It was a blockbuster of a Saturday here in Euroland with the finals of Melodi Grand Prix in Norway and Söngvakeppni Sjónvarpsins in Iceland. It was definitely an exciting night, complete with alot of switching back and forth. Here’s what happened:
NORWAY – Model-turned-singer Tooji won the 2012 Melodi Grand Prix by a landslide (155,480 points to the runner-up’s 90,046) with his song Stay, written by Peter Boström and Figge Boström. It was one of my two favourites going into the competition, the other being Plumbo’s Ola Nordmann. Whereas Stay was my ‘guilty pleasure’ favourite, I was quite convinced that Ola Nordmann would walk it and I was happy for it to do so, as I thought it would be a fresh, authentic choice for Norway and make their bid unique and attract attention. So I was plesantly surprised when Stay won. It’s very similar in style to the Cypriot entry (and Jedward’s Waterline should they win in Ireland) so its not all that original and may suffer as a result. In any case, I’m thrilled that Tooji won and it was very touching to see him breakdown in joyous disbelief as the points came rolling in. He got the host a bit choked up! It was a wonderful show, with Norway picking a very strong entry.
Norway 2012: Stay performed by Tooji
ICELAND – No sooner had Tooji finished his reprise (and carried on with his state of joyous disbelief) than it was time to switch over to Iceland’s Söngvakeppni Sjónvarpsins in time to see Greta Salomé & Jónsi win the Icelandic ticket to Baku with Mundu Eftir Mér. It is a dramatic, bombastic ballad that’s heavy on the violin. It was also the best song of the night and a very deserving winner. Iceland have a tradition of translating their song into English for Eurovision but I think they ought to keep it as is as the song sounds so much more dramatic with the almost mystical-sounding Icelandic language. Another worthy addition to the line-up for Baku.
Iceland 2012: Mundu Eftir Mér performed by Greta Salomé & Jónsi
Oh, and Hungary selected their song. An eighties-inspired ditty called Sound Of Our Hearts by Compact Disco. I didn’t follow the final, nor listen to the song as I like to keep about half the entries unheard until the big night to be surprised and to keep things fresh. Apparently its not so good performed live.
Whew! It was a marathon evening and it was almost a relief when it was all over, just to have a respite from all the excitement and as a Eurofan put it on Twitter, “time to get back to our normal lives!”… atleast until San Remo starts on Tuesday!
One of the biggest surprises of this year’s National Finals season is the return of Yohanna in the Icelandic selection ‘Söngvakeppni Sjónvarpsins’. We all know and love Yohanna for the 2009 Icelandic entry Is It True?, which was the ballad of the year in my opinion and garnered Iceland it’s second silver medal and biggest points haul ever. Her lovely voice and beauty paired with such an amazing song had Iceland sailing to the top of the scoreboard. Yohanna proved to be a tough act to follow. So when her return was announced, just a mere two years after her triumph in Moscow, I knew that she would not do so without a song that was just as special, if not more, than Is It True? Her 2011 effort Nótt is a beautifully crafted, uplifting ballad. Check it out below:
Meaning ‘Night’, it’s sung entirely in Icelandic but could very likely be translated to English should victory be in the cards. Many in the Eurovision blogosphere have been divided over Nótt, claiming it’s just another dull ballad, saved only by Yohanna’s voice and that, should it go to Düsseldorf, Iceland won’t do well. I can only laugh at these statements, because those are the EXACT SAME THINGS people said about Is It True? and look how that turned out. Personally, I love it. There’s something about the chorus and melody that just grabs me everytime I listen to it.
So for now, I say go Yohanna! Nótt is clearly the best song in the Icelandic selection thus far. And hey, Dima Bilan finished second in 2006, returned two years later and won it. Could this be a case of history repeating itself?