Eurovision winner aims for Top 10

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Margaret Berger, a 27-year-old singer from Trøndelag, claims that just qualifying for Norway’s local version of the Eurovision Song Contest over the weekend already has changed her life. She ended up winning the contest by a huge margin and is unlikely to make many other changes in her performance when she represents Norway at Eurovision later this spring. She aims to get Norway at least back into Eurovision’s Top 10.

Margaret Berger, reacting after winning this year's Norwegian preliminary to the Eurovision Song Contest. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

Margaret Berger, reacting after winning this year’s Norwegian preliminary to the Eurovision Song Contest. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

“There’s something called ‘never change a winning team,'” Berger told newspaper Aftenposten on Monday, and that means she’s likely to re-use the same unusual, long, form-fitting white costume that she wore during the Norwegian preliminaries for Eurovision. “It functions well with the song, even though you can get tired of the same dress you’ve had on many times,” she said.

Berger beat out nine other contestants in Saturday’s final of what’s called Melodi Grand Prix in Norway. Her rendition of the new song “I feed you my love,” written by Karin Park of Sweden, secured more than twice the number of votes as that of the next runner-up, Adelén’s “Bombo,” and far outpaced the other two songs that made the final cut.

One of them (“I’m with you,” sung by 18-year-old Annsofi from Sarpsborg) had even been written by Norway’s own Eurovision legend, Alexander Rybak, who won the huge pan-European contest with the most points ever in 2009. It was already clear after the first voting results came in from around the country on Saturday night, however, that Berger was heading for a landslide victory.

She was thrilled. “The victory in the semi-final in Florø has changed by life already,” she told Aftenposten. “I’ve received some fine offers and am very glad that my career is blossoming. I’ve been waiting for this.”

Margaret Berger will represent Norway at the Eurovision Song Contest in May. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

Margaret Berger will represent Norway at the Eurovision Song Contest in May. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

She has indeed, since she finished second in a Norwegian “Idol” contest in 2004, when she was just 18 herself. Right after that she won a Spellemannpris (one of the Norwegian music industry’s top prizes), received good reviews for her album “Chameleon” and hit the charts with the song “Samantha” in 2006. After that, though, things went quiet.

Berger told newspaper VG over the weekend that she felt her career had stalled in recent years. She broke off an engagement to marry in 2007, moved home to Trondheim, worked for state broadcaster NRK’s radio station P3, got involved in another relationship and ended it after three years.

She thought things would pick up after appearing at the national music festival Bylarm in 2011 but they didn’t. “I didn’t manage to perform at my best and the public disappeared,” she told VG. “I wasn’t sad or tired, but you can say I needed a pause.”

She had resisted earlier invitations to compete in Melodi Grand Prix but finally agreed this year and won it on the first try. “I joined in because I thought it was challenging and exciting,” Berger told Aftenposten. “Halfway through the competition (which started in January and has involved three semi-finals in Larvik, Florø and Steinkjær before Saturday’s final in Oslo) I realized I actually had a chance of winning.”

Now she’ll head for Malmö in May, since Sweden is hosting this year’s Eurovision after its own artist Loreen won last year’s contest. Public interest in Eurovision has fallen off in Norway since the last three Norwegian contestants haven’t done very well since Rybak scored so big in 2009, but Berger claims she’ll do her best to make Norway proud.

“It’s not clear yet who all the other contestants will be, so I don’t know what my chances are,” Berger said. “But I have a goal, regardless, of getting Norway back in the Top 10.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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