Eurovision Fan of the Week - Colleen from Wollongong
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 travelled to Scotland and Indonesia, but this time we're sticking closer to home as we say g'day to Colleen (@celuiquireste) from Wollongong, Australia. The teacher-in-training tells Aussievision that, while Dami's barnstorming performance in Stockholm was the reason she became a full-fledged Euro-fan, it's the old-school Contests that will always have her heart.
Thanks for being our Fan of the Week, Colleen! Tell us a little about yourself! I’m training to be a teacher, specialising in history and language teaching. Other than Eurovision, I love learning languages and trivia. I have also appeared on several Australian game shows to varying results.
What was your gateway into 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 earliest song I can concretely remember liking is 'Forogj, világ' which represented Hungary at the 2005 contest. I was obsessed with it. I also loved the lead singer’s outfit, especially the pants with one short leg and one long leg. I copied that look a lot in primary school.
Throughout the years, I remained more of a casual fan only listening to the songs when they were performed at the contest, but after Dami Im’s successful appearance in 2016, I decided to become a fully fledged Eurovision nerd. This initially took place on tumblr, but I eventually moved to Twitter.
So, have you delved into Eurovisions past since becoming more interested? Like any armchair historian, I went to Wikipedia first to get the main context of the contest and its editions. I then went on YouTube to painstakingly watch each edition one by one. I had a notebook in which I would write my thoughts on each song, followed by its actual results in the contest, and then my results. Any other fun facts I learned through documentaries, books, the Diggiloo Thrush website, and fellow Eurofans. I also seem to recall watching a game show on SBS in the early 2010s with Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang (the former Australian commentators) that would quiz them and special guests on Eurovision facts throughout the years.
~Do you still have those notebooks? They should become family heirlooms passed from generation to generation! I love how seriously you took your exploration of the Eurovision back catalogue! (Mark)
So, after all that research, who has the honour of being your Eurovision performance? No matter how many songs I listen to, or how many performances I watch, I can’t go past 'Celui qui reste et celui qui s’en va' by Romuald (Monaco, 1974). Sure, it may look like a basic 1970s ballad with no substance to the outsider, but to me it’s everything, and I fear I can’t explain why I love it so much. I just literally watched it and it awoke something in me, telling me that this was THE SONG. Although the nice little lapis lazuli inspired ensemble probably helped a bit.
What do you think is the reason for your love of the older Contests?
There’s just something so endearing about each artist having the same backdrop, singing on the same slightly raised podium with only the option of a prop or a little dance to elevate the performance. It puts everyone on the same playing field whether they come from a country that puts a lot of funding into Eurovision or not. I also like that with the orchestra, the performance version was usually vastly different to, 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 place too much of a reliance on LED screens and professional backing dancers which makes it less of a song contest and more of a visuals contest. I realise the old way is outdated, but I can’t help but love it more.
~I bet you got a kick out of the Lisbon contest in 2018 then! No LEDs, and no fast-food music. Or so Salvador had hoped. (Mark)
Is there anything about modern-era Eurovision you don’t like then, or you would change?
I don’t think there is anything I would change about the contest itself, It has evolved with the times beautifully and its longevity is a testament to that. However, I don’t understand why some fans want the national language rule back when it gave English speaking countries somewhat of an unfair advantage and non-English speaking countries knew it. Especially in the 1990s when in the majority of instances, if the winner was not in English, it either contained an English phrase, had lyrics that were easy for English speakers to replicate or was mostly instrumental.
One of the miracles of the modern Contest is Australia's involvement. Whose been your favourite Australian entry so far?
My favourite Australian entry ever is 'Don’t Break Me' - Montaigne (2020). I love it because it’s just so raw and emotional and you can tell Montaigne is feeling every word she is singing. It’s a real shame that out of all of the songs we have sent, this was the entry that didn’t get the chance to shine.
~A lyrical gem. I'd call this our most sophisticated entry. (Mark)
What Australian artists would you love to see go to Australia Decides or to Eurovision? This is going to sound really embarrassing, but I don’t keep up with trends in Australian music. That being said, I would like to see Montaigne get a third chance. 'Don’t Break Me' and 'Technicolour' had potential, but they were screwed over because of the circumstances. I would also like to see Jaguar Jonze at Eurovision in the near future. 'Rabbit Hole' was really good, but also shockingly robbed. I haven’t listened to 'Little Fires' yet, but I’m sure it will be fantastic. If not them, I would like to see some unknown talent win a ticket to represent Australia. SBS could offer some kind of chaotic open audition (not like the TikTok one, but that was a start) like we have seen in Moldova and Belarus. SBS shouldn’t be scared because those open auditions are iconic.
~ OK, I'm hoping by now you have listened to 'Little Fires' and that you agree with me it stands a real chance of getting the call-up for Turin. (Mark)
Who was your winner for Eurovision 2021? What made them special to you?
Before I answer your question, I would like to give an honourable mention to 2021 icon Rafał Brzozowski. He is a reaction image goldmine and his pictures with fish and mushrooms kept me entertained during the off season.
My winner of 2021 was 'Øve os på hinanden' by Fyr Og Flamme. It became my favourite because the whole package (lyrics, music and costume) reminded me of the Scandinavian schlager entries of the 1980s, but with more of a punch packed into it which immediately resonated with me because I’m a sucker for nostalgia. Although Fyr og Flamme sadly did not qualify, I became acquainted with their discography (something that rarely happens for me with post 2010 artists) and forked out the money to buy a signed copy of their album when it was released. I have also made many friends through our mutual love of Fyr og Flamme.
Which even on the National Final calendar is a must-watch? I don’t consider myself as having a favourite national final, but I admit I watch Melfest and Australia Decides without fail every year. Australia Decides is an obvious decision because as an Australian Eurofan, I am invested in what we’re selecting. Melfest probably isn’t the best national selection if you care about variety, but I love to root for the older acts, like Arvingarna and Eva and Ewa in 2021, and Danne Stråhed this year. As I have mentioned earlier, I love a chaotic open audition and the Moldovan one this year will be forever special to my heart. Not only did we get Zdob şi Zdub back, we also got the legendary, enigmatic MissCatyLove and iconic songs by Tudor Bumbac and Ricky Ardezianu. All in all, for me, the national final season is a way to stan chaotic songs and artists that definitely won’t win before the reality of Eurovision kicks in.
If you could pick only three performances to encourage new people to watch Eurovision, which ones would you suggest? I know that most of the time this question pops up, people usually write popular entries or entries that will ease people into watching Eurovision. I respect their decision, but screw that. If the opportunity ever arises, I would choose to be selfish and show them something I like because when else would they listen to forgotten French ballad singers who never represented France? And honestly, if I was successful in converting them to Eurovision, they’d immediately discover 'Zitti e buoni' and 'Euphoria' anyway. So on that note I would choose
1. 'Celui qui reste et celui qui s’en va' by Romuald (Monaco 1974)
2. 'Eloise' - Arvingarna (Sweden 1993)
3. 'Samo ljubezen' - Sestre (Slovenia 2002)
I would choose these particular songs because they are by artists that I adore and regularly listen to outside of the contest. Therefore, I could introduce people to the world of Eurovision that I am more passionate about rather than halfheartedly saying something like: "This is 'Euphoria'. No, not the TV show. It wins a poll on New Year's Eve every year.”
Ok, I know it's a bit early, but I've got to ask: Have you got a frontrunner in the 2022 Contest yet?
At the time of writing this, we only have nine songs that have been released, so it’s too hard to tell, but I do have a soft spot for 'Trenulețul' by Zdob şi Zdub & Frații Advahov. I love that it’s kind of a folk-punk fusion and that it’s weird and interesting without it being too much of a joke. It’s also nice to see Zdob şi Zdub back after 10 years.
As for a potential winner, I don’t think we have enough artists and songs for me to make a solid prediction yet, but I think 'Brividi' by Mahmood and Blanco has the best chance to do well. Colleen, you've been so great - let's wrap things up with the infamous rapid-fire round of questions! Which Eurovision song:
Is the best winner? 'Vivo cantando' - Salomé (Spain, 1969)
Has the best live vocal? 'Lusitana paixão' - Dulce Pontes (Portugal, 1991)
Was robbed? 'Under stjernerne på himlen' by Tommy Seebach Band (Denmark, 1993)
Is your guilty pleasure? A tie between 'Shiru' by Shiru Group (Israel, 1993) and 'Celebrate' by Piero and the Musicstars (Switzerland, 2004).
Is your favourite National Final song (that didn't make it to Eurovision)? Any of Arvingarna’s Melfest songs that aren’t 'Eloise' ('Bo Diddley', 'Det svär jag på', 'Ingenting är större an vi', 'I do' and 'Tänker inte alls gå hem').
~This has given me a lot of homework to do. Thank you for the challenge to check out some old-school favourites. I reckon the artists would be chuffed their work has not been forgotten. (Mark)
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!