Minutes ago the first Norwegian qualifying heat ended. Helene Bøksle and Åste & Rikke made it to the final while two others will be in for a second chance to show that they got what it takes to represent the country at the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. The show also featured Alexander Rybak in an interesting collaboration with a heavy metal band.
The seven songs in tonight’s heat represented various music genres with no clear favourites from the start and as such it was hard to predict who would make it. At the end it ended up with Helene Bøksle and Åste & Rikke getting enough votes to qualify directly for the final to be held on the 12th of February.
Sie Gubba and Use Me are however not completely out of the competition as they earned themselves spots in the second chance competition that will take place after the three regular qualifying heats.
A total of 21 songs compete to try to improve Didrik Solli-Tangen’s result on homefield ending 5th to last in last year’s Eurovision Song Contest final.
This first semi-final was held in Ørland, a small city in the Northern part of Norway, an hour from Trondheim. The host announced that more than half the population in the city was present in the hall tonight. It must be easier to be a burglar tonight!
The songs: (You can read more about the background of each participant in our presentation)
Song number 1: Carina Dahl – Guns & Boys (Written by: Carina Dahl/Nanna Martorell/Hanne Sørvaag)
We start out with a dance song with a somewhat catchy chorus. Carina is dressed in a long navy jacket over a body-stocking. Shortly into the song she takes off the long jacket revealing a smaller version in the same style. She is supported on stage by three female and two male dancers, all of them wearing green military style trousers and white tops.
Song number 2: Use Me – Daisy (Written by: Jim André Bergsted)
This song is a rock song with pop elements here and there. It is band of five guys and two of them are using white guitars and then one on drummer. These guys are quite young and you can’t help thinking either that this is something you have heard quite some times in the Nordic equivalent to the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. The lead singer however reminds a bit of Justin Bieber. Maybe that can give some extra votes from the teenage girls?
Song number 3: Helene Bøksle – Vardlokk (Written by: Cecilie Larsen/Helene Bøksle/Sindre Hotvedt/Knut Avenstroup Haugen)
Here we have ballad with a folk tune over it has a clear resemblance to Alvedansen, the Norwegian entry in 2006. It however appears to lack a bit of the charm of that song making this one harder to remember, but with this Nordic Mythological romantic tune you can never fail completely. Helene is dressed in a long white dress with gold pattern on the top and a thin band at the waist – also in gold. Four drummers on stage are now revealed, two male and two female.
Song number 4: Sie Gubba – Alt Du Vil Ha (Everything You Want) (Written by: Magne Almås/Petter Øien)
This song is in the traditional "dansband" style, which has quite an audience in all the Scandinavian countries. It has a few hints of country in it. The band delivers a simple, but solid performance with three in the front; the lead singer and a guitar player on one side and a violin player on the other. Behind them they have a piano player and a drummer.
Song number 5: Gatas Parlament – Jobber Litt Mindre, Tjene Litt Mer (Work A Little Less, Earn A Little More) (Written by: Jester/ Alex Molkom)
Here we have quite a clear Balkan/East European sound. It is mixed with some rap bits. It makes one think about the Swedish band Andra Generationen that participated in Melodifestivalen in 2008 and 2010. There are two people on stage – the lead singer and a one man orchestra who has an elephant which appears to be an old tape recorder used to mix some sounds. Two more joins half way through – both rappers.
Song number 6: Sichelle – Trenger Mer (I Need More) (Written by: Christine Dancke)
We continue with a pop/dance tune. Sichelle is dressed in a short 80’s pop dress in dark gold with a pink skirt underneath. She has two choir singers and three dancers with her on stage – all females. While the dancers and the choir singers moved around quite a lot Sichelle stood rather still.
Song number 5: Åste & Rikke – Not That Easy (Ah-Åh Ah-Åh) (Written by: Rikke Normann)
The last song is in the R&B style. Should we call it a Norwegian version of Destiny’s Child? The stage is rather dark in the beginning, but is made lighter as the song gets going. Four female dancers all in black jump suits. All of them have each their own chair. Pyro adds a waterfall of fire to the song near the end.
This year NRK decided to do a very special interval act. Previous participants in the Norwegian selection will work together about a song they will then perform for the audience. They decided to kick off with a bang as the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest winner Alexander Rybak had been paired with the heavy metal band Keep Of Kalessin that participated in last year’s Norwegian selection. Tonight’s show was held in Ørland, which was also where they last year qualified for the final where they ended up on a third position with the song The Dragontower.
The song is called The Divine Land and starts with Alexander Rybak in a short hectic solo on violin before Keep of Kalessin takes over. Alexander moves to the side of the stage together with one of the guitar players before he moves back to the front. A male choir is on in the background. It is an unusual combination and it certainly shows that the violin can do much more than we often see. Near the end of the song is however clear to see that Alexander gets a bit tired from the hectic violin play, which is in quite a higher speed than on Fairytale. I guess you can say that the haunted violin from 1930’s Budapest meets punk rock from the 1970’s England added a bit of the choir from the Red Army.
4th position went to song number two by Use Me while Sie Gubba ended third. Of the two that went straight to the final Helene Bøksle got second most votes tonight. And the winner was…. Åste & Rikke.
The placement of the remaining three songs were not made public.