Norway’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, Carl Espen Thorbjørnsen, survived his round of Eurovision semi-finals in Copenhagen Thursday night. The amateur singer who goes simply by the name “Carl Espen” won a coveted spot in the Eurovision finals on Saturday.
Carl Espen’s performance of the ballad “Silent Storm,” written by his cousin Josefin Winther, was third on the list of 15 artists singing in Thursday’s second round the European song contest’s annual preliminaries. He won enough votes among viewers all over Europe to join the 10 performers chosen to compete once again on Saturday. They’ll join another 10 from the first round of semi-finals on Tuesday, plus all the all countries that automatically qualify.
“Just fantastic,” Carl Espen, known for being a man of few words, told state broadcaster NRK after the extravagant show. “Just fantastic,” he repeated live on the air amid hoopla backstage as he clearly groped for more words. “I look forward to Saturday.”
The stoic 31-year-old tenor who dreams of making a living with music had told newspaper Dagbladet earlier in the day that he was afraid of letting his Norwegian supporters down. He didn’t, belting out his ballad which set itself apart from the other entries that mostly featured screaming singers, pulsating light shows, wild dancing, pyrotechnics and wind machines. Carl Espen personified the quiet before the storm with his song that starts out slow and builds up to a crescendo with a memorable refrain.
He appeared calm and claimed he really was, because that’s his nature. “And it can be an advantage,” he told Dagbladet matter-of-factly, especially in the annual Eurovision circus. Nor did he show any signs of being nervous on stage before an audience of more than 10,000 in the B&W Hall in Copenhagen and millions more watching on live TV.
Carl Espen, who performed military service in Kosovo before coming home to find work in a glass business, admitted to feeling pressure, though. “I’m first and foremost afraid of disappointing the Norwegian people,” he said before Thursday’s show. “That’s the worst that can happen.”
His fears were unfounded and now he’ll go on to sing once again in Europe’s largest music contest over the weekend, backed up by mother and other family members who’ve traveled down to Denmark from their homes around Osterøy in Hordaland, just outside Bergen. The final is set for Saturday evening, once again live on NRK1.