Teya & Salena sing the funniest Eurovision song in ages with Who the hell is Edgar? – more on that later. First the thing that happened after Salena got to know she and Teya were Austria’s pick for the contest: she started crying. To be precise: she started fake crying. She walked up to Teya in fake tears and said, ‘I feel so bad. We worked so hard for this, and we didn’t make it.’ Teya comforted her and said, ‘That doesn’t matter, does it? Go sit and have a drink. I’m sure whoever it is they chose deserves it.’
At which point Salena started to laugh.

This little episode shows that Teya (23, real name: Teodora Špirić) and Salena (25, real name: Selina-Maria Edbauer) are friends. They met each other during a well-known Austrian talent show, and in October 2022 they were both invited to a songwriting camp in the Czech Republic. And what happened next…

What happened next (1)
Teya: ‘Elsie Bay, who participated in the Norwegian preselection this year, was at that camp too. I had a conversation with her about how, when you write a good song, you feel like you’re not creating it yourself, but that the creativity from some kind of ghostwriter flows through you. On the last day, we were actually working on another song – a rock ballad, also for Eurovision, for Salena as a solo artist – but we had an hour left before dinner. At such camps, during the meal everyone plays what they’ve written. So we had this sad ballad, and we thought: let’s make something cheerful.’

What happened next (2)
‘Ronny (producer and composer) played some riffs on his guitar, and I started improvising on that theme of having a ghostwriter. Suddenly, I had the first lines of the song, which have never changed since. The name of the writer Edgar Allan Poe just came out. Maybe because he’s the only writer I know? No, just kidding. The choice of his name was not deliberate, but I did study his work at university. Anyway, I sang his name, and Ronny asked, “Who the hell is Edgar?”

A brief interlude: Poe
Yeah, who is Edgar Allan Poe? A writer. From America. Lived from 1809 to 1849. Known for lots of drama: drank, gambled, used drugs, worked as a bullet trajectory calculator and code breaker, married his thirteen-year-old cousin, who died eleven years later, followed by: Edgar’s suicide attempt and early death. And yes, he wrote horror books that survived the centuries. The Raven, for example, or Tales of Mystery and Horror.

What happened next (3)
Back to the songwriting camp. Teya: ‘Okay, instead of saying “Who the hell is Edgar?” Ronny actually said “Who the fuck is Edgar?”, but we made it a bit friendlier for Eurovision. So that’s how the song started, and then we organically built it up over the course of twenty minutes. For example, Salena said something about a choir, so a part for a church choir was added. That’s how it went with all the elements. And when we played it during dinner, everyone said, “You HAVE to record this!”‘

What happened next (4)
‘A few weeks later, we read that Poe was the first American writer who tried to make a living from his books – with great financial difficulty as a result. Well, as artists we can certainly relate to that. So to complete the song, we wrote the bridge about the extremely low percentage of Spotify revenue that goes to the artist (0.003%). In the end, the song became a critique of the music industry.’

A brief interlude: Schmetterlinge
A song criticizing the music industry? Austria has sent something similar before. In 1977, the cabaret group Schmetterlinge performed a humorous song [see sidebar] that began with the lines: ‘Music is love for you and me – music is money for the record company’ and proceeded to poke fun at how record companies always want to hear catchy choruses. The brilliant rhyme goes, ‘das hören die Konzernherrn von Nashville bis Luzern gern.’ After establishing ‘Und der Dollar rockt und rollt,’ the group bursts into a series of those silly lines: ‘Boom boom boomerang, snadderiedang, kangaroo, boogaloo, didgeridoo.’

What happened next (5)
Back to 2023. Who the hell is Edgar? has yet another essential theme. Salena: ‘It’s also a song about the unequal treatment of men and women.’
Teya: ‘We sometimes feel that we have to work twice as hard and prove ourselves twice as often. It’s a significant difference compared to our male colleagues, and we wanted to show that in the music video.’

Music video
In the video, two ‘secretaries’ (Teya and Salena) start writing a song, guided by Edgar’s typewriter. Dressed as men, they hypnotize the record executives and everyone starts dancing. The ladies are eventually thrown into jail, and they start writing on a window with lipstick. Their words (‘Poe, Poe’) once again hypnotize everyone, making the whole police station dance.

Four visual jokes
Funny video detail 1: A black quill pen lies on a sheet of paper on Teya’s desk.
Funny detail 2: A bust of Poe sits on a shelf.
Funny detail 3: A “The Raven” poster hangs on the bulletin board.
Funny detail 4: The dance routine seems to pay homage to Michael Jackson’s Thriller video or perhaps to the previously mentioned 1977 Austrian entry.

Four textual jokes
Not only does the music video contain jokes, the lyrics do too. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, Who the hell is Edgar? is the most comical Eurovision song in years.
Funny detail 1: The very first line. ‘There’s a ghost in my body and he is a lyricist’ followed by humorous rhymes on ‘lyricist’ (resist/exorcist/where Shakespeare is).
Funny detail 2: When discussing the music industry, they happily toss around technical terms (e.g., ‘What’s your IPI?’ referring to the Interested Party Information number, which ensures that royalties go to the correct person, and Where’s the A&R? referring to the record label’s Artist & Repertoire manager, who supports musicians).
Funny detail 3: With $0.003 per Spotify stream, the artist is left penniless, as 80% of that goes to the record label. So, Teya and Salena sing, ‘Give me two years, and your dinner will be free’ or even worse (and funnier), ‘Gas station champagne is on me.’
Funny detail 4: The final conclusion, after realizing they’re not getting anything from the whole Edgar situation, is ‘At least it pays to be funny.’ Followed by just one more word, the exclamation: ‘Ugh!’

No wonder Who the hell is Edgar? was nominated for our Eurostory Best Lyrics Award. This song has everything: a catchy melody, exceptional lyrics, and two friends who enjoy every minute of Eurovision. Salena: ‘Participating in Eurovision is a childhood dream. I could literally burst into tears of joy at any second; I have to focus all the time in order not to do so.’

Very close
Both Teya and Salena have been very close to participating in Eurovision before. In 2019, the Austrian broadcaster almost chose Salena’s Behind the Waterfall. And in 2020, the selection committee nearly picked Teya’s Judgement Day, after which she wrote Serbian lyrics to it and participated in the preselection of her other homeland (Teya’s parents are Serbian).
Then there were the two solo songs – also written during those songwriting camps – that they submitted this year. Again, the Austrian broadcaster came very close to choosing those.
But in the end, they chose Teya & Salena as a duo. About which the two friends remark: ‘The fact that we are the first female duo ever to represent our country is a statement in itself.’

And what happened next (6)
Teya: ‘But how on earth are we going to get through the day after Eurovision?’
Salena: ‘Don’t talk about it! I’m already getting depressed just thinking about it.’