Conchita Wurst has made Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ her own and it is superb

Conchita Wurst has made Prince’s ‘Purple Rain‘ her own and it is superb

I’m not a Prince fan. Not in any shape or form. Even though I grew up with his music on the radio, and played it myself when I was a radio DJ in the U.S. Never liked it then. Still don’t like it now.

So, when I saw Conchita Wurst start to sing a cover of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain‘ at a Linz concert last year, and as an homage to the American singer two days after he died, I almost fast forwarded through it.

Particularly as I had seen Conchita sing it before — once at a gay festival in Vienna in 2012 and once when she sang it with Spain’s Eurovision representative Ruth Lorenzo, whose main goal in life that night seemed to be to scream as loud as she could over Conchita to drown her out.

Because, frankly, both times Conchita didn’t really own ‘Purple Rain‘. It owned her. And that, it’s never a good thing.

But all I can say is thank f*ck I decided to suffer through Conchita’s Linz version last year because, let me tell you, there isn’t one second of suffering required in Conchita’s cover of ‘Purple Rain‘ there. Not with her, and not with guitarist Lukas Schönsgibl with his awesomely cool guitar solo.

Instead Conchita sang a gorgeous ‘Purple Rain‘ and which, when she hits that amazing high note at 2:36 on the video, shows what a phenomenal range she now has. Not a shaky well-I-can-hit-that-note-if-I-really-strain-myself range, either, but one that is on point and solid.

And a song she took ownership of from the second she started to sing “I never meant to cause you sorrow”.

To me, from her superb voice here to rocking Conchita who spins around and punches the air with her fist mid-way through the song, this whole performance is as close to perfection as you’re going to get.

Since her Linz performance, Conchita has performed ‘Purple Rain‘ numerous times, and every time she sings it beautifully.

Conchita’s latest was her performance of ‘Purple Rain‘ at Austria’s Starnacht aus der Wachau at the beginning of this month.

A performance that proved again she has truly gone from a once-drag-queen-singer who idolizes Prince and is determined to recreate what he did with ‘Purple Rain‘ in her performance, to a technically superb artist with an astounding range who is now singing a song completely her own.

The only reason I wouldn’t give her 12 points for ‘Purple Rain‘ at Starnacht aus der Wachau?

Those longer-than-long pants she was wearing that she hiked up 97 times while she was singing, which was a massive distraction from the emotion of the song and from her voice every time she did it. (Love, pleeeeeeease start wearing pants that aren’t wearing you. Especially because I’m dead sure one of these days you’re going to fall over the bloody things and plummet headlong off the stage). And that falsetto ending.

Related: You must watch Conchita sing ‘Rise Like a Phoenix‘ on NDR Talk Show, it’s stunning

Because out of the two performances I’ve commented on here, Linz will always be my favorite. Just compare the end of her performance of the song in Linz to the one at Starnacht aus der Wachau.

Linz is quiet, honest, authentic  and almost fades away, thus fitting right in with the whole emotion of the song — sad. (To me, Linz, 2016 is still the most stunning performance she’s done of ‘Purple Rain‘ over all of them).

Starnacht is superb until the last few seconds of her performance, when she moves away from rock star in control and reverts to drag queen with a falsetto who is not quite sure what to do with that song she now owns like it was written for her, and who still doesn’t quite have the confidence to grab it completely by the balls.

But, hey, I’m not fussed.

Conchita is playing with every song she sings nowadays so, at every live performance, they come out differently. Differently, and still lovely.

Sometimes there’s a falsetto, sometimes there’s not. (And as much as I hate to admit it, because I do hate saying anything I think may hurt her feelings, I’ll be the happiest writer on the planet when she ditches that falsetto permanently as it’s a weak choice in almost every song, especially as she is phenomenally talented and can hit the notes themselves without reverting to it).

Sometimes she rocks those stunning high notes, sometimes she hits solid, rich, growly low notes you don’t often hear from her.

That means you never have a chance to get bored with her or her repertoire of songs because she’s always trying something new. Sometimes perfect, sometimes not so much, but always always always technically superb and world-class quality.

So, yes, Conchita pretty much owns ‘Purple Rain‘ at this point. I’m just interested to see what this world-class singer does with it next.

About Michelle Topham

Brit-American journalist based in Austria, former radio DJ at 97X WOXY, and Founder/CEO of Leo Sigh. I've covered K-drama, K-pop, J-pop and music news for over a decade.

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