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?


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.


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!


The best of Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix.

This weekend sees the start of the Norsk Melodi Grand Prix with the first semi-final. Norway’s national final can always be counted upon to showcase some great music and this year is no different, with some truly exceptional gems shining through.

 Rikkie Lie – Another Heartache (Composers: Rikke Lie / Maria Marcus / Niclas Lundin)

An absolutely gorgeous ballad with some truly epic strings. The wonderfully delicate melody paired with Rikkie’s unique waif-like voice makes this song a very strong contender. In fact, I’m calling this as the one to watch.

 Lise Karlsnes – Sailors (Composers: Lise Karlsnes / Thomas Eriksen)

Dreamy electropop, a little in the vein of The Sound Of Arrows but more hard-hitting. With that soaring chorus, its a future radio hit. What I like about Sailors is that it is very ‘credible’ pop and not the kind normally associated with Eurovision.

 Tooji – Stay (Composers: Tooji / Peter Boström / Figge Boström)

A catchy club track that is an interesting fusion of modern dance and Eastern influences. While I personally like it, I think this will be a challenge to perform live and, if not done right, could potentially fall part. I still think its great though.

Other songs that have caught my attention are Reidun Sæther’s High On Love, Minnie-Oh’s You And I and Malin’s Crush. All in all, the line-up for the Melodi Grand Prix is exceptionally strong this year and the race to the final will no doubt be an exciting one!