December 10, 2019

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It is fair to say that the search has commenced, with the Nordic countries looking for the best possible entries to represent them in the upcoming edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, set to take place in Vienna, capital city of Austria. In a three-part series, escflashmalta.com will be looking at the various selections, kicking off with Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu (UMK) in Finland, and Melodi Grand Prix (MGP) in Norway.

Finland has had it’s most successful decade since they first entered the contest in 1961. Their win with Lordi in 2006 has certainly marked a positive turning point for the country. This might not equal the success of their Scandinavian neighbours, the combined score of Finland, a total of 544 points in all the finals, and only failing to make it through to that stage on two occasions, is nothing to be sniffed at for the many years when Finland battled Norway at the latter end of the table.

Semi-Final 1 (February 07)

Hans on the bass – "Loveshine"

Vilikasper Kanth – "Äänen kantamattomiin"

Norlan El Misionario – "No voy a llorar por ti"

Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät – "Aina mun pitää"

Pihka Ja Myrsky – "Sydän ei nuku"

Satin Circus – "Crossroads"

 

Semi-Final 2 (February 14)

Jouni Aslak – "Lions and lambs"

Eeverest – "Love it all away"

Otto Ivar – "Truth or dare"

Opera Skaala – "Heart of light"

Shava – "Ostarilla"

Siru – "Mustelmat"

 

Semi-Final 3 (February 21)

Aikuinen – "Kyynelten Iahti"

Ida Bois – "Kumbaya"

Järjestyshäiriö – "Särkyneiden sydänten kulmilla"

Angelo De Nile – "All for victory"

Heidi Pakarinen – "Bon voyage"

Solju – "Hold your colours"

Whilst I might not be in a position to comment on the artists in contention, it is fair to say that the songs in itself represent diversity in terms of genre, and likability, giving Finland a plethora of entries to choose from. On the other hand, the other contender for 'nul points' during the year has definitely been Norway, having achieved the feat in 1963, 1978, 1981, and 1997.

Smashing all previous Eurovision records in 2009 and winning by comfortable margins in both 1985 and 1995 you can safely say that when Norway is on form it certainly wins with style. Therefore, Norway’s combined finals score for the past ten years is 1054 second only to Sweden. Yesterday, in a Press Conference organised by NRK, the 11 finalists were made public, much to public anticipation.

Final (14th March)

Alexandra Joner - "Cinderella"

Contrazt - "Heaven"

Erlend Bratland - "Thunderstruck

Ira Konstantinidis - "We Don't Worry"

Jenny Langlo - "Next to You"

Karin Parik - "Human Beings"

Marie Klåpbakken - "Ta Meg Tilbake"

Mørland & Deborah Scarlett - "A Monster Like Me"

Raylee - "Louder"

Staysman & Lazz - "En Godt Stekt Pizza"

Tor & Bettan - "All Over the World"

In the second part of the Nordic series, escflashmalta.com will be having a look at Iceland and Denmark, as the songs are set to premiere rather earlier than usual in one instance, whilst the list of finalists will be made public in the other quite soon. We urge you to stay tuned to escflashmalta.com even through Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news about the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest.

Source: NRK, YLE, escflashmalta.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTMli8U17MM

Wednesday, 23 April 2014 18:45

ESC 2014: An In-Depth Review of Norway

It has become customary for the escflashmalta.com editorial board to engage professional individuals from the music industry to assess the songs competing in the Eurovision Song Contest as presented to the European Broadcasting Union during the Heads of Delegation Meeting. Greig Watts, Joseph Zammit, Sharon Vaughn and John Scott from the United Kingdom, Malta, Sweden and the United States have been entrusted with the second semi-final, comprising of sixteen songs and set to take place on the 8th May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark. Making use of the running order and moving onto number #3, we catch up with Norway (NRK) who will be represented by Carl Espen and the song Silent Storm written by Josefin Winther.

Carl was raised by his mum, with his two siblings. They lived on an island outside Bergen, called Osterøy. Even though the island is not more than a 40 minutes drive from Bergen city, it is a very rural and idyllic place. Carl has always loved to spend time in the nature, and was a real fishing enthusiast as a boy. His mother sang a lot, and his childhood home was always filled with music. Among his cousins, aunts and uncles, you can find the woman behind the song Silent Storm, Carl’s cousin Josefin Winther, a London based artist and songwriter born in Bergen in 1986. Four years younger than her cousin, Josefin has no problem recalling a day in her life being 12 years. Carl Espen had entered a local music competition on Osterøy, and Josefin was standing with her aunt in the audience.

Carl performed Wild World by Cat Stevens, and ended up winning the whole competition. Josefin was so proud. Since then Josefin has pursued her own career in music, and established herself as a critically acclaimed artist and songwriter. That fact that Josefin has followed her dream, has always been a big inspiration for Carl Espen. As a young man Carl enrolled in the military, and served for six months in Kosovo. In his adult life Carl became a carpenter, specialising in frames and glass. For the past 12 years he has been working for different companies within this industry. He has also done a lot of volunteer work for cancer research, and at night has worked as a doorman at Bergen’s rock bar Garage. Music has always played big role in Carl’s life, and he has carried this dream with him all along. 

Josefin has always thought that more people should hear his beautiful and unique voice, and in August 2013 she finally sat down a wrote a song especially for Carl. She saw that he had so much inside him that needed to be expressed, and she wanted to give him the opportunity to express it through a song that was truly his own. The result was Silent Storm. She played it to him and he knew straight away that this was his song. They decided to enter into the Norwegian national selection, Melodi Grand Prix, and the rest is history. The steps onto the Eurovision Song Contest stage on the 8th of May will not be many, but for Carl they will be crucial.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETLYR9icV1k

Norway is a scandinavian country which holds the record for the most last place finishes but has still recorded three victories in total; the first one being in 1985 with La Det Swinge performed by Bobby Socks, the second one being in 1995 with Nocturne performed by Secret Garden and most recently in 2009 when Alexander Rybak entertained the masses with Fairytale. Following that success though has been quite difficult, failing to qualify in 2011, and then managing only last place in 2012 before returning back to the top five in 2013 with the song I Feed You My Love sung by Margaret Berger.

Professional Critics Voice their Opinion

Rating: 86%

Greig Watts: I love the opening of this with piano and his haunting voice that draws you in nicely! And the chorus does lift me using his beautiful vocal again, almost Celtic, can I say that? Ha ha . Now I am waiting to see if the song builds, and it does and actually this is giving me Goosebumps while I listen, well done Norway good selection in my opinion. Interesting end with the big drop and silence, but I guess the song is called Silent Storm

Joseph Zammit: Not the happiest of songs in this year's competition I'm sure. Slow, brooding, and haunting, it has a soft piano melody throughout the piece with a beautiful vocal melody to go with it. A solid song with a solid build up and adding of instruments with a very hair-raising chord progression leading to the chorus. It is a sad slow song yes, however in my opinion, this song does not fall into the trap of becoming a dreary generic ballad with no feeling. 

It flows and builds up to a climax as any good song should. Overall I quite like this one, though of course, it is one of those songs which will most definitely find much difficulty in succeeding on a pumped up and energetic Eurovision stage. I particularly love it when near the end of the song, the musical climax stops as soon as he sings the word 'Silence'. It shows that there was some poetic thinking behind this song as well. I like that. 

Sharon Vaughn: Very moving, genuine and vocally mesmerizing.

John Scott: A very unique voice. It is very effective against the piano. Overall, a very strong ballad.

Source: eurovision.tv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LBOjxBty8U

Published in Editorials
Monday, 27 January 2014 14:30

Norway: NRK Publishes Names of Fifteen Acts

In a press conference held earlier this afternoon, the public broadcaster in Norway unveiled the fifteen (15) acts competing in this years’ edition of the Melodi Grand Prix. It is worth pointing out that the format has been shaped in a different manner to previous years noting that there will be three (3) semi-finals held on three (3) consecutive days between the 7th and 9th March 2014 at the Folk Theatre in Oslo, whilst the final is set to take place the following week on the 15th March 2014 at the Oslo Spektrum, home of the 1996 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest.

As opposed to previous years, NRK is very much concentrated on the quality rather than the quantity, an approach taken up by the Head of Delegation and Music Coordinator, Vivi Stenberg. Prior to the semi-finals, behind-the-scenes videos will be aired through the public broadcaster with comments from the initial jury, in order for the general viewers to garner feedback about each of the songs. Eventually, the act chosen to represent Norway will compete in the second semi-final alongside Malta whose choice of representative and entry will be made on the 7th and 8th February 2014.

Semi-Final 1 

Hilda & Thea Leora – Best Friend’s Boyfriend (Kleveland, Desmond Linder & Jakobsen)

Mo – Heal (Laila Samuelsen)

Dina Misund – Needs (Dina Misund, Bjørgmo Strømvik)

Linnea Dale – High Hopes (Linnea Dale & Kim Bergseth)

Timbre & Frikk Heide-Steen feat. Ida Stein – Frozen by Your Love (Anders Bratterud)

 

Semi-Final 2

Cir.Cuz – Hele Verden (Cir.Cuz)

Martine Marbel – Right Now (Martine Marbel, Goran Obad)

Oda & Wulff – Sing (Christer Wulff)

Knut Kippersund Nesdal – Taste of You (Magnus Hængsle, Jenny Moe)

Charlie – Hit Me Up (Melanie Fontana, John Asher, Lars Hustoft)

 

Semi-Final 3

Moi – Bensin (Ingjerd Østrem Omland)

El Cuero – Ain’t no Love in This City No More (Takle Ohr, B.L. Rolland, Blomstrøm, Takle Ohr)

Ilebek – Who Needs the Universe (Andreas Ihlebæk)

Elisabeth Carew – Sole Survivor (Elisabeth Carew, David Eriksen, Simon Climie, Mats Skåre Lie)

Carl Espen – Silent Storm (Josefin Winther)

At this point in time, the general public has the opportunity to listen to snippets of the songs competing in the Melodi Grand Prix through the official website of the broadcaster. The full versions will be made available at the end of February although one could easily denote an extremely high quality production in most of the songs. The official website of the Eurovision Song Contest will be publishing exclusive content about the artists in contention in the coming days. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for the latest news about the 2014 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Source: NRK

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjm-kCOMaPY

Vivi Stenberg, project manager of the Melodi Grand Prix on behalf of NRK, the national broadcaster responsible for the participation of Norway at the Eurovision Song Contest just revealed that they received around six hundred (600) entries for the upcoming selection procedure. A high turn-out of submissions was expected following the fourth place finish achieved by Margaret Berger and her entry I Feed You My Love. It was Norway's first top five placing since their illustrious victory at the 2009 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest.

 

'There are quite a few names that I know nothing about and there are a lot of hopeful songwriters who have sent in entries who haven't previously participated. But in the addition to these, there are a substantial number of well established names, some of which have taken part in Melodi Grand Prix earlier'. Vivi Stenberg then went onto add that along with a selective committee of music experts, she is set to invite an additional number of singers and songwriters to submit their entries within the process. It gives them extra incentive to add quality to the field.

Margaret Berger and Adelén were two of the most successful artists in Norway throughout the year following their participation within the Melodi Grand Prix. The selective committee will start listening to the entries from the beginning of October with the process expected to last about a month. This years' edition of the Melodi Grand Prix will consist of three (3) semi-finals of five (5) entries with three (3) of each making it through to the final round. The selection process in 2014 is set to give exposure to both the songwriter and the artist equally in order to appreciate the way that songs are created. 

Libertea, a tabloid in Romania has gone on record stating that Ovi, who has twice participated in the Melodi Grand Prix is set to return should his entry make it through to the selection process. The male vocalist had co-written and performed the most successful Romanian entry at the Eurovision Song Contest, that being Playing With Fire, a duet with Paula Seling which finished in third place. escflashmalta.com was the first portal to report that Ovi was hoping to return to the Eurovision Song Contest, so we urge you to stay tuned for all of the latest news. 

Sources: NRK, VG, Libertea

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc6a4EV63uM

Margaret Berger, and her entry I Feed You My Love finished in fourth place at this years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest seeing the Scandinavian country of Norway return to an elite position. The project manager of the Melodi Grand Prix, Vivi Stenberg spoke to tabloid, VG Lista with regards to the upcoming edition of the Melodi Grand Prix which will still have the traditional three semi-finals with the difference that they will be held in the same city. NRK, the broadcaster in Norway is moving away from the traditional selection process used by Sweden and will hope to stand on their own as they create this brand new format.

Usually, twenty-one (21) acts used to compete within the Melodi Grand Prix but it seems that the new system will incorporate fifteen (15) acts and thus will see to five (5) weekly performances with three (3) acts getting through to the final, most likely set to take place within the Oslo Spektrum. Vivi Stenberg has spoken in favour of the reduction of entries 'We now have to think, even moreso than before, that every song in the running has winning potential'. Some of the competing entries will be available online in order to get the fans interested in the selection procedure. The most popular songs will make it through to the Melodi Grand Prix but has not been decided whether they would be in the semi-final or the final. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all of the latest news about Norway and their participation within the Eurovision Song Contest 2014.

Source: VG

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyHMEUXf-9U

In 2009, Norway swept to victory as Alexander Rybak charmed the public and the professional jury with his performance of Fairytale but following that, the Scandinavian country had seemingly been on going through a whirlwind of disappointment. Nevertheless, all changed this year as hype grew stronger in anticipation for their entry I Feed You My Love performed by Margaret Berger which finished in fourth place, their best result since that victory. NRK, the broadcaster responsible for the participation of Norway has already confirmed participation in Denmark and it seems that they will be going all out with the pre-selection.

Vivi Stenberg, the woman who took over the Melodi Grand Prix selection process last year is currently looking for the songs which will be competing to represent Norway within the next twelve months. 'I want good songs that reflect the music genres we like to listen to in Norway. I hope to be surprised so pleasre think up something new an exciting'. This years' entry might have been thought to be somewhat marmite but that does not mean that it was not set to be liked by the general population and successfully did well with both the public and the juries respectibely. It seems that the semi-finals will be done away with for next years' Melodi Grand Prix stating that changes will be implemented with the aim of promoting the songs that will be competing for the highest honour. NRK are currently designing a model of programmes which will see a build-up in the presentation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF9PJVoZbvc

Vivi Stenberg, a musician in her own right has also spoken about the importance of Norwegian talent and thus songwriters from Norway will somewhat be preferred but nevertheless, submissions from abroad are also extremely welcome. If you are interested in submitting songs to compete in next years' edition of the Melodi Grand Prix, then make sure to read through the English regulations which could be accessed through the official website of NRK. All of the entries which will be hoping to get through to the final stages have to be submitted by the 15th September 2014. Remember, that next years' edition of the Eurovision Song Contest is taking place on the 6th, 8th and 10th May in Denmark. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all of the latest news

Source: eurovision.tv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc6a4EV63uM

I Feed You My Love, co-written by Karin Park, Robin Lynch, Niklas Olovson with vocals provided by Margaret Berger will be representing Norway in this years' Eurovision Song Contest following an overwhelming victory at the annual Melodi Grand Prix back in February. Despite finding success on the second season of Idol in Norway, where she finished as the runner-up, Margaret has had to work hard to assure her place in the industry and following two albums, the last one being seven years ago, she feels comfortable to return to doing what she loves best. Her entry for the Eurovision Song Contest has been perceived in a positive manner having been instilled as one of the favourites by the general public whilst also charting at number #4 in Norway, making it her highest charting single to date.

The first technical rehearsals have proven problematic for some countries although to be fair, the issues have literally been attributed to the technical side and Margaret as a professional took her time and improved with every run. She felt at ease on the stage and gave consistent performances. On the way to the arena, the broadcaster responsible for Norway decided to record a special message for you, the readers of escflashmalta.com as Margaret Berger hopes to make it through to the final stage on Saturday, alongside Gianluca whose entry Tomorrow for Malta is competing in the same semi-final. The special message has been uploaded to our YouTube Channel and could be seen below as we remind you to stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all of the latest news from the rehearsals which unfold throughout the day.

Source: NRK, Roxy Recordings 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOh-3QQcukc

Saturday, 09 February 2013 22:00

Norway: Huge Victory for Margaret Berger

The Melodi Grand Prix has always been a spectacle which one should follow and indeed, it did not disappoint considering that the production was just amazing and once more, congratulations are surely in order to NRK, the broadcaster for a job well done. In the weeks leading up to the final which took place over the course of the evening, Margaret Berger with the track I Feed You My Love was the favourite of the public and the critics and indeed, with large figures during the regional voting, she was confirmed as the next Norwegian representative, becoming the first electronic entry for the Scandinavian nation.

Ten entries were competing for the right to represent Norway at the 2013 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest and some people were surprised at the four super-finalists which included Annsofi, Sirkus Eliassen, Adelen and of course, Margaret Berger. The regional voting was consistent for the latter and as a matter of fact, it seems that the only section of Norway who did not want her to win was that in the North which was put her in third place but due to the fact that the voting patterns there are the smallest, there was no real affect. NRK, should be happy with the choice and considering that Margaret Berger is an experienced performer, there should be no trouble in delivering a strong performance at the Eurovision Song Contest. Norway will be competing in the second part of the second semi-final alongside Malta who will be represented by Tomorrow performed by Gianluca Bezzina. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for all the latest news.

Source: NRK, Eurovision.tv

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyHMEUXf-9U

Saturday, 09 February 2013 04:45

Exclusive: Annsofi speaks to escflashmalta.com

Countries within the Scandinavian region have been quite busy in recent weeks when it comes to their respective music scenes, hosting their national selections in a manner which is spread out in a series of semi-finals so that each artist gets equal exposure. In Norway, NRK has worked towards creating the Melodi Grand Prix in the past couple of years and with a brand new Head of Delegation in the form of Vivi Stenberg, they sought to keep the elements that have made the show successful in recent years. escflashmalta.com had the opportunity to speak to one of the finalists, Annsofi whose entry I'm With You is written by Alexander Rybak, who won the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2009.

Annsofi is definitely not a newcomer to the Norwegian music scene having reached the second runner-up position in the X Factor having been mentored by the successful manager, Jan Fredrik Karlsen who was the mastermind behind Kurt Nilsen, the most successful winner of the show. Nevertheless, you are presenting yourself to the rest of the continent by virtue of taking part of this competition and therefore, how would you sum up your musical background n just a couple of sentences?

I have always loved music. One of my first memories is when I held a spontaneous concert for the passengers on my first plane trip. I cannot have been more than 3 or 4 years. As a kid, I sung in a children’s choir, and my first national TV appearance was at the 2010 edition of the program Last Choir Standing with 2005 MGP-winners Wig Wam’s Åge Sten “Glam” Nilsen’s choir. We won, and later that year I came third in the X Factor. Since that, I have – in addition to focusing on school – been working on my own songs, both in studio and on stage.

Norway has not been one of the most successful countries at the Eurovision Song Contest, holding the record for the most last place finishes in the competition, totalling to eleven with the most recent coming in 2012 by virtue of Stay as performed by Tooji. You are presenting a completely different entry for the Scandinavian nation entitled I’m With You written by the extremely talented, Alexander Rybak. What do you think went wrong with last years’ participation and what do you aim to bring, should you represent Norway?

It’s hard for me to say what went wrong. It seems like the kind of song that wins varies from year to year. But Euphoria was… well, euphoric, and it would have been difficult to beat that. I guess two out of three acts that have won for Norway, have had a violin and a touch of folk music in them, so… At least there are violins in I’m With You.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7yVtl71Eo0

As already noted, your entry is written by Alexander Rybak who just happens to be the last performer to bring success to Norway at the Eurovision Song Contest, winning thecompetition back in 2009 with the track Fairytale. There is a certain aura about the track that does make it stand out from the rest and your raspy vocals give it the needed edge to success. How did the collaboration between you and Alexander come about and are you happy with the final product that is I’m With You?

Alexander is an extreme perfectionist. There are no compromises, whatsoever. So we’re all very happy with the result. The collaboration started with Alex becoming my mentor during the X Factor in 2010. We became friends, and since then I have sung with him on a couple of Christmas concerts, and sang Baby It’s Cold Outside with him on his Christmas Tales album. Since late 2011, we’ve been working on a couple of songs in the studio, of which I’m With You is one of them.

Competing in the second semi-final of the Melodi Grand Prix must have been quite daunting considering that the public were quite disappointed with the quality of tracks presented in the first semi-final but when hearing the tracks as released on the previous Wednesday, one could not deny that the quality was set to improve and indeed, it has and this has been shown even in terms of viewing figures. What did it mean to you to make it through to the final, albeit taking that third position and do you intend to change anything for the final?

I was, of course, very happy to go to the final, and we’ve been working on every detail since the semi to make sure we’ll do our best in the final. This time, however, Alex will be present, not on stage, but in the songwriters’ area. When at the semi, he was busy with his own concert. I’ll be honoured to perform the song with him present.

Would you like to say anything to our readers at escflashmalta.com?

The amount of support we’ve received from abroad – even as far as from Malta – is very touching, and make me want to focus even more on the job that I am to do in the final. It would be a dream of mine to be able to perform this song to the people of Europe. Thank you, and all the best, Annsofi.

Source: NRK, Olivier Vanhoutte, Dag Solheim

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-t4rYXvps5I

Published in Interviews

The first semi-final of the Melodi Grand Prix took place last night and despite the overwhelming standard of production quality, the songs were not met with great enthusiasm by the foreign community and it seems that the ones that were indeed endorsed, did not manage to qualify to the next stage of the competition, the final which will be taking place in Oslo, host city of the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest. NRK, the Norwegian broadcaster called upon Vivi Stenberg to take over the selection process following the resignation of Per Sundes and it is to be believed that the best is yet to come with rumours pointing to a possible entry written by the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest winner, Alexander Rybak.

Seven entries were performed this evening, including two which were co-written by Ben Adams from the popular British/Norwegian boy-band, A1 whom had finished in the runner-up slot to Didrik Solli-Tangen back in the 2010 Melodi Grand Prix. This evening, it seems that the songwriter was all out of luck and none of the two entries managed to qualify to the final. In the meantime though, it seems that the genres being represented in the final thus far are a mixture of symphonic rock, rockabilly and generic pop. The main idea is to try and mix it up as much as possible and the audience seemingly saw the other songs as too alike to give them the opportunity to advance.

(3rd) Paid My Way – Vidar Busk

(2nd) The Underground – Datarock

(1st) Alone – Gromth and Emil Solli-Tangen

Norway are hoping to turn their fortunes in the Eurovision Song Contest around noting that they had managed to finish in fifth place at the 2008 edition with the song Hold On, Be Strong sung by Maria Haukaas Storeng before heading onto a clear victory in 2009 with Fairytale performed by Alexander Rybak. Nevertheless, the results since then have been wary from lower ranked positions in the final to a non-qualification. Just a mind refresher, last year they were represented with the track Stay performed by Tooji. Stay tuned to escflashmalta.com for the revelation of the acts and their entries in semi-final two on Wednesday evening as well as any other news.

Source: NRK

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOMYj7_VG9I

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