Eurovision Fan of the Week
It’s Friday, and that can only mean one thing: it’s time for another Aussievision Fan of the Week!
So far this season we’ve traveled to Scotland and Indonesia, but this time we’re staying closer to home saying hello to Colleen from Wollongong, Australia. The teacher-in-training tells Aussievision that while Dami’s performance in Stockholm was the reason she became a European fan in her own right, it’s the old-school pageants that will always have her heart.
Thanks for being our fan of the week, Colleen! Tell us a bit about yourself!
I am training to become a teacher, specializing in history and language teaching. Apart from Eurovision, I like to learn languages and anecdotes. I have also participated in several Australian game shows with varying results.
What was your gateway to Eurovision? Was there a moment or performance that first captured your imagination?
I’ve had Eurovision in my life for as long as I can remember, but the first song I actually remember liking is “Forogj, világ” which represented Hungary in the 2005 contest. I was obsessed with it . I also loved the lead singer’s outfit, especially the pants with a short leg and a long leg. I copied this look a lot in elementary school.
Over the years, I remained a casual fan who only listened to the songs when they were performed in the contest, but after Dami Im’s successful appearance in 2016, I decided to become a Eurovision nerd fully fledged. It first took place on tumblr, but eventually moved to Twitter.
So, have you delved into Eurovision’s past since you became more interested in it?
Like any salon historian, I first went to Wikipedia to get the main context of the competition and its editions. I then went to YouTube to thoroughly watch each edition one by one. I had a notebook where I wrote my thoughts on each song, followed by its actual results in the contest, then my results. All the other fun facts I learned through documentaries, books, the Diggiloo Thrush website and other Eurofans. I also seem to remember watching a game show on SBS in the early 2010s with Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang (the former Aussie commentators) quizzing them and special guests about Eurovision facts over the year.
~Do you still have those notebooks? They should become heirlooms passed down from generation to generation! I like how seriously you took your exploration of Eurovision’s back catalogue! (Brand)
So, after all that research, who has the honor of being your Eurovision performance?
No matter how many songs I listen to, or how many performances I watch, I can’t get past ‘Celui qui reste et celui qui s’en va’ by Romuald (Monaco, 1974). Sure, it may sound like a basic 1970s ballad with no substance to the outsider, but to me, that’s it, and I’m afraid I can’t explain why I love it so much. I literally just looked at it and it woke up something inside me, telling me this was THE SONG. Although the cute little lapis lazuli-inspired set probably helped a bit.
What do you think is the reason for your love for the old competitions?
There’s just something so endearing about every performer having the same background, singing from the same slightly raised podium with only the option of a prop or a little dance to elevate the performance. This puts everyone on the same playing field, whether they come from a country that funds Eurovision a lot or not. I also like that with the orchestra, the performance version was usually very different and better than the recording. Now, since artists have to use a backing track, there isn’t too much of a difference, unless the singer is really good or really bad. Also, many artists rely too heavily on LED screens and professional dancers, making it less of a song contest and more of a visual contest. I realize the old way is outdated, but I can’t help but love it more.
~ I bet you had a kick at the Lisbon contest in 2018 then! No LEDs and no fast food music. At least that’s what Salvador had hoped. (Brand)
Is there anything about modern Eurovision that you didn’t like back then, or would change?
I don’t think I would change anything about the contest itself. It has evolved beautifully over time and its longevity is testament to that. However, I don’t understand why some fans want the national language rule back when it gave English speaking countries an unfair advantage and non-English speaking countries knew about it. Especially in the 1990s, when in the majority of cases, if the winner was not in English, it either contained an English phrase, easy-to-reproduce lyrics for English speakers, or was mostly instrumental.
Australia’s involvement is one of the miracles of the modern contest. What has been your favorite Aussie entry so far?
My favorite Australian entry is “Don’t Break Me” – Montaigne (2020). I love it because it’s so raw and moving and you can tell Montaigne feels every word she sings. It’s a shame that of all the songs we sent, this was the one that didn’t get a chance to shine.
~ A lyrical gem. I would call this our most sophisticated entry. (Brand)
Which Australian artists would you like to see go to Australia Decides or Eurovision?
This is going to sound really embarrassing, but I’m not aware of trends in Australian music. That said, I would like Montaigne to have a third chance. ‘Don’t Break Me’ and ‘Technicolor’ had potential, but they were screwed up due to circumstances. I would also like to see Jaguar Jonze at Eurovision in the near future. ‘Rabbit Hole’ was really good, but also outrageously stolen. I haven’t listened to ‘Little Fires’ yet, but I’m sure it will be fantastic. If it’s not them, I’d love to see some unknown talent win a ticket to represent Australia. SBS might offer some sort of chaotic open audition (not like TikTok’s, but it was a start) like we’ve seen in Moldova and Belarus. SBS shouldn’t be scared because these open auditions are iconic.
~ OK, I hope you’ve listened to “Little Fires” by now and agree with me, there’s a real chance of getting the call for Turin. (Brand)
Who was your winner for Eurovision 2021? What made them special to you?
Before answering your question, I would like to give an honorable mention to 2021 icon Rafał Brzozowski. It’s a goldmine of reaction imagery and its pictures of fish and mushrooms kept me entertained during the off season.
My 2021 winner was ‘Øve os på hinanden’ by Fyr Og Flamme. It became my favorite because the set (lyrics, music and costume) reminded me of Scandinavian schlager entries from the 1980s, but with more punch that immediately resonated with me because I’m a sucker for the nostalgia. Although Fyr og Flamme was unfortunately not eligible, I took a look at their discography (which rarely happens to me with post 2010 artists) and shelled out the money to buy a signed copy of their album when it comes out. I have also made many friends through our mutual love of Fyr og Flamme.
Which one, even on the national final calendar, is a must watch?
I don’t consider myself to have a favorite national final, but I confess that I watch Melfest and Australia Decides flawlessly every year. Australia Decides is an obvious decision because as an Australian Eurofan I am invested in what we select. Melfest probably isn’t the best national selection if you care about variety, but I love rooting for older bands, like Arvingarna and Eva and Ewa in 2021, and Danne Stråhed this year. As I mentioned earlier, I love a chaotic open audition and Moldova this year will forever be special to my heart. Not only did we recover Zdob şi Zdub, but we also recovered the legendary and enigmatic MissCatyLove and the iconic songs of Tudor Bumbac and Ricky Ardezianu. All in all, for me, the national final is a way to stop chaotic songs and artists who are definitely not going to win until the reality of Eurovision kicks in.
If you could only choose three performances to encourage new people to watch Eurovision, which would you suggest?
I know most times this question pops up, people usually write popular entries or entries that will help people to watch Eurovision. I respect their decision, but fuck it. If the opportunity ever arose, I would choose to be selfish and show them something I love because when else would they listen to forgotten French ballad singers who never represented France? And honestly, if I managed to convert them to Eurovision, they would immediately discover “Zitti e buoni” and “Euphoria” anyway. So on that note I would choose
1. ‘He who stays and he who goes’ by Romuald (Monaco 1974)
2. ‘Eloise’ – Arvingarna (Sweden 1993)
3. ‘Samo ljubezen’ – Sestre (Slovenia 2002)
I would pick these songs in particular because they’re from artists I love and listen to regularly outside of the contest. Therefore, I could introduce people to the world of Eurovision that excites me more than grudgingly saying something like, “It’s ‘Euphoria’. No, not the TV show. It wins a poll in the evening New Year’s Eve every year.”
Ok, I know it’s a bit early, but I have to ask you: do you already have a favorite for the 2022 contest?
As of this writing, we only have nine songs that have been released, so it’s too hard to say, but I have a soft spot for ‘Trenulețul’ by Zdob şi Zdub & Frații Advahov. I love that it’s kind of a folk-punk fusion and it’s weird and interesting without being too much of a joke. It’s also nice to see Zdob şi Zdub again after 10 years.
As for a potential winner, I don’t think we have enough artists and songs yet for me to make a solid prediction, but I think Mahmood and Blanco’s “Brividi” has the best chance of doing well.
Colleen, you’ve been so awesome – let’s wrap things up with the infamous quick quiz!
Which Eurovision Song:
Is the best winner?
‘Vivo cantando’ – Salome (Spain, 1969)
Has the best live voice?
‘Lusitana paixão’ – Dulce Pontes (Portugal, 1991)
Has been stolen?
‘Under stjernerne på himlen’ by Tommy Seebach Band (Denmark, 1993)
Is this your guilty pleasure?
A draw between “Shiru” by Shiru Group (Israel, 1993) and “Celebrate” by Piero and the Musicstars (Switzerland, 2004).
Your favorite song for the national final (which didn’t make it to Eurovision)?
All songs from Melfest d’Arvingarna that are not “Eloïse” (“Bo Diddley”, “Det svär jag på”, “Ingenting är större an vi”, “I do” and “Tänker inte alls gå hem”).
~ It gave me a lot of homework to do. Thanks for the challenge of discovering some old school favorites. I think artists would be delighted that their work has not been forgotten. (Brand)
Colleen, thank you for your generosity of time and spirit. Wishing you a safe and happy Eurovision season – and who knows, you might get your Jaguar Jonze wish come February!