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Eurovision fan of the Week - Gert from Barcelona via The Netherlands

What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Gert Waterink and I am from a small farmer’s village (1000 citizens) in The Netherlands. Mariënberg to be precise. Currently I live in Barcelona, Spain though.

Hello, Hola, Hallo! ~ Aussievision

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

I am actually reshuffling my career a bit. Well, hugely to be honest. After having worked for years in big blue chip companies on finance & HR departments, I need to follow my passions more. Hence I am slowly but steadily working on a start-up idea. It’s not specifically Eurovision-related, but today’s release of the official visual identity for Eurovision 2020 has something to do with it. Art that is.

Tell us how you got into Eurovision?

Ufff, I think that was around 1994. I was 12 years old I guess. I might have some flashes from the 1993 contest, but the 1994 contest was where it started. I was allowed to stay up later than usual, but I wasn’t allowed to watch the whole show in full. So sadly it was bedtime for me when the memorable Riverdance Act was playing. But…I was sneaky and kept listening to this weird scoring moments by sitting secretly on the stairs. When Netherlands and Willeke Alberti suddenly got 4 points and the whole audience cheered, I thought we’d won! Until the next morning when I was informed at the breakfast table that the cheering was not what it seems. And they also knew by then my interest was a bit more profound than they had anticipated….

1996 was the first contest I watched in full. Gosh, did I enjoy ‘De Eerste Keer’, coming 7th, before Australia’s Gina G 😊.

It's not bad, but it's no 'Ooh... ahh... just a little bit', Gina was ahead of her time at Eurovision!

Have you been to the contest and if so, how many times?

Never. Usually I don’t like to be within massive crowds for a long time. It’s one of the reasons I almost never visit concerts (unless it’s classical music). To me Eurovision foremost is a TV show that can be best witnessed on the sofa for getting the best view possible.

Think that's an important point, being there is a great atmosphere but it's a TV event and many times better enjoyed from your lounge room!

As a Dutchman how did it feel winning Eurovision for the first time since 1975?

If I am very honest and ‘open up’ to what really happened this year with me, I first want to make a quick detour to 2014. To me, ending 2nd with The Common Linnets already felt like winning. The first messenger updates from my friend who was attending the rehearsals, drew me closer than ever to the contest. We were suddenly a ‘hot commodity’ in Copenhagen. Though I predicted already that Austria would win with ease, that runner-up placing combined with being thrown at with God knows how many points was a truly delightful moment. I never thought we would be winning soon after that 2nd place.

But, see, we only had to wait for 5 more years to hit the real jackpot. I was watching the contest entirely alone, but I wanted it that way. I have Asperger, and considering some very difficult moments in my life during the first half of 2019, I truly wanted to indulge in this contest (from my sofa). And God, did it pay off. I was mostly scared for Italy, who I thought was the most serious competitors for Duncan Laurence. It didn’t happen. Sweden came up. I was walking circles around my small IKEA coffee table. Although afterwards many people said I could have calculated that Sweden would not catch up on the scoreboard, I couldn’t think clear anymore. Yes, I was that nervous. Then John Lundvik’s face was perhaps the most loveliest moment in Eurovision history for me (My apologies John 😊). I firmly screamed, and then every emotion I had in my body came out. I cried like a little child. Perhaps also because his song is really relatable to my situation. Winning a song contest is pretty rare, but most definitely I can advice everyone to win hehe. PS: We also ought to thank ‘Mr Eurovision’ Cornald Maas for his brave guidance behind the scenes to get The Netherlands back on Eurovision track again after 2012.

We just felt like we watched the results and felt all the emotions all over again, wonderful to hear about your experience

What are you hoping from the show in Rotterdam, do you have high expectations?

Actually yes. Today (November 28th) the official visual identity for Eurovision 2020 was released and I was ecstatic! It’s not because I am Dutch, but I think this is a great visual start of the contest already. I’m a sucker for modern abstract art, so Rotterdam 2020 keeps servicing me (so far).

What I really hope though is a more compact show in which the traditional interval act will become a real ‘interval act’ again, and not just a set of performances. On the whole though, I think the contest needs to be trimmed with at least 30 mins screen time. This year’s contest was really stretching the attention span of audiences across Europe too much. 4 hours and 11 minutes is too much. There are kids watching too. And 65+ year old people as well.

With regard to presenters I hope they will be experienced people who stay natural and know how to come across as having this ‘improvising quality’. Humour and charisma for me are therefore of uttermost importance. I do think the Dutch will mirror the Swedish examples a bit. And let’s face it, the presenters we are still talking about are Lill Lindfors (ESC 1985) and Petra Mede (ESC 2013 & ESC 2016). They created this legacy within this particular profession. Having said that, I think these famous Dutch people could present it: Karin Bloemen (famous female comedian), Edsilia Rombley (truly natural soul singer who stays close to her inner ‘child’), Herman van der Zandt (sports TV presenter with a good amount of humour) and Jan Smit (Dutch co-commentator and respected schlager singer).

Last but not least. Do not underestimate the Dutch in 2020. My inside sources tell the broadcaster is working hard to make a back-to-back victory possible.

As much as we'd like to see the Dutch succeed, we'd be happier with a cheaper and less popular destination next year! haha!

For those of us visiting The Netherlands, what are some things we should do or try while we are there?

Escape one day from the ESC-bubble and visit one of the many royal palaces and castles. Castle Rechteren in Dalfsen (province of Overijssel) is a stunning riverside castle that is still populated by the same family that lived there for centuries. The current Count Van Rechteren Limpurg is very much involved with the farmers and citizens of Dalfsen. A bit closer to Rotterdam you can find the Royal Palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn (province of Gelderland ), which was the summer residence of Queen Wilhelmina (great-grandmother of the current King). The Royal Palace Gardens are majestic. Or you can visit the Royal Palace Soestdijk in Baarn (province of Utrecht), which is now open to the public. It used to be the residence of Queen Juliana (grandmother of the current King William of Orange). But on the whole, escaping the city and discovering a bit of the Dutch inland and countryside, with all its wonderful forests, is unforgettable too.

Excellent tips, thank you!

Which is your favourite Eurovision year and why?

Your questions are becoming difficult to say the least hehe. But I have to choose the 1997 contest. That year is full of folk and ethnic flavoured jewels. Entries from that year like Poland, Slovenia, Malta, France, Cyprus, Italy and Turkey brought an almost anti-commercial musical spirit to the contest that I can still enjoy a lot. And then there’s the winner, Katrina & The Waves. Still my most favourite winner as of today. A truly magnificent melody packed in an anthem that today should enlighten us again. It saddens me to see what’s happening at the moment with our neighbours United Kingdom. The way Brexit completely destroys unity, positivity, cooperation and progress hurts my soul really. The Dutch share some ‘cultural genes’ with the British. Our Dutch Stadtholder William III of Orange was the reigning King of England. But it seems the British have chosen a different cultural route when compared to the Dutch. To those Eurovision-loving British I say: watch Katrina & The Waves again. Follow the Dutch example and give us a British win again. Please.

If you could change one thing about Eurovision what would it be?

How ‘social-media-lized’ Eurovision….and the world has become. It scares me how we don’t take certain things for granted anymore. ‘We’ have become impatient, need to verbalize everything, with or without protest-like behaviour. There were days when we accepted the actions of a Prime Minister, a teacher or a doctor, and simply swallowed a final Eurovision result. We didn’t question victories or last places for days on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. I remember how The Netherlands finished 22nd in 1997. The Monday after we already forgot about it. Now we keep using the mantra ‘we got robbed’. What? The rules are clear. Points decide the winner. Accept it, and especially respect the winner more. Well, the entire result if I may say so. I’m worried about how social media deconstructs civility and social cohesion. And it does so in a negative way. Let’s come together, and really open up about these things!

Which artist would you like to see return to the competition?

For me Eurovision is foremost a song contest. So to me the actual composers are the driving force behind the eventual success of the contestants. But that’s besides the question. Personally, I would like Anouk to return one of these days with a very different song as compared to ‘Birds’ (ESC 2013). Or perhaps Douwe Bob. But to be honest, I prefer a new artist. Janne Schra with a composition by Jez Ashurst, Sharon Doorson with a composition by Simon Gitsels, Dotan with a composition by Tim Randolph, Chef’Special with a composition by Jonathan “Absofacto” Visger, Nina June with a composition by Lieuwe Roonder, Yellow Claw ft. Naaz with a composition by DJ’s Jim “Aasgier” Taihuttu & Nils Rondhuis orrrr Anouk again with a composition by Gustav Efraimsson, Thomas Azier or Tjeerd “Dazzled Kid” Bomhof.

Big fans of Douwe Bob here at Aussievision, Anouk would be fantastic as well.

If you could pick only three Eurovision songs to listen to for the rest of time, what would they be?

  • What’s Another Year’, performed by Johnny Logan (ESC 1980)

  • Love Shine A Light’, performed by Katrina & The Waves (ESC 1997)

  • Calm After The Storm’, performed by The Common Linnets (ESC 2014)

Which Eurovision song:

Is the best winner?

Love Shine A Light’, ESC 1997

Has the best live vocal?

Vrede’, by Ruth Jaccot (ESC 1993). But this year’s ‘Proud’ by Tamara Todevska was utterly magnificent too vocally.

Vrede is bloody fantastic!

Was robbed?

No song in the entire history of Eurovision was robbed. They all deserved their particular placing on the very night of the TV broadcast. Eurovision is a ‘jury-sport’, so results are, especially with music, also driven by emotions. And they vary from day to day.

Is the best from this decade?

1944’, by Jamala (ESC 2016). It’s a song with wonderful lyrics about historical events. Factual historical events that, in these days, need to be highlighted every now and then. Packed in a top-notch Kate Bush-esque production with unique and original instrumental quality, this is to me is the best of the decade (followed closely by ‘Arcade’ and ‘Satellite’). And let’s not forget, there were days when we embraced songs at Eurovision that were about the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. ‘1990’ won for Italy in…..1990 no?

Hmmm. We can agree to disagree.

Is your favourite from Junior Eurovision?

I am currently listening/watching ‘Dans Met Jou’ by Matheu. An utterly addictive little track. Watch out for Matheu in the near future.

Is your guilty pleasure?

OMG, then I would probably go for a late old-school-disco entry. Ireland 1982: The Duskey’s with ‘Here Today, Gone Tomorrow’. The result wasn’t that good, but it was magnificently orchestrated.

That's a choice!

Is your favourite National Final song (that didn't make it to Eurovision)?

Ebonique with ‘So Much Love’. Nationaal Songfestival 2001. A song that could have stood out from starting grid #1 in Copenhagen.

Any other interesting honourable mentions?

Another guilty pleasure then. Germany 1973: Gitte Hænning with ‘Junger Tag

And finally... Tonight Again, Sound of Silence, Don’t Come Easy, We Got Love or Zero Gravity?

Don’t Come Easy’. A truly delicate pop ballad, sang by a cuddly singer with goosebump-inducing vocals. It reminds me a bit of ‘Arcade’ actually. Also Isaiah’s childhood wasn’t that easy. If you then arrive on such a stage, you get applause from me.

It's often forgotten how good the song is, regardless of what many thought of the performances, it led on to songs like 'Nobody But You' and 'Arcade'.

Thank you for your time Gert!

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