Norway heads for Eurovision final

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Margaret Berger, Norway’s entry at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, fed her audience well enough on Thursday night to qualify for the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest this weekend. Her song “I feed you my love” clearly appealed to the tastes of European voters, and her slinky dress probably helped, too.

Margaret Berger of Norway made it into the finals at the Eurovision Song Contest with her song "I feed you my love." PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

Margaret Berger of Norway made it into the finals at the Eurovision Song Contest with her song “I feed you my love.” PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

Since fans aren’t allowed to vote for their own country’s performer, Berger had to rely on viewers outside of Norway for support. She got it, and was the fifth of 10 contestants selected in the second round of semi-finals at the music extravaganza broadcast live from Malmö, Sweden.

“This feels fantastic and I’m very relieved,” Berger told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) right after the show. “This is a fantastic kick!”

The Eurovision Song Contest is being held in Malmö since Sweden won the contest last year and thus also automatically qualifies for the finals this year as well. Contestants from all five Nordic countries made it into the final, which will be broadcast live on Saturday night.

Eurovision is a very big deal in Europe and popular in Norway, which has won the contest only three times over the past several decades. Media hype both in and out of Norway was in Berger’s favour this week, with several commentators claiming either she or Emmelie de Forest of Denmark had a good chance of winning this year.

To see and hear Margaret Berger’s performance click here, to NRK’s recap, and scroll down to the video entitled “Margaret Berger ESC 2013 semifinale.”

Margaret Berger's form-fitting dress has generated lots of comments but it seemed almost modest compared to the one worn by the singer from Israel, Moran Mazor. It gave new meaning to the term "low cut." PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

Margaret Berger’s form-fitting dress has generated lots of comments but it seemed almost modest compared to the one worn by the singer from Israel, Moran Mazor. It gave new meaning to the term “low cut.” PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

They’re up against a bizarre array of performances that typically feature a lot of pyrotechnics and wind machines as enthusiastic singers belt out their specially composed songs one right after another during the competition. Among those joining Berger in the 10 finalists on Thursday night was a male soprano from Romania in a costume resembling either a Dracula outfit or an oil spill depending on one’s point of view, while dancers in costumes that made them appear nude cavorted around him.

Also on tap was a parody of a Las Vegas-style wedding called “Marry me,” which ended with a lesbian kiss that won the vote of the gay leader of Norway’s Labour youth organization Eskil Pedersen, according to his own comment on Twitter. There were also energetic Bulgarians, who did not win, and an Armenian rock band (Dorians) who did, with a song written by Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi.

The Albanians made arguably the most use of Eurovision’s famed pyrotechnics, but the flash failed to fire them into the finals on Saturday. When it was all over on Thursday, Berger’s fellow contestants hailed from Hungary, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, Iceland, Armenia, Finland, Malta and Greece.

A total of 26 countries will compete Saturday night. Their Swedish hosts in Malmö, meanwhile, are managing to provide good weather and a relatively modest TV production that reflects hard times in Europe. The Swedes made some not unexpected jibes at Norway, telling contestants at the first semi-final on Tuesday not to complain about prices in Sweden “because it’s even more expensive in Norway!” On Thursday, though, the Swedish hostess of the show was more gracious: After consulting the Norwegian in charge of Eurovision for the European Broadcasting Union, Ola Strand, on voting, she said “That’s what we always do here in Sweden – when in doubt, turn to Norway!”

Norwegian viewers may not have thought that was a good idea when some serious technical problems marred the beginning of the show and left them with no commentary from Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) and thus no information on the first two performances from Latvia and San Marino. The sound went out entirely at one point and was out of sync when it returned during Latvia’s opening number. NRK later apologized when their commentator eventually came on the air, but he said the problems were “beyond their control.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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