In the years I’ve been writing about musicians, I have never studied anyone as much as I study Austrian singer Conchita. (She’s one of only four I’ve ever really believed in, make of that what you will). Some of it is because she’s astoundingly beautiful. But more of it is because it’s fabulous to see how, with every performance, her voice is richer, her confidence stronger, and her stage presence, which used to be a somewhat shaky thing, more solid.
So, when Conchita was on Dutch public broadcasting station NPO1 on New Year’s Eve, on their TV show van het Jaar, singing her latest single ‘Heroes‘, I got ready to analyze. What I saw on the show, though, was even better than I could have asked for. Because, in the last few weeks, while every TV performance Conchita has given has been superb, this one was the cherry on top.
And it goes back to Paris, and what I said earlier about Conchita on the ORF show ‘Die Jahresrückblickshow’. A show where I realized Conchita pre-Paris and Conchita après-Paris would never be the same.
That’s because, during her week at the Crazy Horse, she has learnt such confidence she can now stand on a stage, and with her presence alone, own it. And, man, on that Dutch stage, I could see it in everything she did. Weltstar? You betcha.
In the first 15 seconds, from the end of the first lyric when she begins to move her arm, and it flows so fluidly instead of the forced way she used to have, she had my complete attention. When the camera hits her face, though, that’s when her real power starts.
That absolute sadness and absolute empathy on her face is mesmerizing. She’s an emotional person. Those emotions come out when she sings. And I could feel every bit of what she was feeling when I looked in her eyes.
As for her movement, whereas pre-Paris, every arm movement, every flick of the hip, every hand clutching her abdomen looked studied and deliberate, and so caused my concentration to break, now it all looked so fluidly natural I barely noticed she was doing it. Except…….. when I felt that performance in my toes.
Her voice too is at its richest and most silky, and her pitch when she hits that beautiful high note in “love is like a battle cry” is solid, and doesn’t waver at all. Just gorgeous.
The part I loved the best, though? Two of them.
Right after she sings “love is like a battle cry“, she flings her arms out to the side, and then does this almost religious raising up of both arms, like wings, that is achingly beautifully done.
Then she walks forward for the last chorus, which she sings so powerfully, and right at the end…….looks into the camera. She holds that gaze without a flicker of an eye, or a tiny feeling of self-doubt, for what seems like an eternity before she finally lowers it.
And, let me just say, if she was a real girl and I was gay, that performance would have me so much in love with her I’d feel like I’d just been knocked sideways. Because, even with her, this not-quite-real-girl and me, the usually straight one, I have to say, I’m having………issues.
Watch Conchita on the Dutch TV show van het Jaar below, and see what I mean.
** Before anyone mentions it in the comments below, yes, I am aware she came in late by a fraction of a second at that first echo section so, no, it wasn’t technically a perfect performance. It was live. They’re not meant to be. They’re meant to be real, and they’re meant to grab every emotion you have. She did that. And then some. And that made it perfect.
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