Carl Espen losing ground in Eurovision stakes

Norwegian singer Carl Espen has dropped from third to eighth place in the list of the most likely competitor to win Eurovision, after a barnstorming performance by Sweden's Sanna Nielsen.

Carl Espen losing ground in Eurovision stakes
Carl Espen rehearing with choreographers. Photo: Carl Espen website
According to Oddschecker, which compiles the odds offered by a selection of games companies, Carl Espen, who had been hovering in third place among the competition's participants with his song Silent Spring, dropped to eighth place after the semi-final on Tuesday showed the strength of competition. 
"Sanna really carried off one of her best performances last night," Torbjorn Ek, a Eurovision specialist for Sweden's Aftonbladet newspaper, told VG.
He said that he expected Carl Espen to make it to the finals when he sings on Thursday. 
"If he delivers and feels confident on stage on Thursday — not afraid as he has been in the past – I think Norway can be confident of going to the final," he added. 
Once it gets to the final, he argued that Carl Espen's decision to sing a slow, plaintive ballad made it crucial at what point he takes to the stage. 
"The kind of song that Carl Espen is singing makes it important to sing late so that people remember the song properly," he said.

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Norway’s Eurovision hope struggles with mental ‘hell’

Agnete Johnsen, who is representing Norway at next week's Eurovision Song Contest 2016, has cancelled all public appearances ahead of the big show.

Norway's Eurovision hope struggles with mental 'hell'
Although she is struggling mentally, Agnete Johnsen said she is still in it to win it. Photo: Julia Nagelstad/Eurovision

The 21-year-old singer from Nesseby said that her mental health is struggling in the run-up to the contest in Stockholm and has pulled out of all national and international activities, including interviews and concerts.

“I appreciate the interest in my participation in Eurovision but right now my only focus is to do what I love most – signing on stage. I hope people can understand that I need to do that now,” she told broadcaster NRK.

Johnsen, whose song 'Icebreaker' won Norway's national competition in February, said that she has long battled depression and suicidal thoughts.

“For many years, I have been struggling mentally and I can't always control my thoughts as mush as I'd like to. When it happens, I am not capable of thinking positive and I will mentally go to a very dark place,” Johnsen told VG. 

“Everything is just negative. A pure hell,” she added. 

Johnsen said she hopes that pulling out of the promotional events in Stockholm ahead of the big show will allow her to focus on her performance. 

According to her managers, Stein Vanebo and Espen Nystad, the singer's decision to focus on her mental health ahead of the contest has the full support of the Norwegian delegation.

“All of us who are going to Stockholm are united in giving her all the support she needs to bring the victory home. And let there be no doubt – Agnete is competing to win Eurovision,” they said in a statement to NRK.

Johnsen will perform 'Icebreaker' in the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest on May 12th in Stockholm. The final round is on May 14th.