From the song that came 13th in 1986 (see No. 363) we move to another of that year’s under-performers, Die Zeit Ist Einsam (Time Is Lonely) by Timna Brauer which finished way down in 18th place out of a field of only 20.
It’s the third Austrian entry in our countdown so far (see Nos. 498 & 374), and like its two predecessors it is from the 1980s. That decade was a propitious one for the Austrians with six songs from the period in the Top 500, compared to the subsequent two and a half decades which yield just three Austrian entries in our chart.
Austria have tended to struggle in Eurovision: they made an inauspicious start in 1957 finishing last with Wohin Kleines Pony by Bob Martin, and replicated that position on a further six occasions in the final and once in 2012’s semi. They’ve scored the dreaded nul points a record four times (along with Norway) and in 2015 became the only host nation ever to score zero when The Makemakes I Am Yours failed to attract even a single vote.
In the 24 years between the 5th place finish of Thomas Forstner’s Nur Ein Leid in 1989 and Conchita Wurst’s dramatic win in 2014 with Rise Like A Phoenix, Austria only once graced the upper reaches of the scoreboard via comedian Alf Poier’s tongue-in-cheek Weil Der Mensch Zählt, which came 6th. Their results were so poor that they were relegated in 1998, 2001 and 2006, and then in 2008 Austrian broadcaster ÖRF withdrew from the contest completely, claiming that the bloc voting of eastern European countries was making it impossible for western nations to compete. In this the Austrians had a point – between 2001 and 2008 former communist countries won Eurovision five times out of eight contests – but when Austria’s neighbour Germany won in 2010 (see No. 430) after Norway’s triumph the previous year, claims of anti-western bias started to sound a little hollow and so in Düsseldorf in 2011 Austria returned to the Eurovision fold after a three year absence. Another three years later and they notched up only their second win, 48 years after their first, Merci Chérie by Udo Jūrgens in 1966.
Back to 1986 and that year Austria were represented by Timna Brauer, an Austrian-Israeli singer and the daughter of acclaimed artist Arik Brauer (Arik was born in Vienna in 1929 to Lithuanian Jewish immigrants). It was not the first time an Israeli singer had represented Austria: in 1963 Tel Aviv-born Carmela Corren became Eurovision’s first Israeli entrant, just pipping her countrywoman Esther Ofarim (representing Switzerland) to the accolade by performing in 4th position to Esther’s 10th. Israel itself did not enter the competition until 1973 (while Austria were on another three year sabbatical); the first time the two countries appeared together was 1976 when Israel awarded Austria their 10 points. Israel again gave 10 points to Austria in 1985 (Kinder Dieser Welt by Gary Lux) but the following year, despite Timna’s connections, the Israelis overlooked her completely.