Eurovision 2013: Will viewers swallow Norway's 'I Feed You My Love'?

Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest is no longer the early favourite for Eurovision success. Building up a powerful Scandi presence in neighbouring Sweden, Norway threw its hat into the ring last night when Margaret Berger triumphed with ‘I Feed You My Love’, now a top-priced 13/2 with bookmakers. Watch it here.

I’ve been watching the Norwegian contest, semis and final, online since 2008 and it’s interesting to compare Norwegian televote percentages of the winners since then (which given how ratings have changed, may be more of an indicator than voting totals). Margaret Berger won with a televote of 44.1% in the superfinal of four, which compares with the following winning percentages under the same format: Tooji 42.0% in 2012; Stella Mwangi 44.6% in 2011; Didrik Solli-Tangen 38.5% in 2010; Alexander Rybak 77.1% in 2009; and Maria Haukaas-Storeng 35.8% in 2008.

Of course, much depends on the quality of the opposition. The strongest field in a Norwegian superfinal was arguably Rybak’s year, which signalled the strength of ‘Fairytale’ before its runaway Eurovision success. Otherwise, Didrik and Maria may have got the lowest percentages but I think they faced a better set of opponents than any of the winners for the most recent three years. Thus if the historical precedent in the Norwegian televote is taken into account, ‘I Feed You My Love’ wasn’t a noticeably superior winner to most of its predecessors.

Nonetheless, there is now significant hype surrounding its chances. Is this justified?

‘I Feed You My Love’ announces its intentions immediately with a dark electroclash riff that contrasts nicely with Margaret’s glacial presence and vocals. The introduction of drums halfway through the first verse and a string-like synth sound in the chorus helps provide build, and the overall effect is rather epic.

This is a well-produced track the singer has every confidence in, hence her strong presence and minimalist performance. In her very different way, she is every bit as striking as her Danish rival in Malmo. ‘I Feed You My Love’ is a more contemporary entry than ‘Only Teardrops’. Groping for a non-Eurovision equivalent, I compared the latter to 90s Irish band The Cranberries, but the Norwegian entry brings to my mind Swedish songstress Robyn.

Actually, this kind of electro-pop sound has been popular for most of this century – it’s a decade since Benny Benassi’s ‘Satisfaction’ – and Margaret Berger has been working this kind of stuff for a good while now. But unlike ‘Only Teardrops’, you can imagine ‘I Feed You My Love’ in a playlist of current music. It would have more of a life outside Eurovision.

I like the track a great deal and believe that it will easily be one of the better songs in this year’s contest. What are the concerns for punters looking to get involved at current prices?

My main worry would be the danger that ‘I Feed You My Love’ fails to connect with the wider Eurovision audience on the Saturday night in question. They may feel it lacks a sufficient hook, lacks a sense of light and shade (it’s all shade) and lacks warmth. ‘I Feed You My Love’ is not desperate to please; it may just be too cool for school.

It’s hard to find a comparable song in recent Eurovision history. Germany’s 2011 effort ‘Taken By A Stranger’, by previous winner Lena, is much lighter and jazzier in feel, but it too could be considered admirably aloof, going for overall atmosphere and production over easy hooks. That managed a decent enough tenth place, though it was possibly helped by Lena’s fame in the contest.

It was also very cleverly staged. As it stands, what we saw in the Norwegian contest is rather static and minimalist – just the singer and a drummer. Perhaps viewers will appreciate that this works in the overall context of the song and that Margaret’s commanding presence is enough. I just worry that if it stays as it is, which it may well do, many of those looking to be entertained by a couple of hours of musical stage shows will find it uninteresting. I’ll be looking for something more in Malmo to counter this fear, though with a song of this kind that’s easier said than done.

One would hope that juries will appreciate the song, although it’s not guaranteed. Margaret’s vocals appear resilient enough, though it’s good to be wary of what we hear in the Norwegian competition. Pre-recorded vocals are allowed for this but not on the Eurovision stage. You could hear them in all but the first verse and the first half of the second verse for ‘I Feed You My Love’. Margaret won’t have them in Malmo, though the addition of backing singers will help mitigate this.

They weren’t used effectively enough for Norway’s entry ‘Stay’ at Eurovision last year, but then the focus seemed to be on the dance routine. Tooji’s last place was the third year in a row that an initially-fancied Norwegian act had disappointed.

It’s worth bearing in mind three things here: the timing of the Norwegian semis and final allows their entry plenty of early hype; the slick production and growing pan-European popularity of their contest among fans helps feed it; and bookmakers have treated the country with plenty of respect since Rybak’s landslide victory in 2009. How else can one explain the very short early price for ‘Haba Haba’ in 2011?

Those punters looking for early value will find that Norway doesn’t fall under the radar. Quite the opposite: bookmakers and eager fans have it right in their targets. The last three Norwegian entries have all drifted significantly in the market long after their victory in the national final. That should give those looking to take the current odds of 7.4 on Betfair pause to consider. However, ‘I Feed You My Love’ does seem likely to remain a fan favourite.

Overall, I’m happy to see songs of this quality participating at Eurovision. Quite what that will translate to on the scoreboard in Malmo will be another thing altogether. In the second semi-final with some rather dated stuff already selected by Switzerland, Iceland and Finland – and with Albania sent to Sweden to be reworked (where I hope they discover a melody for ‘Identitet’) – it shouldn’t have too much trouble qualifying.

But I’m not yet prepared to commit to ‘I Feed You My Love’ finishing as high on the scoreboard as many fans and punters think it should. What do you think? Do let us know in the comments section below.

26 comments to Eurovision 2013: Will viewers swallow Norway’s ‘I Feed You My Love’?

  • Ben Cook

    Yes, I was going to say it’s like Robyn doing “Taken By A Stranger”. It’ll be great to see a song like this in Eurovision. I’m quite open-minded about how it will do at this point. I’d be unsurprised to see it finish 5th, 10th or 17th. I’m really not sure.

    However right now I’d say it’s an unlikely winner, as it probably isn’t quite mainstream enough.

  • Justin

    To me this is a song that will appeal to Northern European tastes and particularly Eurovision fans. I do however have serious concerns, most of which are covered by Daniel.

    My initial doubt is that it might be one of those slightly over produced songs which sound great in a Scandi final (with all the permitted assistance) that has a significantly lesser impact on the Eurovision stage.

    Second, the minimalist presentation is static and cold and far less entertaining or engaging than, for example, the Danish entry. This of course can be worked on.

    Third, I would be concerned whether this genre is going to appeal to the Balkan and ex-Soviet televoters. Plus we already know how much juries favour ballads. With the exception of North Europe televote I am not sure where votes coming from.

    Fourth, there is potentially a strong hand of Scandi-entries fishing in this same televote pond.

    Long way to go though and I reserve the right to a complete u-turn once we have seen rehearsals and heard more entries.

  • I think this type of song, which combines a very ‘current’/non-eurovisiony sound with artistic influences, provides the same perfect opportunity for juries that ‘Euphoria’ and ‘Satellite’ did, to prove how ‘relevant’ they can be and and to get redemption for putting in their top 5 the likes of ‘Quedate Conmigo’, ‘The Secret is Love’, ‘Shine’ and other similar entries that only exist in the bubble of sweet eurovision world. I can close my eyes and visualise this as a jury top 5 (given they can pull off the transition from the pre-recorded vocals).

  • Chewy Wesker

    I think this song is a great little number, very up lifting and the drum beats push it along nicely. Daniel comparing her to robyn spot on, I would also hint at a little of cerys matthews. I too feel a little warmth missing, and i don’t expect margaret berger to get the points of say alexander rybak. But one thing we can say is that the competion has open up, and finding an out and out winner may have gotten a little harder.

  • Rob

    Was this year’s Melodi Grand Prix weak, Daniel? My impression was, it was a pretty decent final. Maybe it had different types of songs appealing to different viewers according to their specific music tastes, with many different genres represented, but surely in Adelen’s Bombo, Margaret had at least one serious competitor.

    My thinking was that Bombo was the type of song that could do amazingly well on the televote, regardless of Adelen’s weak vocal, cleverly concealed in the final, because it was an incredibly infectious tune, yet Margaret took the televote comfortably.

    I could easily envision that beautiful folk song by Fjellfolk taking this final in a weak year, yet it finished below the top 4. Certainly compared to the previous 2 years I thought this was a better crop of final songs in Norway. My knowledge of the final field back in Rybak’s year of 2009 is sadly lacking, however, as it was off my radar at the time.

    • Daniel

      You make some fair points here Rob. Reaction on forums was pretty downbeat throughout the semis, with a lot of songs being let down by poor vocals. But the superfinal was no worse than 2012 or 2011.

      However, the previous years’ superfinals were much stronger in my opinion. In 2010, Didrik beat off a decent song from A1, a very effective hard rock number, and the excellent ‘Yes Man’ which went on to be a huge number 1 hit in Norway, doing much better chart-wise than the winner.

      Rybak beat two particularly strong songs, one from Norwegian darling Tone Damli and another from Alexander Stenerud, who I’m a particular fan of. Either would have done well in that year’s Eurovision.

      I don’t really think the same could be said of any of Margaret’s rivals. ‘Bombo’ is catchy as hell and right up my street but the vocals were embarrassingly bad. Annsofi’s song was as dull as anything and she was slightly shouty in the final. Sirkus was fun but nothing more. All of them would have been no more than borderline qualifiers had they been sent.

      It’s also worth bearing in mind that Margaret felt like she was the clear producers’ favourite too. She was an utterly deserving winner, but her televote superiority compared with previous MGP winners and their Eurovision performances doesn’t suggest victory in Malmo.

      Justin makes a reasonable point that this very much feels like it comes from a certain part of Europe too. Having said all which, this is a classy song that is well performed, and like Justin I can’t dismiss it on that basis.

      • I think I need a week or so to recover from you calling Bombo ‘right up your street’ haha :) .

      • Rob

        I thought Bombo was a cracking tune, & could have imagined it walking the Norway final in another year. It was catchier than ‘Stay’ and certainly far, far superior to ‘Haba, haba’ – & Tooji & Stellar’s vocals were equally suspect.

        We have heard half of the songs taking part in MF in Sweden this year & it is has been poor fare so far. Iceland’s ballad is pretty turgid, & Finland made a mistake imo turning their back on Mikael Saari, so in terms of the Scandi region it is shaping up to be Denmark vs Norway – old vs new. Certainly a fascinating head-to-head. You pays your money & you takes your chance :)

  • Dr Rich

    I see this Norway song as one that will really struggle with the jury vote. The song and the lack of movement from Margaret are in stark contrast to the track. While this song may come across well to the general public, I feel the strong nature of the track may prevent Margaret connecting with the juries on a live stage.

  • jamelia

    what do you think of the songs in the irish nf dave?

  • hanna

    Might be a bit off topic :) , but oddchecker is taking bets on the next pope. If you scroll down, you can get really good odds on Tony Blair, Madonna, Oprah and even Lance Armstrong :D An article maybe? :) )

  • Ben Cook

    Excellent result in Germany. It’s a shameless rip-off of “Euphoria” but it’s done really well and was really surprised how well Natalie sold it. It’s difficult to imagine the same song winning two years running, but that should do really well with better staging. Vocals were pretty much spot on.

    I believe both of her parents are British, so if she does well we can claim her as one of ours, and if she doesn’t, well she’s German anyway innit? :)

  • Nick D.

    That’s put a name and a face onto the Producer’s Dilemma, I think. It would be quite rational and sensible in building a TV show to make that a Glorious opening number, or to save it for a Glorious finale. Crown it or kill it? Over to you, production team…

  • eurovisionstar

    I think Norway is the winner this year!

  • Alexandra

    Very good review, Daniel! It is a very good song that leaves pleasant after taste and good quality feeling. I enjoyed the sound of Margarets voice ever since her time in Idol. Her voice has rear krystal clear quality to it that reminds of waterspring high up in the mountains. Agree that there perhaps should be a good sophisticated dancer og a couple on stage during the performans in Malmo. Not sure the song will come to top 3 due to the fact the she is Norwegian unlike Rybak that secured votes from eastern block because of his origin. Anyway, good singer, great song.

  • Alexandra

    I would also like to add, that if the performance during Eurovision SC happens to be after a few circus and messy performances it may have a very good cooling effect on the voters. But if the song coms in a row with a few other calm songs it may loose some votes because of that.

  • Boki

    As time passed we got many entries and only few left unknown. Last year I made a small list of potential dark horses who could surprise Loreen and I’m thinking doing the same now (so against the two favorites). The problem is I can’t do it, don’t see anyone yet. Denmark is overrated imo without that special thing that the winner needs these days. So at the moment I can’t see anyone winning than Norway.

  • funky

    Norway is way out on it’s own as far as i’m concerned…with Russia runner up.
    far too much emphasis is placed on “presentation” in my opinion…several songs in recent years have been totally ruined by over-the-top staging.
    for me this Norwegian entry is better than “euphoria” and it will win.

  • I 100% agree. As far as a song being as ‘Eurovision friendly’ as Denmark….that’s not how it works. Emmelie for me looks a bit too much like Loreen last year, packed into a warm Enya-sheet.

    No, Norway for me is as original amidst the field of 39 countries as Loreen was last year, Lena was in 2011 and Alexander Rybak was in 2009. Simply too unique not to win.

    • trollgirl

      I kind of inclined to feel the same, that norway is quite stand out… I like it too. But they can always be stomped with a bad or early draw. Because after all, would they really want to win just after 3 years again? Eurovision is now on a much bigger and high cost scale than it was in the 90s, when ireland was winning years in a row, and they organised it nicely in a theatre or in Millistreet.

      • Boki

        This is funny: if you search for Norway’s GDP you get a nice growing curve except a big dip which happened in 2009 :)
        Last couple of years they are doing ok so hopefully will not ask their friends at SVT for a coffin slot.

  • funky

    my biggest worry this year is the fact that there is a world cup in 2014.
    Norway won with Rybak in 2009…2010 world cup clashed with eurovision and the host broadcaster NRK had to sell the world cup tv rights to an opposing channel in order to host Eurovision.
    I fancy Norway this time too…will NRK be prepared to lose another world cup?
    This applies to most countries in the current economic climate I suppose and having a world cup next year only makes it more difficult in deciding who actually wants to win it and have to host it in a world cup year ?
    I will be backing Norway as I believe it is the best entry and Russia because they have a good entry and also have extremely deep pockets lol.

  • http://www.esctoday.com/50223/margaret-from-norway-is-bursting-of-happiness-to-have-her-3-minutes-on-that-stage/

    Sounds like Norway aren’t changing the staging very much, if at all which I think is a mistake. The song is very strong but I would like to see a bit more going on on stage.

  • trollgirl

    Its live, Im not sure if completely or there are prerecorded backings. she sounds good, doesnt she?

  • hansenus

    There is a bet that could be very interesting regarding Norway, i have put some bucks on it. But it is also a bit freak.

    In bwin at 1.72, Norway Not to be announced as qualifying act before Georgia. If you check ticnet se the organizers of the event hardly emphasize about denmark going into semi 1 and norway in semi 2.

    So, as it happened last year when turkey was named last in Azerbaijan, Denmark and Norway are very likely to be the last countries to be called to qualify for the final in their respective semifinals.

    Based on this there are also some other bets that are interesting in bwin. Also speculation in Betfair can be interesting. For example, you try to lay denmark to qualify at 1.01 or 1.02 and then through speculation, hope they are named last, and back at 1.15-1.2 just before that

    . It is some possiblities of something that can be done i wanna share.

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