Douze or nul points? Eurovision acts to watch

Who can follow Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst and wow 200 million viewers worldwide to win the Eurovision Song Contest at its 60th edition in Vienna on Saturday?

Douze or nul points? Eurovision acts to watch
The audience at the first Semi Final. Photo: Andres Putting (EBU)

As the Austrian capital prepares for the grand final of this annual shindig of the kitsch, the catchy and the corny, here are a few of the 27 acts to watch out for:

Take a chance on Mans

With five Eurovision victories including ABBA in 1974, Sweden is always a good bet and according to the bookies, Mans Zelmerlow is the man to watch, as long as he remembers his flies.

“There are a lot of people supporting me back home in Sweden and they probably think I will win. I am not so sure,” a modest Zelmerlow said. His lucky routine is to “check my zipper, like 50 times.”

Plucky Pole

Photo: Artur Frątczak

Monika Kuszynska is a combative contestant, refusing to let anything as trifling as her wheelchair – she was in a car crash in 2006 – get in the way of lifting Poland's first ever Eurovision title.

“I consider my performance to be proof that it's possible to not get discouraged and to live life to the fullest even when it deals you a severe blow,” the 35-year-old says.

Australian idol

Photo: Respective broadcasters

Eurovision has long stretched the geographical definition of Europe, but organisers this year have surpassed themselves by granting Australia special dispensation to take part.

“I've been fortunate enough to perform on various different stages but when you get on that Eurovision stage it's like nothing else I've ever done in my life,” said Australia's contestant, heartthrob and former Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian.

No politics please, we're Armenian

Photo: Ruben Martirosyan, Public Television of Armenia

Eurovision is no stranger to politics, and although Armenia denies its entry is about the 100th anniversary of the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman forces – which Turkey refuses to recognise as genocide – many perceive it that way.

The original title of the entry from Genealogy, six of whose members are from the Armenian diaspora, was “Don't Deny”. Armenia changed it to “Face the Shadow”, saying this was to remove any suggestion of political intent.

A 'good girl' from Russia

Photo: Respective broadcasters

The Ukraine crisis and Russia's stance on gay rights upstaged the semi-final of the 2014 Eurovision, where Russia's entry was booed.

This year bookie favourite Polina Gagarina is hoping to woo Moscow's critics with her peace song “A Million Voices”. So far things are going well, with Gagarina making it through to the final.

“I am obviously a singer, an actress, a mother and probably a good girl,” said Gagarina. “My song is about a million voices that speak the same language, the language of love”.

19th nervous performance

Brits generally don't take Eurovision that seriously, but 18 years after Katrina and the Waves won Eurovision gold Electro Velvet might be in with a chance with the catchy electro-swing song “Still in Love with You”.

“It's the 60th year, so it's a party year, and I think that we are bringing quite a party song and a party vibe,” said Bianca Nicholas, one half of the duo with Mick Jagger impersonator and teacher Alex Larke.

Italian crooners

Photo: Daniele Barraco

Bookies also include Il Volo, the successful “pop opera” trio who have collaborated with Barbra Streisand and others, among the favourites to win Italy's first Eurovision crown in 25 years with “Grande Amore”.

“Being here is like a dream come true. We will do our best to represent Italy. We hope you like our song, and we are going to bring our 'Grand Amore', our big love,” said one of the cheeky trio, Piero Barone.

Check in on Saturday night for The Local's live blog on the Eurovision Song Contest final. 

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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Find out what's going on in Austria on Friday with The Local's short roundup of today's news.

Travel should soon be easier thanks to the Green Passport ALEX HALADA / AFP
Travel should soon be easier thanks to the Green Passport (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

EU and Austrian green certificate for travel should be ready for June

EU countries and the EU Parliament have agreed on details of a digital Europe-wide certificate or “green passport” to give citizens proof of corona vaccinations, tests and having recovered from an infection with Covid-19.

This was announced by the Portuguese Presidency in Brussels on Thursday, and will hopefully make travel easier within the EU.The “digital green certificate” – in the form of a QR code – is to be introduced by the end of June.

‘3G Rule’: How to prove you have been vaccinated, tested or recovered from Covid in Austria

Austrian Tourism Minister Elisabeth Köstinger said Austria would have its certificate ready by the beginning of June, and added the fall of the entry restrictions in many countries will make “vacation in Austria” possible again, Der Standard newspaper reports.

Wrong leg amputated at Austrian clinic

The wrong leg of an 82-year-old patient was amputated at a clinic in Upper Austria, Der Standard newspaper reports. The wrong leg was marked before the operation at the Freistadt Clinic. The patient’s second leg must now also be amputated from the middle of the thigh.

The patient and his relatives were offered psychological help, the paper reports, adding the doctor who carried out the amputation is currently not on duty at her own request. 

Seven day incidence at 55

The seven-day incidence, or the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, is 54.8. In all federal states the number is now below 100 – with Vorarlberg (94.7) and Burgenland (36.0) having the highest and lowest values ​​respectively. 

Almost all federal states in Austria now yellow or orange

Vorarlberg is the only federal state to remain “red” or acute risk according to the coronavirus traffic light commission. Burgenland and Lower Austria were switched to yellow (medium risk) by the commission on Thursday, the rest of the country, with the exception of Vorarlberg, to orange (high risk). 

READ MORE: Explained: How does Austria’s coronavirus traffic light system work

Traffic jams expected this evening

Traffic jams are expected across Austria ahead of the Whitsun weekend, broadcaster ORF reports. On Friday afternoon there will be queues at the exits of the larger cities, warns the Ö3 traffic department.

Towards evening, and on Saturday, traffic is likely to shift more to the transit routes, with queues expected in Tyrol (A13, B179) as well as the border points at Walserberg (A8 / A1), the Karawanken tunnel (A11), Spielfeld (A9) and Nickelsdorf (A4).

Delays on the approaches to the tourist regions, such as on the connections on Lake Constance, the Carinthian lakes, in the Salzkammergut, the Neusiedler See, but also in the Wachau are expected. 

Austria crashes out of Eurovision 

Austria’s performer Vincent Bueno has failed to reach the last round of the Eurovision Song Contest. The 35-year-old singer from Austria “seemed very nervous” during his performance with the ballad “Amen” and could not reach top form, Der Standard newspaper reports. 

No wave of bankruptcies predicted in Austria 

State aid during the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to cause backlogs in company bankruptcies, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports. A  Creditreform survey Austria had the steepest decline in corporate bankruptcies in Europe with minus 40.7 percent compared to the previous year. However,Gerhard Weinhofer, Managing Director of Creditreform in Vienna, no longer expects a large wave of bankruptcies for Austria as soon as state corporate aid expires.

Mood brightening for construction and industry

The latest industry overview from UniCredit Bank Austria, which shows the mood in the industry is increasingly brightening, both in construction and the service sector, the Wiener Zietung newspaper reports.

However, supply bottlenecks for some raw materials and strong demand for intermediate products are  increasing production costs. The situation in retail is more pessimistic, and the retail climate in particular remains gloomy for the time being, according to Bank Austria.

Number of people in employment in Austria declines

The number of people in employment in Austria in 2020 has begun to decline for the first time, resulting in a shrinking of  the proportion of the population that finances the social system, Der Standard newspaper reports.

Population economist Binder-Hammer finds that the current social system is characterized by high taxes for employed people, a strong redistribution to the retired population and less protection for the young, who have suffered most economically in the recent crisis.