Norway's Five Most Iconic Eurovision Entries
Today we are celebrating the homeland of Jon Ola Sand as it is Norwegian Constitution Day. Constitution Day or Nasjonaldagen is celebrated on May 17, as on this day in 1814 Norway became an independent kingdom to avoid being relinquished to Sweden after Denmark–Norway's defeat in the Napoleonic Wars.
Norwegians celebrate the day with children’s parades. This has been a tradition since 1864 although the current practice of this involves the representation of schools. Each school district is to arrange its own parade. Children often stop at homes of senior citizens and war memorials. The carrying of the Norwegian flag is obligatory. Older students carry full-size flags with the younger ones carry smaller hand-held ones. School marching bands are also prominent. In Oslo, the event is televised.
Norwegians also tend to wear traditional outfits. At the conclusion of the parade the national anthem and royal anthem are sung. Norwegians pay tribute to those who were lost at war. Speeches are conducted at the beginning and end of the event. Children are also encouraged to speak. After the conclusion of the parades there are often games for the children to participate in.
Now that we have your attention after that icebreaker, let’s look at how Norway have performed at the Eurovision Song Contest.
Finishing in 4th place with Nora Brockstedt’s ‘Voi Voi’ in their debut in 1960, Norway have made the final 55 times in their 58 appearances. Chequered history are probably the words that describes their tenure in the Eurovision Song Contest best. Despite providing us with many memorable performances, Norway has the record of finishing last more often than any other country in the competition with 11 last places, including 4 entries receiving the dreaded nul points.
On the flip side they have also had 24 Top 10 results with 11 of those reaching the Top 5 including 3 wins. Their most recent Top 5 result was in 2013 with Margaret Berger and her song ‘I Feed You My Love’.
Time to grab the moment, a smørbrød and some akevitt as we look at the 5 Most Iconic Norwegian Songs at Eurovision.
1. Åse Kleveland- Intet er nytt under solen (There's nothing new under the sun) (1966- 3rd place)
Norway's most successful entry until 1985. ‘Intet er nytt under solen’ was performed by folk-singer, guitarist, activist and politician- Åse Kleveland. Swedish-born Kleveland hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 1986 and was appointed as the Minister of Culture under Norway’s Labor Party from 1990-1996.
From 1999 to 2006, she was president of the Swedish Film Institute and later served as the chairman of the board for the Norwegian humanist organization- Human-Etisk Forbund until 2013. Åse Kleveland has also held prominent positions with the Norwegian Association of Musicians including secretary and leader.
Her Eurovision performance caused a minor controversy at the time, as she was the first female performer of the contest not wear a dress.
2. Bobbysocks- La det swinge (Let it swing) (1985- 1st place)
Giving Norway their first win in the competition was europop-schlager duo, Bobbysocks. Bobbysocks was formed in 1984 as a concept group to give 1950’s swing music a modern twist They performed a mix of covers and original music. Bobbysocks was made up of Eurovision veterans, Elisabeth Andreassen and Hanne Krogh.
Eurovision legend Elisabeth Andreassen, has performed at Eurovision on four occasions. Each time finishing in the Top 10, including a 2nd place in 1996 with ‘I evighet’ (For eternity). Additionally, she has competed at Melodi Grand Prix six times with 4th place being her lowest result and at Melodifestvalen five times. Her lowest result there was 7th. She co-hosted Melodi Grand Prix in 1992 and Melodifestivalen in 2000.
Swedish born Andreassen was part of a country-pop group called Chips prior to representing Norway. Chips were the Swedish representatives at Eurovision in 1982, where they finished in 8th place. The vocal group also featured Kikki Danielsson and Lasse Holm, both of whom also went on to represent Sweden at Eurovision on separate occasions.
Hanne Krogh first competed at Eurovision in 1971 with the song ‘Lykken er’ (Happiness is). In 1991 she performed ‘Mrs. Thompson’ as part of the group Just-4-fun. Both songs placed 17th. To date, Krogh has released 27 albums and had a minor acting career in the mid-1970’s.
Bobbysocks released three albums and ten singles before disbanding in 1988. In 2010 they re-formed to celebrate their 25th year anniversary of their Eurovision victory. They released a compilation album as well as a single featuring 2009 Eurovision winner Alexander Rybak on violin called ‘Thank you’.
‘La det swinge’ reached number 1 on the Norwegian and Belgian charts. It made the Top 10 in Denmark, Sweden and Ireland as well.
3. Secret Garden- Nocturne (1995- 1st place)
24 words, count them. New instrumental duo, Secret Garden became Norway’s second winners at the Eurovison Song Contest in 1995. ‘Nocturne’ features the least amount of words for a winning song at the competition. The Nordic-Celtic duo features Norwegian composer, lyricist, arranger, and pianist- Rolf Løvland and Irish Irish violinist and vocalist- Fionnuala Sherry.
Rolf Løvland is probably best known for composing ‘You Raise Me Up’. A song that has been covered numerous times, most notably by Josh Groban and Westlife. He also composed Norway’s first winning song “La det swinge" in 1985. He has been composing songs since the age of 9.
In addition to performing for 10 years with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, an Irish radio orchestra. Fionnuala Sherry has collaborated with various contemporary musicians, such as The Chieftains, Sinéad O'Connor, Van Morrison, Chris de Burgh, Bono, Wet Wet Wet, and Westlife. She started playing the violin at age 8.
Secret Garden have released nine studio albums. The latest, ‘Storyteller’, was released in 2019. They have amassed 3 million sales since their Eurovision win.
4. Alexander Rybak- Fairytale (2009- 1st place)
Years ago when he was younger, Belarussian-born Alexander Rybak dazzled audiences with his unforgettable win in 2009 with ‘Fairytale’. The song received 387 points which was a record under the previous voting system. He scored 169 points more than the Icelandic song which finished in 2nd place. ‘Fairytale’ reached number 1 in the Norwegian, Icelandic, Swedish, Belgian (Flanders), Danish, Finnish and Ukrainian charts. It also reached Top 5 in Germany, Belgium (Wollonia), Ireland, Netherlands, Greece and Switzerland.
Since his Eurovision win, Rybak has gone on to release 4 albums and 13 singles. He provided the Norwegian dubbing for How to Train Your Dragon series of movies. A song ‘Into a fantasy’ was included in the European market soundtrack. He has won numerous entertainment awards and released singles with other Eurovision performers such as Bobbysocks, Paula Seling (Romania 2010, 2014) and Marija Šerifović (Serbia 2007). In Stockholm 2016 he was one of the participants in the fan-favourite interval act “Love, Love, Peace, Peace’ at the Eurovision Song Contest.
Just like a fairytale, Rybak has aged like Peter Pan making a return to the Eurovision stage in 2018 with ‘That’s how you write a song’. He finished 15th in the final but opening proceedings in the second semi final,‘That’s how you write a song’ was the 1500th song to be performed at the contest. He is the first ever Eurovision performer to win two semi finals, he achieved the same feat in 2009.
Most recently Alexander Rybak collaborated with 2017 Eurovision-alum JOWST to write ‘Over the Sea’ for 2020 Melodi Grand Prix entrant, Magnus Bokn. The song reached the final.
5. KEIINO- Spirit in the sky (2019- 6th place)
Rounding off our Top 5 Iconic Songs of Norway is none other than last year’s televote darlings, KEIINO. Scoring a whopping 291 points from the public, we just had to include them.
KEIINO is a Norwegian supergroup which was formed in mid-2018. The group is comprised of Tom Hugo, Alexandra Rotan and Sámi rapper and joiker, Fred Buljo. The group’s name is taken from the latter part of Buljo's home town Kautokeino or in Northern Sámi Guovdageaidnu, which means the road that brings us together.
‘Spirit in the sky’ was initially written by Hugo and his husband Alex Olsson. The song is about the struggles for equal rights regardless of ethnicity, gender identity and sexuality. Hugo then asked Rotan and Buljo to join them as all four had experienced prejudice before.
Tom Hugo is a singer, songwriter and musician who has been releasing music since 2007. He is a vocalist for the Norwegian band Radiojam and has written songs for various artists. Recently he was signed by Universal Music in Germany. Hugo had previously participated at Melodi Grand Prix in 2013 and 2018, missing the superfinal both times.
Alexandra Rotan has been professionally singing since she was a child, first competing in the junior edition of Melodi Grand Prix as a Superfinalist. She participated in Idol in 2016 but was eliminated in the semi final. Rotan also toured with Alan Walker in 2017 as one of his backing singers. In 2018 along with 2011 Eurovision contestant Stella Mwangi, she reached the superfinal with “You got me”.
In addition to his musical career, Fred has also participated in politics, representing the party Árja in the Sámi Parliament of Norway. He was deputy from 2013-2016, and a MP and the parliamentary leader in 2016–2017. Ávvir- a Sámi language published Norwegian newspaper, announced Fred Buljo as the winner of their Saami of the Year Award in 2019.
After their iconic performance at Eurovision in 2019. The trio decided to continue, releasing new music and touring. Their extensive 2019 tour included Australia with concerts in Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne.
Their album OKTA has just been released and it includes collaborations with international indigenous artists, including Australian duo- Electric Fields who placed 2nd at Australia Decides in 2019.
Well, that is our list of Top 5 Iconic Norwegian songs. Until next time Jubel!