Conchita Wurst’s ‘Other Side of Me‘ is the most important song on the album
It’s over two weeks since I first heard Conchita Wurst’s new album ‘Conchita‘, and I still listen to it every day.
There are two songs in particular, though, I listen to again and again – ‘Pure‘ and ‘Other Side of Me‘. Both beautiful, yet sad, ballads. Both with a particular message about Conchita and Tom Neuwirth, the boy behind her.
While I’ve already talked about ‘Pure‘ and all the other songs on the album in depth, until now I’ve left ‘Other Side of Me‘ sitting by itself. Because while, to me, it’s the most important song on ‘Conchita‘, it’s also the one that makes me the saddest.
Look at the lyrics:
Tonight I’m gonna go where I wanna
Say what I wanna
Be who I want to
Tonight you’re gonna see for the first time
See what I have to say
Don’t want you to let go of me
But try to see the other side of me
I’m moving in a different way
But I still need you here
And that’s why I’ve been avoiding writing about ‘Other Side of Me‘ until now. Because for me, as much as I love Conchita Wurst, I still sometimes find her difficult to deal with. That’s because at times she makes me uncomfortable, so I turn off my computer and walk away from her — vowing never to go back.
Because I have a preconceived image of Conchita Wurst. An image I would prefer she stick to all the time.
I like the long-haired, perfectly manicured, ultra-feminine perfect illusion that is Conchita Wurst; the one who never wears pants and who glides into a room like the most beautiful woman in the world that she is.
I like her less on her ‘all-boy’ days when she’s wearing a short wig, dressed in pants or showing off Topless Tom. And it’s not that I don’t like the boy, as I do. It’s just that it unveils the illusion for me.
At the same time as I’m staring at my computer screen at yet another photograph of Conchita Wurst I don’t like (see top photo of Conchita in the shower, restricted in a corset so much her torso looks positively deformed, and staring into the camera with the most hauntingly sad eyes), she’s also causing me to question what I like and why I like it, and to even confront my own homophobia.
Because no matter how left-leaning and open-minded I am, or how much time I’ve spent in the gay community (decades), or how many gay friends I have (more than straight), I grew up socialized with the homophobic messages the rest of society gets crammed down their throats, and some of it rubbed off on me. Just like it did on all of us — straight or gay, open-minded or not.
So when I see Conchita Wurst’s ‘other side’, dressed as more man than woman, or the all-boy partially made up as a girl, standing in a shower with his (but really her) hands covering his (see her) nipples, it makes me uncomfortable and it makes me recoil from her.
And that’s the point. The point of what Conchita Wurst is doing here and why, as damned annoying as I find her some of the time lately, even if I walk away, I always end up coming back.
Because she makes me question myself, and why or if I really love her. And then she makes me love what I first began to hate.
That’s also part of the message behind ‘Other Side of Me‘. A song that was written for Conchita Wurst by Erik Anjou, a Swedish songwriter who watched her win the Eurovision Song Contest and immediately sat down and wrote this song.
It’s a song that made her cry when she recorded it, and it’s a song that makes me cry every time I listen to it. Because ‘Other Side of Me‘ is the song every Conchita Wurst fan should take to their heart.
It’s her asking everybody who says they love her to love her no matter what she does, how she grows, or who she becomes. It’s a song that, as brave as it initially sounds, is also full of fear and pleading.
Because I don’t care what Conchita Wurst says about not being afraid this fame will all go away, I don’t believe her for a smidgen of a second. I never have.
After all she grew up with half the world hating her, while most of the other half made fun of her. And you think, now she’s had a taste of what it’s like to be ridiculously famous and incredibly loved, that she’s not afraid of having to go back to that?
Which is why ‘Other Side of Me‘ makes me sad every time I listen to it. As the way she sings it, it’s more pleading than hope, more fear than joy, and an insight into how she feels. Furiously wanting to be who she knows she is deep inside, while also desperately hoping you will still love her while she’s being it.
Tonight you’re gonna see like a star I’m shining
I’m right where I belong
But I’m scared to my bones
Don’t blame me
Just hold me
Guess you know you have to set me free
I just hope you never leave me
Oh I just wanted you to see
The other side of me
And that’s what part of these ‘shock photographs’ she throws up now and again are all about. They are art, but they are also a test to see how much you can handle, and how long before you’ll walk away. Because as much as she knows you truly love her, she’s still having a hard time believing it.
All I can say is, love, as much as I sometimes find you supremely annoying, you won’t get rid of me that easily.
Now listen to Conchita Wurst’s ‘Other Side of Me‘ below. It’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in a while, and her voice is heartbreaking on it.
And then buy her debut album ‘Conchita‘. It is my favorite album of the year.