After a three-year hiatus from 2008-2010, Austria are still finding their feet again despite being a veteran entrant nation. After 45 appearances at Eurovision with a 1966 win to their name, Austria added to their catalogue of last-place finishes last year when the delicately-named Trackshittaz came last in their semi-final.
Undeterred, the Austrians held a national final to select their entry to Malmö from 5 hopefuls. A 50/50 split of jury and televote was to decide the victor, but would they opt for another classy ballad as they did in 2011, or perhaps something a little more leftfield as they did in 2012?
The Bandaloop – Back to Fantasy
What is this?! Jerky electropop dressed in authentic Fraggle fur. It’s a bit of a strange dance track, her vocals aren’t amazing, and that budget beat doesn’t quite lift it to high art as I think it’s supposed to be.
There are synths galore, Austrian rap breakdowns, vocal distortions … sure it’s modern, but IS IT ART? I’m not convinced, and it seems neither was Austria. It hits its stride a bit towards the end, but it’s really not a memorable track.
Elija – Give Me a Sign
Hmm, a bit of a… not sure what this is. They sound like a less hateful version of Scouting for Girls. Oh hang on, wasn’t that just The Feeling? It feels like they are trying to conjure up the image of American college rock bands, which Denmark’s A Friend In London managed successfully in 2011, and Sweden’s State Of Drama are currently pitching to the Swedish voters.
Only it doesn’t quite have the hooks of those two songs. This is more early 00’s angst college rock, rather than the totally OTT stuff they do these days. It’s not big enough really, it just sounds a little tired and generic. Not unpleasant, but I’m struggling to drum up much enthusiasm for it.
Falco Luneau – Rise Above the Night
I love that backdrop! This sounds a bit more like it, aside from some cheesy dramatic moments where he reaches out theatrically to his lost love (or something). A gentle intro slowly builds into a midtempo Coldplay-esque track.
Who does he remind me of? Eagle Eye Cherry? Mark Ruffalo? Anyway despite my reference to Coldplay, he has neither the voice nor charisma to pull off an arena-filler. The good news is that the song is way too safe to be an arena-filler so he’s off the hook, but the bad news is that the Eurovision is going to be a pretty full arena.
Yela – Feels Like Home
Acoustic ukelele ballad, check. Quaint stage props of a sofa and standard lamp, check. Vintage fashion, check. We might as well Instagram a picture of a cupcake and sell the rights to a mobile phone advertiser right now.
It’s quite a nice tune in principle, but her shortcomings in vocals are only papered over by the painfully contrived ‘cool’ fixings. I’m not buying it, and all I hear is a rather ordinary Mraz-a-like track with limited potential.
Natália Kelly – Shine
Unimpressed by four defeated artists, I hope Austria picked a decent representative. Ready or not though, here it is. A strikingly minimal (and poorly-lit) intro does its best to unflatter the pretty singer.
She’s at least got the voice to carry the song, knowing when to amp up the volume and when to treat the song delicately. Can’t say I’m crazy for the chorus, but the song is segmented enough not to get boring, and her vocals are the best of the five artists I’ve seen, particularly that glory note.
The backing singers do a good job balancing the workload, just a shame they can’t take on some of her dancing responsibilities, occasionally making her look like some sassy neck-jerking brat.
Needs some work before it’s Malmö-ready, but it’s a decent parcel, all said and done.
Well, I don’t think Austria are in a great position at the moment. I think they made a good choice of entrant and song, but generally speaking I wasn’t massively impressed with their picks. I could imagine loving “Shine” given the right staging and a kick-ass performance, but at this moment I’m not entirely sure that’s what’s going to happen!