Time for a big hitter, sort-of, since Norway’s Eurovision history is one of extremes. They hold the record for the most last-place finishes (10), including the most “nul-points” entries (4), and yet their third victory in 2009 was the biggest landslide in the contest’s history, courtesy of Alexander Rybak’s “Fairytale”.
They have a special place in my heart, as the 2010 contest in Oslo was the first time I went to the show. It’s brutally expensive to get (good) tickets for the final, so my friend and I settled for awesome seats in the final rehearsal on the afternoon of the real thing. Afterwards we got a train to Sandvika and watched the show on big video screens in the town square with the Norwegians. It was a really incredible few days, and signed me up to the ranks of Eurovision loonship.
The Nordic block have a canny (and well documented) sense of amazing pop music, and while Norway has never taken the titanic measured its neighbour Sweden takes to select its representative, it can usually be relied on (usually!) to come up with something great. It’s done exactly that this year, in the shape of Iranian-born Tooji.
Ultra-modern club anthem with a wonderfully watchable performer, it seems to tick a lot of boxes. Shades of ethno-pop, stompy Greek breakdown, pyrotechnics, pan-European-looking singer, sounding good so far. The song is simple, but effectively (perhaps ruthlessly) executed, what can go wrong?
Well I have this nagging feeling that this might be the annual pop sacrifice of the 2012 contest. While it should easily avoid the surprising and humilating failure of Stella Mwangi to qualify last year, there are many examples of seemingly strong contenders just flopping in the finals. Recently we’ve had Hungary in 2011, Hera Bjork in 2010, Sweden in 2009 and… erm Sweden in 2008 to name a few. That said, Eric Saade showed last year that Nordic pop still has a place on the ever-changing Eurovision landscape, and I don’t think I’m too out of line saying that the Norwegians beared this firmly in mind when they picked Tooji.
I hope he stands out (for the right reasons) in a field not totally clear of other potent pop songs, and gets a good result. But I’m sure he’s more than a little relieved that Danny Saucedo didn’t get the Swedish selection, that’s all I’m saying!