Two of Norway’s biggest Eurovision stars, Bettan (Elisabeth Andreassen) and Tor Endresen, have joined forces in Norway’s national selection Melodi Grand Prix 2015 with the song All over the world. Their story holds a big part of Norway’s chronicle in the Eurovision Song Contest. ESCToday.com has met the duo for a talk about their beginning, the good and less good times, as well as their latest contribution to the Eurovision Song Contest.
Bettan’s breakthrough to the Eurovision world happened in 1981, when she finished 2nd in Melodifestivalen as a part of Sweets ‘n’ Chips. “In 1981, I was in a concert hall, I went backstage and said ‘I am very good, please, can I sing on your stage?’. They let me sing and the morning after they wanted to test my singing and I got a contract the same day. They asked me if I want to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest. Everything happened in two days! I got discovered and I met this wonderful producer Lasse Holm who wrote Främling and Dag efter dag, I was lucky, I met the right guy at the right moment”. Her first time was very chaotic though. “There was a lot of dancing, choreography and clothing, everyone was telling us what to do and it went so fast and I didn’t have time to understand what I really want myself. Everything was under professional hands and went fine. It took some years to relax in this world, but it was full of love, color, happiness and nothing was negative. It was really fun. It’s something that you watch on TV for years and you never thought that you were gonna be there but you wished and always hoped. and suddenly it just happened so quickly.”
“For me it was almost the same,”, says Tor. “The record company came to me and asked me if I want to give it a go in MGP. It was many years before the dream came true, but it did come at the end! I started playing when I was 16 which was in 1975. My debvt in MGP was in 1987, so I have been walking my way through the dance halls for 10 years. It took me 10 years to win, but it was great and fantastic. Norway is a little country, if you did a good job and if people meant that you should have won this thing but you didn’t – sometimes it’s better to get the sympathy of being number two.”
“When he had Radio Luxembourg in MGP 1992 I was the presenter and I really wanted him to win because I thought he had the best song, so when I was presenting the winner you could see that I was very disappointed.”, says Bettan. “We were leading until the last vote. But it was my biggest hit in Norway, and it is still played on the radio. They also played it the day they closed down the old Radio Luxembourg in Luxembourg! So, I don’t know, if I’ve been traveling to Eurovision that year, and ended as number 25, it hadn’t been such a great hit. Participating can be a good thing, we can also see it in these days, often number 2 and 3 become hits on the radio.”
Bettan says that she believed that La det swinge could win Eurovision. “We were close to think that we will win, yes. Because of the feeling inside. When I heard La det swinge for the first time, I told Rolf Løvland and Hannah, ‘My god, this is the winner. this is the winning song. and if we don’t win, we will have the greatest hit ever’. We loved the song and we feld that it was so nice to our image. We felt very good when we came to Gothenburg.”. Tor, on the other hand, ended up with null points when he finally came to the Eurovision stage in 1997. “I’ve been told after that, that this was the year when they were trying to turn the ESC towards a bit younger audience, and there also was a kind of idea about the juries in the countries, they shouldn’t be older than 30 or something. I was also the only one that used the band, it was the first year that there was rap music so everything was turning that year and the only one who didn’t know anything about that was me! I did what I should do but it was kind of sitting in the back in the greenroom, looking at television, so nobody ever thought we’re gonna get any points. It was an experience, we had a terribly nice time in Ireland and it was just great. I participated again in Norway’s MGP two years later, with Lover.”
Nine years after winning Eurovision, Bettan had the honour of representing Norway again – on homeground – with I evighet. “I thought I had a good song but I never thought I’m gonna get the second place. My mom was interviewed right before the show started and said ‘she will be number 2’. I love all my duos and trios but it felt really special to do a solo song and be number two, and in Norway, the country who hosted it. I thought: ‘we give away the winning, but we will take the second place.'”
Apart from reaching the top, Bettan could also find herself at the other side of the scoreboard. Her latest participation, prior to MGP 2015, was in Melodifestivalen 2011, where she ended up last in second semifinal. “I’m really happy to come back, because I want to get all the places, so yeah, I got that too. Something inside is telling me that a song is not gonna get a good place. I’m more used to it now, but when I was younger, it was different. In Melodifestivalen 1984, when Herreys won, I had a really bad song (Kärleksmagi), and I was coming into the last places. If somebody came up to me then and said ‘you don’t have to worry, next year you will win the whole thing’, I would believe him. That’s the fun with this career.”
Both Tor and Bettan really enjoyed the process of their participation at this year’s Melodi Grand Prix. “In the past, the contest it didn’t have the same credibility it has now. We think it’s great to have the opportunity to be a part of it these days. It really got the attention all over Europe and also here in Norway. It’s also a jubilee here for the 60th anniversary, and Bobbysocks’ 30th anniversary! From the biggest papers we got very good reactions. They took it really seriously and they thought it was great. There was kind of spread in age in the participants this year. Most of them are young artists and then I think 20% are kinda grown-ups. NRK takes the music seriously and they work with very good songwriters and lyricists, and try to handle and treat it seriosuly. We notice that. We can feel that the media also takes it more seriously. They talk about it as it means soemthing for the viewers and the artists.”
“I think it’s the best song I’ve ever participated with in this competition.”, says Tor. “We are grown ups, we can sing about stuff that we love to sing about, that are serious to us and it’s about humanity and even the nerves or the nailbiting bits are not there anymore, it’s only about power and happiness. It’s a song that is easy to join singing to, and it’s power all along!”
Tor and Bettan have managed to qualify to the superfinal of Melodi Grand Prix 2015 and finish in the 4th place out of 11 acts who participated at the competition. On these dark December nights, while the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 season is about to begin, we can all enjoy their performance of All over the world featuring NRK’s Radio Symphony Orchestra at the Norwegian finals.