Nine performers were plucked out of three semi-finals for Norway’s annual Eurovision Song Contest qualifier over the weekend. A salesman for a glass firm in Bergen received the most votes at Sunday’s competition, according to state broadcaster NRK, which produces the show.
Carl Espen Thorbjørnsen had already been declared a favourite to win not only the Norwegian run-up to Eurovision, called Melodi Grand Prix, but also the entire international extravaganza by Morten Thomassen, leader of the Norwegian MGP Club. The ballad Thorbjørnsen is singing, written by his cousin Josefin Winther and called “Silent Storm,” can “beat out all the others,” Thomassen told newspaper Aftenposten in January, if only because of Thorbjørnsen’s powerful voice.
Thorbjørnsen, who simply uses the name “Carl Espen,” has no prior show business experience apart from being in a local talent show at Osterøy outside Bergen. He’s worked for the same glass company for 12 years and was an unusual choice for his songwriter cousin to choose when she nominated him to the NRK jury that sorted through more than 600 entries for the three semi-finals.
“They’d never heard of him, but they said, ‘oh my god, what a voice,'” Winther told Aftenposten. She simply wanted to help prod someone whom she thinks is a major singing talent into the spotlight. Both she and Carl Espen, age 31, were reduced to tears when he won Sunday’s semi-final with the most votes of all. “What do I say now?” he mused on stage when it was all over. “I say ‘many, many thanks,’ I’m incredibly grateful.”
Hear Carl Espen and the other winners sing by clicking here, and then on the photos in NRK’s text.
Also winning on Sunday evening were Elisabeth Carew, the singing sister of former pro-football player John Carew, with her own song “Sole Survivor,” and the rock band El Cuero with its entry, “Ain’t no more love in this city no more.”
All of the winners ended up singing in English, not Norwegian. The winners of Saturday night’s semi-final included a pop duo of two nurses named Oda & Wulff, singing a song actually called “Sing,” a young woman named Charlie singing “Hit me up” and Knut Kippersund Nesdal singing “Taste of you,” the latter getting the most votes.
On Friday, NRK’s newly streamlined version of Melodi Grand Prix was won by a survivor of the massacre on Utøya who goes by the stage name “Mo” with a song called heal. He got the most votes, followed by former Donkey Boy singer Linnea Dale with her song “High Hopes” and Dina Misund with a country-pop song called “Needs.”
All of them will compete again at a show that NRK will broadcast live from the Oslo Spektrum Arena on Saturday night, with the winner going on to represent Norway at the Eurovision Song Contest, which will be held in Copenhagen this year in early May.