There’s no denying that Conchita Wurst has become the new icon of Eurovision. That was clear enough from her prominence in Saturday’s competition, after proving her critics wrong in 2014 and truly rising like a phoenix to win. The sight of a bearded lady may have put off some viewers (*cough* Russia), but Wurst had the last laugh: not only did she look fantastic, her winning Bond-esque song was excellent and she proved herself to be a vocal powerhouse.
That remains very much true a year later as Wurst releases her debut album. Rise Like a Phoenix is a major highlight of ‘Conchita’, but there are plenty of other tracks on which she spreads her vocal wings. The final chorus of Up For Air sees her voice soaring to new heights, whilst Pure is a genuinely emotive vocal performance. Beneath the drag make-up is a credible and talented singer – Wurst is no gimmicky joke act.
Musically, ‘Conchita’ is something of a tick-box exercise, as you might expect. There are plenty of big pop anthems, opener You Are Unstoppable in particular, full of dramatic strings and punchy melodies. Equally, there are some euro-dance tracks to ensure that Wurst will be heard in clubs across Europe. The best of these is Firestorm, with its syncopated rhythms, euphoric pre-chorus and infectious 90s house piano. Then there’s Colours of Your Love that slowly builds towards its bassy chorus, and the fizzy pop of Somebody to Love. Elsewhere, Out of Body Experience is laced with an Arabic flavour and Where Have All the Good Men Gone is a cheeky little soul number. It’s like a whole Eurovision competition in one neat little package.
It’s all good fun, but it’s unlikely to win any awards for originality. That said, Wurst is far more of a political figure than a musical one. In that respect ‘Conchita’ is a winner. “You’re stronger than you believe!” she preaches on You Are Unstoppable; “And we won’t stop till we are sure the message is clear and understood / We’re gonna turn the tide” on Put That Fire Out; more simply “We could be heroes, tonight” on Heroes. Wurst has grown to become a symbol of equality and her music certainly does her justice.
Whether she’s able to transcend Eurovision and become a popstar in her own right remains to be seen, but listening to ‘Conchita’ it’s clear her flame will continue to burn bright for some time to come.
* You Are Unstoppable
* Somebody to Love
Listen: ‘Conchita’ is available now.