As Austria’s Government Collapses In Scandal, a Shadowy Weird Al Yankovic Emerges

Secretly-recorded meetings involving a fake Russian oligarch and members of Austria's Freedom Party; the corrupt meeting will forever be known as the 'Ibiza Affair'.
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Secretly-recorded meetings involving a fake Russian oligarch and members of Austria's Freedom Party; the corrupt meeting will forever be known as the 'Ibiza Affair'.
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A secretly-recorded meeting from 2017 involving a fake Russian oligarch and members of Austria’s Freedom Party; the corrupt meeting will forever be known as the ‘Ibiza Affair’.

In the wake of Austria’s biggest scandal in decades, a comedic spoof track is lightening the mood.

Americans often confuse Austrians with Australians, part of a regularly myopic worldview.  But anyone residing in Europe these days, and in particular Central Europe, can’t help but notice a political train wreck happening in Austria.  Just recently, the Vice-Chancellor of Austria, Heinz-Christian Strache, resigned from his post and effectively dismantled the country’s reigning Freedom Party in the process.

The meltdown started in mid-May, when a secretly-recorded video of Strache and his political cohort, Johann Gudenus, was leaked.  The video showed the duo, both members of the then-controlling Freedom Party, of conspiring to sell precious government contracts, grant access to national assets, and even hand a powerful newspaper to the niece of a Russian oligarch in exchange for cash, political support and a tightened grip on power.

Just one problem: the ‘oligarch’s niece’ was an actress, and the entire meeting — staged in the relaxing resort of Ibiza — was completely framed.  Nobody knows who the actress is, but the setup was coordinated by Iranian-born Ramin Mirfakhrai, with other participants lingering in the shadows.

The incident, forever known as ‘Ibiza Gate,’ caused a political earthquake.

Within 24 hours of the video’s release, Strache and Gudenus resigned, and the Austrian government disbanded until emergency re-elections were called.  Those elections are slated to happen at the end of September, and the country hangs in political limbo in the meantime.

Once upon a time, music and political scandals rarely mixed.  Now, it’s surprising if a song jabbing those in power (or recently removed from power) doesn’t emerge.  Accordingly, Austria is now being treated to a shadowy troupe of jokester musicians and entertainers who call themselves ‘Redlich’.

The group has just released a spoof track called ‘Politik auf Ibiza (Zack, Zack, Zack),’ which as you might imagine, translates into ‘Politics on Ibiza’.  ‘Zack Zack Zack’ refers to an expression of action (chop! chop!) in German.  The track has quickly rustled tens of thousands of views across YouTube, Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, Apple Music and other platforms, with German-speaking viewers either experiencing dread or schadenfreude.

The track itself combines a lighthearted, Caribbean-inspired track with lyrics pulled from the actual political exchange.  Commenting on an underhanded proposal to shift ownership of Austria’s local tabloid into Russian hands, the song proclaims,

Public dissent will turn into vapor

When she buys Austria’s top newspaper

On Strache and Gudenus’ ploy to funnel the Russian funds through various non-profits and shadow organizations, the troupe sings,

If she plays by the rules and doesn’t mess up

Austria’s auditors will never know what’s up

Peppered throughout the song is the chorus, which screams ‘Zack! Zack! Zack!’ accompanied by a techno beat, marimba music, and gentle background singing.  And, the recurring line,

No problem that can’t be solved

As long as her money is involved

Muscle cars and her visa

It’s how I do politics on Ibiza

In terms of where the lyrical inspiration came from, Redlich told Digital Music News that the video made it easy.

“Basically, we tried to use only sentences or parts and keywords from the original video footage,” one of the members of the group relayed. “As a matter of fact, there was a lot of really good material and the content is really so embarrassing that it was quite easy to put it into context.”

The group itself formed following the release of the tape, which rippled throughout Austria within hours of its release.  “We were all very shocked when the video recording went public,” the group relayed.  “As an artist, our weapon is our creativity to express our feelings and our anger.  We came up with the idea at a party in Vienna, shortly after the release of the scandal. Everyone there was talking about it. After some time we sat down with a bottle of Vodka and Red Bull and started to create the basic outline.”

If the song takes off, the group says they’ll probably end up revealing their identities.

But for now, they’re keeping a low profile while hoping to make a musical statement first.  Of course, a viral sensation in Austria and nearby countries like Germany and Switzerland could be the start of a new group, with another political meltdown always around the corner.

That would birth a Central European version of Weird Al Yankovic, with a political bent.

Fittingly, the group’s name is taken from Old German.  “Literally translated, it means being ‘honest and straight.’  But the word isn’t used in daily German language,” the troupe explained.

“It’s a rather old word. But we liked the idea because it is even more sarcastic — so it was the perfect fit for us.”



2 Responses

  1. Tia S.

    Strache is an idiot, always was and always will be. Song is poor.