The Norwegian singer known as TIX put his critics to shame when he won Norway’s qualifier for the Eurovision Song Contest last weekend by a wide margin. One of TIX’s toughest critics was even forced to eat a trademark TIX headband live on national TV Tuesday night, after an extraordinary live debate over how he’d allegedly bullied TIX and was then called upon to publicly apologize, but refused.
Critic Anders Grønneberg of newspaper Dagbladet, a musician himself, refused to express any regrets for his harsh assessments of TIX, which the singer (Andreas Haukeland) equated to bullying. Haukeland has earlier revealed that he’d been a victim of childhood bullying because he suffered from Tourette’s syndrome and was therefore subject to tics, hence his stage name.
Grønneberg couldn’t get away, however, from following through on a vow he’d made before Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) hosted its annual Eurovision qualifier called Melodi Grand Prix (MGP): “I will eat a TIX headband, lying on a bed of smashed glass from his sunglasses, if he wins the MGP final.”
So he did, minus the smashed glass but all served up by a Dagbladet food writer and chef in a crepe-like pancake because the Norwegian word for a headband is panneband.
Both the highly public stand-off between TIX and Grønneberg, and a debate that later included Grønneberg’s editor and professional commentators, were all broadcast live Tuesday night on NRK’s highly rated debate program Debatten. It normally features top politicians and centers on major serious issues of the day.
Tuesday night’s debate over TIX’ winning performance while wearing enormous angel wings was a noted departure, but nonetheless serious indeed. TIX/Haukeland took issue with the power media critics have, and how they can wield it in unnecessarily cruel ways. TIX had, for example, gone public on an NRK talkshow called Lindmo about his loneliness as a child, and how he’d even contemplated suicide. He cried openly on Lindmo, just as he did on NRK when he won the chance to represent Norway at Eurovision.
Grønneberg, however, seemed to interpret TIX’s emotion as a cynical attempt to win more publicity. In a review of a competing artist, Grønneberg went so far as to suggest “How about crying a bit on Lindmo?” That deeply hurt TIX and angered many others. It’s not easy for most young men to display emotion or talk about their problems, TIX said, accusing Grønneberg Tuesday night of making it worse by stigmatizing such openness.
Grønneberg ended up being the target of TIX’s highly indignant fans and others, who’ve noted that TIX won because he’s wildly popular with young Norwegians who simply love his songs. They staunchly defend him from the critics who have replaced the bullies of his childhood.
“TIX has become much more than just a singer, he’s a phenomenon,” commentator Selma Moren wrote in newspaper Dagsavisen on Tuesday. Many critics hate him, but his fans love him. More than a million Norwegians tuned in to watch NRK’s Eurovision qualifier Saturday night, and TIX won the public vote by a solid margin.
Some may argue TIX won the sympathy vote more than the musical vote, “but people have the power (at the annual song contest),” wrote Aftenposten commentator Robert Hoftun Gjestad on Tuesday, “and they love TIX’s ballad about his own problems, depressions and how love has helped him find his way out of the darkness.”
A more conventionally dressed TIX, still wearing his tradmark sunglasses and headband though, confronted Grønneberg Tuesday by flat out requesting an apology. He didn’t get one, with Grønneberg adding that he “stands by” his reviews of TIX’ songs. He’d even commented earlier in the that “a million flies like shit, but that doesn’t mean shit is good.”
TIX arguably won in the end, though. “Strong histories move us,” wrote commentator Gjestad about TIX. He thinks TIX will have a tougher time winning at Eurovision in May than he did at NRK’s Melodi Grand Prix, but TIX “definitely has an important story to tell.”