Løvland song heads into the finals

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He’s done it again. Another song by Norwegian musician Rolf Løvland, who’s already won two Eurovision Song Contests, gained enough points from viewers Saturday night to earn a spot in the finals of Norway’s version of the contest. That means Løvland has a chance for a third, historic victory after Maria Arredondo won over viewers with her rendition of his new song at the second of two glitzy semi-finals in the northern city of Bodø.

The song contest is known for hype, and the word “historic” already has been bandied about with relish. It was reported earlier this month, for example, that it was “historic” when a black metal band (“Keep of Kalessin”) won the first round of semi-finals for Norway’s Eurovision preliminary, called Melodi Grand Prix , on January 8.
It was the first time that a black metal group scored well in a contest known mostly for pop songs that land in the “bubble gum” category. Black metal enthusiasts were as pleased as their dour image would allow, claiming that “Keep of Kalessin” helped break down public prejudice against black metal.

This week, Melodi Grand Prix followers were noting that songwriter Rolf Løvland also could make history by winning not only another Norwegian version of Eurovision but his third Eurovision Song Contest as well. At present, reported newspaper Aftenposten , Løvland and Johnny Logan of Ireland are the only two artists who have won two Eurovision Song Contests each.He’s clearly on his way towards making Eurovision history, after singer-actress Maria Arredondo’s rendition of his new song The Touch won a spot in the finals in Oslo. Also winning a direct ticket to the Oslo finals was Alexander Stenerud’s song Give it to me , which he wrote and performed himself.

Løvland, originally from Kristiansand, is a veteran of the Eurovision circuit. He wrote a song for Melodi Grand Prix as far back as 1982 that placed 8th. He did far better three years later, when his song La det Swinge (“Let it swing”) led Norway to victory in the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time ever.

He prevailed again 10 years later, in 1995, when he wrote and co-performed Nocturne as part of the duo “Secret Garden” with Fionnuala Sherry. That song, with its haunting violin music, won Eurovision as well but Løvland is perhaps best known for writing the song You Raise Me Up . It became a huge hit for the British band Westlife and has been played more than a million times on American radio.

Now Arredondo and Stenerud will move on to the finals in Oslo on February 6 along with “Keep of Kalessin” and Maria Haukaas Storeng, another MGP veteran who won a place in the first semi-final for her ballad “Make My Day.” Joining them will be the winners of a “Last Chance” playoff set to take place in the southern city of Sarpsborg January 30.

The losers Saturday night included Tomine Harket, the 16-year-old daughter of Morten Harket, lead singer in the popular Norwegian band a-ha. Those chosen for the “Last Chance” playoff were singers Venke Knutson and Heine Totland.