Eurovision singer happy to end 8th

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Norwegian singer Carl Espen claimed he was “kjempefornøyd” (extremely satisfied) with his 8th-place finish in Saturday’s Eurovision Song Contest. Now he looks forward to some time off, “completely alone,” at his family’s vacation cottage before trying to continue a singing career.

Carl Espen's performance at Eurovision also featured special effects with lights, "smoke" on the stage and back-up musicians but it was tame compared to several of the other Eurovision entries. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

Carl Espen’s performance at Eurovision, aired live on state broadcaster NRK, also featured special effects with lights, “smoke” on the stage and back-up musicians but it was tame compared to several of the other Eurovision entries. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

The quiet, stoic soldier-turned glass seller-turned singer from just outside Bergen braved all the Eurovision hype, taking the stage in Copenhagen before more than 10,000 screaming Eurovision fans and another 180 million television viewers. His cousin who wrote his song for the contest, Josefin Winther, said afterwards that Carl Espen “performed better than ever” in the Eurovision final and she had only one word to sum up her feelings for Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) when it was all over: “Hallelujah!”

NRK’s commentator also called his 8th place, with a total of 88 points, “respectable.” Carl Espen received a high score of 10 points in the voting from the Netherlands, eight from Lithuania, and seven from both Ireland and Finland. No country gave him the maximum number of 12 points, though, and several gave him few if any, including just one point from Austria which ended up winning the annual contest this year. Norway’s own popular vote, meanwhile, went to Poland while its professional jury preferred Austria and the Netherlands.

An Austrian drag queen who goes by the name of Conchita Wurst stole the Eurovision show. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

An Austrian drag queen who goes by the name of Conchita Wurst stole the Eurovision show. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

The no-nonsense Carl Espen gave a very different performance from that delivered by Austria’s transvestite and drag queen who goes by the name of Conchita Wurst. The singer otherwise known as Tom Neuwirth grabbed the most attention as the “bearded lady” of the show, sporting a slinky gold dress, high heels, exaggerated eye make-up, long dark tresses and a beard to match.

That prompted some media, including Oslo newspaper Aftenposten, to question whether the Eurovision Song Contest has been turned into a “freak show” and “costume party.” It’s long been known for outlandish costumes and lavish effects from pyrotechnics to light shows, though, with this year’s contest also featuring trampoline artists bouncing behind the singers from Greece, an ice skater spinning around the singer from Montenegro and a man spinning on a sort of hamster wheel while the singer from Ukraine started the show. A majority of the songs were loud and dramatic, accompanied by frenetic dancing.

Norway’s Carl Espen, in contrast, bordered on the mundane but his ballad Silent Storm clearly made an impression nonetheless. He told NRK he was “incredibly happy” to have finished in the Top 10 of Europe’s largest song contest.

For more photos and links to videos of both Norway’s and Austria’s performance, click to NRK website here (external link).

“It’s a great honour to be one of the 10 best in Eurovision,” Carl Espen told news bureau NTB. “I’m incredibly glad to have received all the votes we did from all over Europe.” As newspaper Dagens Næringsliv’s commentator Kjetil B Alstadheim wryly noted, Eurovision is the only night of the year when Norway’s voice is heard in Europe, a reference to Norway’s status as one of the few countries in Europe that has never joined the European Union.

Songwriter Winther told NTB that she now plans to treat her cousin to a beer. He quickly responded that he’d reciprocate, but that after a wild week at Eurovision in Copenhagen, he looked forward most of all to traveling home to Norway and escaping to his hytte (vacation cottage), “completely alone in the beginning, then maybe I’ll invite someone to come join me.”

Winther said the Eurovision experience “has given us, and not least Carl Espen, an incredible amount of new possibilities. After Carl Espen has been at the hytte for a few days, we’ll sit down and find out what we do with this. And then we’ll make a plan that will be perfect for Carl Espen.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund