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Eurovision Fan of the Week - Martin from the UK

Welcome to our Fan of the Week series, where every Friday we meet one of the fabulous people who make up our beloved Eurovision fandom.

This week, we get to know Martin (@LMBTOEurovision) from Bristol in the United Kingdom.

Born just 35 days before the UK claimed its very first Eurovision title, Martin has been a close follower of the contest for as long as he can remember. He shares that joy with other fans on via his very own radio program and blog, and has even had the honour of moonlighting as an Eesti Laul act. Let's learn more! Thank you for being our Aussievision fan of the week, Martin! Tell us a little about yourself:

Born in 1967, pharmacist by profession, partner Ellen for 26 years, two cats (Jasmine and Lexi), Eurovision is my fun/hobby/passion (plus listening to other music and comedy on tv). The other unusual thing about me is that I have been alive for all five UK Eurovision winning entries (at the 1967 Contest I was just 35 days old!)

How did you get into Eurovision? What was the first year you watched? 1975: I was eight, starting watching with my parents as a family activity, first ESC act seen was Teach-In and 'Ding-A-Dong', and the first UK entry was 'Let Me Be The One' by The Shadows. We as the UK still did well then and it was a massive event. The title of the UK entry is now part of my Eurovision life (see below!)

Who is your favourite Eurovision performance and why? Marie Myriam - 'L’oiseau et l’enfant' (France, 1977). France's last winning song at Eurovision and it was a masterclass in how to deliver a French language ballad. I still am amazed how she starts her vocals with no accompanying music, is pitch perfect throughout and has a joyous enthusiasm that made her stand out from the rest, at odds with her outsider status that year. To me, she sounds like an angel and the backing singers gave the perfect accompaniment to this powerful and melodic ballad, with such beautiful lyrics.

Who was your 2021 winner? What made them the best in your eyes? Måneskin were a dream winner for Eurovision PR wise, but my personal favourite in 2021 was France’s Barbara Pravi with 'Voilà'. Right from the moment I saw her perform for the first time at ‘Eurovision France, c'est vous qui décidez!’, I was blown away by everything - the song, the music, Barbara’s vocals and delivery, the minimalist staging with black and white lighting and the ‘birds on the floor’, together with the extreme passion of the whole piece. In Rotterdam, adding the moving camera in front of her face took this to a whole new level. A chanson that appealed to a 2021 audience and now an artist who I am following via her music. I'll even have the privilege of seeing her perform in London in a fortnight!

What UK artist would you love to see go to Eurovision, and why? What’s a song of theirs you think showcases what they could do at the Contest?

To be honest, I have been around for so long now to realise that being the UK act is viewed as ‘poison’ to almost all our ‘big acts’, unless they are looking for a comeback like Blue. Personally I would have continued what we did for one year only - use 'BBC Introducing' to find new talent like Molly in 2014, but give them the backing needed AFTER Eurovision - as in play their music for a year on a suitable radio station that matches their genre. My other thought is that ITV take over the selection of the act as they can promote the winner properly, and BBC just show the event. Which national final do you look forward to the most? What makes it special? Estonia - not only is Eesti Laul the one foreign National Final I have been to (more below!) but the mix of established acts and new ones each year, together with a variety of genres, makes it a must see for me. Having the additional video round this year added a new dimension to proceedings; hopefully something that will be kept for next year. Finland - last year changed how I viewed UMK and I loved it! The quality of artists and songs, the actual show itself and the fact that it had the best English commentary that I have heard anywhere, has made this another must see for me. Given that I have a weekly radio show and blog to maintain, keeping up to date with all the NFs is a must! Australia looks pretty good act wise yet again…

~Australia Decides IS great this year - so hard to pick a favourite. I struggled with the UMK selection this year but maybe I'll give the songs another listen and report back! (Mark)

So, how did you end up at Eesti Laul - and what was it like?

Let’s complete the Estonian journey - the Final of Eesti Laul 2017 was my 50th birthday, so Ellen and I went to Tallinn for a holiday, plus watching Kerli battle it out with Koit/Laura from the Restaurant of Saku Suurhall! I also had my first press pass ever, so got to chat with Kerli AND helped out in the dress rehearsal as a stand-in juror! What a 50th Birthday! I have also attended the UK National Finals in 2016 (Joe & Jake), 2017 (Lucie Jones) and 2018 (SuRie), all different venue sizes and acoustics, but you have to try to get to your own NF, haven’t you? First one was probably the best - lots of variety in acts, most intimate venue (O2 Kentish Town, North London), and most fun as it was effectively a reboot. ~What a way to spend your 50th! All class - and a voice to die for. You know 90s fashion is back because that exact outfit could easily make a reappearance in 2022. (Mark) You’re a bit of a regular on the Euro-radio and TV circuit. Tell us about where we can find you talking about all things Eurovision.

LET ME BE THE ONE is the name of my weekly radio show and blog. The radio started in 2018 and blog in 2013. The radio show is on every Tuesday evening at 9pm CET for two hours on Bradley Stoke Radio in the UK, covering everything to do with news and interviews from Eurovision and associated events, news and entries from the National Final season, plus new releases from artists linked to the Contest. All the shows are on Mixcloud. The blog is used to accompany the show and expands on what went on, with the playlist and Mixcloud to catch-up, plus my thoughts on the current crop of Eurovision entries and what goes on during the Eurovision fortnight. You can follow me at @LMBTOEurovision on Twitter and Facebook, and @LMBTO_Eurovision on Insta. The other place you can find me is on the YouTube channel ESC FAN TV, giving my thoughts on their Eurovision review shows.

You’ve attended Eurovision as part of the press pool. That must be a pretty amazing experience! 2019 was my only time at the venue itself - I was in Tel Aviv as part of the AUSTRALIAN press pack, having got my pass via a collaboration with ESC FAN TV and my radio show. I was delighted to support Kate Miller-Heidke at the Expo Tel Aviv and it was a privilege to be able to attend the rehearsals, being up close to those huge poles and see her and Strange Fruit perform. As I have only been press at the venue once, I have nothing to compare with but it was an incredible experience to be in the press centre, to be able to ask questions at the press conferences and to also be able to go to Euroclub! Bucket list ticked off for seeing Darude play ‘Sandstorm’! The Orange Carpet was probably the press highlight for me - getting to take pictures close-up of the artists and chat with them was an experience that I hope to repeat sometime soon - Kate looked amazing with her crown but most memorable was seeing Conan Osiris bamboozle a reporter with an answer to their question and the Portuguese Head of Press trying desperately not to laugh! 2021 saw me as UK press online for Rotterdam - a really novel experience and one that meant that I wrote almost a blog article a day and produced six radio shows! You are always busier at home! Hopefully I will be able to attend my second venue as press in Turin. ~The access is amazing! I was lucky to be press in Kyiv and Lisbon, and loved the experience. Will never forget asking Eleni to explain the lyric "Got my pelican fly-fly-flying". Spoiler: it means "going up". (Mark)

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

I would go for three acts from 2021 as I want them to be relevant now, not use old Eurovision entries as a history lesson - that can come later when they are hooked! First of course would be Måneskin with 'Zitti e Buoni', as they will have heard of them and the whole package was absolutely amazing visually and musically. Second - Barbara Pravi with 'Voilà', to give a modern take on what a traditional Eurovision entry is like, the French chanson that perhaps non-fans will have heard about. Third one I would go for would be Blind Channel and 'Dark Side' - a musical style and sound that would be familiar to them from radio and chart music. No novelty entries from me - I want to show that Eurovision is a great show, has incredible singers and performers and is no longer 20 years out of date!

The notorious rapid-fire round is upon us. When you're ready tell us which Eurovision song:

  • Is the best winner? (I think we know this already!) Marie Myriam - 'L’oiseau et l’enfant'

  • Has the best live vocal? Having experienced this live at my first Eurovision as a fan in Lisbon, it has to be the power and beauty of tone from Elina Nechayeva with 'La Forza'. She filled every part of the Altice Arena with her voice - I was proud to be in the audience listening to her sing.

  • Is your favourite Australian entry so far? That has to be Kate with 'Zero Gravity' - from the moment I heard it for the first time on release, I fell in love with her voice, the change from opera to EDM, and when I saw it performed at the Gold Coast? Wow, and that was just with the tall dress! I had never heard her music before 2019 - I follow everything she does now avidly. ~I tend to agree with you. Most Australians would still say Sound of Silence, but Kate brought the vision, the artistry and the voice! (Mark)

  • Was robbed? I went through a three year phase of my favourite entry each year not making the Final and all three could be included here. Laura Rizzotto with ‘Funny Girl’ for Latvia in 2018 and Greta Salome with 'Hear Them Calling' for Iceland in 2016 are two, but of all of those, the one that I still cannot believe did not make the final and is one of my all time top ten ESC songs ever is 'Blackbird' by Norma John for Finland in 2017. Absolutely beautiful and perfect to my ears - I don’t like the phrase ‘was robbed’ but this time, I agree. ~Martin, are we Euro-soulmates? Because 'Blackbird' is one my favourite Eurovision songs of all time too! I will never forget being at their semi-final and telling the people around me they were my favourite. The laughed/were confused - that's when I realised Norma John were in strife *sad face* (Mark)

  • Is your guilty pleasure? Easy - LT United with 'We Are The Winners' in 2006 for Lithuania. I love that it really, REALLY annoyed a lot of fans in Greece but as a football (UK, remember!) fan, the chanting is hypnotic and as ‘troll entries’ go, this is well written, staged and performed. And it makes me smile every time I hear it.

  • Is your favourite National Final song (that didn't make it to Eurovision)? Now this is an oldie and I have had the pleasure of seeing it performed live twice now at a couple of UK events. Ray Caruana was not only part of Live Report but a superb soloist too - he sung 'Scarlet Song' at Malta Song 1994 and came second. It has lyrics that would not have sounded out of place written by Shelley, Keats or Byron - a wonderful song that should have had the opportunity to be heard on the same stage as 'Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids'. I think that Ray would have given Paul and Charlie a run for their money!

We know you love Eurovision. But is there anything about Eurovision you DON’T like? Or something you’d change?

The main thing for me, as someone who has been a fan for decades, before the internet and social media, is that there now is so much negativity about entries, artists, nations, whatever, generated by fans instantly. Since starting my radio show and having the opportunity to meet and interview artists and fans, you realise that these are real people producing the entries, singing the songs, living their life in music and production. Constructive criticism is expected but they don’t need the bitterness and spite that can arise through social media. I have tried now to be more positive over the past few years in my dealings about music generated for Eurovision and I feel a lot better in doing so and hopefully whoever I speak to now does too! Making everyone’s interaction more positive would be what I would love to happen.

~I'm giving this a standing ovation in my living room. Why all the hate and nastiness? So pleased to be part of the team at Aussievision who are all about lifting up the artists and celebrating our Contest. (Mark)

Martin, it's been a pleasure! Looking forward to tuning in to LET ME BE THE ONE - play some Kate Miller-Heidke for me, yeah?


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