It’s a distinct change of pace for the next placing in my rankings countdown and potentially a bit of a controversial one. Austria have been riding high in many fan polls (and in Spotify streams) and this uptempo EDM entry is quite a departure from the usual Austrian entry. The very youthful combination of DJ Lum!x and hitherto unknown vocalist Pia Maria are the artists fronting the 90s dance influenced “Halo”. Can it make a mark at the contest?
Austria have been going with internal selections recently so the act and song were going to be difficult to predict, but it’s fair to sat that the fandom weren’t expecting a high tempo 1990s style EDM track. DJ Lum!x is a mere 19 years old but has already had a couple of minor chart hits in Austria (in collaboration with others). Pia Maria is even younger and less well known, being just 18 and not noted as a singer or vocalist, working as a trained make up artist in the theatre, and having written some of her own songs.
The gamble seems to have been paying off – the track has been very well received within the fandom (the fans love a dancey uptempo track) and it’s doing well on Spotify too. I am, of course, a fan of EDM so this should be right up my street and there’s certainly a strong feeling of nostalgia with this for me – I was a teenager in the mid 1990s and this really does hark back to that. All of which might make you wonder why I have this down at 27 rather than in my top 10 or at least my top 20.
The reason I have placed this where I have (and it was a real struggle to know where to place this) comes for two main reasons: firstly, while I do enjoy mid 90s dance like this, I don’t think this is necessarily a great example of it – and I find the vocals/vocal mix used quite harsh and irritating.
Secondly, and on subject of vocals, there remain genuine doubts that Pia Maria has the experience or expertise to carry this off live – it’s a challenging vocal as it is yet her lack of experience performing live has been clear at pre-parties. I appreciate she is learning and the delegation has said she has been suffering from long covid, but it still begs the question of what the thinking was of putting someone so inexperienced to head a challenging song to perform live on TV’s most watched non-sport event.
Maybe I and the other doubters will be proved wrong and the Austrian delegation have called it right. The ability to use pre-recorded backing vocals once again (something I still am not in favour of) may help to cover some of the shortcomings, at least for public vote, but I think it could potentially come a cropper with the juries. It’s going to be interesting to see how and if this comes together on the Eurovision stage – could we be looking at a shock non-qualifier?
Austria in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1957
Appearances (excluding this year): 53
Best result: Winner 1966 and 2014
Last year’s result: 12th in semi-final (did not qualify)