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Meet the ESCXTRA team! – Isabella

Read to learn more about ESCXTRA's newest team member, Isabella!

Isabella Tang

Hey everyone, my name is Isabella and I’m 21 years old. I reside in Melbourne, Australia and am currently pursuing a Juris Doctor. Academics aside, I also love cooking and am a devoted tennis and Rafael Nadal fan! I hope you enjoy reading my meet the team article!

Feel free to follow me on Instagram at @isabella.tang1001.

Your first Eurovision memory

I first heard about Eurovision admittedly later than I would have liked because I honestly can’t imagine my life without it. My first Eurovision memory was through a video announcing that Dami Im would be Australia’s representative for Eurovision in 2016 (case in point below).

Now, I knew Dami since 2013 when she won X-Factor Australia so the fact that she’d be representing my country on a global stage was super exciting. I was wowed by her voice and song but was curious as to what her competition would be like. So, I looked up the songs and countries that would be competing that year in what was titled a “Top 20-something Eurovision songs 2016” video on YouTube. Little did I know that I would soon spiral into a rabbit hole of watching many “Top 43” videos and become sucked into the wonderful world of Eurovision.

Your Eurovision journey

I’m disappointed that Eurovision wasn’t a part of my life prior to 2016, but upon discovering it, I have followed the contest more and more closely each year, as there is always something new to discover.

2016 – Where it all began!

The 2016 contest is special to me, because it was the first contest that I watched live whilst knowing the songs almost back to front. In addition, it was also the year that Dami won the jury vote, so I felt an overwhelming sense of pride being a part of that. In hindsight, I also discovered that it was the first time that the jury and televote results were announced separately, which definitely made the announcement of the results more nerve-wracking. Even though “Sound of Silence” wasn’t my favourite song that year, the idea of Eurovision being hosted by Australia really excited me. Even though it probably wouldn’t be held in Australia if we did win one day, Dami’s almost-win just made me excited about the prospect of attending Eurovision in person, as it is my dream to watch the live show.

Source: Mediaweek.au

2017 – Discovering National Finals

The following year, I decided that I wanted to explore the National Finals season more in depth as I had only learnt about it after reading about “robberies” and comments such as “person A should have won instead!”. I quickly realised just how significant the National Finals season from late December to March was. However, many of these National Finals occurred in the early hours of the morning, so I wasn’t too sure whether I’d be willing to watch. Yet all it took was a video of the Melodifestivalen stage. I was gobsmacked at the effort Sweden put into their staging, lighting, songs and production. I remember loving Mariette’s “A Million Years” that year and was salty that she didn’t win. This was just the start of a feeling that I would experience for the many National Finals that followed.

2018-2020 National Finals favourites

If I had to mention some of my favourite songs that I wish made it to Eurovision, I’d definitely include Annalisa’s “Il mondo prima di te” (Italy 2018), Sara De Blue’s “Out of the Twilight” (San Marino 2018) and Monique’s “Make Me Human” (Lithuania 2020). I’d also like to give a special mention to MARUV who really deserved to represent Ukraine with “Siren Song” at Eurovision 2019.

To this day, particularly from January to May, Eurovision has always been on my mind and I don’t plan to change that. Even though my personal winner for the contests that I’ve watched live has only won once (in 2021!), the excitement, sadness, stress and love that I feel for this contest motivates me to immerse myself in it year upon year.

Why is Eurovision special to you?

From a young age, I was always obsessed with countries and their cultures. In my spare time, I spent hours on Google Maps, looking at the street views of countries that I wanted to explore one day. Even in high school, Geography was my favourite subject.

Music has also always been a passion of mine, as I’ve played the piano and violin from an early age, sung in choirs and been a part of orchestras, which has broadened my musical tastes. There’s probably no genre out there that I wouldn’t be open to listening to.

In addition, even though I was born and bred in Australia, I have European roots. My mum is Croatian, and I have other relatives who reside in Serbia, Romania and Germany. For these reasons, I was naturally drawn to Eurovision because it is a perfect combination of my interests and heritage.

What attracted you to ESCXTRA?

For many years, I always wanted to do something more with my love for Eurovision and share it with like-minded people. Plus, the added bonus of having the opportunity to interview Eurovision artists was something that I could only dream to do, so I set out to find a way to put my plans into fruition.

Out of all of the Eurovision blogs I’ve read, reaction videos, song reviews and live streams that I’ve watched on YouTube, I was particularly drawn to how ESCXTRA consistently gave honest, bias-free and effortlessly humourous content. Everyone that I watched in videos seemed so knowledgeable, passionate and relatable. Plus, the ESCXTRA website always provided up to date and diverse content. In short, this is why I’m here.

Your top 5 Eurovision songs of all-time?

The following list is by no means in any particular order. Even still, picking out my top five songs was an almost impossible task. The next time you ask this, I’ll probably be begging you to replace one of these songs with something else, and change my meet the team article …

5. Urban Symphony – Rändajad (Estonia 2009)

The 2009 contest was the first year that I watched a replay of after falling in love with the contest. Sandra’s dulcet tones, her enunciation of the Estonian language and Urban Symphony’s atmospheric instrumentalisation puts me in a trance every time I listen to this masterpiece.

4. Måneskin – Zitti E Buoni (Italy 2021)

This song has a special place in my Eurovision heart. Ever since I started closely following the lead up to the contest, my favourites have never won. Yet five long years later, it finally happened. It’s a head-bangingly good song that always keeps you rocking out and on your toes. Plus, the chemistry that Damiano, Victoria, Ethan and Thomas all share really elevates their performance to a whole new level. Case in point below!

3. The Common Linnets – Calm After the Storm (The Netherlands 2014)

Waylon and Ilse’s harmonisations, stunning vocals, the minimalist staging and Waylon’s guitar riffs contribute to my love for this song. It really is a clear example of “less is more”. I was drawn to it instantly during my discovery of previous Eurovision songs and it’s likely that this song will remain in my top 5 for a long time. 

2. Yohanna – Is it True (Iceland 2009) 

As much as I love “Fairytale”, I still can’t get over the fact that this didn’t win. The magic that Yohanna manages to capture in three minutes is astounding. Her beautiful voice (and super on-point vocals!), the melody and THAT key change really makes this entry something special. It is definitely still a song that I go back and listen to frequently.

1. Mørland & Deborah Scarlet – A Monster Like Me (Norway 2015)

The beautiful harmonies that Mørland and Deborah Scarlett create give me goose bumps each time I listen to it. The conversational nature of the song adds depth to it and ultimately leads to the unforgettable bridge and final chorus where everything comes together. The music video for this song is an absolute masterpiece too. The only question I still have 6 years later is what “terrible thing” did Mørland do in his early youth? I guess we’ll never know.

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