It was 20 years ago today – not quite Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – but still. 26 March 1994 and me and the rest of SubDiva performed the entry “Ui-ui-ui-uimotståelig” in the Melodi Grand Prix, the Norwegian selection for the Eurovision Song Contest. Lyrics penned by myself, tune by Svein Edvardsen, fronted by Ketil Sørhaug, feat. Linn Rilvaag. This is the whole story as it first appeared in OGAE News number 44, 1994.
Like most other Eurovision fans, I have always had the dream of one time writing an entry or performing myself. Then a couple of years ago I thought, the least I can do is try. So I did.
I can look back on the winter of 1992/93 when we ran around pestering friends and relations with a demo tape of a what we liked to call a catchy tune. After me having written the lyrics in a fit of a peak — or in about five minutes — Ketil Sørhaug, my singer friend who had asked me to write a song text in the first place, ran off to his composer friend, Svein Edvardsen. Svein took a short glance on the piece of paper, looked back on Ketil, and said: “This is how the refrain should be…” Optimistically we submitted it to the 1993 Norwegian selection for the Melodi Grand Prix, and now we were telling everybody that this surely would lead us right up on the Eurovision heaven of stars.
Of course we were turned down! From the letter we received it didn’t seem that we had been taken for any serious consideration at all.
As NRK had returned the demo tape I thought why not, and sent the very same cassette back to them for the next year. And then, I nearly forgot about it. We were all busy doing other things.
By the end of January 1994 I got a phone call from the NRK Melodi Grand Prix division: We had passed the first sieving, (from 500 entries down to a mere 100!) but: Who were we? Could we perform this ourselves? And how? Promptly I returned some flattering pictures, plans of performance and resumés highly acclaiming the three of us: Ketil, Svein and I — plus opening up for the girl who sang in part on the demo tape: Linn Rilvaag.
In the beginning of February we got the message: “Uimotståelig”, or “Irresistible” was a pretty sure entry, unofficially that was, and we were not allowed to leak a word to anybody. On our way down to the NRK HQ for the first time, we decided on Svein’s proposal of taking the name of SubDiva for the four of us.
Our CD single.
We started preparing ourselves. A whole day was spent at the NRK HQ making a “studio” music video for the preview, putting on vocals, and having our original choreography professionalized and heavily altered. It was March 8, and we had 18 days left to practice, again and again and again. This was the day after the NRK Eurovision press conference, and newspapers and radio stations started to call us at home.
Monday, 21 March: The same day as Verdens Gang, Norway’s largest newspaper, has a whole page interviewing us under the heading of “We’ll WEEP if we don’t win”, we have our song previewed on NRK.
Tuesday, 22 March: “Ui-ui-ui-ui-ui-uimotståelig? Irresistible? Hardly.” Verdens Gang gives us two points on a die, which is a tied sixth place. But: “The refrain is the catchiest of all entries.”
Wednesday, 23 March: First day rehearsing on the stage in Oslo Spektrum, the very same place as Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Luciano Pavarotti all have been doing their thing. NRK Radio have their own judging of the songs. We are placed third, as one of the reviewers has us as his second favourite, and the other one detested our song just as much as seven of the other entries. The anchorman, whose vote didn’t count, thought we were the best in show. Verdens Gang have their own voting among their readers: 70% of the callers voted for “Duett” — we are one of the other entries “equally divided among the dredge”.
Thursday, 24 March: We share dressing room with the three girls of Madam Medusa. At 10 p.m. we do another rehearsal, and get to see ourselves as it would have been on TV. We are confident and glowing.
Friday, 25 March: Another rehearsal, all the artists get to do their entry twice. Our first try isn’t even that: it’s a flop. Second time is passable, and as we fly from the stage, we are being consoled by the NRK theme who try to convince us of the worse the rehearsals, the better the big day.
D-day, 26 March: Dagbladet, Norway’s third largest newspaper, wishes us good luck with: “‘Uimotståelig’ is the most awful entry in the final. Dreadful singing. Theatrical. This is not the typical Eurovision-song, but a change for the worse.” We’re being made up for the dress rehearsal. Being the penultimate entry in the presentation means a lot of waiting down in the dressing room. Jahn Teigen and Tor Endresen play the guitar and sing for each other and for Elisabeth Andreass0n. We pass the time together with the other lesser known artists watching ourselves performing.
Just behind the stage. I hear them: The many Eurovision fans who have come to cheer us through the dress rehearsal. All I dare to look at is the cameras. We perform and return backstage. After the choreographer has done Elisabeth Andreasson’s part on stage, all the artists are summoned to the green room for a phony voting procedure (which “Duett” wins) and a final pep-talk. Eating and more waiting. We’re being interviewed by the 7’30 Dagsrevyen news, as one of the nine non-favourites. We rehearse quietly for ourselves. Wait some more, and then, as “Gi meg et tegn” is being performed, the song before ours, we climb the hidden stairways behind the stage. We are handed our microphones. Then our clue comes. We enter the stage.
The rest is Eurovision history.
“But out in the streets of Oslo late Saturday night, the people were singing ‘Ui-ui-ui-ui-ui’” Bergens Tidende, 28 March 1994.
The whole performance on Youtube. Just about 400,000,000 hits more before we pass Ylvis.
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