Eurovision’s turkeys and triumphs

As the Eurovision Song Contest celebrates its 60th anniversary watched by some 200 million worldwide, here is a trip down Eurovision memory lane - turkeys, dictators, Mormons, orcs, drag queens and all.

Eurovision's turkeys and triumphs
Winners from the 2015 second Semi-Final on stage. Photo: Andres Putting (EBU)

Love it, hate it or both, Europe's unashamedly over-the-top and enduringly popular annual song contest, which is set to shake up Vienna on Saturday night, is nothing if not entertaining. 

Having failed the previous year to even win their country's nomination, ABBA triumphed in 1974 with Waterloo, sending the Swedish foursome on the way to all-conquering global super stardom.

Most performers though sink back into obscurity — many deservedly so — although Eurovision boosted the careers of Sandie Shaw (1967), Bucks Fizz (1981) and Celine Dion (1988).

Some of the songs themselves have been big hits, like France Gall's Poupee de Cire, Poupee de Son (1965), written by Serge Gainsbourg, and more recently Satellite from Germany's Lena (2010).

Domenico Mudugno's Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu, also known as Volare, has been covered by David Bowie, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Barry White and many more — despite only coming third in 1958.

Wadde hadde dudde da?

Being famous already is no guarantee of winning. In 1968 Congratulations by Britain's Cliff Richard was pipped by Spain's entry La La La — allegedly thanks to foul play by dictator Francisco Franco.

That song had “La” 138 times. Other lyrical highlights include Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley (1984) by golden-booted Swedish Mormon brothers Herreys, Lulu's Boom-Bang-A-Bang (1969) and Germany's Wadde hadde dudde da? (2000).

And who can forget the chorus to Austria's 1977 entry: “Boom boom boomerang, snadderydang. Kangaroo, boogaloo, didgeridoo. Ding dong, sing the song, hear the guitar twang. Kojak, hijack, me and you.”

At least, though, the words were mostly real. Belgium's entries Sanomi (2003) and O Julissi (2008) were in imaginary languages.

Norwegian no-hopers

Votes from viewers and a jury are combined for each country, ranking the favourite ten acts of the 27 in the final. The top ranked song gets 12 points, the 10th one point, from each nation.

Some countries therefore can score nothing — the dreaded “nul points”. Norway holds the record for this, failing to win any points four times, although in 2009 it scored 387, the most ever.

Ireland are overall Eurovision champions, winning seven times, followed by the UK, Luxembourg, Sweden and France on five. The Netherlands have four victories, and Israel, Denmark and Norway three.

Get up, stand up

Armenia's Genealogy. Photo: Ruben Martirosyan, Public Television of Armenia

Geopolitics is never far away, with the annals of Eurovision littered with boycotts — like Armenia's of Azerbaijan in 2012 — and songs with not-so-subtle messages, often involving Russia.

In 1968, the year of the Prague Spring, Austria chose a Czech singer, and in 2009 Georgia tried, and failed, to enter with We Don't Wanna Put In, with Russian President Vladimir Putin clearly in mind.

Last year, tensions over Ukraine saw Russia's entry booed. Israel's 2007 entry Push the Button was taken by some to be about Iran being about to nuke everybody.

Armenia's 2015 entry, initially called Don't Deny but since changed, was widely seen as a reference to the 100th anniversary of the mass killing of its citizens by Ottoman forces, which Turkey — Eurovision no-shows since 2012 — refuses to call genocide.

Girls just want to have fun

Generally though, the songs are about things like love, peace and tolerance — as witnessed by Slovenian cross-dressers Sestre (2002), Israeli transgender Dana International (1998) and bearded Austrian diva Conchita Wurst (2014).

And most importantly, having evolved from its civilised black-and-white beginnings with live orchestras and restrained applause into the riotous carnival of camp it is today, Eurovision is fun.

Recent highlights have included orc-like Finnish rockers Lordi (2006), Ireland's Dustin the Turkey (2008) and silver-star-helmeted Ukrainian drag queen Verka Serduchka (2007).

“I always wanted to be a princess,” said Serduchka, possibly the best act to have come second — except perhaps Sir Cliff Richard.

By Simon Sturdee

We will be reporting live and blogging from the Eurovision Song Contest final on Saturday – check in at 8.50pm! 

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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.