Tooji unplugs the fireworks off of ‘Stay’.

I’ve always believed that the mark of a good song is its ability to translate and crossover into different languages and genres. You know a song is good when it still works in hard rock, country or even acoustic. Norweigan pop star Tooji has done just that, performing an acoustic version of his fiery hit Stay. What was initially just a one-off TV performance has lead to the possibility of actually recording and releasing this version. Check it out below:

Even has an unplugged ballad, Stay still works and for me, this proves how much of a great song it really is. Everything from the melody to the lyrics is now hauntinginly beautiful. And Tooji sounds better than I’ve ever heard him! I really hope they record this version for real.

And check out the original version of Stay for comparison, in all its blazing glory: 

Hard to pick, isn’t it? Which version do you prefer?


Tone Damli & Eric Saade ‘Imagine’ what love with a perfect view could have been.

It’s a match made in Scandinavian pop heaven. Norwegian songstress Tone Damli has teamed up with Swedish heartthrob Eric Saade on a brand new track that is to be featured on Tone’s upcoming album ‘Looking Back’. Entitled Imagine, it is a gloriously uplifting, electro-tinged duet that speaks of regrets in a lost love. Everything about this song, from start to finish, to the chorus and production, to Tone & Eric’s voices that seem to flawlessly meld together, is pure pop perfection. Imagine has been composed by Eric Saade, along with Jason Gill, J-Son and Leslie Tay.

Absolutely brilliant. Tone has also perviously released another song Look Back, which I wrote about here. Now we have an album to look forward to that is sort of a Greatest Hits affair, recounting all the highlights of Tone’s stellar career. It will also include some new songs, which we are eagerly awaiting if Look Back and Imagine are anything to go by.


Morten Harket is ‘Scared Of Heights’.

Following his much-celebrated return to pop with the rather fantastic Lightning, Norwegian pop minstrel Morten Harket has followed up with the equally spectacular Scared Of Heights. The song is going to be the international lead single of his upcoming album ‘Out Of My Hands’. Check it out:

Scared Of Heights picks up where Lightning left off, in that it is a gorgeous string-laden pop song that echoes the eighties in a nod to Morten’s legacy with a-ha. On top of that, the falsetto chorus with Morten’s lush voice is truly wonderful. I really hope this record is a success, as it definitely sounds like one.


Flying the flag high: Eurovision entries scale the iTunes charts.

As the 2012 national finals season for the Eurovision Song Contest approaches its final stages, we can see that plenty of Eurovision entries as well as national final entries enter the iTunes chart in their respective countries. Have a look below:

Perhaps the most surprising is the Netherlands, with the Dutch entry You And I by Joan Franka at # 2 (previously #1 last week). The last time a Dutch entry was a commercial hit on home soil was in 2010 with Sieneke’s Ik Ben Verliefd (Sha-la-lie). I suppose John de Mol deserves some credit in drumming up interest in the Eurovision Song Contest again and for making the entry a commercial hit, thus restoring some credibility to the Contest in the eyes of the Dutch public and media as well creating a bit of pride. That still doesn’t exonerate him from hijacking the Nationaal Songfestival and turning it into a ‘The Voice’ after-show.

Another welcome surprise can be seen in the Spanish iTunes chart, with the country’s newly selected Eurovision entry Quédate Conmigo in at #9. This has never happened before, at least in my recollection, to a Spanish entry. It means that the people are getting behind the song and are very proud of it. I think we can expect some really good viewing figures from Spain this year.

Unsurprisingly, we can see Cyprus’ entry La La Love in the Greek chart at #9. No surprises for guessing where Greece’s douze points are going to.

As usual, Sweden’s Melodifestivalen dominates the iTunes chart in the run up to the Finalen i Globen and we can expect this to continue over the next coming weeks as the Swedes turn their attention to Eurovison Song Contest preparations.

A few entries have fallen off the charts but will most likely appear again as the Contest looms closer. These include Norway’s Stay by Tooji and Italy’s Per Sempre by Nina Zilli, which I suspect may return re-incarnated in its Eurovision form.

I have to say, it’s really great to see countries getting behind their entries and turning them into commercial hits as well as worthy showcases of their country’s music heritage, culture and industry. Goes to prove that the Eurovision Song Contest is more commercially relevant than people are prepared to admit.


New Music: ‘Lightning’ by Morten Harket.

Former a-ha frontman Morten Harket has just released a new album called ‘Out Of My Hands’, complete with a shiny new single Lightning to go with it. It is a gorgeous, synth-laden pop track with some soaring strings that really elevate the listener. It’s very much in the style of the adult contemporary pop like Take That and Coldplay but with an ice cool Nordic touch. Universal Music Norge has revealed a two-minute preview for you to check out and I highly recommend that you do.

Ah! Those synths!


Super Saturday, Sensational Songs.

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!


Heartaches at Melodi Grand Prix.

Words cannot describe the farce that was the second semi-final of Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix last night. How on earth did Mimi-Oh’s amazing You And I and Rikke Lie’s beautiful Another Heartache not qualify for the Final, but the awful Ola Nordman by Plumbo and Malin’s generic Crush did?! I don’t even remember the other one. What are the Norwegians thinking? That’s two of my favourite songs out of the competition, two songs that could have done really well for Norway at the Eurovision Song Contest. I’m really upset and disappointed by all this. Let’s console ourselves by watching these two fab ladies again:

You And I – Mimi-Oh

 Another Heartache – Rikke Lie

Doesn’t make it hurt any less. Norway has completely lost the plot.