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NORWAY AT EUROVISION

EUROVISION

‘We kind of wanted to bring something new’

Norway has again sent a slow orchestral ballad to Eurovision, defying all convention. But Monster Like Me’s gothic eccentricity has won enough fans to at least qualify as an outrider. Here’s everything you need to know about Mørland and Debrah Scarlett's dark, dark secrets.

'We kind of wanted to bring something new'
Mørland and Scarlett at breakfast on 17th of May in Vienna, ahead of the contest. Photo: Alexander Vestrum / NTB scanpix
 “We have to do things in our own way, and that's what we've done from the start with the song,” Kjetil Mørland, who wrote the duet, explained at a press conference in Vienna on Tuesday. “We kind of wanted to bring something new to the competition.”  
 
On the face of it, though, what they’ve brought is exactly what Norway offered last year.
 
Like Silent Storm by burly ex-bouncer Carl Espen, it's a piano-driven ballad backed up by soaring strings. 
 
The difference is in the song's cleverness. 
 
It shows a man confessing to his lover to having done “something terrible in my early youth,” leaving us inevitably imagining the worst, only for her to miraculously not reject him. 
 
The reason the lyrics strike above the normal Eurovision level probably has something to do with Mørland’s time fronting the UK Indie-rockers Absent Elk, whose high point was being invited to perform their cover of Girls Aloud's The Loving Kind in front of a vast crowd at London's O2 stadium on the back of their YouTube version
 
In fact, he'd only recently moved back to Norway to start his solo career when he submitted the song to Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix last year, having spent most of his adult life around Shoreham on the Sussex coast. 
 
Scarlett is also a recently returned expatriate Norwegian. After being born and raised in Basel, Switzerland, she came to Norway in 2013 to compete in Norway’s version of The Voice, using her real name Joanna Bussinger.  
 
Mørland settled on her after searching Youtube for Norwegian singers who'd fit the song. 
 
“I wrote the song as a duet, so I had to find a lovely girl to sing it with,”  he explained in a press conference in Vienna, and Debrah's got the character and fragility to her voice which really resonates with the song.”
 
Scarlett said it was initially difficult, as she was used to singing songs she had written herself. 
 
“But the song really grew on me and I guess the chemistry between us came very quickly,” she explained. 
 
The brilliant video released in March played up the dark, decadent aspect, placing the two at a country house party, with Mørland in a dinner jacket and Scarlett in a black cocktail dress.  
 
Despite its lavish production, Mørland insists the video was made on a shoestring, and directed by his cousin. 
 
In Vienna, the duo have been playing down the darkness a little, with Mørland appearing at the dress rehearsal in a white t-shirt and skinny jeans. 
 
They've also showed their light-hearted side by singing a version of Fairytale by Alexander Rybak, the song which won Eurovision for Norway in 2009 and still holds the record for the highest ever score received in the contest. 
 
In one interview, Mørland suggested that the character in the song hadn’t even done much out of the ordinary. 
 
“The lyrics are about a dark secret from your past which they haven't managed to talk about,” Mørland said. “I think that's something everyone can relate to.”
 
Scarlett agreed that the song was “very honest”. “It is about everything else but being perfect. It is telling the other person that you actually did something pretty awful.” 
 
Only the lyrics seem to suggest it’s so much worse than that. 
 
Overthinking It, a Los Angeles-based podcast for geeks, has even gone so far as to start a “Monster Like Me Contest!” where listeners can suggest what terrible act lurks in the man's past. 
 
Lyrics:
 
Honey, I’m telling the truth

I did something terrible in my early youth

My mind went blank, I lost control

I was just a little boy, I did not know
I better let you go

To find the prince you thought you found in me

I better set you free and give you up

Just wave and say goodbye and let you live

Without a monster like me
Honey, what am I to you?

I have pulled the trigger on this awful truth

Oh, hold me now ’cause I’m burning up

Sing me something beautiful, just make it stop
I better let you go

To find the prince you thought you found in me

I better set you free and give you up

Just wave and say goodbye and let you live

Without a monster like me
Oh… oh…
Oh… oh…Just go

To find the prince you thought you found in me

I better set you free and give you up

Just wave and say goodbye and let you live

Without a monster like me, oh
Without a monster like me
 
Here's the rehearsal last week. 
 
 
Here's the original video: 

And here's them playing Alexander Rysbak's Fairytale at the Nordic party on Tuesday night.

EUROVISION

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. 

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