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What have you got to say for yourself…Norway?

Posted by Caroline on May 7, 2012

Interview season continues apace, and this time it’s Tooji who wants you to stay (did you see what we did there) and read his thoughts on all things Eurovision…

Introduce yourself and tell us how you ended up representing Norway in Eurovision this year!
My name is Tooji Keshtkar, I’m 24 years old, living and working in Oslo, Norway. I’ve been working with music and songwriting for several years now, and it was actually my manager who suggested that I enter the Norwegian Eurovision Contest 2012. I wrote the song “Stay” in collaboration with the swedish producers Peter Bostrøm and Figge Bostrøm, and was voted the winner of the Norwegian Eurovision contest.

Are you looking forward to going to Baku and what can we expect from your stage show?
I’m very excited about going to Baku! Two words to describe my stage performance: “Explosive Joy” 😉

Norway made a shock early exit from the contest last year in the semi-final, how do you plan to change that this year?
My only plan is to give it my all with love and joy, and hope for the very best.

Which of this year’s other entries do you rate?
My main rival is also the one I love the most, Loreen.

Which is your favourite entry from your home country?
Silya. I loved her song Euphoria and her performance and her personality.

There’s a lot of ballads this year; do you think from that point of view Stay will stand out from the pack?
I think definitely that Stay does stand out with its explosiveness and rockin’ beat.

Here in the UK Eurovision is regarded by many as a bit of a joke, an attitude which a lot of us are trying to change. How is it regarded in Norway?
I think that for many years the views and opinions of Eurovision in Norway was very split between “a joke” and “entertainment”. Generally the Norwegians really do make a big deal of Eurovision. Hopefully with the fresh, new and catchy entries we had this year we managed to raise the bar. The voting in Norway was through the roof which is a great achievement and just reflects how many viewers we had.

Why do you think so many people still love it so much even after all this time? I think the concept of “unknowns” is appealing to the majority of our voters. Someone like me, who has little or no experience, but a lot of talent is able to expose themselves and experience something so big. Also the process of the competition, where voters are brought along the entire journey helps them relate to the performers.

Have you heard the UK entry and what do you think of it, and our somewhat older representative? Any chance of some points? (please…..:))
The UK entry “Love will set you free” is a beautiful song, and I have nothing but respect for Mr Engelbert Humperdinck who has a mature and beautiful voice. My ratings I’d prefer to keep to myself for now 😉

And finally, tell me why Norway should have the chance to host Eurovision in 2013 and which city would you choose to host it? Norway is a beautiful country with a lot of amazing culture. I would love to host Eurovision 2013 in Oslo.


Posted in Eurovision 2012, Eurovision News, Interviews, Norway | 4 Comments »

Shall we do a round-up then?

Posted by Caroline on February 12, 2012

Gosh, sorry for being so behind in the current round of Eurovision mayhem (except we’re not really because you will also notice we are including the results of tonight’s shenanigans here). Once again a little thing called life managed to get in the way of our ability to blog. But anyway, here we are, with a big stack of songs for Baku – beginning with the French effort. Now we rather put our foot in it last year when we suggested that the Gallic opera lad might just walk away with Eurovision honours – only for him to flounder hopelessly as a result of his frightened rabbit appearance on the night. We suspect that the lovely Anggun however will do no such thing with this odd but very likeable effort Echo (You and I). And is it just us or does this have shades of Georgia 2007 about it (which in turn means it has shades of Madonna?) You decide:

And so to Malta, who chose their entry last weekend in their usual understated, short (well by their standards anyway) final – which we once again struggled to make head or tail of. Who was that random woman playing piano at the start? Why did the introduction go on so long? Where was Chiara? How could Claudia Faniello possibly be snubbed again? Should we stop asking questions? Anyway, following a scoring process which was almost as exciting as the contest itself and seemed to feature random people from all over the continent, this man, Kurt Calleja, was chosen with his song This Is The Night. And you know what? Meh. Claudia was better. There’s nothing wrong with this song exactly – and we’ve made it abundantly clear in the past just how much we love Malta’s enthusiasm for all things Eurovision – but this is already shaping up to be a strong year, and we sense this song will struggle to make an impact. Eleventh place in the semi again, maybe?

So that was last week, now on to this week, and let’s start with Hungary.  And having produced one of our favourite songs of 2011 in the shape of Kati Wolf’s What About My Dreams (even if the lady herself – who appeared on tonight’s national final in verbose mode, was mildly terrifying), they haven’t done too badly this year either. This year’s effort is by Compact Disco (which might just be the best name for a band EVER) and is called Sound Of Our Hearts. We quite like it. That is all:

Norway, meanwhile, rejected the charms of folk band Plumbo (possibly because they sound like the sort of people you would call out when your toilet gets blocked) in favour of this chap, Tooji – aka ‘this year’s Eric Saade’ – with this song, Stay. And it is actually quite fabulous. Except of course it’s too soon for Norway to win the contest again. Isn’t it. Isn’t it?

And finally we come to Iceland, who have opted for a big dramatic ballad this year in the shape of Jonsi and Greta’s Mundu Eftir Mer. We’ll be honest, we weren’t expecting to like this. We didn’t like it last time Jonsi entered a ballad for Eurovision in 2004, in fact we hid under the sofa cushions and pleaded with the producers to make it stop. This, on the other hand, is a very pleasant surprise – it’s strong, it’s performed well, it has violins. Could we possibly have another Icelandic dark horse on our hands?

Posted in Eurovision 2012, Eurovision News, France, Hungary, Iceland, Malta, Norway | Leave a Comment »

Just talk to us already: Norway

Posted by Caroline on April 23, 2011

As the Eurovision Blog interviews quest continues apace, it’s time to say Haba Haba! to Norway’s Stella Mwangi. Actually a simple “hello” would suffice….

Introduce yourself and tell us how you ended up representing Norway in Eurovision this year! Since I saw the Eurovision in Oslo last year, I got a powerful feeling saying that I should write a song for the next year’s contest. I wrote Haba Haba together with my producers Big City and Beyond51. The song is inspired from my grandparent’s wisdom words. The Norwegians loved the song and voted for me until I won. That was probably the happiest day of my life cause my dream was transformed to reality.

Are you looking forward to going to Dusseldorf? What can we expect from your stage show? Oh yes I can’t wait! My performance will be wonderful, just have to wait and see 😉

Which is your favourite Eurovision entry of all time and which is your favourite from your home country? I have to go with Bobbysocks with ‘La det svinge’. That song always make me want to sing and dance.

Here in the UK Eurovision is regarded by many as a bit of a joke (something we are aiming to change this year with our entry). How is it regarded in Norway? Eurovision is big in Norway, that’s why I’m so grateful for getting such a huge opportunity to show the world what I can.

Why do you think so many people still love it so much even after all this time? I guess it’s because music never dies.

What will be the first thing you do if you win? Wow I think I will go bananas!

Have you heard the UK entry and what do you think of it? Is it a bit better than our recent entries or are we going to come last again? Be honest……:) I think the song is good and has a positive message that will inspire a lot of people to have more faith in themselves.

And finally, tell me why Norway should have the chance to host Eurovision once again in 2012 and which city would you choose to host it? Because I will make the whole of Europe to smile, sing and dance with me! 😉 If I was to choose a town, then I would choose the town I grew up in which is Eidsvoll or the town I live in now which is Lillestrøm. But it’s funny cause they are both very small towns so I think we’ll have to build many hotels.

Posted in Eurovision 2011, Eurovision News, Interviews, Norway | Leave a Comment »

Haven’t we seen you somewhere before…..?

Posted by Caroline on February 19, 2011

OK, so when reigning Eurovision champion Lena Meyer-Lendrut announced she planned to defend her title in Dusseldorf this year we may have uttered a slightly hollow laugh of disbelief. But consider us chastened, because the winsome young lass who brought song contest glory back to Germany has only gone and done it again (which officially makes her their coolest ever participant. Did Nicole come back the following year for another try? NO) However it remains to be seen whether or not she can ‘do a Johnny Logan’ based on the song that she’ll be fielding in Dussedorf. Taken By A Stranger actually reminds us a bit of Satellite with its quirky lyrics, sparse beat and Lena’s distinctive vocals, only it’s a bit grungier and, er, not quite as good in our opinion. We have absolutely no doubt that her popularity and performance will win her points by the bucketload but somehow we just can’t see this doing the double. Oh well. Eurovision’s an expensive business and you didn’t really want to host it two years running anyway…..

Oh and while we’re at it another big five country, Spain, also chose their entry on Friday night, in the shape of the lovely Lucia Perez and Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao. And just when you thought nobody could possibly rival Norway for joyfulness on the Eurovision stage this year, along come the Spanish to prove us wrong, for this is about as happy and upbeat a track as we think you’re likely to get this year. And we’ll just gloss over how much it reminds us of Portugal’s 2009 effort for the time being, shall we…….?

On that note, Eurovision Blog is off on its hols (well, a long weekend anyway) for a few days. We shall return towards the end of next week with a belated round-up of this weekend’s action including (gasp!) the first Italian entry since 1997, which we await with bated breath……:)

Posted in Eurovision 2011, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain | 1 Comment »

Super Saturday! (well, all right, it wasn’t bad…..)

Posted by Caroline on February 15, 2011

So after a few tentative early entries, Europe has finally gotten around to choosing its songs for Dusseldorf en masse, and so as the dust settles on the first ‘super Saturday’ of the season, let’s take a look at what they have in store for us this year.

First out of the gate is Finland, who have clearly taken advice from the Tom Dice Book Of How To Do A Winsome Boy With Guitar Ditty (nope, we’ve never come across any such book but we’re sure it would be a best-seller). Thus we have the rather cute Paradise Oskar, singing a pleasant little number called Da Da Dam, complete with very odd lyrics about a boy saving the planet which while slightly irritating are still a step up from the legend that was the 1982 eco-anthem Don’t You Drop That Neutron Bomb On Me. Now leaving aside the fact that Da Da Dam will do absolutely NOTHING to convince Eurovision cynics that the contest has moved on from its heyday of nonsensical titles, we actually have a sneaking regard for this song, the closest thing we have to a ballad in the contest so far and easily one of the most melodic tunes yet. Proceed to the final forthwith, young man….

And  so to Malta, whose disappointingly short final (whatever happened to those five hour epics then featuring Chiara duetting with the entire music industry of Valletta??) resulted in Glen Vella’s One Life being chosen as their entry. This one is going to have to work hard to win us over because while it’s certainly not bad it’s also a tad run-of-the-mill. Unless it can distinguish itself from the pack, we fear the Maltese could be left languishing in the final once again….

As for Belgium, well it appears that their comeback may well have been the shortest in Eurovision history as this year they have reverted back to their old quirky self and, er, gone accapella. Witloof Bay’s With Love Baby features band members impersonating musical instruments, doing lots of finger clicking, singing in harmony etc etc in an attempt to convince us that this is a good idea, but to us it still sounds like the kind of thing you might hear as the cabaret act in Pizza Express of a Sunday afternoon. Of course Europeans may see the appeal that has thus far passed us by and vote for it in droves, but we can’t see it ourselves.  Did these people learn nothing from Latvia 2006??????

There’s a sad story surrounding Iceland’s entry this year, meanwhile, since Sigurjon Brink, the singer who was supposed to perform it in the national final, died unexpectedly and tragically in January aged just 36. As such some of his musician mates got together to perform the song in the competition under the name Sjionni’s Friends – and to the surprise of absolutely nobody the track, Aftur Heim, has won the ticket to Dusseldorf. Regardless of what you may think of the song (‘endearing in a Denmark 2001 kind of way’ was the general consensus around here), we think Sjonni’s friends have done him proud:

And finally to Norway, who have a gem of a tune this year in the shape of Stella Mwangi’s Haba Haba. Stella – who was born in Kenya but has lived in la Norvege since childhood, was the hot favourite to win the national final and judging by the rampant hysteria from the crowd as she triumphs in this clip, she was clearly a popular choice. This, along with Jedward (*hides) is the song we can’t get out of our head at the moment, but we’ll stop just short of saying this could possibly score Norway another victory so soon after the last one until we’ve heard a few more songs. We will say, however, that we will be utterly stunned if this doesn’t make it to the final. Or if we anything any more ridiculously joyful on the Eurovision stage this year:



Posted in Belgium, Eurovision 2011, Finland, Iceland, Malta, Norway | 1 Comment »

The First Great Big Weekend Round-Up

Posted by Caroline on February 8, 2010

It’s official, the pre-contest season is in full swing, with no less than five – count ’em! five songs being chosen for Oslo over the weekend. Well actually, it’s four and a half given that one of them was the Netherlands but let’s not split hairs here. It’s all gone a bit Scandinavian round Eurovision way over the past couple of days, with only Sweden left in that part of the continent to choose their song (and with only about 4000 hours of Melodifestivalen to go we shouldn’t have too long to wait).

But anyway, where shall we start? The host nation, we think, and in keeping with recent tradition Norway are showing all the signs of a country that really doesn’t want to host the contest again next year. My Heart Is Yours is a competent but rather bland ballad performed by Didrik Solli-Tangen, a cute lad with a powerhouse voice and Jedward hair. Top ten, we think, but that’s about all:

Onwards and upwards to Denmark, who have chosen In A Moment Like This by uber-cute boy/girl duo Chanee and N’Evergreen (look, they hold hands and everything! What is not to love?????). We like this a LOT, albeit in a “we know we shouldn’t really because it’s actually cheesier than an entire plate of Wensleydale, but we just do OK?” kind of way.  Would be very surprised if this didn’t qualify, and we’ll even go so far to say that in a world dominated by this kind of stadium arm-waver nonsense (thank you very much High School Musical and Glee, you have a lot to answer for) this could do very well indeed in the final. So there:

Then we have the Cypriot entry, Life Looks Better In Spring, by Jon Lilygreen and the Islanders which, while not exactly floating our boat, has a kind of commercial mainstream quality that could help its chances. To us though it just sounds like an X Factor winner’s single waiting to happen:

And so to our favourite of the bunch, Iceland’s Hera Bjork with the song Je Ne Sais Quoi. A fabulous schlager stomper sung by a big, likeable diva(actually are we sure it isn’t Dawn French in disguise?)  in a superb frock. It even has a Eurovision-sounding title.  We will fall down in amazement if this doesn’t make the final:

And finally we come to the Netherlands. Now we’d already heard the demo version of Pierre Kartner’s song Ik Ben Verliefd (Sha-la-lie) and as such had refrained from passing judgment until we’d heard the version that would ultimately go to Oslo. OK, so now we have. And, er, we’re speechless. C’mon folks, we thought Papa Smurf’s song was ridiculous and dated to begin with, so who on EARTH decided that a version featuring a Wurlitzer organ and some rock n’roll rhythms, thus turning it into something that wouldn’t be out of place at the Grand Ole Opry (and possibly giving us the closest thing we will get to a novelty entry this year?), would be the thing that would drag the Dutch out of their semi-final doldrums? Even its singer, Sieneke, looks faintly embarrassed. Had this been 1984 and it had benefitted from the addition of some Hot Eyes backing dancers in frilly bloomers it may well have rocketed to the top of the scoreboard. Unfortunately for the Netherlands however, this is 2010. And if they get any points at all they can count themselves screamingly lucky. Still, kudos to the Dutch for acknowledging Pierre Kartner’s former triumph and actually voting for a singer who, for all intents and purposes, looks a little bit like a Smurf:

And on that note, we are off to stick our fingers in our ears and pretend it never happened…..

Posted in Cyprus, Denmark, Eurovision 2010, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway | 7 Comments »

Pixiewatch: Day 4,572

Posted by Caroline on May 8, 2009

Look, we like Alexander Rybak, we love his song and wish him good luck in Moscow (not that we’re really convinced he needs it). But really, the Norwegian pixie seems to be mutating into the kind of person who hangs around outside stage doors at regional pantomimes waiting to have his photo taken with the Krankies. Further evidence of which is proven by this, which pinged into our mailbox a couple of days ago….

In case you were wondering, this is Eurovision legend Phillip Kirkorov (the one on the right that is). And frankly we can’t work out which of this pair looks more terrified.

Next week: Alexander goes in search of random members of Scooch, and is seen in the bar of the Theatre Royal Grimsby in the hope of getting Little and Large’s autographs…….

Posted in Norway | Leave a Comment »

The Great Big Eurovision Experiment 2009 – Norway!

Posted by Caroline on May 1, 2009

alexanderrybakHe was in love with a fairytale, now he appears to have switched his affections to our very own Jade Ewen.  Step forward, hot favourite Alexander Rybak….

How does it feel to be representing your country at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest?
I am very proud to represent Norway in ESC this year!

What are you most looking forward to about taking part?

I’m looking forward to experience the different cultures and getting to know a lot of people from around Europe

What can we expect from your performance? Are you planning a lavish stage show?
On stage: Karianne Kjærnes and Jorun Hauge as the beautiful and talented backing vocal singers, and the amazing dancers Hallgrim, Torkjell and “Daniel Craig look-alike” Sigbjørn. 🙂  There will also be some fireworks.

Have you ever been to Moscow and are you looking forward to it?
I’ve been there twice, and it is my favorite city next to N.Y. I love the Russian culture, art and history. And I love the way Moscow manages to keep that culture and at the same time be a modern European city.

Which of this year’s other songs do you rate?
I love the Ukranian one, and Hadise from Turkey. I also like the ballads from France, Croatia and Russia.

Which is your favourite Eurovision song of all time, and which is your favourite from your home country?
The best ESC song ever is Shady Lady with Ani Lorak.

How do you think the return of jury voting might influence the final result?

I think that the jury consist of normal people, and normal people will always vote for the best song. No matter the country.

Why do you think Eurovision is still so popular, even after all these years?
It’s a party for the whole of Europe, and the greatest European tradition in music. When ESC is being held, I believe that people all over Europe forget all about war and misery in favour of a great music show.

Have you heard the UK’s song this year and what do you think? Any chance your country could give us some points this year (please…….? 🙂 )
Actually, I have already had the pleasure of meeting Jade, and I’m already in love. A lot of people here in Norway thinks “It´s My Time” is one of the best this year, next to the Swedish one. So yeah, if she doesn´t screw up, we will definitely vote for her:-)

Posted in Interviews, Norway | Leave a Comment »

Jade’s doing the rounds…..!

Posted by Caroline on April 30, 2009

Well, she has been, and this week the lovely Miss Ewen will be talking all things Eurovision on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, which will be on on – hey! Friday. Expect the inevitable jokes about nul points, political voting, dodgy dance routines and all the others we’ve heard a million times before and didn’t find funny the first time. But nonetheless will be worth watching if only to hear what the lady herself has to say.

It does seem also as though Jade is winning fans all over the continent, particularly in Scandinavia where she recently had dinner with Alexander Rybak, or as we like to refer to him, the Norwegian pixie. Evidence of this meeting recently arrived in the Team Eurovision mailbox in the shape of this photo…


One of the people in this photo is clearly thinking, “Oh my goodness I can’t believe my luck. I have gotten to first base!” The other appears to be thinking, “Can I go home now?” We leave you to draw your own conclusions……

Posted in Norway, United Kingdom | 1 Comment »

Look! It’s Harry Potter!?

Posted by Caroline on February 23, 2009

Not content with the world of magic and spell-casting, it seems that everybody’s favourite boy wizard is now having a crack at that annual Muggle ritual known as the Eurovision Song Contest. Quite how (stop it at once, you know perfectly well that it’s Alexander Rybak from Norway and not Mr Potter at all – Ed) Er, yes. Where were we? All resemblances aside, the Norwegians have come up with our favourite 2009 entry so far, courtesy of Rybak, a violin toting whiz who was born in Belarus but now lives in Scandinavia – thus no doubt ensuring votes from that part of the continent as well as the entire former Soviet bloc. Yup, we reckon they’ve got it in the bag. And if not, he will at least win the award for the most expressive eyebrows in song contest history…..

Posted in Norway | 4 Comments »