An updated top 5 of my favourite Eurovision songs from Norway and there’s a small shake up since the one I published back in March 2017. With a history in the contest since 1960, it’s increasingly tough to keep this as a Top 5 only and it may be that I switch this to a Top 10 in future. For now though, it means what was originally my number 4 has dropped out while my old number 5 stays in the top 5. (That number 4 was 2006’s Alvedansen by Christine Guldbrandsen and the only Norwegian-language only song since the language rule change in 1999).
For many, Norway is still synonymous with repeatedly finishing last with “nul points” but while they have finished last 11 times in the grand final (the most last places in the final of any country), they have got three wins, and in recent years have achieved top 10 more often than not. While not the superpower that Sweden is, Norway is firmly in the first rank of Eurovision countries.
5. Åse Kleveland “Intet er nytt under solen” (1966, 3rd place, 15 points)
I’ve kept this song from the deep past of Eurovision in my top 5 as I think it’s both worthy of its place here (and has such a 60s sound and look), and also a reminder to some that Eurovision existed before the year 2000 (or indeed 2010). It was Norway’s best result to date and would remain their best result all the way until 1985 and their first victory. Åse went on to host the contest when it was held in Norway in 1986 after said victory, and she was Norway’s Minister of Culture between 1990 and 1996. She was a Eurovision pioneer too: the first female singer in the contest to wear a trouser suit rather than a dress…
4. Margaret Berger “I Feed You My Love” (2013, 4th place, 191 points)
Several years on, this still feels a very modern pop song, with some great heavy electronic and dark electropop sounds. The staging looked futuristic; Margaret looked and sounded the part; and it all added up to a modern Bond-esque number that currently stands as Norway’s best result since their 2009 win and their sixth best result overall.
3. Alexander Rybak “Fairytale” (2009, winner, 387 points)
Prior to the change to the points system in 2016, this was the biggest winner of Eurovision in terms of points won. The song strolled to victory in 2009 – the first year of the 50/50 jury and public vote points system. Even by halfway of the voting, it was clear Alexander had an unassailable lead. I do remember thinking at the time before the contest that this was a dead cert and indeed it’s a highly recognisable Eurovision winner to this day. While it does feel a little over familiar, and Alexander’s less successful and more irritating 2018 contest song may have taken a little off the shine of it now, it’s place in both Norway’s Eurovision history and that of the contest itself in undeniable (and inescapable!).
2. KEiiNO “Spirit in the Sky” (2019, 6th place, 331 points)
I appreciate this might have some element of recency bias, but you can see that I placed this very highly in my pre-contest top 41 and KEiiNO’s wonderful performance and staging at the actual contest reinforced my enjoyment of this song. KEiiNo are a supergroup who surprised (and delighted) by winning the public vote in the grand final. On the 1999-2008 voting system, they would have given Norway a fourth victory! The three group members seemed to have had a ball (they were great fun at the London Eurovision Party) and have continued to work together and releasing more singles.
1. Bobbysocks “La det swinge” (1985, winner, 123 points)
An iconic Eurovision winner and still one of my favourites. The pair of them have such a sense of fun and energy which is perfect for this upbeat and catchy song. I got to see them both at the 60th anniversary concert and they still have that energy and enthusiasm. While this was their greatest moment, Hanne Krogh and Elisabeth Andreassen have performed several other times at Eurovision, either as parts of other groups or solo. Elisabeth was runner up in 1996 with “I evighet” and holds the joint record for numbers of contest participations by a female artist.
So “nul points” Norway have scored lots of points in their long history, but who would you have put in your top 5? You never know, they may have a place in a future Top 10 of Norway!