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  • Writer's pictureSteven Garner

Eurovision Fan of the Week - Gary from Melbourne

This week's Eurovision Fan of the Week is Gary, a lover of Balkan ballads, Bollywood and BlackPink. Gary talks about his introduction to Eurovision, reveals which entries to the Contest get him up dancing, and confesses to a guilty pleasure.

Thanks for being our Eurovision fan of the week, Gary! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm Gary from Melbourne, the (former) lockdown capital, born a few months after Bucks Fizz won the competition. I love pop - and not just that of the European variety. I also listen to a bit of Asian pop, K-pop and J-pop (Big Bang and Perfume represent!), as well as some Bollywood tunes having lived in southern India for some time.

My dancefloor abilities have been described as "enthusiastic" at best ... on par with several past Eurovision entries. When I'm not re-watching or re-listening to Eurovision, I'm immersed in the Olympic Games, which some may refer to as the "Eurovision of Sport".

Wow! You're a real global citizen! And I completely agree with - and love - your Olympics description ~ Steven

How did you get into Eurovision? What was the first year you watched?

I "studied" German in high school. During many of those classes, our teacher would speak of various aspects of German and European culture; one of the things often mentioned was Eurovision. The idea of a "song Olympics" intrigued me, but remained elusive in a time before YouTube.

Fast forward to some channel-surfing on a Sunday evening in 2000, and by chance I stumbled across this contest I'd heard so much about. It had everything: music, costumes, a competitive element, subtle geo-political commentary and bias, daggy dad jokes (thanks Anders), cultural references,... and Terry Wogan! From there, I was hooked.

Politics? At Eurovision?! NEVER! And yes, the awkward jokes and Terry's voice were part of the package for me too. ~ Steven

What is your favourite Eurovision performance and why?

'Shady Lady' by Ani Lorak of Ukraine in 2008. The classic late 90s' pop beat? Check. A bevy of beautiful backing boys? Check. Lyrics that can easily be sung along to in my car whilst using my rear and side mirrors as though they're alternating camera angles capturing what is - in my head - now my own Eurovision performance? Check, check, check.

Željko Joksimović with 'Lane Moje' from 2004 comes awfully close (I love a good Balkan ballad), as well as any time Peter Poles provided Slovenia's points.

You're covering all the bases there! I know one member of the Aussievision team in particular who'll be over the moon to see you pick 'Shady Lady'. ~ Steven

Which Australian artist/s would you love to see on the Eurovision stage? And which song/s best showcase/s them?

BlackPink. Okay, I know that they're not really Australian, but a member of the group (Rose) spent her formative years in Melbourne. That counts, right? If so, 'Playing with Fire' and 'As if it's your last' prove the awesomeness of this group.

Controversial, but given the popularity of K-pop I'll allow it <wink> ~ Steven

Which national final do you look forward to the most? What makes it special?

Other than Australia Decides, it's hard to pass Sweden's Melodifestivalen. Constantly the most-watched televised event in the country, it does a great job of showcasing local singing and writing talent, travelling the country with shows, and filling the Sverigetopplistan with awesome music.

And if you could change one thing about "Australia Decides", what would it be? And do you prefer the national final approach to the earlier internal selections?

I love our national final, and I hope it gains more prominence in order to cast the spotlight over local talent the way other countries' national finals do.

Having several places in the national final reserved for unsigned performers could further promote local acts, possibly to be nominated and selected via online voting ahead of the show.

The more talent from all over Australia, the better (in my book!) ~ Steven

What is your opinion on returning artists, both at the national final and Eurovision levels? Is there anyone who you would like to see perform (again)?

Errm... All for it?

Laura Pausini is under appreciated outside Italy and deserves more attention. I'd love to see her win the senior prize at Sanremo and then take to the Eurovision stage

If you could pick only three performances to encourage new people to watch Eurovision, what would they be?

Asking a Eurovision fan to limit the number of entries they'd use to entice new fans is tantamount to a hate crime! (Ha ha! ~ Steven)

Having said that:

- 'You are the only one' by Sergey Lazarev

- 'Euphoria' by Loreen

- 'Run away' by Sunstroke Project and Olia Tira

I mean, this is a sensational selection, I reckon. Who could resist? ~ Steven

Next up, our quick-fire questions. Which Eurovision song:

Is the best winner?

It's difficult to answer this one, I've loved almost every winner (near-instrumental entries are pushing it, I mean seriously). Given their prominence in my music collection, I'll say ABBA's 'Waterloo'.

A man after my own heart! Justice for classic Eurovision entries!! ~ Steven

Has the best live vocal?

Mihai Trăistariu with 'Tornero' - such an incredible range. Honourable mentions include France Gall for her Sprechstimme in 'Poupée de cire, poupée de son', Global Kryner for yodelling 'Y así', Elnur's Azeri folk in 'Day After Day', and Il Volo's operatic harmonisation on 'Grande amore' *insert Goosebumps here*.

Was robbed?

Kate Ryan with 'Je t'adore' in 2006 - it's a travesty that this top 5-worthy bop didn't even make it out of the semi-final.

Truer words have never been spoken! ~ Steven

Is your guilty pleasure?

Austria's 2012 entry by the Trackshittaz 'Woki mit deim Popo'. Remember it? No? That's fair. I may have revealed too much by admitting this.

Everything you say will be taken down and may be used against you in a court of Eurovision ... ~ Steven

Is your favourite national final song (that didn't make it to Eurovision)?

Blue Café's 'You May Be In Love' from 2003 should have won Poland's Krajowe Eliminacje!

At least they made it to the Eurovision final in Istanbul the following year with 'Love Song' ~ Steven

And finally, which Australian entry is your favourite?

'Tonight Again' by Guy Sebastian from 2015. It's a great song to dance around to in your lounge, sing along with (especially with car mirrors!), or listen to in order to liven up the household chores.

Bravo! This almost makes up for the 'guilty pleasure' choice. Almost. ~ Steven

Thank you so much for answering our questions, Gary, and for sharing your love of Eurovision. And enjoy the 2021 edition!!


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