Meet the ESCXTRA team! Part 37 – ALEXI

Meet Alexi, who wrote his undergraduate thesis on the Eurovision Song Contest!


I’m a 22-year-old University College London graduate and freelance journalist based in London. A Eurovision fanatic, I wrote my undergraduate thesis on how the Song Contest can be used by authoritarian states as a cultural diplomacy tool. Alongside Eurovision, my other passions include travel, Southeast Asian affairs and Fulham Football Club!

Your first Eurovision memory?

My first memory of watching the contest was the 2006 final when I was 10; specifically Daz Sampson’s obscure performance for the United Kingdom…

However, my first memory of Eurovision was actually not watching the show itself, but instead my parents telling me that the UK had scored nul points with Gemini in 2003. It has been a rollercoaster love affair since then!

Your Eurovision Journey?

I find that my passion for Eurovision is something that I find hard to explain – it kind of just happened. Our family is obsessed with it and religiously watch it each year, with recent Grand Final viewings including the host country’s cuisine. I’ve always loved watching it, and found that each year I get more and more engrossed in the build up to it.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more interested in the national finals and selections and my Spotify leading up to May is filled with mostly Eurovision entries. Myself and a close friend have attended the recent Eurovision: You Decide national finals, in addition to the London Eurovision Party. There is nothing better than watching Eurovision with a cinema full of fans!

London Eurovision Party 2019.
London Eurovision Party 2019

Why is Eurovision special to you?

First and foremost, I think the Grand Final is a brilliant, engrossing piece of live television. Very few events draw such a viewership with such high production values and I think it makes for a fascinating watch every year.

What I really love about Eurovision though would have to be its celebration of music, nations, people and Europe (plus Australia). For three hours one Saturday in May, by and large, national arguments and tensions are put aside and countries across Europe can friendlily compete for douze points, showcasing their music while they do so. Its ability to bring people, countries and fans together is what makes Eurovision such a brilliant unifying event.

What attracted you to ESCXTRA?

I had been keen for some time to focus my journalistic pursuits on something that I had a passion for, and engross myself even more in the world of Eurovision. ESCXTRA seemed like the perfect fit!

I have used the site for years as a key source of my Eurovision news and opinions, and when the chance arose to apply, I jumped at it. With it’s large network of writers across Europe, I’ve always thought ESCXTRA as a important platform for Eurovision news. Not only knowledgable and great writers, the team has also been super welcoming so I can’t wait to get started!

And finally, your top 5 Eurovision songs of all-time?

As a relatively young viewer, my favourites tend to be those in the recent contests with one country in particular dominating the top two…

5. Ruslana – Wild Dances

I only vaguely remember watching this win in 2004, but in recent years it has solidified itself as one of my favourites. I find it to be a winning formula of contemporary pop and Ukrainian traditional music, performed brilliantly live by Ruslana.

4. Poli Genova – If Love Was a Crime

When this came on at the London Eurovision Party after-party, it was met with a huge roar! A fan favourite, ILWAC is one of my most listened to Eurovision entries on Spotify. It’s so, so catchy.

3. Emmelie de Forest – Only Teardrops

I honestly think this to be the most under appreciated winner of recent times. Performed amazingly live on the night of the final, Only Teardrops could have been a hit even without the platform of Eurovision thanks to its contemporary, chart friendly chorus. It has been sadly forgotten since 2013.

2. Francesco Gabbani – Occidentali’s Karma

This smashed its way to the top of my personal Eurovision favourites when it was released in 2017 and I am still upset that it couldn’t place higher at the final. Super catchy and very memorable, Occidentali’s Karma‘s brilliance lies in the fact it is actually a shrewd critique of western culture and oriental appropriation, disguised as a pop song with a monkey costume…

1. Mahmood – Soldi

This has been on repeat on my Spotify ever since Mahmood won Sanremo in February. Soldi is smart, cool and instantly an ear worm. A deeply personal song, it became a huge hit not just in Italy, but across the world upon its release. I can’t stop listening to it!

Stay tuned for the next part in our Meet the ESCXTRA team series! Remember, you can share your Eurovision stories with us in the comments section below or via the comments sections on our Facebook page @ESCXTRA. We would love to hear them!

Alexi Demetriadi

My name is Alexi and I'm a UCL graduate studying for a MSc at the University of Edinburgh! A fanatic of the Eurovision Song Contest, I did my undergraduate thesis on the show. A freelance journalist, my writing tends to focus on human rights and current affairs, and now, Eurovision!
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