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Meet the ESCXTRA Team! – Timothy

Read to learn about ESCXTRA's team member, Timothy!

Timothy Holdiness
Hey y’all, I’m Timothy, a 28 year old born and raised in Louisiana, United States. I work full time as a Retina Technician at a major eye care clinic in North Louisiana and write in my free time.

My Eurovision Journey
I first learned of the Eurovision Song Contest in May 2014 when I was looking through one of my favorite news sites, The Week, and read an article announcing the win of Conchita Wurst from Austria. I then spent months filling myself in with all of the past winners and found many favorites in the thousands of songs performed at Eurovision. Immediately I became a fan of the use of original logos for each contest and still find it one of the best parts each year.

As a novice, I checked the Eurovision 2015 Wikipedia page daily until the first semifinal. As I hadn’t figured out the intense national finals yet, I spent the days listening to songs as they were announced as official entries. Mans Zelmerlow was my predicted winner and watching him win on the YouTube stream increased my love of the contest. My top 3 favorites were Knez, Maaraya, and Voltaj, though it was so hard to choose. I joined many Eurovision Facebook groups and found a home with Europhoria, where I later became part of the admin team.

My obsession with Eurovision grew in the buildup to the 2016 contest when I began reading more fan news sites and following the national finals. My mp3 player was full of the hundreds of national final songs. It wasn’t easy for me to pick a favorite that year as I loved mostly all the songs. Minus One, Jüri Pootsmann, and Donny Montell filled my top 3. As soon as I saw Jamala’s semifinal performance I knew she was going to be the winner. The voting sequence had my heart beating out of my chest.

By 2017 I felt I knew what to expect from the contest with Artsvik, Joci Pápai, and Dihaj being my top 3. I noticed lots of fans stating that this was the least quality year, though I loved all the songs. That years contest showed me how controversial and complicated the contest could be. There were many news stories of the difficulty Ukraine had hosting. When Salvador Sobral won it astounded everyone as he truly was a dark horse. My first unexpected winner.

When it got to be 2018, my opinions on songs changed greatly. I learned how to become more critical of what I like in a Eurovision song and how I ranked them. Cesar Sampson, The Humans, and Benjamin Ingrosso comprised my top 3. Regrettably I doubted myself in my likes due to The Humans not qualifying, then was overjoyed with Cesar placing third.

In 2019 I felt like a Eurovision veteran. I had been watching the contest for 5 years and spent hours pouring over all of the entries. I was certain Mahmood would win, with Zena and Tamara Todevska finishing out my top 3. This contest truly captured my full attention and Mahmood placing second made me feel upset and encouraged to keep supporting the songs I loved.

As with everyone, I was devastated that the 2020 contest was canceled after all songs were chosen and released. Spending the year separated from family and friends due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I thankfully had my Eurovision friends and family to keep me company. To this day I still feel certain that The Roop would have won the contest, with Montaigne and Benny Cristo being the rest of my top 3.

After nearly two years of no Grand Final, once it finally arrived in 2021, I felt like I had been part of history. With so many returning artists it was incredible to see how it turned out after everyone had so much time to perfect their entry. It was absolutely an amazing year and was full of quality songs. My top three included Vincent Bueno, Tix, and Manizha. I happened to start following Maneskin several years earlier and was overjoyed with their win.

The most recent contest at the time of writing this, 2022, was full of emotions for me. I had begun sharing my love for Eurovision with friends and even strangers. Anyone I met that was from Europe and asked their opinions on the contest. Few actually watched the contest with some saying they watched with their families as children. I was finishing my second undergraduate degree and still spent so much time listening to the songs and keeping up with the artists. Several of my friends even followed along with me. My top 3 last year was WRS, Zdob si Zdub, and Amanda Tenjford.

As the 2023 contest is less than a month away, I’m incredibly proud of myself for how far I have come as a writer and beginning my career as a Eurovision news writer. Having a contest be hosted by someone other than the previous winner is a first for me. Watching all of the national finals and writing articles announcing results has furthered my love and enthusiasm for the contest. Currently, my top 3 is Käärijä, Blanca Paloma, and Andrew Lambrou, though everything could change up until the day of the first semifinal.

Eurovision is special to me!
I find that the Eurovision Song Contest is special to me because it brings together two of my favorite things. Music and Competition! I am very competitive so being able to keep up to date with all Eurovision information and enjoy the voting sequences is what keeps me going. Watching my favorites perform, whether they do good or bad, it always feels like a fever dream. Eurovision is so special to me that during a Python coding course at my University, I created a program that can show any years entries, scores, and even a bar graph of the final results, all of which was pulled directly from Wikipedia through the Python server.

Why write for ESCXTRA?
Once I began my writing career, I wrote numerous Letters to the Editor to my local newspapers. I then began writing for my university newspaper, The Current Sauce. That is where I really honed my writing skills. Soon after I applied to write for ESCXTRA. It was just over a year before I heard back and eagerly agreed to join the team, even after being offered positions with other Eurovision news sites. I feel that I made the right decision as I have enjoyed my time being part of the ESCXTRA team.

All time Top 5!
This is such a hard thing to narrow down. I first considered only choosing popular entries, then decided to share the songs that are my favorite to listen to at any time, bring me joy, and of course I can sing along to every word. I will start with number 5.

5. Moje 3 – Ljubav je svuda (Serbia) 2013
With this song, I am entranced. Yes I know that at the contest their performance was less than stellar. Though the song is still such a bop.

4. Ott Lepland – Kuula (Estonia) 2012
This song had so much intense emotion that there is no way I can’t love it. I could listen to this song on repeat all day. It wasn’t originally a favorite of mine until recently.

3. Mahmood & Blanco – Brividi (Italy) 2022
This is the most recent song to be in my top 5. The song portrays such emotion and notes that it gives me chills every time I listen. I was a bit disappointed by the final performance of this song, though that changes nothing about my love for it.

2. Chiara – The One That I Love (Malta) 1998
When watching past contests, I became obsessed with this song. Seeing the jump around the top places at the 1998 contest had me enthralled. I still think it should have won. It was such a powerful and tender song.

1. Sebnem Pakar – Dinle (Turkey) 1997
Now this song is my all time favorite. Her voice is so pure. Everything about this is perfect. She should be regarded as the greatest songstress of the contest. When I show friends the contest, this is one of the first I show them. I could listen to it anytime and still feel the way I did the first time listening.

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