Austria: Wiwi Jury reviews Conchita Wurst with Rise like a Phoenix

Today the Wiwi Jury – our in-house panel of music unprofessionals – channelled our inner Von Trapp family and spent the day re-creating the video for ‘Do Re Mi’ around Salzburg, complete with outfits lovingly fashioned from curtains by Wiwi. After  we were done with the chafing we headed to Innsbruck, split some Schnitzel and put on Conchita Wurst’s Song for Austria, ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’. Did the song cause us to take flight or bring us crashing down to earth? Read on to find out! 

Angus: Wurst, Conchita Wurst. ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ oozes old school Bond film glamour and Conchita herself helms the song like a pro. The orchestral production only adds to the Bond effect and gives Austria their strongest entry since they returned in 2011. Nadine Beiler and Natalia Kelly were both incredible vocalists but let down by poor songs. Conchita may not have the lungs of her predecessors but she has one hell of a song. The drama of the ballad also helps it stand out and it’s the closest thing to a ‘Drip Drop’ on offer here. If the staging is suitably OTT Conchita will sail through her semi-final with ease.

Score: 7.5/10 

Billy: I love Conchita Wurst. She doesn’t pretend to be someone similar to every single singer, and is the way she likes to be. Her song is just great, although at the beginning it really reminds me of Adele’s “Skyfall”. I really liked the video-clip, and the song generally is great! These style, lyrics and title aren’t very common in Eurovision so far. Her appearance may distract some viewers from listening to this beautiful voice, but for sure she will receive many points for her not-so-successful homeland.

Score: 9/10

Bogdan: I admire Conchita not only because she’s insanely beautiful, talented and funny, but because she’s a badass. Who among us, I wonder, would have the courage to be Conchita Wurst and to accept the challenge to represent a country that previously denied her this chance? The song is perfect as well; I’m glad she did choose an inspiring ballad about rebirth as a better person instead of a campy number that would have turned her into a joke entry. Yes, it sounds like a Bond song, so what? Conchita is like a Bond girl: beautiful but smart, a woman with many tricks up her sleeve, intimidating men but drawing them in at the same time. The big question is, will the European audience be stirred by her performance?

Score: 9/10

Deban: Thomas Neuwirth deserves recognition for creating the character of Conchita Wurst as a defiant reaction to bullying, harassment and homophobia. Austria’s state broadcaster, ORF felt compelled to broadcast this message of inclusion, at the expense of a democratic vote. Given that Conchita participated at the national pre-selection the previous year, but failed to pip Trackshittaz to the title, this sparked controversy at every turn. No one thought it was going to be easy, but it got people talking. In essence, that’s a mission accomplished in it’s own right. Rise Like A Phoenix encapsulates all that drama, and feeds it back to the continent in melody form. Conchita isn’t fanning the flames of drama, or vengeance, she simply demands respect and retribution. Her spirit of forgiveness is admirable too. The song is very much in the style of Shirley Bassey, and it is reminiscent of many James Bond classics. However, it has to be said — her entry at Austria’s 2012 pre-selection was much stronger.

Score: 7.5/10 

Katie: You either love her or hate her, it’s the marmite Conchita! Before she even presented her song, I fell in love with her. She’s so unique, so out-there, so not afraid to stand out from the crowd! She encourages people to stand up against discrimination and to not be afraid to be who they want to be no matter whether there are people around judging you. She’s been forced to put up with so much shite, and she’s handled it looking HOT and with a smile on her face. Go Conchita! I love “Rise Like a Phoenix”, it’s so powerful and so from the heart. I hope Conchita rises like a phoenix and flies above all of the haters at Eurovision. I can’t wait to see her Eurovision outfit, I’m hoping for extra sparkles! She’ll belt it out in Copenhagen, I know she will, and I can’t wait to be there to witness that.

Score: 8/10

Padraig: Drag Queens. Eurovision’s been there done that. From DQ to Verka Serduchka, we’ve seen plenty of them. At this stage Conchita’s induction to the Euro-drag race should be a mere formality. Right? As we all know, things haven’t been that simple. A quick browse of the comments on this very site, and you’ll find plenty of hate. How can a simple beard inspire such vitriol? It can’t. The source of the hatred, is not the facial hair, but rather Conchita’s raw sexuality. Whereas Verka et al simply came across as asexual men playing dress up, Conchita exudes an aura of sensuality, which infuriates the homophobes. Commendably, the Austrians have refused to tone things down, offering us a brilliantly seductive performance. But it all feels so 90s. Afterwards, I half expect Gina G or Linda Martin to pop up. For a taboo buster like Conchita I was expecting something more.

Score: 6/10

James L: Even if it’s not the first Eurovision entry to defy conventional gender norms, Conchita Wurst is still definitely putting herself out there as a beautiful, bearded drag queen. I was at first disappointed in “Rise Like a Phoenix” thinking something whimsical would suit Conchita better. But then I realized the issue was that I wasn’t taking her seriously, and this is a serious song – a seriously strong one. Her voice is spectacular, and the song has great momentum that will take it far – as long as Europe takes her seriously too.

Score: 7/10

Vebooboo: Pastora Soler and Valentina Monetta, take note! This is how you create drama in a ballad. Ignore for a moment the fact that Conchita herself is quite the personality, and imagine blindly listening to this song. Now, nobody can deny that it constantly builds and appeals to anyone’s heart strings. Now enter Conchita. Eurovision has done drag before, but what is so unique about this year’s entry is that the drag is not made into a joke but rather a serious matter. Conchita is who she is, and anyone who wants to pick a fight with this curvacious bad-ass would be making a serious mistake. If Pastora were to sing this song, I think we would definitely see another Top 10. My fear is that many nations in our unified Europe cannot look past Conchita’s beard and will penalise her like no other. That’s a pity, because we would be missing out on a true gem.

Score: 9/10

Patrick: First of all I have to say something to you all: Don’t complain when I write “she” or “her”. I know that Conchita is not a woman but Tom Neuwirth is acting the role of a woman – that’s why it’s a she for me. As you probably know I’m Austrian and the last years I wasn’t really patriotic but this year I really am. It’s not only because Conchita represents my country, the song itself is a masterpiece. Conchita Wurst is the most authentic person in this years Eurovision. When I listen to the song, Conchita kidnap me into an another world – full of glitter, sunshine and of course open-mindness. Many people consider her as a favourite and I really think that we have a chance to go to the final and do really well. Austria had in the last years really big dissapointments and that’s why many Austrian people don’t believe in her. I really think that we have to accept that there are people out there which are different – and that’s good, because when we all open our mind and come together, we’re a big family. That’s why I love Eurovision – everyone has the chance to be themselve. Conchita will “Rise like a Phoenix” – im sure. Viel Glück meine Liebe – were proud of you!

Score: 10/10

All 19 jurors review each song but we only have space to include 9 written reviews. Here are the 10 remaining scores. 

Anthony: 7.5/10

Mario: 10/10

Mike: 10/10

Francheska: 7/10

Zach: 6.5/10

Ramadan: 4.5/10

Sami: 6/10

William C: 6.4/10

Wiwi: 8/10

The highest and lowest scores are removed before calculating the final score. We have dropped a low of 4.5 and a high of 10.

The Wiwi Jury Verdict: 7.31/10

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