Live: Second heat of Wer singt Für Österreich?

Last week, Austria kicked off their selection Wer singt Für Österreich? and tonight we continue with the second heat in the process. As hosting nation, after Conchita Wurst’s champion entry in 2014, the pressure on broadcaster ORF for a decision is high.

The preselection this year consists of 20 shortlisted entries, from which only 6 have advanced from last Friday. In the first show, a team of professionals selected which would continue in the competition, and now is the chance to hear them sing for Vienna. But they are not singing potential Eurovision entries yet – we begin with a night of covering popular songs.

You can follow with us here and watch, here, beginning at 20:15 CET.

The 6 contestant are:

  • The Makemakes
  • Celina Ann
  • Dawa
  • Folkshilfe
  • Zoe
  • Johann Sebastian Bass

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22:09 – We’ll see you next week at the same time for the third heat, when the Eurovision entries will be introduced. Don’t miss it! Thanks for following with us.

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22:02 – And that’s it!

A few words from the jury to sum up the night and a recap of all the great performances.

The Makemakes, Celina Ann, and Folkshilfe receive special recognition for their performance tonight.

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21:56 – The MakemakesBlauschkopf

Another song in German tonight. The Makemakes change appearance to give a high energy rock performance that is rather good. They have the strong electric guitars and some good percussion – which the lead singer demonstrates he can handle both, as well as delivery of polished vocals. His voice is clear and travels well through the room, which makes the performance that much stronger. It’s a great show-closer. It’s like “we’ve got Jimi Hendrix in the house,” one of the jury members says.

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21:47 – ZoeOn My Own

Another interesting choice, Zoe goes for a musical number from Les Miserables, sung by character Eponine. They have recreated the scene on stage from the last filmed version of the musical with the street lamps and starry skies. Her band is set apart, as if Zoe were indeed walking the streets alone. A very difficult song choice, but she pulls it off much better than her first performance. Not quite hitting the octave the original was recorded in, she belts out some strong alto vocals and reigns it back in to the quiet emotional moments. A HUGE applause from the audience – the biggest so far tonight.

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21:40 – Johann Sebastian BassMarmalade Skies

Back with their distorted synth vibe, they again please the crowd. They have more of a performance than last time, using dancers in glow in the dark clothing. Still, you can’t understand most of what they’re saying, but the electronic effect overrides that by a mile. The music is optimistic and the technicalities keep the energy fairly high, playing with a classical note – for which they’re named – in the middle. They must be careful, however, not to overdo it.

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21:31 – Dawa Saloon

Quick surprise and change up in the performance, asking two jury members to a join them on stage to play instruments. A real wild west type song, replacing the cello for steel guitar, it suits Dawa’s folk style well. The vocals, both male and female, are good, complimenting one another. There is no real climax to keep the energy going, but jury members look ecstatic to be included in the performance as a feature.

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21:25 – Folkshilfe

I’ve missed the song title – so apologies for that! It’s something in German. The trio this time have chosen to exhibit their vocal strengths through acoustic harmonies. Just them, their voices, and three guitars fills the room with a resonating performance that earns a huge applause. The melody is strong and quiet, progressing effortlessly. Compared to their performance earlier, it’s as if they’re not even the same group.

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20:28 – Celina AnnRoxanne

Singing a classic Sting hit with a jazzy-Latin-club twist, Celina takes the stage again. Oh, she also dances the tango in the middle of the song, joined by a partner. She begins with the jazzy sound and breaks midway, the band building some suspense, ditching the melody and then an all out tango. After which, she concludes with the original rock chorus, losing the tango dress and letting her hair down. It’s an interesting arrangement, to say the least. But again showing the different facets of her talent as singer and performer.

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21:14 – And that concludes the first round of cover songs this evening

Some highlights from last year. It seems we’re also looking at some involved composers, who include a guy who’s working with the likes of P!nk and Finnish Sunrise Avenue, and a woman who wrote Lena’s 2010 winning song Satellite.

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21:07 – Johann Sebastian BassStronger

The biggest reception so far, their appearance in classical composer costume – white curly wigs, pale face paint and all – inflicts a certain image. But their sound could not be further from. ‘Bass’ is right, as their cover is completely electronic with the keyboard ornamentations and the vocals distorted by synths. You can’t really tell what they are saying, as result, but the sound is cool and at a high energy level. A fun trio to have the competition – and a popular entrant, as well, it seems.

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20:59 – ZoeSomething

A well-loved classic by the Beatles – but with a folky twist (cello, violin, and guitar). Zoe has changed the arrangement quite a bit, but the base melody is still there. Because of this change, though, it is rather short and a bit choppy with no believable attachment to the emotion behind the song. The lyrics weren’t there, as she opted to sing a couple of the opening lines and then only the chorus on repeat. Seemingly she receives positive feedback, however.

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In case you didn’t know: no one is going home tonight – it’s more a showcase of the finalists’ talent. Hence choosing popular songs to cover – something to hype up the competition. Next week, the 6 contestants will present two possible Eurovision entries. Then the voting begins, but only for the songs. One song for each will be kicked out, and then the next week in the finale they will sing the remaining song for votes.

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20:50 – Folkshilfe – Schranz 5

An interesting arrangement – seems to be a bit of a  mashup – that keeps the jury and crowd in good spirits. These 3 guys also feature an accordion, percussion, and guitar. The lyrics are in quick succession, by all 3 members of the group, and they continuously play around with the cadence, sound and arrangement. Definitely and entertaining performance. They start with the line from Bruno Mars Just the way you are and end on Katy Perry Firework.

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20:39 – DawaBitter Sweet Symphony

By the Verve. Dawa have their own 4-piece symphony on stage, consisting of accordion, cello, guitar, and percussion. The setup is more indie-folk, which suits this group. They’ve kept the original mid-2000s mood of the song, while managing to still add their own flair. The unusual cello and accordion combo on this song makes it artistic in a good way. Very quiet with bursts of energy, their lead singer gives a resonate vocal.

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20:32 – Celina Ann New York (Empire State of Mind)

A truly huge Alicia Keys hit, Celina tackles a beast of a song. With a slight tropical sound to the music using electronic keyboard embellishments, her first note is soft and lovely. Celina has a sweet timbre that echoes with the chorus, getting a warm reception from the audience. Not quite as strong of Alicia sings it, but she does a great job showing off her own vocal set. The feedback from the jury looks positive – if she can present her Eurovision entry next week just as strong, she has great potential.

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20:28 – The MakemakesI shot the sheriff

The makemakes go for a true classic this evening, that’s been sung in numerous song contests across the world. Their lead singer with his soft curls brings an interesting tone to the song with his vocals – a smooth lower register with falsetto accents. Very suited for alternative rock, he does a great job turning this into a comfortable, laidback but fairly energetic performance. With all the guys in the band dressed in white suit jackets and black pants, they look pretty sharp.

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20:15 – Welcome to the show!

A quick look at last week and interview profiles of the 6 lucky contestants before we get underway.