Eurovision 2019 Review: Norway – KEiiNO – Spirit In The Sky


Norway tries to create the perfect Eurovision formula with KEiiNO
Norway is one of the most successful countries in the Eurovision Song Contest in recent memory. Since the introduction of semi finals in 2004, The Norwegian have only missed out on a spot in the final three times, while winning in 2009, reaching the top 5 in 2008 and 2013 as well as four more top 10 finishes. Last year was not one of them. Alexander Rybak, who brought his country the victory with ‘Fairytale’ in 2009, returned with ‘That’s How You Write Song’. It all started promising when he won the second semi final, but in the final he finished 15th. This year broadcaster NRK selected through national final MGP once again and the band KEiiNO emerged as winners with the typical Eurovision track ‘Spirit In The Sky’.

KEiiNO consists of singers Alexandra Rotan and Tom Hugo Hermansen as well as Sámi rapper and joiker Fred-René Buljo and was formed in 2018. Their track ‘Spirit In The Sky’ sounds like it was tailormade for Eurovision. It mixes the production of an electronic pop song with some schlager like melody lines and of course the folk vibe of the Sámi joik. I have to admit the hooks are instant enough to impress on first listen and so far there is no other tune like ‘Spirit In The Sky’ in this year’s contest. It is the kind of thing you hardly ever hear outside of the Eurovision bubble, but it sure is something that appeals to a lot of the fans of the contest. There is a lot of ‘Oslo 2020!’ going on in the comments and even the bookmakers have them in their top 10 at the time of writing.

It is safe to say that what happened on the MGP stage, was not a performance ready to win Eurovision yet. As the three artists only just formed as a group and all have different musical backgrounds, they do not necessarily look like a band yet. The stage act at the same time needs to be toned down, as there is too much happening at the moment. We see dancers perform a choreography that does not necessarily fit the style of the song, as well as a marching band with drummers that invades the stage halfway through. The only element they definitely need to keep is the colours of the northern lights on the stage when they sing about this natural phenomenon in the chorus. They could make this stand out more with the background too.

I personally don’t think that ‘Spirit In The Sky’ is winner material, but if KEiiNO manages to clean up their stage act, a spot in the final should well be within reach.

Review on semi-final performance:
We can almost always count on one of the Nordic countries to bring a proper Eurovision banger to the stage. This year Norway sent KEiiNO who bring a mix of schlager melodies, a pop production and Sami folk Joik. The three performers bring a different vibe to the song and the stage, which could have resulted in a messy performance, but it did not. They all started out in different places on the stage and came together for the last part of the song. It all looked simple but slick and all three band members delivered strong vocals. This is stereotypically Eurovision and I am happy to see enough people were living for this for it to go through to the final!

Review on the final performance and result:
Norway’s supergroup KEiiNO delivered another top notch performance of their irresistible typical Eurovision bop ‘Spirit In The Sky’ and to the surprise of almost everyone, they managed to win the televoting! Although I did not see that coming, it is exciting to see that this type of Eurovision banger still resonates with the voting audience. Unfortunately for Norway, the juries weren’t as keen. That is an understatement, because if it was up to the juries, KEiiNO would not even have made it to the final to begin with. The differences between the jury votes and televoting were massive in the final as well, as the mix of schlager, pop and joik ended up in 16th place with the ‘music professionals’, giving the Scandinavian country a 6th place overall. A fantastic result, but I can imagine it must taste bittersweet for them.


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