Singer-songwriter Kjetil Mørland and Debrah Scarlett couldn’t quite believe they’ll be representing Norway at the Eurovision Song Contest this spring. Their tickets to the songfest in Vienna were secured, however, when Mørland’s ballad “A Monster Like Me” won Norway’s Eurovision qualifier over the weekend, Melodi Grand Prix.
“This is just incredible, I’m completely stunned,” Mørland told reporters after the victory was secured at Norway’s national version of the song contest that’s always aired by Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). His duet partner Scarlett was a bit more outspoken: “Tonight we’ll go out drinking and have fun,” she declared after uttering an expletive that usually isn’t printed in Norwegian newspapers.
Mørland, who’s from Grimstad on Norway’s south coast, wrote the winning song described as “a dark romantic ballad about confronting an unresolved issue from the past and having to give up the one you love.” He told Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten that he’d been looking for someone to sing the ballad with at Melodi Grand Prix, and saw Scarlett sing on the TV2 show The Voice.
“I was looking for a woman who had character and explosiveness in her voice,” Mørland told Aftenposten. The 21-year-old Scarlett, who was born Joanna Deborah Bussinger in Switzerland, had just moved back to Norway from art and music studies in Basel. With a Norwegian mother and Swiss-Italian father, she has managed to retain dual citizenship and moved back and forth between the two countries in her childhood and youth.
Mørland, age 32, has spent most of his adult life studying and working in Great Britain but also moved home to Norway recently. “I probably would have just been back in the studio working on my new album on Monday if we hadn’t won,” Mørland told reporters on Sunday. “Now we’ll see what happens. Maybe we’ll be traveling around a bit with the song, on our way to Eurovision, at least in Switzerland and Great Britain.”
This year’s version of Melodi Grand Prix was a slimmed-down version of NRK’s earlier huge productions, which have included as many as three sets of semi-finals staged around Norway before the final in Oslo. This year it was cut back to just the final in Oslo, featuring 11 songs. Erlend Bratland placed second with an electropop song called Thunderstruck while a duo called Staysman & Lazz placed third with En godt stekt pizza (A well-baked pizza). Both of those songs had received poor reviews by Aftenposten’s critic with the lowest score on a scale from one to six. Mørland & Debrah Scarlett had received a four.
Melodi Grand Prix- and Eurovision veteran Elisabeth Andreassen, who also competed this year and placed fourth, thinks Mørland and Scarlett will end up in the Top 10 at Eurovision in May, “because it’s a beautiful song.” While some think the ballad’s build-up takes too long, many European fans have already latched on to A Monster Like Me. Norway will compete in the Eurovision semi-final in Vienna on May 21 and the winner will be decided at Eurovision final on May 23.