passed the constitutional law on permanent neutrality due to the political landscape after WWII.

After the conclusion of the War, Austria was occupied by the four Allied forces (Soviet Union, United States, Great Britain, and France), who divided the country into four zones. Vienna was also divided into four districts.

Negotiations over a State Treaty was formalised and the occupation ended in 1955.

Austria debuted at Eurovision two years later in 1957 and has entered the competition 52 times, making the final in 47 occasions. They have won twice- in 1966 and more recently in 2014.

Plenty of love, love, peace, peace going on here but now it’s time to Shine, Woki mit deim Popo and continue Running On Air as we here at Aussievision take a look at Austria’s 5 Most Iconic Songs.

Udo Jürgens- Merci, Chérie English translation- Thank you, Darling (1966- 1st place).

It should not come as a surprise that we have included Austria’s first winning song on our list. Udo Jürgens had represented Austria in three consecutive years from 1964 to 1966. Only once did he not finish in the top 5. However, it was third time lucky for him when he won the competition with the German/French ballad- “Merci, Chérie”.

Udo was a music legend in Austria, composing nearly 1,000 songs. He sold over 100 million records. As of 2015, he holds the record as the musical artist with the longest existence in the charts worldwide with 57 years- from 1958 until 2015.

Udo Jürgens had expressed an interest to perform at ESC 2015 in Vienna after Conchita Wurst’s victory. Unfortunately he passed away on December 21 2014 at age 80. The EBU paid tribute to him during the 2015 contest. A tribute day was held in his honour on May 20, as well as being given a special mention in the beginning of the Grand Final on May 23.

“Merci, Chérie” has been covered numerous times, most notably by British easy-listening icon, Matt Munro (ESC 2nd place- 1964). The song was also given a French revamp by none other than 1980’s American pop chanteuse, Belinda Carlisle in 2007.

Belinda Carlisle- Merci, Chérie

Cesár Sampson- Nobody But You (2018- 3rd place)

2018 Juries’ darling or should that be chéri? Linz native, Cesár Sampson surprised many a Eurovision fan when he raked in the points at the ESC last year. As with many ESC alumni, Cesár is a singer, songwriter and producer. He has also dabbled in the dancing and modelling industries. Prior to those he had a career as a social worker and later as a personal trainer.

Cesár is not the only member in his family who has left his mark on Austrian pop-culture. His mother, Kathy Sampson is also a singer and songwriter. She is most famous for co-writing and performing the theme song of cult favourite Austrian television series Kommissar Rex, better known to the Australian public as “Inspector Rex”. Cesár’s father has been credited for introducing Pilates to Austria and other German speaking countries.

Cesár Sampson had prior Eurovision experience as a backing vocalist for Bulgarian contestants, Poli Genova and Kristian Kostov in 2016 and 2017 before representing his country in the contest. He also has the honour of achieving Austria’s third best result at Eurovision, having only been surpassed by their two winning songs.

Thomas Forstner- Nur Ein Lied English translation- Only a Song (1989- 5th place).

After 1966, Austria had a few lean years in the competition. These included a couple of last places in 1979, 1984 and a dreaded nul points result in 1988. 1989 saw Austria bring in vocalist Thomas Forstner with a song penned by German superstar Dieter Bohlen of the 1980’s power-pop duo Modern Talking.

Modern Talking is Germany’s most successful musical act, amassing more than 120 million singles and albums in sales. Dieter Bohlen was well known as a songwriter and producer having written "Mit 17" for German contestant Bernd Clüver in 1983 where he placed third. He also wrote for 1992 ESC Austrian representative Tony Wegas which placed 10th. In 2006, Dieter produced "Be My Boyfriend" for Romania’s ESC entrant, twin sister duo Indiggo. They finished in 7th place.

Additionally, Dieter Bohlen has worked with Bonnie Tyler and Chris Norman of Smokie fame. He was also a judge on Deutschland sucht den Superstar, the German instalment of Pop Idol.

Thomas Forstner had a handful of hits before competing at Eurovision. He returned in 1991 with the song "Venedig im Regen" and ironically finished last on nul points and Dieter Bohlen was bought in for 1992 as mentioned earlier. Thomas Forstner released music until 2002.

Modern Talking- You're My Heart, You're My Soul

Schmetterlinge - Boom Boom Boomerang (1977- 17th place)

Going through the list of Austrian songs, we have learned that Austria likes to have fun at Eurovision. Moldova are the court jesters, Georgia are quirky, Belarus are offbeat… and Austria are the monarchs of the trolls. Before Alf Poier in 2003 and to a lesser extent, the Trackshittaz in 2012- there was Schmetterlinge.

The butterflies from Österreich were active from 1969 until 2013. They were a political, folk-rock band. Included in their line up was Beatrix Neundlinger who was previously part of the Milestones, who represented Austria in the contest in 1972. The other members were Georg Herrnstadt, Erich Meixner, Willi Resetarits and Herbert Zöchling-Tampier. Willi Resetarits left the group in 1985 and Erich Meixner succumbed to cancer in 2013.

“Boom Boom Boomerang” was written as a satirical criticism of the record industry hence its nonsensical lyrics. For this reason the song was controversial. Never before in the contest had a troll song been performed. “Boom Boom Boomerang” even in all its late-1970’s glory, was ahead of its time- just watch the performance. Unfortunately, the public did not respond well and Schmetterlinge finished second last on 11 points. However it is because of Schmetterlinge, we can be grateful for the costume reveal. Drink.

Conchita Wurst- Rise Like a Phoenix (2014- 1st place)

"We are unity and we are unstoppable".

The Queen, The Icon, The Legend. No way were we not going to include this modern day classic. If this song was good enough for Udo Jürgens, then it is most certainly is good enough for us.

Fashion student, Thomas Neuwirth entered Austrian TV show Starmania in 2006 and placed second to Nadine Beiler after moving to Graz from his hometown of Bad Mitterndorf in rural Austria. Neuwirth has been vocal on the prejudice he faced as a homosexual teenager in a country area although stating that he had a wonderful upbringing in his mountainside home.

After his time on Starmania, Neuwirth created his drag persona Conchita Wurst purposely incorporating the trademark beard as "a statement to say that you can achieve anything, no matter who you are or how you look."

Conchita Wurst as we know, went on to win the crystal trophy in Copenhagen. It was described as not only a win for Conchita but for everyone who has been discriminated against. Conchita has gone on to be a champion for Europe's LGBT community. Even the Vienna tourism board utilised her image to promote the city as “gay-friendly” to encourage more LGBT+ tourists to visit the city.

Conchita Wurst has gone on to tour at many pride festivals including the Sydney Opera House as part of Mardi Gras where she performed with Guy Sebastian and Courtney Act. Conchita has also used her celebrity to address the European Parliament and the Austrian office of the United Nations of LGBT+ rights.

Earlier this year Tom Neuwirth decided to evolve his personas. Conchita Wurst is now known by the mononym “Conchita” and will present a more feminine style of performance, while WURST will perform as Neuwirth’s male alter ego. WURST will release his first album “Truth Over Magnitude” this month.

So there we have it, our Five Iconic Austrian songs at Eurovision. Prost!!!


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