Fan interview: Anne Kielland

Our next Eurovision fan watches national finals on bad Wi-Fi from her research trips to Niger if she has to and makes all her family learn the Eurovision songs by heart every year. AND she sings Eurovision songs in a choir. We bow as deep as two women a wee past 20 can as we present Anne Kielland to you:

– Name, age, occupation, where are you from?

– Anne Kielland, I’m a researcher at the research foundation Fafo, and mainly do my research in West Africa. That can be challenging. This year I had to follow the Norwegian and Swedish finals on bad Wi-Fi from Niamey, Niger. The best reception was the hallway corner with the most mosquito. They celebrated with me, to put it like that. My African partners were intrigued. They said Africa should do the same (an “ASC”?). I’d certainly go!

– Why do you love Eurovision?

– I got to experience ABBA’s victory as child, there was something so magical and attractive about the entire event. During my teens, Norwegians got really emotionally involved in our long and painful struggle to find a song that could score more than 0 points. Then the ecstasy when Bobbysocks suddenly won in 1985 – we could not believe our eyes after so many years of losing. Today I love the coming together of people. The feeling that Europe+ can put differences aside, and just have fun, together. I also love the happy crazy of it, Dschinghis Khan, Moldovians with high hats, Euroneuro and Verka Serduchka.

– Tell us about a favorite memory related to Eurovision (Bring it on, we love the goss!)

– First personal: We only sung old ESC entries at our wedding – I share the ESC passion with mu beau. Also personal, perhaps, my darling husband was spotted by German TV outside the arena in Düsseldorf in 2011 (he was easy to spot, wearing an original Bobbysocks jacket from 1985, courtesy of the Norwegian Broadcasting) and we were so excited by the party and all, we discovered we could suddenly speak German. More or less personal: Carrying happy drunken friends through the rainy streets of Copenhagen in 2014 after surviving that terrible boat ride from the arena, we felt so alive: Conchita Wurst had won, both Russians and Belarussians had voted for her, there was hope for mankind and the world was beautiful.

– Did you meet any Eurovision artists? Who was your favorite encounter and why?

– Aarzemnieki from Latvia had participated with the song “Cake to Bake” in Copenhagen 2014, and we ran into them at the Tivoli Garden in Copenhagen. My then 9-year-old son told them he loved their song, and they sat down and sang it together. So nice. I think they were touched that a young fan knew their song by heart. What they did not know was that he knew all the songs by heart. We all do in our family. We sing in the car until we know them all. Then we sing along in the arena.

– And what Eurovision artist would you invite for dinner if you got to choose freely?

– I’d take one for the team, and invite some of my son’s favorites, possibly Il Volo. They seem fun and unpretentious in a lovely, playful and self-ironic way. They also do a mean version for choir of the old ESC classic Volare. And I like choir. By the way, the Norwegian entry this year, Jowst, seem unusually likable, so they can come by for a snack anytime.

– What is your favorite entry ever?

– Molitva 2007. The Balkan ballade of Balkan ballads. The Balkan wars had ended. Serbia participated for the first time as a new country, hated in Europe, blamed for war and atrocities. But ESC showed what it was made of, what it is capable of, and received the Serbian “Prayer” with open arms and embraced it forcefully. I bet I was not the only one who cried that night.

– What is your favorite entry this year?

– Feels so boring to say Italy, like everybody else, right, and Belgium, of course. I also like France (just a hint of Stromae, no? Just less sad.), Moldovan saxophone guy, the ethnicity of the Hungarian entry (in the absence of a good Balkan ballade this year). My guilty pleasure is Sweden’s “Sleazy Mc Sleazeface and his creepy army”, to cite Wiwibloggs. I primarily love the creepy army, led by fabulous dancer and choreographer Daniel Koivunen.

– What is the ultimate fan behavior?

– Happy, friendly, open, free of prejudice. We cheer for Russia or Israel or anyone we may disagree with politically, because we put people above politics. We read up on the artists. And we know the songs, at least the chorus, and sing along throughout the concert.

– If Eurovision suddenly decided politics were allowed, what would be your first political statement?

– Hahaha! That rule is so poorly enforced. I think it’s lovey that this arena can help promote the rights of LGBT, and I was very touched when András Kállay-Saunders song against domestic violence for Hungary in 2014. Certain human rights are under a lot of pressure in some of the participating countries. However, I think the EBU should be strict on allowing songs that refer to political conflicts between ESC-countries. They crossed a line by allowing the Armenian entry in 2015 (Dear Turks, Don’t deny!), and now look where that has brought us. I loved it when Noa and Mira Awad sung “There must be another way” in Hebrew and Arabic in 2009. Dreaming of the day we will see a Crimean Russian ad a Crimean Ukrainian do the same. Peace and Love.

– Are you going to Kyiv or do you have other plans for the final? What are your expectations?

We are not going, for the first time since Baku. My Choir, Oslo Ø, is hosting a club party showing the finale on widescreen, after performing some of the ESC classics (Eres Tu, Love Shine a Light, Fairytale etc.). We have been practicing all spring. I have great expectations as always, but pray the Ukraine/Russia conflict will not end up suffocating the party.

See Anne Kielland’s Choir Oslo Ø’s version of Love Shine a Light here:

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