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How to Eurovision: Norway

15 January 2021 at 17:00 CET
An emotional reaction from Norway's KEiiNO from the greenroom in Tel Aviv. Thomas Hanses
Each participating country brings their own distinct style to the competition. Follow us as we dive right into all the unique reasons we love to watch each country perform in the Contest in our series 'How To Eurovision'. This time it's all eyes on Norway!

The Scandinavian Kingdom with encompassing mountains and deep coastal fjords has had a long and checkered history in the Contest. With several fan-favourite songs and a record-breaking number of unfortunate blunders over the years, Norway has earned their right as one of the most beloved contenders in the competition. Let's dive right into the country's Eurovision year book to see how they typically take on one of the biggest international music competitions in the world.

They like to mix it up

Norway doesn't like to discriminate when it comes to selecting a solo act, duo, or group as their representatives - they've brought them all! Their first decade in the competition mainly consisted of female soloists, with the likes of Nora Brockstedt (Voi, Voi, 1960) and Kirsti Sparboe (1965, 1967,1969) to name a couple.

Nora Brockstedt was the first ever participant for Norway at the Eurovision Song Contest BBC

The 1970's saw the country dabble a little bit more with duets like Grethe Kausland and Benny Borg who took to the stage in 1972 and the group Anne-Karine Ström and the Bendik Singers, who competed in 1974.

Anne-Karine Ström is the only artist who ended up in last place twice at the Eurovision Song Contest BBC

Throughout the 80's the Norwegians switched strategies and tried their luck with taking more male artists to the Contest, like Finn Kalvik in 1981 and Ketil Stokkan in 1986.

Ketil Stokkan represented Norway in 1986 with the song Romeo NRK

By the 90's, 00's, and 2010's, Norway thew in a mix of male and female soloists, duets, and groups. Many of these contenders went on to garner huge 'wins', but not the kind you're probably thinking of...

Tooji represented Norway in Baku, Azerbaijan, with his song Stay EBU

They win some, they lose some

Norway: The country of extremes. When it comes to Eurovision, Norway knows how to win big and how to lose big too.

The Norwegians have 'won' last place an incredible 11 times. In fact, the country's sunk to the bottom of the ladder more so than any other in the history of the competition.

Staggeringly, they actually finished with nul points on 4 of those occasions. Perhaps it's not quite the achievement they were hoping for, but it's an achievement nonetheless.

Tor Endresen didn't receive any points in 1997 RTÉ

An example of Norway losing, and losing big was when Jahn Teigen ironically went from zero to hero in 1978. His nul point performance of Mil Etter Mil became a huge hit and stayed on the Norwegian charts for 20 weeks!

Jahn Teigen represented Norway in 1978 TF1

But to be fair to Norway, they finished in the top 10 a total of 5 times during the semifinal era, and achieved 11 top 5 finishes and 21 top 10 finishes overall in the Contest.

Margaret Berger reached Norway's best result since 2009 in Malmö EBU

And despite the Scandinavians being great at losing, they're also great at winning. Their first victory was in 1985 when the pop duo Bobbysocks blew us away with their big 80's hairdos, sparkly-sequined jackets and iconic get-out-of-your-seat-and-dance bop, La Det Swinge (Let It Swing).

Bobbysocks 1985 winner Trygve Indrelid

Demonstrating their versatility and proving they know how to make a Eurovision classic, the country won again 10 years later with Secret Garden's enchanting and etherial Nocturne in 1995 and Alexander Rybak's bustling Fairytale in 2009.

Not only is Nocturne considered one of the greatest Eurovision songs of all time, but Rybak's victory broke another record (this time a more positive one). He achieved the highest score ever recorded in the history of Eurovision with 387 points, which included 16 of the revered maximum ‘twelve point’ scores. His total remains the highest-ever score achieved under the voting system that was in place from 1975-2015. A perfect example of Norway winning, and winning big.

No strings attached

At this point you might be thinking that in order for Norway to achieve a successful result in Eurovision, they must require a violin, right?

The short answer is: no, not quite.

But, we can see why you'd think that.

Secret Garden won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1995 RTÉ

Of course, the violins featured heavily in their most recent wins (Nocturne and Fairytale). And they've received some good results with other performances like Carl Espen's Silent Storm whose performance alongside a quartet of violinists went on to finish 8th overall.

But Norway doesn't necessarily rely on the violin either. Their first success with Bobbysocks didn't include it at all. Alexander Rybak's return performance in 2018 with That's How You Write A Song, also had the violin front and center of the performance, but he finished in 15th place overall.

Alexander Rybak (Norway) Andres Putting

Bits, bops and beautiful voices

Throughout the years, Norway has demonstrated their willingness to bring a variety of different styles and performances to the Eurovision stage.

Like in 1980 when Sverre Kjellsberg and Mattis Hætta competed for their country with Sámiid Ædnan, a joiking Sami inspired folk song.

Sverre Kjellsberg and Mattis Hætta represented Norway in 1980 NOS

And In My Dreams, Norway's 2005 rock song by Wig Wam.

Then, they tried a pop-dance-hip-hop hybrid with Stella Mwangi's Haba Haba back in 2011. It didn't qualify back then, but some 9 years later, it was voted by you as one of the most popular non-qualifying songs in the #EurovisionAgain Semi-Final Special.

They've even taken an electronic number too. In 2017, JOWST performed Grab The Moment and had a DJ set on stage as well.

One thing their entries do (generally) have in common is that they (usually) bring solid singers with beautiful voices.

Take Maria who smoothly sung Hold On Be Strong in 2008.

What about KEiiNO's performance of Spirit In The Sky when we got to see all 3 members sing their in their uniquely beautiful tones.

And their 2020 representative, Ulrikke, showed off her sublime vocals in Attention.

In the end, Norway consistently brings us great singers, lovely ballads and bops, and occasionally the violin. And even though they don't always succeed (and frequently flop) they still hold a special place in our collective Eurovision hearts.

Tell us down below what you love most about Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest!