Before September 1 hits and we get sucked into everything Eurovision/Junior Eurovision, we wanted to take the opportunity to give our readers a chance to get to the TES Team a bit better. There’s no better way to do this other than to do a series where we introduce ourselves. Next up is Helen, one of our news and podcast contributors.
Hello! This is America calling!
It’s me, Helen – your resident Michigander residing in Leeds, United Kingdom (if you listen to the podcast, you’ll have already heard my Midwest twang). I am the rare breed of American Eurovision fan that was watching before Logo got the rights in 2016. I’ve been trying to get my family and friends into the contest for YEARS – but I’m happy to have found my people here at ‘THAT’ Eurovision Site. When I’m not talking about Eurovision, you can probably catch me tweeting about film, gymnastics, figure skating, and all things British vs. American.
Name: Helen Groothuis
My First Eurovision Discovery
I first discovered Eurovision back in 2014 during my freshman year of college (first year of uni, etc.). I was into One Direction and a few British people on Twitter were posting things about Eurovision – mainly pictures of Conchita Wurst. Someone sent me a link to the show and tuned in halfway through – my first Eurovision entry I saw in full was Twin Twin’s “Moustache” for France (which, now that I think about it, could not have been a better encapsulation for what I was about to get into). I watched Conchita clean up in the voting, and immediately resolved to watch the next year’s contest when it was on. I stuck to my word and caught the WHOLE Grand Final in 2015 and 2016.
When I Became a Eurofan
2017! I watched the semi-finals for the first time and got my heart broken by my favourites not getting through. This was also the first year that I bought the Eurovision album (and listened to it on my car radio day in and day out). After 2017 was over, I knew I needed to keep up with the contest year-round. And so began my deep-dive into Eurovision history and looking forward to artist announcments, learning about the national finals, subscribing to podcasts – and starting my work shifts two hours earlier so I could watch ESC 2018 in the afternoons. I even made this fun video to try and get more Americans to watch:
How Did Eurovision Change My Life?
Eurovision truly changed my life in so many ways. For one, since my birthday is in late May, it really is the icing on the cake in terms of celebrating! I’ve met so many new friends through Eurovision, including my colleagues here, and of course, my iTunes library is at least one-third of Eurovision songs at this point. But the biggest thing that Eurovision has changed is my cultural awareness of what goes on outside the United States. America tends to be pretty insular in terms of its own culture, but Eurovision has opened up (haha) my eyes to what is going on in the wider world in terms of culture and music. I’ve heard so many languages on the Eurovision stage that I would not have heard otherwise. I often pitch Eurovision to my fellow Americans as a really fun world studies class. All this, and I can also now name countries on a map of Europe better than anyone else in the States I know…
Favourite Eurovision Songs and Countries
Oh boy, where to start. I have several favourites, but one that means so much to me is Lithuania’s 2018 entry “When We’re Old” by Ieva Zasimauskaite. Something about just hits me right in the feels and it has such a wonderful sentiment. It should be up there with the best wedding songs – I even almost walked down the aisle to this song at my own wedding! Aside from this, my favourites are pretty late-2010s’-heavy, but here are a few:
- 🇱🇹 Lithuania (2018) Ieva Zasimauskaite with “When We’re Old”
- 🇬🇧 United Kingdom (2017) Lucie Jones with “Never Give Up On You”
- 🇪🇸 Spain (2019) Miki with “La Venda”
- 🇮🇪 Ireland (2020) and (2021) – “Story of My Life” and “Maps” by Lesley Roy
- 🇦🇲 Armenia (2020) Athena Manoukian with “Chains On You”
Favourite National Final Songs
I have to say that I don’t have a lot of favourite national final songs because…well…I haven’t really watched many national finals. For me, I want to wait until after the songs are selected for Eurovision to get invested in them. I don’t really want to listen to a Eurovision song with the baggage of knowing it beat something else in the national final (looking at you, Norway 2021). That being said, I did watch the Melfest final for the first time this year and really enjoyed The Mamas’ performance of “In the Middle” – they’ll get to Eurovision eventually if I have anything to say about it!
Looking Forward to the Next Eurovision Season
Oh boy, what am I NOT looking forward to? Come hell or high water, my and my husband will get to our first ever Eurovision in person in Italy next year! We were going to go to Rotterdam and take a heritage trip (I’m part Dutch) but then 2020 happened. Aside from that, I’m so excited to cover the upcoming season with the TES team! It’s been so great to meet everyone and have a group of friends I can chat Eurovision with. Bring on [insert city here] 2022!
What do you think of Helen’s favourite songs? Want to learn more about our team? Let us know in the comments below or on social media. Be sure to follow ‘THAT Eurovision Site’ on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.