Norway smashed Eurovision records when they won with Alexander Rybak’s “Fairytale” back in 2009, and rightly so. But they also have a history as one of the nations that’s had the most last place entries. I think they’re usually good about sending entries that are in touch with what’s going on in pop music, but that doesn’t always translate to Eurovision success.
Case in point: 2011’s entry, Stella Mwangi’s “Haba Haba”. I thought this had a lot of potential to go far as an entry – it pulled in from some tropical stuff that was going on in pop at the time, and brought an infectious island flavor to the contest. It seemed to be received well by the crowd inside the stadium during the semi-final, then it finished in 17th place out of 19 and didn’t get through to the final. All this has me trying to hedge my bets before I talk about this year’s track, JOWST’s “Grab The Moment”.
Tropical House and other clubby sounds like it are having a Big Moment in pop right now, so it’s understandable they’d make it to the Eurovision Song Contest. And much like with 2011, I think this is a really great song where, if the vibe across the EBU is right, this could do big business at the Contest this year. It’s super hooky and memorable, they’ve found a way to make the performance relatively dynamic, and it has the sort of generally uplifting message that the Contest tends to return to time and time again.
But I’m also concerned. While this might go over big with the televoters, I’m wondering if it’s going to impress the juries enough to get the numbers it needs on their end to really succeed in the Contest overall. Plus, there’s a bunch of vocal sampling going on here. I think that particular issue can be worked out in the lead out to the contest (particularly since Ira Losco and a few other artists last year had to do the same thing for their performances), but if the judges think this is too simple or doesn’t show enough songcraft (even though I’d argue it does), it’s not going to rise to the top of the voting charts.