NORWAY: KEiiNO “Spirit In The Sky”May 1, 2019
It was a classic NRK Melodi Grand Prix this year, with five songs conceivably worthy enough to grace the Eurovision stage in Tel Aviv. Mr Unicorn by D'Sound, The Bubble by Adrian Jørgensen, En Livredd Mann by Mørland and Feel by Ingrid Berg Mehus were all excellent songs and performances, with Ingrid gaining extra notoriety for being the inspiration behind Alexander Rybak's Eurovision 2009 winner, Fairytale. It's a shame there can't more than one song entered from a single country and kick out some of the dud songs this year. Ultimately, Spirit In The Sky by KEiiNo would run out as dominant winners once they reached the Gold Final after a scare from the jury in the preliminary voting phase who rated Mr Unicorn their clear favourite.
KEiiNO consist of three members, and some familiar faces if you've watched MGP recently. Alexandra Rotan appeared last year as part of Alexandra and Stella, while Tom Hugo appeared as himself. With the addition of Fred Buljo, KEiiNO, formed in 2018, and enjoyed instant success with Spirit In The Sky. It's no surprise, too, as it's an incredibly positive, catchy and energetic song, complete with some indigenous elements of Sami chanting throughout. The build up through the bridge section is particularly rousing. With it being the clear favourite of the Norwegian public, it's also the favourite of many Eurovision fans, and sits well as one of the most popular on youtube with 5 million views of the national final performance alone at the time of writing. Being one of the very few uptempo songs this year certainly helps it stand out, too.
The message the song brings is the Sami belief that nature gives you strength in times of trouble. Perhaps that is apt because it sits around 10th at $40 in the betting odds, which suggests it needs some extra strength if it's to achieve a high result. Personal concern surrounds whether there's enough to it, as in, remove the Sami elements and Northern Lights staging effects and fog, and it's all a bit generic. Another problem is groups are notoriously difficult to choreograph into a cohesive routine and ultimately, it can look like people standing around, randomly singing to each other. The national final performance looked just like that, and even the music video looks a bit messy. Perhaps Fred needs his own separate part of the stage for his thing, and leave Alexandra and Tom as a duo.
With some well worked changes, Spirit In The Sky should at least progress to the grand final despite being the strong second semi final, which contains four of big favourites against it - namely Netherlands, Switzerland, Russia and Sweden - and Malta as eighth best.