Norway’s entry at the annual European song contest known as Eurovision gained enough points at the second semi-final Thursday night that it advanced to the final competition on Saturday. Both the jury and viewers voting around Europe clearly liked the Norwegian group KEiiNO’s song that features a Sami joik.
Culture Minister Trine Skei Grande has called the song Spirit in the Sky “very cool” after it won the Norwegian Eurovision preliminary, Melodi Grand Prix. “One thing is that the song is good and (the three members of KEiiNO) are fine folks,” Grande told news bureau NTB before they took off for the final in Tel Aviv. “But it’s also very cool that they’re using Melodi Grand Prix to feature (Norway’s) languages and the different cultures in Norway.”
She was referring to band member Fred Buljo’s modern version of a Sami joik during the song, and his use of Sami- and Sami-inspired clothing during the performance. Visuals in the background include panoramas of the Arctic landscape of Finnmark, home to many of Northern Norway’s indigenous Sami people. The two other band members include Alexandra Rotan and Tom Hugo.
Eurovision is being held in Tel Aviv this year because Israel has long been a member of the European Broadcasting Union and Israel’s entry won the contest last year. The final will feature winning songs from 26 countries, performing in a show that’s watched by more than 200 million television viewers.