Norway voted out of Eurovision

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She sang and danced her heart out, but Norway’s entry in the annual Eurovision Song Contest failed to win the hearts of European voters watching the first of two semi-finals broadcast from Dusseldorf Tuesday night. Stella Mwangi of Lillestrøm, northeast of Oslo, didn’t qualify for the final on Saturday, meaning Norway is out of the competition.

Stella Mwangi delivered a typically energetic version of her song "Haba haba," but failed to win enough votes to make it to the Eurovision finals. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) carried the semi-finals live Tuesday night. PHOTO: NRK/Views and News

Nineteen countries were competing in the first semi-final this year, including several that traditionally make it to the final round, like Azerbaijan, Russia, Serbia and Greece. Included in the group were Kati Wolf of Hungary and Ell & Nikki of Azerbaijan, both favoured to win Eurovision this year.

Stella Mwangi, who came to Norway as a five-year-old immigrant from Kenya, had been favoured as well. Her infectious Afro-pop song “Haba haba,” which told her story of being inspired by a Kenyan grandmother, was expected to win broad appeal with its joyful dancing and catchy lyrics.

See a video of Stella Mwangi’s song here. (external link) Filmed on the streets of Oslo, it ends at the beach on the Bygdøy peninsula.

Instead it didn’t win enough votes to make the cut from 19 countries to the 10 that will go on to Saturday’s final: Serbia, Lithuania, Greece, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Switzerland, Hungary, Finland, Russia and Iceland. Another 19 countries will compete in the second semi-final on Thursday, while Europe’s biggest countries (France, the UK, Spain, Italy and host country Germany, which won in Oslo last year) are automatically qualified for the final.

It was the second year in a row that Norway performed poorly, a big let-down after the country’s victory with the most votes ever two years ago. That’s when Alexander Rybak, another child of immigrants to Norway, captivated the crowd with his song Fairytale and was described as “the cutest guy in the contest.”

Mwangi, known for her positive outlook and brilliant smile, had said earlier in the week that “it wouldn’t be the end of the world” if she didn’t make it into the finals. “I’ve done what I can, I have been around here (in host city Dusseldorf) with the Norwegian flag and representing my country,” she told newspaper Aftenposten. “If Europe doesn’t like my song I’ll have to accept that.”

Sjalg Solstad, leader of the Norwegian delegation in Dusseldorf, said he didn’t think exclusion from the final would damage what he called Norway’s “Eurovision pride.”  Norway has, after all, both won the contest and placed an impressive fifth during the past three years.

“I know that everyone here has done a good job,” Solstad told Aftenposten. “And we feel that Stella Mwangi has the Norwegian people behind her.” She had won twice the number of votes accumulated by the second-place winner at Norway’s run-up to Eurovision, called Melodi Grand Prix.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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  • Arthur van Proosdij

    Stella’s song was great. It was one of the best songs of the semi-final, if not the best. I think this song will be on the charts all over Europe, unlike most of the others, so at the end she will win in another way.

  • Fran

    The main problem with Stella was that she sings out of tune. She did it in the national final and did it again last night. And with juries, that is a major crime (as it is with me as a televoter). I am sorry, but this is a contest about singing live.

  • What a sweet song of Stella Mwangi. The song ‘Haba haba’ is too enjoyable. I enjoyed it most. Thanks 🙂

  • TheImpermanence

    This song is AMAZING and it was my favourite and I dont care if some people say she sang out of tune, it shows how ‘live’ it was and I still enjoyed it, IT WAS INFECTIOUS AND SO HAPPY!!! I think this song is a HIT!!!! So much so that i’ve looked into her past work and have bought her tunes! S0 I HOPE IT MAKES HER MILLIONS with all the DOWNLOADS!!! GOOD LUCK STELLA!XXX FROM THE UK

  • Robert

    I was utterly disgusted with Norway this year. I’m neither Norwegian nor have I ever been to Norway. Eurovision is the one chance a year I get to witness natives from other part of Europe; The REAL multiculturalism of Eurovision is hearing songs in other European native tongues sung by natives of that land. That’s what REAL multiculturalism is about, and Noway DIDN’T TURN UP! Estonia blew me away in ’09… had no idea Estonian was so beautiful. Even if Norwegian was horrible to listen to, I would still consider it a privilege. So what is a Kenyan singing Swahili doing representing Norway? Does Norway realise what a travesty and an insult that is? Are Norwegians racist to themselves? If every country sent a random foreigner to sing in a foreign language we may as well abolish the idea of nations entirely, which would be RUBBISH! Come on Norway, I expect Norway to send Norwegians!

    • ash

      She has been in Norway since she was 5 years old. She said her country is Norway… its funny you speak of racism? But who is being racist now? Calling her out like she doesnt deserve to call herself a Norwegian because of the colour of her skin, it is people like you who cannot accept society for what it is.. no one is native to any land, doesnt matter whether you are from Africa or Asia or Europe. Come on people, it is 2011, this kind of ignorance and lack of respect is not tolerable. The fact that she is standing up and trying to assimilate into norwegian society should be praised upon not frowned upon, it is not right. if anything i’m disgusted she didnt make the cut because her song is about the only song that is refreshing and relevant, this song will become a hit.

  • Timothy Hussein

    I am living in UK but I originally come from Zimbabwe.
    I just wanted to say that I watched the Eurovision semi final and was blown away by Stella Mwangi’s performance and that of her group. It is absolutely absurd that Norway did not qualify when they had one of the best songs in the competition. Haba haba is both infectious and uplifting and makes me proud to be African. Her performance will be sorely missed on Saturday but well done Norway and Stella!

  • Mkenya

    As a Kenyan, I think Stella should have done Norway Justice and sung in whatever language it is they speak. We cannot just be immigrants who go to suck and give nothing in return. I’d be offended if a Norwegian-Kenyan sang some things I don’t get and claim to represent native Kenyan, just because he/she came at 5. It is called integration. If Stella’s family left Kenya out of choice, it is fair they respect Norway and adapt to it, not to force Norway to adapt to them.
    Am telling this to Mexicans in America, am not learning Spanish to serve them.
    She does have talent. And may shine upwards.