Eric Papilaya cannot be faulted as a performer; and, combined with the excellent styling the Austrian creative team have give his song Get a Life – Get Alive, there are few reasons to fault the country's Eurovision Song Contest performance this year either.
You get it sitting down in the hall; you get it watching the show on the screen. Eric Papilaya really is an natural performer, and he has presence on stage or small screen. He gives a sassy performance full of attitude, and that comes across very well on TV with a plenty of close-ups from the beginning. He also makes excellent use of the stage, and as the camera follows him with wider angles, that interplay of reds, whites and silver really comes into its own on television.
Name in lights
In the hall, the words GET ALIVE scroll horizontally and vertically in huge lettering on the stage, which is so overwhelmingly large that it is lost behind the action; on television, with its cut-down view, this actually looks superb, calling to mind cinematic reels and the phrase having your name in lights.
On the small screen, Austria still wins hands down for the most visually striking set; like Georgia, the choice of colours in the lighting not only looks great on screen, but incidentally also reflects the national flag. And Austrian have no worries about their national pride with Get a Life – Get Alive – whatever the outcome of the semifinal, Eric Papilaya and the creative team behind the entry will have done the country proud with a stunning presentation.
The serious message of Austria's entry is something the delegation are very keen to get across to fans. "Eric will be sending a loud pro-life message to Europe from Helsinki" said Austria's head of delegation, adding that "the profits from the record will go to AIDS charities." She stressed that the collaboration with Life Ball and the Austrian entry is the first of its kind, and it is hoped that the work will raise awareness across Europe.
"We're not trying to get votes through this collaboration", Eric stressed. "If you like the song, vote for us. We'll get the message to the people anyway, and it doesn't make a difference what ranking we get. We're not fishing for votes in that way and it's really important to know that."
Eric's costume is studded with countless Swarovski crystals, so how does he feel wearing such an expensive suit? "I never heard the price – I try not to think about that! It's a great honour for me. I'm glad I have the chance to wear it for Life Ball."
So, apart from Get a Life – Get Alive, what is Eric listening to himself at the moment? "I fell in love with the latest Kelly Clarkson album… That's something I adore. I like a kind of funky mix between Jamiroquai and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers."
"My favourite Austrian entry ever was definitely Alf Poier. That might sound a little strange! He's known as a comedian, and I thought his performance was brilliant – pretty rounded. I hope I can get the same ranking as he did!"
Eric went on an extensive tour covering mainly Eastern European countries as part of his promotion for the Austrian entry. "I had a certain picture of the East before my tour, and now I have a completely different picture. The people in Belgrade are so friendly – that was one of the highlights of the tour. Now, I can imagine going on holiday to any of those cities, like Ljubljana… I really fell in love with those cities."
Eric concluded the press conference with a soulful acoustic performance of Hard Rock Hallelujah, which he performed on Starmania in Austria, followed by an acoustic version of Get a Life – Get Alive. The audience warmed immediately to his performance style, and Eric left the press hall with the sound of huge applause ringing in his ears.