Single Review: Conchita Wurst – Heroes

Conchita Wurst Heroes cover

Since May 2014, everybody in Europe knows who Conchita Wurst is. The drag act won the Eurovision Song Contest for Austria with her brilliant song ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’. Conchita surprised everyone with a flawless vocal and a beautiful track and went on to receive quite a lot of ‘douze points’. Although Wurst hasn’t been releasing any new music after her victory, she never disappeared from the public eye. She performed at a whole lot of gay pride events around Europe and even sang in front of the European parliament. Now it is time for a follow up single. Earlier this week she premiered the song ‘Heroes’ and it shows off a quite different side to Conchita.

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Eurovision 2014: Final: Review, Results and Analysis

Conchita Wurst Wins

The Eurovision Song Contest in 2014 did not have one major favourite for the win, so this was the most exciting result show we have seen in a while. In the first half, the big contenders all still stood a chance of winning, but in the end there was only one amazing song that took the lead. Austria’s Conchita Wurst won the contest, something that would not have been expected before this week, but after seeing her great performance of ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ during the semi final, she became one of the biggest favourites. Five great songs make up the top 5 this year with my little The Netherlands in second place. It was a great show and an almost perfect result. Time to look back at the performances and the final scoreboard!

01. Ukraine: Mariya Yaremchuk – Tick-Tock
The final started with an upbeat performance by Mariya Yaremchuk from Ukraine. This girl looks and sounds like an absolute star. Her song was not one of my favourites, but it is catchy and decent enough. The act with the wheel did not make very much sense, but then again, it looked quite good on screen. I think the policital situation in Ukraine might have helped her a little with the sixth place she reached, but well done anyway!

02. Belarus: TEO – Cheesecake
If I had to give my personal opinion, this song would have finished in 25th position on saturday night, because I just don’t really like it. It is catchy and laidback and the performance looks quite alright, but his voice is not the best and his English is just not good enough to sell this song. I would say a 16th position is way too high for this track and performance, but kudos to him for getting this far in the competition.

03. Azerbaijan: Dilara Kazimova – Start A Fire
In terms of the results, I think we can all agree that Azerbaijan was one of the biggest disappointments. They never missed out on a place in the top 10 and year after year they even reached top 5. This year, Dilara Kazimova only brought them to 22st place with her ballad ‘Start A Fire’. I actually thought it was a beautiful ballad with a captivating build up. Dilara did a vocally very strong performance, although the circus behind her was not necessary. Still I thought and hoped this would have reached top 10.

04. Iceland: Pollapönk – No Prejudice
Where Belarus was my number 25, Iceland took the last place for me. I tried, but nothing about this could convince me. The song, the lyrics, the suits, it all felt so forced to me. The colorful staging looked good, but that was about it. Even the vocals towards the end of the song were very disappointing. I usually really like what Iceland sends in for Eurovision, but this year, it just wasn’t for me. Good for them they managed to get as high as the 15th position.

05. Norway: Carl Espen – Silent Storm
The contrast between Iceland and Norway this year could not have been bigger. Norway brings one of the most beautiful and touching songs to the contest. Carl Espen did an even better performance in the final with vocals filled with emotion. He looked more confident as well, without losing the fragile performance that fits with the song. Especially the verses of this track are gorgeous. Norway absolutely deserved their spot in the top 10, so I am glad that they made it to the 8th position.

06. Romania: Paula Seling & Ovi – Miracle
It was the second time that Paula Seling and Ovi represented Romania in Eurovision. In 2010 they ended up in top 3 with ‘Playing With Fire’ and I can’t help but saying that their song this year is quite a bit weaker than their previous attempt. It sounded current, but there are lots of tracks with better lyrics in this style. Both are charismatic performers though and especially Paula is a great vocalist, but even they could not get more out of this song than the 12th place they ended up with.

07. Armenia: Aram MP3 – Not Alone
Aram MP3 had one of the best and most popular songs in this year’s contest. It is a pity that his vocals in the verse at the start were somewhat disappointing. The build up and the climax of the song are intense and his vocals there were much better. This song however, deserved a faultless performance. It might have cost him a top 3 placing, but still, the 4th place is a result Armenia can be proud of. Based on the song, I think they deserved it.

08. Montenegro: Sergej Cetkovic – Moj Svijet
Montenegro brought the only typical balkan ballad to Eurovision this year. Sergej is not the most charmismatic performer, but his voice is good and the song is beautiful, although not one of the best in this genre I have heard. Although the skater did her best to make this performance stand out, I have to admit it came across as a bit forgettable after Armenia. Still great they had their place in the final this year and a 19th position is not that bad.

09. Poland: Donatan & Cleo – My Slowianie
Talking about contrasts between songs, Poland and Montenegro are worlds way from each other in terms of performance. Poland brings a fresh and loud mix of folk music and hip hop, which turns out to be my guilty pleasure this year. I did not want to like this song at first, but I have to admit it is damn catchy and nicely produced. The live vocals sound almost the same as on record which is a good thing. The big breasted ladies completed the performance visually and I think a 14th position is a respectable result for this song and performance.

10. Greece: Freaky Fortune feat. Riskykidd – Rise Up
Greece this year was a disappointment when it comes to their song, the performance and the results. Although ‘Rise Up’ is a very contemporary and swinging song, it did not do much for me. The performance was quite poor as well as this is not one of the hardest songs to sing, but still the vocals were out of tune for most of the time. The act with the trampoline looked a bit silly and I think the Greeks would have expected more than the 20th place they finished in. I can’t say it is undeserved though.

11. Austria: Conchita Wurst – Rise Like A Phoenix
And there was the winner of Eurovision 2014. I never really thought she could do it, but I am really happy with this deserved victory for Austria. It was great to see that almost every country in Europe gave points to Conchita Wurst and her great message, packed in one of the best tunes of the evening. The dramatic James Bond-like track has a soaring chorus and Conchita has some great vocals. She tackled every high note without any difficulties. Great to see my country gave 12 points to Conchita as well. This victory does feel like a statement as well and I love to see all the support for her message of equality and tolerance. You’re a star, Conchita!

12. Germany: Elaiza – Is It Right?
Poor girls from Germany had to grab the attention after the marvelous performance by Conchita. Elaiza’s singer gave a decent vocal performance and ‘Is It Right?’ actually is kind of a nice and catchy pop song. I would say it was a little to middle of the road to do very well in Eurovision, but I was afraid they were ending up in the lowest regions, which they did not deserve. The 18th place sounds about right for this song and performance though. Germany has done better in the recent Eurovision history, but this was nothing to be ashamed of either.

13. Sweden: Sanna Nielsen – Undo
After Germany it was time for another favourite from Sweden. Until just before the show, Sanna Nielsen still was the one to beat in the competition for the bookmakers and she absolutely deserved the high place on the scoreboard. ‘Undo’ mixes the best of Eurovision style ballads and something more temporary like Miley’s ‘Wrecking Ball’ and Sanna Nielsen is an outstanding vocalist. To top it all off, the Swedish delegation brought a beautiful light show on stage with Sanna, which took the song to an even higher plan. Do Swedes ever not send good things to Eurovision? Deserved third place!

14. France: Twin Twin – Moustache
And in a competition like this, there is always a country that has to finish in the last place. This happened to Twin Twin from France this year. Their mix of Stromae, Major Lazer and LMFAO obviously did not impress the viewers or the judges. I have to say I quite like the track in studio version, but live it did not really come across very well. Too bad for France, that seems to disappoint in Eurovision year after year now.

15. Russia: Tolmachevy Sisters – Shine
I think the 7th position Russia finished in, was higher than most people expected. I think they had a decent song and the twins have great vocal ability, but a place in the top 10 for this performance was a bit too much in my eyes. The playground setting on stage was not something I am a huge fan of, and moreover, there were a bunch of other songs that deserved more and did not come close to top 10. At least I am happy for the sisters who had to endure quite some booing over the week. A place in the top 10 probably made this a little easier for them to accept.

16. Italy: Emma Marrone – La Mia Citta
After Russia it was time for one more big five performance, from Italy this time. Emma Marrone is a big star in her home country and her pop rock song sounds quite good in the studio version. I have to admit I was quite disappointed by the live performance. Emma seemed to be out of breath at least half of the performance because of all of the walking around the stage. Still I really dig the explosive chorus of ‘La Mia Citta’ and I really liked Emma’s outfit and especially her attitude on stage. With better vocals, this would have been in my top 10, but I understand why she only managed to reach the 21st position.

17. Slovenia: Tinkara Kovac – Round and Round
Like I already mentioned in my review of the second semi final, I really like this song, but the performance was quite poor. Tinkara has a nice voice, but she does not really impress live and visually there was not much to it either. Seeing this between all the other countries, it just did not make any impression so I was quite sure the results would not be great. I even thought Slovenia would finish in 26th place, but 25th was close enough.

18. Finland: Softengine – Something Better
The young Finnish boys managed to give a great performance again. Maybe the vocals of the singer were even stronger on saturday night and their light show looked awesome once again. Their strong and catchy rock pop track was the only in its genre tonight so I already predicted they would get a decent result, but 11th was even better than I expected. They totally deserved it though, wit a very professional performance in all aspects. Moreover, their song is explosive, catchy and definitely makes an impression on its audience.

19. Spain: Ruth Lorenzo – Dancing In The Rain
Spain brought one of the best moments in this Eurovision for me. I absolutely love ‘Dancing In The Rain’ and it might even be my favourite song in this year’s contest. Ruth Lorenzo is a phenomenal singer, which she proved by basically belting for half of the song. Almost every note was pitch perfect and I loved it to bits. I was a bit afraid though, that her loud vocals would be too much for the average public, so I am really happy she made it to top 10 in the end. If it was up to me, she would have reached top 3, but overall, a great result for a great song. And can I just say that performance with the sound of raindrops and the rain projections looked perfect. Great job, Ruth, great job, Spain!

20. Switzerland: Sebalter – Hunter For Stars
After Ruth’s pipes blew everybody away, it was time for something completely different. Switzerland brought a handsome guy on stage with the cutest song of the year. A catchy whistle, an infectious chorus and quite a good vocal were good enough to bring them to position 13, which is a bit higher than I expected. I quite liked their song and the charming performer, so good for them!

21. Hungary: András Kállay-Saunders – Running
Hungary delivered another quality performance in the final. András knows how to perform the hell out of this song. His voice and stage presence are both impressive and the dance act really adds something to the performance. ‘Running’ is one of the most contemporary tracks in this contest with its drum and bass beats and the story behind the song about child abuse is very powerful as well. For a second during the results it looked like Hungary could win the contest, but a place in top 5 is great and totally deserved as well.

22. Malta: Firelight – Coming Home
Malta’s Firelight brought another decent performance of their song ‘Coming Home’. All vocalists on stage sounded perfect once again, although the visuals accompanying the show could have been better on this one. The performance looked a bit static and therefore did not make the impression on the audience it could have. Still, it was good to have them in the final, a thing they absolutely deserved, but I can imagine a 23rd position was a little disappointment for them.

23. Denmark: Basim – Cliche Love Song
Basim came on stage to perform in front of his very own audience in Copenhagen. His song is one of the most catchy in this contest, but at the same time, it might come across as a bit too simple. Basim and his dancers gave their all and the Bruno Mars-like song did quite well in the competition. Denmark was in the top 10 for another year, on the 9th spot. I would have never placed this song that high, but I can definitely understand why there is an audience for that. Nice enough performance of an extremely catchy song!

24. The Netherlands – The Common Linnets – Calm After The Storm
After the host country, it was time for my own. The Common Linnets did a mesmerizing performance of their song ‘Calm After The Storm’ once again. Their vocals blend together perfectly and they sing this little country pop ballad pitch perfect. Visually, this was just stunning. The first shots from above, the close ups, their smiles in the camera, the little looks they exchanged during the singing. I think a Dutch performance at Eurovision never looked better. If I am completely honest, I was not blown away by their song at first, like most of the Dutch people. From the beginning, I really liked it, but thought it was too calm for the contest. They proved me and everybody else wrong by literally being the calm after the storm in both the semi final and the final. So good to hear this song is loved by so many Europeans. This 2nd place is our best result since 1975!

25. San Marino: Valentina Monetta – Maybe
I don’t think many people expected San Marino to do very well in the final, as it was very surprising they passed from their semi to begin with. After the contest it turned out they finished 10th in the semi, with only 1 point more than Portugal. Valentina gave a good performance of her slightly outdated ‘Maybe’. Her vocals shined and she looked great on stage. I am glad she did not finish in last position, but I did not expect her to go higher than the lowest regions. I hope she still is happy after the 24th position, because it was great to have San Marino in the final in the end.

26. United Kingdom: Molly – Children of the Universe
This was for me the biggest disappointment when it comes to the results. A 17th position is way too low for this song and performance. I absolutely love the tone of Molly’s voice and she looked great. She came across very likeable and cute, but had enough attitude to sell this song well. Her vocals were pretty strong, although not perfect towards the end and maybe this is why the results for UK once again were lower than expected. I think ‘Children of the Universe’ is one of the best songs this year with a big chorus and melodically very strong bridges towards this chorus. I really hoped she would reach top 10, but I think there is a bright future for her anyway.

Now let’s all look forward to Vienna 2015 after a deserved win for the lovely Conchita Wurst!

Eurovision 2014: Semi Final 2: Review, Results and Analysis

Conchita Wurst Eurovision final

Since last night, all Eurovision finalists of this year are known. In the second semi final, once again ten countries qualified. Where the first show on tuesday had a few surprises, but no big mistakes, the results in the second show were a bit less fortunate. Let’s be real here, Israel absolutely deserved a spot in that final with Mei Finegold’s excellent performance of the strong song ‘Same Heart’. It is unbelievable and not deserved that they are out. Other than that, I predicted the finalists right and can’t wait to see what happens on saturday, but first, a few words on every performance in this second semi.

01. Malta: Firelight – Coming Home
Malta had the honour of kicking off the show on thursday. Their ‘Coming Home’ is a pleasant song with a charming and warm quality about it. Firelight’s lead singer has a good voice and comes across well on screen. The parts that feature the female vocalist, are pretty good as well. I am not sure if this will bring them to the higher regions of the scoreboard on saturday, but this was definitely good enough to qualify in this semi final.

02. Israel: Mei Finegold – Same Heart
This was the biggest shock for me when it comes to this year’s semi final results. How on earth could this not qualify when only 5 songs did not go through and at least half of the 15 performances were absolutely not even close to the same league as Israel’s performance. Mei Finegold looked like a star, sounded very powerful and the staging of the performance overall came across very well. ‘Same Heart’ has a strong chorus and is a very modern pop track with a slight twist of dance. Maybe the aggressive style of performing this angry song put Europe off it. I will definitely miss Mei in the final and I would not be surprised of Israel pulls out of the contest after they missed the final twice in a row while they deserved so much better.

03. Norway: Carl Espen – Silent Storm
After the powerhouse performance of Israel, Norway brings a very pure and emotional moment to the contest. Carl Espen gives a touching performance of his ballad ‘Silent Storm’. The verses are performed very understated with soft vocals and piano as only instrumentation, but during the chorus, his voice gains more power and strength and a full orchestra joins in. For me, this is absolutely one of the best songs of the year and his performance does it justice. I expect to see him in the top 10 on saturday.

04. Georgia: The Shin & Mariko – Three Minutes To Earth
And after a sure fire qualifier comes a song that sure as hell did not stand a chance. I am not saying these people have no musical ability or talent, because they obviously have, but in this song it just did not work. It seems like they tried to put as many ideas, styles and what not in 3 minutes, which makes a mess of both the song and the performance. There was absolutely nothing that made me want to listen to this again, so I am not sad that Georgia did not make it to the final this year.

05. Poland: Donatan & Cleo – My Slowianie
Poland is giving their best this year for Eurovision, as they send the biggest hit of the year in their country to the contest. Donatan & Cleo’s ‘My Slowianie’ already has over 40 million views on YouTube. I really like the mix of folk music and hip hop which sounds cool, but the shouty singing and not so strong English lyrics are not my cup of tea. The act with the big breasted ladies from the music video is funny, but does not add anything to the song really. I would not have missed them if they did not qualify, but for Poland in Eurovision, it is a good thing they made it to the final which such a big national hit.

06. Austria: Conchita Wurst – Rise Like A Phoenix
I guess we all knew this night would be all about Conchita Wurst. The Austrian drag act did get a lot of attention before the song contest even started, but with her perfromance, she showed she is not a gimmick. Conchita has an amazing and powerful voice and her song ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ is absolutely one of the best of this year. It is dramatic, it has a James Bond flavour, the climax is impressive and of course the message of the lyrics and her appearance should be heard. Conchita Wurst shows you can be anything you want to be, which is important taking into consideration the recent political situations for the gay community in some countries. It is good to see all the love she received during the results. This might well be a big contender for saturday night now that she is in top 3 of the bookmakers as well!

07. Lithuania – Vilija – Attention
Lithuania had the hard job to perform after Austria and to be honest, their show just did not make any impression after Conchita. Vilija tried her best to get the attention in a quite literal way, but the screamy vocals and somewhat strange choreography did not really help her. Somewhere in ‘Attention’ a nice pop melody is hidden, but because of the noisy production and loud vocals, this does not really come across very well. I was quite sure she would not make it.

08. Finland: Softengine – Something Better
This was the suprise of the evening for me in terms of performances. I really liked this pop-rock song from the first time I heard it, but I was impressed even more by the performance. The young singer of the band sounded quite good and all members came across very well on screen. Another great thing about the performance was the light show that looked really good. When the explosive chorus of the song started, blue lights were visible all over the stage which was a great visual. If they can pull off another performance like this, they might get a decent result on saturday, especially because ‘Something Better’ is the only pop rock song in the final and in it’s genre, it is pretty good!

09. Ireland: Can-Linn feat. Kasey Smith – Heartbeat
Although I think Ireland’s song this year was quite good, I knew it would be hard for them to qualify as ‘Heartbeat’ does not really stand out. When you listen to it, it is definitely pleasant, but just after the song is finished, you already forgot you ever heard it. The song misses something memorable and this could have been solved with an amazing performance, but that did not really happen. Kasey is a talented singer, but she did not manage to perform the song faultless and although she looked stunning, the visuals on stage were one of the weaker moments this year. I saw it coming that they would not go through, but this song was nothing to be ashamed of.

10. Belarus: TEO – Cheesecake
To be brutally honest, I could really have done without Belarus in the final this year. To me, he is like a poor man’s Robin Thicke and I don’t even like Robin Thicke! Although TEO’s vocals are alright, his English is just not good enough to perform a song in that language. I can’t really listen past the silly lyrics of the song, but I still kind of understand why people might like the laidback vibe of the song. This was translated well into the performance with some lazy moves that even looked quite cool in some weird way. I expected him to make it to the final, but definitely not instead of Israel. How is this better than poor Mei Finegold?

11. FYR Macedonia: Tijana – To The Sky
Oh Tijana, where should I start? She seems like such a nice and enthusiastic person, but that performance was like a train wreck. Just like Ireland, this decent but not so special track needed an awesome performance to stand out, but this performance stood out for all the wrong reasons. The dancer looked out of place, the camera positions where not so strong, her own little choreography looked awkward and even her vocals were not as strong as they needed to be. Tijana sounded shaky and looked like she was scared, especially in the first part. Although the melody of the song is quite catchy, the lazy use of the word ‘beautiful’ in the chorus just does not do it for me. I’m sorry, but this just was not good enough.

12. Switzerland: Sebalter – Hunter Of Stars
Now this is cute! The song is so catchy because of the whistling. I am sure large parts of Europe could not get ‘Hunter Of Stars’ out of their head for the rest of the night. It is not one of the best or impressive tracks you will hear on saturday, but it is cute and very charming. Talking about charming, Switzerland got themselves a charismatic and likeable performer that will definitely melt some hearts across Europe. I don’t think it does stand any chance of a top 10 result on saturday, but in terms of diversity of styles, it is great they will be there. Deserved spot in the final if you ask me. (Not as good as Israel though obviously)

13. Greece: Freaky Fortune feat. Riskykidd – Rise Up
Catchy summer tune from Greece with some dance and rap influences. Not really my thing, but I can definitely understand why they qualified. They gave an enthousiastic performance, although the singer really needs to up his game if they want to stand any chance of winning on Saturday. I don’t really think or hope they will go as far as that, but of course they stand a chance at a place in the top 10, like Greece does basically every year. I am not a big fan of the trampoline at the end as it does not really make any sense to me, but oh well. Curious to see though if they will get any 12 points on saturday now that Cyprus does not participate anymore.

14. Slovenia: Tinkara Kovac – Round and Round
This was the one and only finalist that I did not predict right. I do like Tinkara’s song, but like what I said about Ireland, it is quite forgettable. I thought it needed an epic performance to qualify, but that performance never came. Her vocals were ok, but there was not much more to it. I am happy for Slovenia though, as they send good songs almost every year, but never really get the high results they deserve. Still this performance leaves me wondering, as it is an ok song with a mediocre performance. Israel had a good song with a great performance. I know I can’t stop talking about Israel, but why Europe? Why?

15. Romania: Paula Seling & Ovi – Miracle
Romania was one of the favourites in this semi final so no surprise there that they qualified. Their performance looked and sounded good and especially the high note Paula did was impressive. Other than that, the song is kind of disappointing to me. Their ‘Playing With Fire’ from 2010 was way better and more original. I don’t expect them to come anywhere near that 3rd spot they reached with that song. Although the track is catchy, the rhyming of ‘Miracle’ and ‘beautiful’ is a little cringy and there are a lot of better songs in this genre. Still, they deserved to qualify and will definitely get a decent result on saturday.

Now that every finalist is known, I think it will be a very exciting final. I, myself am really looking forward to the performances of Spain’s Ruth Lorenzo, Molly from the UK and Emma from Italy that we did not see before. Based on what I have seen so far, I hope Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, United Kingdom, Azerbaijan, Norway, Hungary and maybe Armenia and Italy are going to battle for the places in the top 10 tomorrow.

Interview: Conchita Wurst: ‘Nobody has to love me, but they have to accept me’

Conchita Wurst Eurovision

Conchita Wurst is probably the most talked about contestant of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. The ‘bearded lady’ is going to represent Austria with the classy ballad in James Bond style, ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’. In the midst of all the controversy about her looks and persona, Conchita is happy to be able to perform the song she loves so much for such a big audience. She also tries to raise some awareness of discrimination of people who are seen as ‘different’ while she’s at it. “If I want to be a woman with a beard, I am allowed to do that!”

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