Jostein Hasselgård with calm ballad for Norway

by Bjørn Erik Opheim 285 views

Who would have thought that Norway was going to pick a ballad to be its entry in the Eurovison Song Contest again? It was thought that the audience wouldn't allow such an experiment after Haldor Lægreid's failure in Copenhagen two years ago. The bookmakers' chart predicted him to finish ninth. Therefore, the winner happens to be an outsider most people didn't even imagine would reach the super final, but still highly appreciated by the majority. Jostein Hasselgård (pictured) will defend the three colours red, white and blue in the Latvian capital.

Speaking of Haldor Lægreid, he was actually amongst the audience himself, cheering for his favourite entrant, Birgitta Einarsen with the Eurovision hymn Good Evening, Europe!.

Jostein was the one with the undoubtly largest fan club present at the venue, Oslo Spektrum, where approximately 130 of the more than 3500 spectators were said to be personal friends of the singer. They seemed to be a larger fan club than all the other fan clubs together!

The athmosphere was more euphoric than ever before during a Norwegian final, and so was the quality of the songs. This edition of Melodi Grand Prix was unprecedented in its exposure of a wide variety of musical genres; from funk, ethnic folk music and rock till ballads, disco, pop and traditional schlagers. Several performers were really nervous on stage, and the most nervous of them all seemed to be Jostein himself. Still he managed to reach the super final, where he relaxed, and convinced with his pleasant voice, a lot more. There were only two real competitors in this super final of the four most popular songs. The televoting results revealed that Jostein Hasselgård's I'm not afraid to move on, and the former member of the Popstars band Cape, Alfie, and his self composed song One, were galaxes ahead of Birgitta Einarsen's Good Evening, Europe!, which ended third, and Din hånd i min hånd, the “eighties coming back” entry by the three Eurovision dinosaurs, Kikki, Bettan and Lotta. Surprisingly, the only song which finished without a single point, represented one of the night's best performances, and the only typical Norwegian folk tune of the final, Åse Karin Hjelen's Han kom som ein vind.

Jostein Hasselgård has been described as “the male counterpart to Karoline Krüger”, who represented Norway in the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest with another piano ballad, For vår jord, reaching a fifth position. After his victory, Jostein Hasselgård told the broadsheet paper Aftenposten that he was even prepared to end last. Earlier, he has been singing for a gospel choir, and reveals that Sting and Stevie Wonder are among his favourite musicians.

Super final results
1. Jostein Hasselgård; I'm not afraid to move on; 78,460 televotes
2. Alfie; One; 50,885 televotes
3. Birgitte Einarsen; Good Evening, Europe!; 25,978 televotes
4. Kikki, Bettan & Lotta; Din hånd i min hånd; 25,962 televotes

Jostein, playing the piano during his performance

Initial round results
5. Linda Kvam; You've got a hold on me; 25 points
5. Daddy Cool; Don't stop; 25 points
7. Monopole; Wonderful Girl; 18 points
8. Ingvild Pedersen; Anyway you want it; 16 points
9. Soda; Fool in love; 13 points
10. Erik Jacobsen; So you say; 5 points
11. Don; Perfect Tragedy; 4 points
12. Åse Karin Hjelen; Han kom som ein vind; 0 points

'Melodi Grand Prix 2003' will be rebroadcast by NRK1 at 15:40 CET Sunday afternoon (today).

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