Eurovision Fan of the Week - Josie from the UK
We're so excited to welcome into the fold another Aussievision Fan of the Week: Josie (@viszlatnyan) from Worcester in the United Kingdom. Josie tells us about the special place Marija Šerifović holds in their heart, and all about attending the 2018 Contest in Lisbon with their Mum! Josie's also got an important question for the UK delegation in coming years: why's it gotta be English?
Thank you for being our Aussievision Fan of the Week! Tell us a little about yourself...
Thank you for having me! My name’s Josie, I live in Worcester in the UK, and am currently working as an administrator for the NHS. Aside from Eurovision, my other main interest is alternative British comedy – I’ve been to over 700 live comedy gigs (yes I do keep count, lol) in my life and prior to the pandemic I would visit Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival every year just to watch a lot of comedy. I’m actually going to the Machynlleth Comedy Festival in Wales at the end of the month, it’ll be my first comedy festival in 3 years so I’m really looking forward to that!
I also like to write music and get involved in different creative projects in an online community setting – in fact, I’m actually participating in a Eurovision-inspired song contest hosted by alternative British comedian Sean Morley for Twitch called Morlvision, where we have one month to create an original song & music video from scratch based off prompts we all send each other (e.g. “Things a Sat Nav would say”). The show itself will be on the week before the Eurovision final, and it’s been a lot of fun working on something that combines so many elements of my interests!
How did you get into Eurovision?
My mum has been a fan of the contest since she was a kid, so I grew up with it! On the days of the final my mum would print off score sheets from the BBC website for me and my sister to make our scores of our favourite songs & performances, so the finals in particular have always been a big event for me. My mum is still very into Eurovision, and is slowly getting to my level of interest in pre-contest events thanks to my influence.
I don’t exactly remember the first Eurovision year I watched, but I would assume it was the 2000 contest cos it feels like I’ve loved 'Fly on the Wings of Love' for 22 years now (god I’m getting old). Although, I think 2006 was the first year I watched Eurovision and thought “I *love* this”, with particular thanks to the performances by Silvia Night, LT United and, of course, Lordi.
My interest in Eurovision grew significantly more when I was in my final year of university and, procrastinating from doing my dissertation, I decided to watch all the finals & semi finals (so 1956-2015 at that point) in one marathon attempt. Doing this introduced me to *so* many new songs and triggered my now obsession with Eurovision. I also just loved watching the history of music & geopolitics develop in front of me as I was going through all these years, it’s just opened my eyes to so many stories & my ears to so much great music. ~ And the Coolest Mum Award goes to... Josie's Mum for indoctrinating her child into the cult of Eurovision! (Mark)
Who is your favourite ever Eurovision performance and why?
My favourite Eurovision song is 'Molitva' by Marija Šerifović. There are many reasons and factors that have influenced into this song becoming so special to me, but the main reason is that as a kid, I was very definitely non-binary (as I identify now), but obviously didn’t have the terminology or knowledge of gender diversity in my everyday life to explain what I was feeling. But then seeing Marija authentically as herself – a butch woman with short hair – just flicked a lightbulb in 12-year-old me’s head and helped me realise that, in terms of presentation, that’s how I wanted to be. And there was something about the way she presented herself mixed with the vulnerability of the song itself that just made her even more relatable.
As well, wanting to learn the words to 'Molitva' at that age kick-started my interest in linguistics, specifically in phonology & non-English language music (Eurovision definitely helps feed that hunger).
In terms of the performance itself, Marija is just the absolute star of the whole song, her vocals are so strong and so emotional. As well, the backing singers coming together both vocally and physically, and the hearts that form on their hands – ugh, it just gives me goosebumps thinking about it!!
~Thanks for sharing, Josie. The way you reacted to Marija, I feel about Conchita; what they had to say about gender and identity really encouraged me to be more outspoken about my experience as a queer person. (Mark)
What’s your favourite Australian entry so far?
'Tonight Again'. I feel the need to clarify that I have actually enjoyed other Australian Eurovision songs since 2015 (shout out to Montaigne), I just think 'Tonight Again' as a song is a classic and Guy really sold his performance! As well, that “hey, that rhymes!” ad-lib will always make me laugh every time I hear it.
Since you’re from the UK, what British artists would you love to see go to Eurovision? What songs do you think demonstrate what they could add to the contest?
So I have two very different routes with this:
The first route is the PC Music direction. In the last few months I’ve really got into PC Music artists such as Hannah Diamond, but I’ve particularly really fallen for DJ Danny L Harle’s recent album 'Harlecore', which is an homage to early 00s happy hardcore/dance music. I know DJs are basically dead weight at Eurovision and have never done well (well, we’ll see how Austria does this year!), but I think the music of Danny L Harle itself plus the aesthetic that it comes with would be *so* exciting to see at Eurovision.
As well, regarding artists like Hannah Diamond, I know that auto-tune/vocoder for the whole song is not allowed in Eurovision, but it would be nice to at least have something more authentically of PC Music/hyperpop style at Eurovision beyond what Montaigne attempted last year, at least for the sake of having some sugary, heart-pumping energy against what seems like a trend of sad music. In an ideal world, where nobody says anything bad about any songs or artists I like, and we got Danny L Harle, I would *love* if the song was done in his persona of MC Boing, specifically like 'Car Song'. Can you imagine if we sent shouty rave to Eurovision??? The UK?? Sending that?? With no judgement??? The dream!
The other route is indie rock. In particular, Welsh-language indie rock. So in the last few months, I’ve also become very into the Welsh-language indie bands Gwilym & Yws Gwynedd, and would sit there listening to them, longing for the UK to bring something as chill (in a summer sunset sort of way) or ridiculously energetic as them. As well, how can the UK, a nation of multiple countries, dialects & languages, keep sending English pop in English after all these years?? It’s so boring! The specific desirable sound I have in mind for Welsh indie at Eurovision is Yws Gwynedd’s song 'Sebona Fi' – it’s upbeat, energetic, just so joyous and a lot of fun. I want us to be fun, goddammit!
What do you make of the UK at Eurovision in recent years - including 2022? Any ideas for how they could be more successful and more consistent? What are your chances this year?
My first reaction to reading this question was to do a “ppppfffffffttt” kind of sigh. I think the last time I’ve properly *loved* a UK Eurovision song was in 2007. It doesn’t mean that I don’t *like* anything we’ve sent in recent years, it just means none of the ones I do like are particularly special to me, including this year. I’m glad to see people are so hyped for our song this year, and Sam seems like a very nice guy and is very clearly a fantastic performer, but the song itself just doesn’t do anything for me sadly.
Kind of in line with what I said for desired British artists at Eurovision, I feel like the UK can only be actually exciting again by giving variety – utilising artists of different genres, languages, and backgrounds to keep everyone on their toes. I want to hear a UK entry that on first listen makes me think “I was not expecting this!”. We know the era of Swedish song writing camp days are over for securing success in Eurovision; authentic, different & to the artist is in, and I want the UK to reflect that cos I *know* that we could totally do it if we wanted. Obviously our cultural attitude to Eurovision plays a big part as to why we’re playing so safely (and, imo, very blandly) at Eurovision, and I have a feeling it’s gonna be a while before we get to anything sort of productive positive change.
I really have no clue what our chances are this year. Of course there’s a lot of hype and the UK are still doing surprisingly well in the betting odds, but I just have this feeling that it’s not gonna turn out like we’re all hoping/wanting. That could also just be me being a proper anti-patriotic spoilsport, lol.
Who was your winner for Eurovision 2021? What made them special to you?
At the time of the contest it was 'Tout l’univers', but nowadays it’s 'SHUM'. I realised it was the latter as it’s the one I’ve kept going back to the most post-contest, and I feel like the overall package in the shows just worked so much more than 'Tout l’univers'. I guess 'SHUM' is a good example of three particular musical things I actively search for – non-English, fast, and Electro. The build-up of the tempo is just *so* good and captivating, 'SHUM' does a really good job of making me itch for more before that final BANG of the now super fast tempo. And staging-wise, it did a very good job at being both somehow being very energetic and erratic, and also very still. It’s also just very aesthetically pleasing staging, with the light rings, the neon green jacket, and the sparkly beings running in the background.
I believe you’ve been to Eurovision! Tell us about the experience.
Yes! I went to the 2018 contest in Lisbon, and it was one of the best weeks of my life. I still feel very lucky that 2018 was, in my opinion, very strong song-wise so I got to have a lot of fun experiencing so many fantastic artists performing so many fantastic songs in person. I went with my mum, and we stayed in a 5th floor apartment with no lift, only stairs, so after a week of non-stop walking up stairs, standing for hours in queues & shows, and climbing those hilly streets, we both developed chronic hip pain. Honestly? Worth it.
Particular memories from that time which stand out are: seeing the performances of 'Fuego' & 'Viszlát nyár' in the arena for the first time (so much fire!!!!), having so many people come up to me during the shows as I’d brought the trans flag with me and wanted to take pics/learn more about it, meeting so many wonderful Eurofans from all over the world, almost getting crushed at Wiwijam by Eleni Foureira’s entourage & stans, as well at the same gig getting a picture with Benjamin Ingrosso where I am so clearly drunk I have hidden the picture deep in my laptop in shame. Also: shout out to pastéis de nata for being so yummy & cheap.
~I was there too! I wonder if we crossed paths? However, I was not there with my mum, which was a good thing - both for me and for my mum. (Mark)
Do you follow national final season? If so, which national final do you look forward to the most?
I do! I first started following the national final season for the 2017 contest after getting introduced to other countries’ national selection shows in early 2016 via the hype of 'Cool Me Down'. I think the first show I watched was Belarus’ NF, which left me in such a high cos of 'Historyjja majho žyccia' (which I *loved*) winning that NF, but getting to see the drama of the Spanish NF that year live is what really drew me in and got me hooked.
Last week I was watching a twitch stream of a friend who likes Eurovision but doesn’t follow NF season do a ranking of this year’s songs, and I realised just how genuinely heart-breaking a hobby following NF season can be! Especially in a year like this one where for me a lot of my favourites, or even just songs I liked, did not win their NF. It’s tough, but the camaraderie & community that comes with live-tweeting during the shows is always so much fun for me and makes the pain of faves losing worth it.
It’s difficult with determining a favourite NF because every year is so different, and in the span of two years the same NF can have so many great songs one year, and then be an absolute dud the next. But if we’re opening up the definition of a NF, I’d say the one that I’ve become more invested in in recent years is Sanremo. There’s just something about the collective mind-losing everyone that follows Sanremo all the way through experiences, and the juxtaposition it gives between being so serious & high-class one moment, and then being absolutely chaotic the next, just makes it an absolutely fun (if incredibly exhausting) show to follow. Also, the standard of the songs is just *chef’s kiss* so good.
Though, I should bring up, in the last few years, UMK has consistently brought me the song that would’ve been my #1 for the Eurovision year had the song won… “had” being the key word here. 3rd year in a row now this has happened. Part of me wants UMK to be really rubbish next year so I don’t get hurt again, lol.
Have you got a frontrunner in the 2022 Contest yet? What song do you think has what it takes to win the trophy in Turin?
In terms of who is my favourite, my views seem to change depending on my mood. But I keep going round between 3 different songs – 'Halo', 'saudade, saudade', and, um, 'Give That Wolf a Banana'. My brain’s a bit all over the place at the moment, lol.
In terms of who I think will win, I have this feeling we’re gonna experience our first consecutive repeat win of this century. I don’t feel that 'Brividi' has the full package as such (this is pre-rehearsals so it’s obviously very hard to tell at this point), but I feel Italy will win more due to the rest of the songs not having nearly as much of a strong package as they do. And to be honest, Italy doesn’t really *need* that much beyond Mahmood & Blanco just doing what they’ve been doing well already – performing the song. But I am mentally preparing myself for literally anything happening, cos this does feel like the most open year in a very long time.
Imagine for us your perfect Eurovision: where is it held? Who is competing? What dramas or controversies take place? Who wins?
Where: Malta (ignoring lack of appropriate infrastructure) for hot weather, cheap & small place reasons. Beissoul & Einius for Lithuania, with a song like Drama Boy. Erika Vikman or Vesala for Finland. Madame for Italy. Denise Chaila for Ireland. The UK has sent Yws Gwynedd with a song like Sebona Fi. There can be another country that’ll satiate my desire for a rave at some point. No dramas or controversies – I want a nice, simple & happy Eurovision please. In this scenario I guess with it being in Malta that means they won the year before, so I’d want either another country that hasn’t won or a country that hasn’t won in a good while. Therefore – Spain wins. To see a Spanish win in this day and age would *amazing*.
Which Eurovision song:
Is the best winner?
Has the best live vocal?
'Rise Like a Phoenix'
Robbed of winning? 'Soldi'. Robbed of qualifying? 'Cipela' (*still* bitter about it).
Has the best staging?
'Nocturne'. I know staging back then wasn’t as complicated as it is now, but my god is it strong.
Is your guilty pleasure?
'Teenage Life'. Maybe it’s the nostalgia talking, but it’s actually quite a good song!
Is your favourite National Final song (that didn't make it to Eurovision)?
'Lay Your Love on Me' by BWO.
Are you paying attention to the American Song Contest yet? What do you make of it?
I watched the first qualifying round show, but as someone who tries their damnedest to avoid adverts as much as possible, I just cannot bring myself to experience 30 ad breaks in the span of 2 hours at 2am local time ever again. I have listened to the songs since without watching the shows and they’re… fine? Beyond 'New Boot Goofin’', none have particularly piqued my interest. As well, chaotic life has led me to needing to go to bed a lot earlier on Monday nights, so even if I wanted to watch it I’d have missed it anyway.
I will say that Kelly Clarkson & Snoop Dogg are great hosts, I would love to see them get involved in Proper Eurovision this year in some way!
What will you be doing to celebrate Eurovision this year? Eg. Having a party? Going to the contest?
I had planned to go to Turin for the contest this year, I even riskily booked accommodation at a place 5 mins walk away from what turned out to be the eventual venue way back in June last year, but the ticket prices & general lack of interest in this year’s selection of songs made me go against it in the end. I was able to get a full refund on accommodation, so I’m not fully disappointed.
This year, the final is the day before my birthday (being a May baby as a Eurofan is always such a nice treat), so I’m gonna celebrate with a Eurovision party with my mates, get drunk, and have it be a joint birthday party at the same time! So I’ll be doing *something*, which is nice!
~A Eurovision birthday!? How fabulous. Better make it up a costume party too! I presume we're invited? :P (Mark)
Thank you SO much for your time Josie and enjoy Eurovision 2022!