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Aussie fan of the week - Dr Jess C

Our Australian fan of the week has the fanciest title yet - Dr Jess Carniel (aka @DrJessC on Twitter) is Senior Lecturer at an Australian University and is currently doing research into Eurovision and its wonderful fans. Being a fan herself she has come up with some incredible answers and some very interesting choices... have a read below.

What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Jess Carniel and I live in Toowoomba (via Brisbane and Melbourne).

What do you do or tell us something interesting about you?

I am a Senior Lecturer in Humanities at the University of Southern Queensland.

We understand you are undertaking some research into Eurovision and its fans, can you tell us about it? Try to make me stop talking about it! My research is looking at Australian Eurovision fans in particular - why we love it and how we show that love. We have been watching the contest for over thirty years and it's a really significant annual event for many people, myself included, yet there was no Australian scholarship (quite a bit internationally, but not here) on this phenomenon that tells us so much about music, popular culture, cosmopolitanism, community, and politics. We're a growing community of Australian Eurovision scholars now (shout out to @eurovision_uom, @anika_gauja, @KeshiaJacotine and @wellings_ben), but there is so much to learn and understand! I have had the amazing privilege of talking to so many fans and surveying their views. Everyone is so thoughtful, informed, and passionate about Eurovision - the Australian fandom is a lot deeper and more complex than I had ever imagined coming into it! I also do a bit of work beyond the fandom, such as looking at how to read songs and performances within a broader cultural and political register, particularly around international relations and gender politics (don't even get me started on Krista Siegfrids or the Eurostralia skit). At Lisbon next year (OMG) I'll also be starting to look at what I call "Tourovision" - Eurovision-related experiences of tourism! So if you see me there, please come talk to me. :)

This sounds so amazing, and we love that there is a community of Eurovision scholars! ~ Aussievision

When did you first get into Eurovision?

I remember watching Eurovision as a kid in the 1980s and 1990s. Unfortunately, I don't remember specific performances, but I just remember the joy of watching it with my family and taking particular delight in mimicking the repetition of scores in French. This feeling has been a big part of why I wanted to do this research. I got back into Eurovision properly in the early 2000s, including co-hosting an annual party with a friend - although now it's all pjs and coffee on the couch, partying via Twitter!

Which is your favourite Eurovision year and why?

My favourite Eurovision year is...I'm such a sentimentalist, so I'm going to say 2013. The reason for this is that it was the last Eurovision I had with my friends in Melbourne - plus the Swedes know how to put on a good show. Musically, it was probably a bit forgettable, although I still have Emmelie de Forrest and Jedward on my gym playlist it did have a couple of good bangers. That year I dressed up as "sauna Agnetha", which basically meant a blond wig and an Ikea bathrobe - a highly recommended and very comfortable outfit that is not far off what I wear when watching it now.

Which Eurovision song:

Is the best?

The best Eurovision song ever (for me) is Svetlana Loboda's "Be My Valentine (Anti-Crisis Girl)" - it was even my ringtone for a really long time. Musically, it is kind of crazy - it turns into a completely different song halfway through. But its staging was phenomenal - gay robot centurions from the future, THAT flip move (you know what I mean), and then she bashes out a drum solo. Add to that the fact that the song is fun and danceable - what more could you want? (On a more serious note, I would probably say that Loreen's Euphoria is more legitimately the "best" - I love it, but "Be My Valentine" is my real favourite.)

I can't say how much I love this answer - you are the best! Svetlana threw literally EVERYTHING at that performance. ~ Dale, Aussievision

Is overrated? You know what? Sergey Lazarev's "You Are the Only One". Honestly, I could not understand what the fuss was about that. Every single time I heard it, I started singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" to myself and forgot the actual song itself. I'm also going to be really controversial - I think Katrina and the Waves' "Love Shine A Light" is a bit ordinary. It always gives me this weird feeling like the concert your nice new friend invited you to was really an evangelical recruitment event.

You give and then you take away, Sergey was epic!

Was robbed? Polina Gagarina was totally robbed in 2015. Although I was glad Mans won simply so that he and Petra Mede could host together in 2016, I was a little bit underwhelmed by his song. "A Million Voices", on the other hand, is on my driving playlist - it's a great one to belt out. I am also Team Dami Was Robbed. Objectively, I understand the artistry of Jamala's "1944", but "Sound of Silence" was the better pop song.

I totally agree Polina was robbed - Mike, Aussievision

Had the best live performance?

Best live performance - this goes back to Svetlana Loboda, but in terms of best actual performance of the song, it's Dami. I was really cold on the recorded version - I was actually doing some interviews around the time when it came out, and the fans I spoke to were really disappointed in the song selection for her. But when it came to the live performance - wow, Dami is a total pro and converted me completely.

Did you last play? The last Eurovision song I played was Tooji's "Stay" - it's on my gym playlist!

Is your guilty pleasure?

My guilty pleasure is "Butterflies" by 3+2 (Belarus). It's kind of a terrible paint-by-numbers Eurovision song, which is why I love it. Plus it had one of the cheesiest costume reveals. I love to sing it off-key (some would say that's the only way I sing).

Haha wow - at least by singing it off-key you are staying true to the original performance!

Do you support any other countries other than your own? My background is Italian, so I was extremely excited when Italy came back into the game in 2011. I support them on principle every year (they are also my World Cup team, so I don't want to talk about it). I also have such a soft spot for Norway because they are the record-holders for nuls point, so I support them every year just so there is someone who does. I have to say, though, that Belgium have really been bringing it with amazing young talent in the past couple of years (OMG, Loic and Blanche, but also adorable Laura), so they are rapidly becoming one of my favourite countries to watch.

Why should Australia be in Eurovision?

Australia should be in Eurovision because it's good for my research! No, in all seriousness, I understand the controversy of our inclusion, and the logistics are nightmarish, but we do need to remember 1) that the geography of the contest has been historically elastic, and 2) the contest has always been about the television industry (even if it is also tied up in a lovely and real narrative about values). Culture evolves over time, and so too its various institutions - and Eurovision is a global cultural institution now, so it needs to find ways to expand that sphere of influence and industry. It also plays into Australia's own particular geopolitics - it strengthens this idea that Australia is a link between Europe and Asia. So, Australia should be in Eurovision because it helps to legitimise its role in the new Eurovision Asia project. (That's a really nerdy academic's answer to that question.)

Are you happy with Jessica Mauboy being our choice for Lisbon? On the one hand, I am really happy with Jess Mauboy because she is undoubtedly one of the big young talents in Australia. On the other, I was a little disappointed we aren't showcasing someone new that Europe may not have been exposed to before. That said, you need someone reasonably seasoned on the Eurovision stage, so Jess is a good choice in that regard - even though she hasn't competed, she has performed for that audience. Admittedly, I don't think it was the best performance she has given (you have no idea how many times I have watched that interval act!), and I think she feels the same - that's how I interpret her "unfinished business" comments. But please let her have a banger, not a ballad!

Sea of Flags, Tonight Again, Sound of Silence or Don’t Come Easy

Sound of Silence. No competition. That said, Guy's "Tonight Again" was perfect for our first competing entry - fun, polished, and professional. Fingers crossed that our 2018 entry will be even better!

Thank you so much for your time, a fascinating insight into your work and some amazing answers!

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