Wearing a dress she loves that features snowflake patterns, and singing a new song called Icebreaker, Agnete Kristin Johnsen from Norway’s northernmost county of Finnmark broke the ice in more than ways than one during Norway’s annual Melodi Grand Prix song contest over the weekend. Her smashing victory means she’ll represent Norway at the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm in May.
“Insane,” the singer who goes by simply “Agnete (Ahg-nett-uh)” exclaimed several times during post-contest interviews. She wrote her winning song along with Gabriel Alare and Ian Curnow, and claimed it was “very personal,” involving a good friend who was facing hard times and how important it was to stand by her.
To see her performance at the Melodi Grand Prix song contest, arranged and aired nationwide by Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), click to NRK here, scroll to the bottom and click on “Agnete synger vinnerlåten” (external link, in Norwegian, but the song is in English).
Johnsen has also been open about facing hard times, even though she’s only 21 years old and has won several other contests and national fame earlier. She was lead singer in the band “BlackSheeps” that won the Nordic Melodi Grand Prix final for juniors when she was just 14. She won the Norwegian version of Dancing with the Stars in 2014 and made history by being the first “junior” to also win Norway’s national song contest as a “senior.”
“I think it’s fun to compete, to be pressured to do your very best,” Johnsen told newspaper Aftenposten on Monday. When she dropped out of another televised competition last fall, however, she was open about saying it was because of psychological problems. “You shouldn’t feel any shame over going to a psychologist,” she said. “There’s too many people who don’t dare say that they’re struggling. I wanted to be honest and tell my story. Maybe that can help others dare to be open.”
She intended to head back home to Nesseby in Finnmark after the national competition in Oslo on Saturday, “to take a break, head for the mountains and breathe. It’s important to recharge batteries.” Then she’ll have a busy spring in the run-up to Eurovision in May, which is being held in Stockholm since Swedish singer Måns Zelmerlöw won last year.
Saturday night’s contest was watched by more than 1.3 million Norwegians, the best ratings for the show in six years. And Johnsen’s victory was decisive, as she scored more than twice the number of votes cast by the public than the second-place winner, Freddy Kalas with his song, Feel Da Rush.
“Insane,” Johnsen repeated when it was all over. “It was a very big moment,” she told Aftenposten the next day. She said she has no idea how European voters will react to her song, but she won’t hesitate to try breaking the ice again.