While singing “Silent Storm” at Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix, Carl Espen frequently closed his eyes. It wasn’t a theatrical flourish. Over the course of three minutes he ferried the audience through sorrow and pain, disappointment and despair. Under that emotional weight, you’d close your eyes, too.

Carl’s voice carries meloncholy well, and any imperfections actually work in his favor. The occasional cracks and warbles fit with a performance about human frailty. Unlike so many Eurovision ballads, “Silent Storm” doesn’t rely on Carl singing louder and louder. His emotions are real. He drives the song with sincerity.

Carl Espen Silent Storm 3As recounted in his official biography, he served in the Norwegian military, including a stint in Kosovo, and has worked as a carpenter and moonlighted as a doorman at a rock bar. You could call him a jack-of-all-trades. But his varied career choices also suggest an inner turmoil, and an ongoing search to fill the void he so movingly sings about. The tattoos on his arm don’t smack of a gangster, but rather a creative type looking to tell a story.

We know he’s suffering, but we don’t know why: “I’m here to use my heart and my hands/ Somehow the bruises changed my plans.” He has to deal with all of this on his own. The storm rages but no one else can hear it.

Carl’s performance isn’t slick—nor should it be. Like a Per Petterson novel it’s sparse and raw and to the point. That’s one reason the live version is superior to the digitally re-mastered video below. Covering the cracks with gloss removes the vulnerability that makes this song so worthwhile.

Fortunately Eurovision is a live event, so we’ll hear Carl as we should.

Silent storm lyrics

Head to toe
Flesh and bones?
Should feel whole
But the void
A silent storm?

I’m here to use my heart and my hands
Somehow the bruises changed my plans?

And there’s a silent storm inside me
Looking for a home
I hope that someone’s gonna find me
And say that I belong
I’ll wait forever and a lifetime
To find I’m not alone
There’s a silent storm inside me
and someday I’ll be calm
Someday I’ll be calm

Ask myself
What comes next
Will I fly??
Will I fall?
My silent storm?

I’m here to use my heart and my hands ?
Somehow the bruises changed my plans?

And there’s a silent storm inside me
Looking for a home
I hope that someone’s gonna find me
And say that I belong
I’ll wait forever and a lifetime
To find I’m not alone
And there’s a silent storm inside me
Someday I’ll be calm

And someday I’ll be calm
And someday I’ll be calm

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Willy Lee Adams contributed this report from London. You can keep up-to-date on the latest Eurovision news and gossip by following the team on Twitter @wiwibloggs and by liking our Facebook page.

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[…] Winner: Norway Silent Storm […]

Lia de Ruiter
Guest
Lia de Ruiter

I agree with Vicky Carina Barcelona: best ballad, best song, beautiful voice, great performance. I voted for this song. I wish Carl Espen good luck in his carreer as a singer. I certainly hope to hear more from him.

zeshka
Guest
zeshka

Sorry did you just refer to people who normally have tattoos as gangsters? Haha come to the UK, it’s full of gangsters. This song is amazing, when I first heard it I wasn’t impressed but now it actually makes me cry the passion s so real. Not a winner though surely.

Himela
Guest
Himela

@Charles: I get where you are coming from and I do like Carl’s song a lot. But I would really love to hear it from a singer who would have the vocal abilities to make it fly and make me cry by hearing it every single time. As much as I like Carl and I respect he focuses on the feeling of the song, I can’t help but get distracted by his poor performance at the second half of the song where his voice just can’t reach the high melody. A great example of what I’m saying is Sanna’s song… Read more »

freakshow
Guest
freakshow

Ballad of the year my arse!!!

Rashad
Guest
Rashad

I’m not sure if I love it, or I hate it. But obviously this is not an ordinary song.

Tha
Guest
Tha

Too overrated.
Armenia, Montenegro, Sweden, San Marino and Azerbaijan have the best ballads of 2014.
I’ve heard better ballads in previous years. In 2013, for an example, the songs from San Marino, Iceland, Moldova, Estonia, Azerbaijan and Israel.
In 2012, from Serbia, Estonia, B&H, Slovenia, Iceland, Finland and Portugal.
Anyway.

“Silent Storm” is a good song. But not the best.

Leon
Guest
Leon

Honestly, honestly, I think this is gonna flop like Haba-Haba, I hope not, but I think the whole entry is just gonna get lost

Armond
Guest
Armond

This is not the best ballad. Spain is. Undoubtedly.

Shaun Micallef
Guest
Shaun Micallef

I respect any tough background the singer is coming from. However, the song is boring and the stage presence looks like the singer really doesn’t care. For me the best ballads of the year are from Spain and San Marino BY A MILE!!!!

Jeppe
Guest
Jeppe

Hands down the best ballad and also the best song of all this year. Full of emotions and beautiful lyrics. Needs improvent for may, but so does most song this year. I think this will be amazing on stage in may with the improvment that surly will come. It was much better already in the final compared to the semifinal.

Raul
Guest
Raul

I do love this one. It’s not a ESC type song. It’s somehow close to Jewel or Tory Amos. It’s very good.

As for the Greece or Hungary music, it’s also not a up-beat esc dance format. Those 3 countrys are my top 3. For 4 and 5 place, The UK and, yes, Latvia -it’s so simple and lovely.

Leon
Guest
Leon

@Charles – FYI Armenia’s entry was NOT written by the Swedes!

Leon
Guest
Leon

I think Armenia, Sweden and Austria have the best ballads that is if you consider Armenia’s entry as a ballad.

T
Guest
T

It surprises me when people say that this song could win. It won’t win. He’s not a good singer and the stage presence is awful to be honest. This will be Hungary 2011 all over again.

Eugene UK
Guest
Eugene UK

Perhaps it is the pain and suffering of the songwriter?

To answer the question, it is not my ballad of the year for me, but it is one of the best. I feel it is more than likely going to be a ballad that wins this year, but perhaps one that offers more variation than Silent Storm, but which one?

For people that don’t like ballads, there is a quote by Bob Marley about songs in general which could be applied to ballads like “Silent Storm” :-

“Some people feel the rain, others just get wet.”

jumper
Guest
jumper

I listen the song from Montenegro and Sweden more often, for their ballad

Charles
Guest
Charles

@Dhani: You should make an anti-Scandinavian petition and force everybody to agree to sign it … in case you have nothing worth to do with your life .. or in case you still have a hard time accepting this is still a SONG contest (regardless from which country every song comes from), but u have proved to be a dummy survivor unable to understand that … or you are desperate to go to a sunny place. Well … take vacations and go to Greece … you don’t need Eurovision for that. 🙂 Say hi to fat Helena when u get… Read more »

Charles
Guest
Charles

@Mt: As if Ruslana, Helena Papacrap or Lordi were musical geniuses with a lot of musical craft and brilliance within their music …

Easpag
Guest
Easpag

The song is excellent, but he is a diabolical singer.

Straining to hit notes =/= emotion

If a different singer had been chosen, this could have been a brilliant song. Unfortunately, his inability to sing kills it.

Alex
Guest
Alex

I will say, this song is stuck in my head like nothing else right now. Quite a pretty composition.

Mt
Guest
Mt

The crappiest song I have ever heard in the history of ESC.
How could this possibly get points at the semi?
There is no music in it at all.

Jaccobabe
Guest
Jaccobabe

Not a fan. It reminds me a bit of Norway 2010. Though Didrik had better vocals (before ESC at least) and much more charisma.

Norway flopped big time in 2011 and also 2012 and in a way even 2010. I think it might happen again this year.

Adam
Guest
Adam

I absolutely love it. @Charles, you couldn’t have said it any better. I was thinking the exact same thing about those damn grannies and dancing Hershey kiss. It’s a beautiful song and if it wins, I couldn’t be any happier. Norway should be proud of themselves for sending this man to Eurovision.

Dhani
Guest

i hope so much that he won’t win!!!! i cannot accept if we’re gonna have a eurovision contest in the nordics for the 3rd time in a row! more countries will drop out then, too!

Mo
Guest
Mo

As people have said it’s up there with the great Eurovision ballads and I think it is by far and away the best proper ballad this year. In my opinion it’s up there with “Kuula” and this maybe a very controversial opinon but it’s almost on a par with my favourtie ballad of all time (not just in Eurovision terms, in all music) which is Rona Nishliu’s “Suus” because that song was amazing and so heartfelt and “Silent Storm” echoes the same anguish and pain that “Suus” gave out. Both songs bring me to tears if I properly listen to… Read more »

Alex
Guest
Alex

I appreciate that it’s a good song. Melancholy and emotion are no excuses for a mediocre or poor vocal performance, though. If anything, the capacity to channel melancholy and emotion should make your performance better! Listening to this one again, it sounds like he could sing it better if it were several keys lower. He’s really straining to hit those higher notes which aren’t all that high. That’s really likely all he needs to change. It’s hard for me to be moved by a singer who’s not singing properly and who I know could very well do it better. It’s… Read more »

Nirgal
Guest
Nirgal

Are you seri… really?

No. Just no.

Tha
Guest
Tha

In my opinion, is not the best ballad of the year.
Armenia and Montenegro have the best songs.

Pastora Soler haha
Guest
Pastora Soler haha

I think it’s… MONTENEGRO!

Sweden is a product. Nothing special.

Pastora Soler haha
Guest
Pastora Soler haha

NOT AT ALL

by the way, the song is better than the artist, could he express something? Thanks.

Charles
Guest
Charles

I fully agree 100% with what Wiwibloggs commented on Silent Storm … anyone who does not like this song it’s pretty much because they cannot feel it and understand from where the singer is coming from to deliver the type of minimalistic performance he did. Carl is being as humble as he can be … not letting himself be the centre of the attention but instead letting the SONG speak for itself. He has never been a professional singer, and he does not hide that, he has never been on stage before and he does not hide that either …… Read more »

Nargiz
Guest
Nargiz

I really hope that Norway will win this year.. I adore this song! 🙂

sopon
Guest
sopon

1. Montenegro
2. Moldova (if you count that as a ballad)
3. Armenia
4. Austria
5. Azerbaijan
6. UK
7. Belgium
8. Sweden
9. San Marino
10. Albania
11. Spain

All but the last two I love.

D
Guest
D

Not the best ballad at all. The song is nice, nothing special, and Carl’s live voice isn’t good at all to be honest. Don’t understand the hype around it. The best ballads in the competition in my opinion are Azerbaijan and Sweden. Armenia’s good too but I don’t really consider that a ballad. Same with the UK.

Robyn
Guest
Robyn

Another interesting thing about this song – it was written especially for Carl by his cousin Josefin Winther, a singer-songwriter. And I think that’s why it works so well. It’s not pop-by-numbers chosen from the books of a songwriting house.

Easpag
Guest
Easpag

One of the worst ballads. He cannot sing.

Top 5 ballads, in my opinion:
1.Azerbaijan
2.Austria
3.Sweden
4.Armenia
5.Montenegro

Spain is also up there.

Ken
Guest
Ken

Best Eurovision ballad since Kuula

Vicky Carina Barcelona
Guest
Vicky Carina Barcelona

not just best ballad. best song!!!! luv