Norway’s MGP tends to be one of the most unpredictable national finals. Except when it’s totally predictable. And sometimes you think it’s going to be totally predictable and it’s not. That’s the thing about Norway, as an outsider you often have no clue what’s going on.
The semifinals this year stayed true to form. Several of our favorites (such as Rikke Normann’s “Shapeshifter,” Minnie Oh’s “You and I,” and Irresistable’s “Elevator”) were passed over for choices with niche appeal. But never mind the other players because every sign was pointing to Plumbo’s “Ola Nordmann.” Plumbo had buzz, some controversy that kept people talking, and presence on the pop charts. Norway was going to pick the catchy sea shanty about the common man. It wouldn’t translate beyond Scandinavia, but it was unstoppable.
Except Plumbo didn’t win. And the win also didn’t go to Nora Foss al-Jabri’s “Somewhere Beautiful,” the Disney Princess showtune favored by the jury and women who read romance novels.
Norway’s 2012 Eurovision representative will be Tooji, an Iranian-born Norwegian who is a former model and a television presenter MTV Norway. Tooji collaborated with Swedish songwriters Peter Bostrom and Figge Bostrom (no relation) to write “Stay.” Melodifestivalen fans will recognize Peter Bostrom from his work on Eric Saade’s “Manboy” and Danny Saucedo’s “In the Club.” So it’s no surprise that “Stay” operates in the same space.
It is, I think, not a mischaracterization to call this a surprise victory. Tooji didn’t win his semifinal, and he was up first in the MGP Final. But the televote base this year was disengaged. Tooji won with 137,000 televotes. In contrast, last year Stella Mwangi won with 248,000 televotes, and that was considered a precipitous drop from 2010. It seems that Tooji pulled off the win because he picked up fan momentum when it was most needed. Here’s “Stay”:
I love love love this. Yes, Tooji kind of resembles Eric Saade. Personally, I think Eric is cuter, but the Taylor Lautner look is a thing right now. And yes, “Stay” kind of resembles Kesha’s song “Blow.” But for all the comparisons Eric Saade only wishes he could have competed at Eurovision with this song this good. In the end Norway got it right.