This morning the Wiwi Jury —our in-house panel of music professionals — touched down in Bergen and took a ride on the Fløibanen funicular to take in spectacular views from the top of Mt. Fløyen, before visiting the Bergen Aquarium and seeing some ruul, ruul cute seals. But then we remembered we had a job to do, hopped on a train along the Bergen Railway to Oslo, admired the Hardangervidda plateau and soundtracked our trip with Norway’s entry this year – Carl Espen and his song ‘Silent Storm.’ Were we blown away by the silent storm or was it just a blow out? Read on to find out!
Vebooboo: Whereas Moldova’s Cristina should be sued for false advertising something “wild”, a marketing team really needs to get behind Carl and up the hype factor. For a song entitled “Silent Storm”, this number is ruul ruul moving. Watching this the first time I couldn’t help but have a Susan Boyle reaction. I mean, a punk-looking guy appears on stage, and suddenly he has the sweetest tenor tone out there. I ain’t generally a huge fan of slow songs, but this one is so moving that I can’t really complain.
Wiwi: 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. Over the course of three minutes he ferries the audience through sorrow and pain, disappointment and despair. It’s an emotional tour-de-force and deserves to finish near the top.
Angus: Carl Espen would make a terrible meteorologist. A storm this is not. It’s more like drizzle – not the worst thing that can happen but persistently annoying. Minimalism with Anouk was quite beautiful last year because I felt an intensity and passion from ‘Birds’. Somehow I can’t connect as well to ‘Silent Storm’ – it’s just way too angsty and depressing. It’s as if Carl set out to drain all the warmth and enjoyment from the Contest and instead depress us about his problems. News flash honey – your three minutes on stage are not to tell us your life story. Move along.
Bogdan: Carl Espen has many things working for him, including the fact that he looks nothing like what you’d imagine a sensitive crooner to look like. He is a tattooed, bearded, gentle giant singing – with flawless vocals, in a subdued but at the same time powerful manner – about his inner, tumultuous quest for peace, at the same time contemplating the possibility that only death could bring it eventually. Last year, Margaret put a knife against my back and slayed me, but this year Carl flat out stabbed me in the chest and ran away with my heart.
Deban: In 2012, I was moved by Suus. Last year, it was Birds, This year, Silent Storm is shaping up to be my masterpiece. Espen’s composition hits my core in a way only a few songs can. His voice brings an awareness to a painful human condition and commandeers the listener’s undivided attention. ‘Silent Storm’ shape-shifts on every listen, whilst bearing the hallmark of a timeless classic. Although it’s lacking in glitter and caricature folklore, there’s beauty to be found in this year’s Norwegian entry. Furthermore, Espen’s entry is another reminder that the Eurovision Song Contest continues to offer a platform for diversity, musicality and true artistry.
Billy: Despite the fact that ballads are really not my cup of tea, I love this one. Carl’s voice is amazing, it nearly moved me. I like this entry, its rhythm, music and lyrics, even though it is quite slow. The piano suits perfect to the song, and here is one recommendation: please bring on stage a piano and/or a couple dancers, things which will uplift this entry even higher than it will in fact be.
Katie: This song is so good. Definitely Eurovision 2014’s ballad of the year. Carl has such a sleek, elegant voice and “Silent Storm” is the perfect example of how to do a ballad. When I was reviewing the song at NRK Grand Prix stages, I told Carl to cheer up. Actually Carl, don’t cheer up. You’re at you’re best when you’re miserable. He’s the male Adele, so I really hope he’s able to stand on stage and silence everyone in Europe with his beautiful song and beautiful voice.
James L: I’m not normally a fan of slow, pensive, emotionally mature songs, but this song gets past my Eurodance-loving superfice and makes me want to be a better person who thinks about sadness and life and meaning. On repeat listens it wears me down to a raw core of feelings I never knew I had. When watching the Norsk MGP with friends we definitely talked through the other songs, but for this one we were all absolutely transfixed, staring open-mouthed into emotional depth of this bearded Norwegian man. If that happens to all of Europe on May 10, we might just be looking at another Scandinavian ESC next year.
Padraig: I initially overlooked “Silent Storm”, wrongly writing it off as yet another monochrome ballad. But as I listened to it again, I began to discover levels of depth and feeling not present anywhere else in this year’s competition. This is simultaneously the most personal and universal of all the entries, for who amongst us can openly admit to not having some sort of inner turmoil while presenting a calm exterior to the world? It may be just a slight niggle or a major stress wreaking inner havoc. Either way it feels as if Carl is singing directly to you. Just like Gotye conquered the world with the stylistically and thematically similar “Somebody That I Used to Know” in 2012, I predict that “Silent Storm” could be the sleeper hit of Eurovision 2014.
Jacob: Before Norway had their national final, they were already the favourites to win the contest: The bookies thought “Silent Storm” was gonna win a home and then abroad. But when it actually did win, Norway dropped to third. Hmmm. I am not too convinced by this. It’s a bit strange at first listen. He doesn’t look comfortable on stage, he’s not very charismatic and his voice is not amazing either. The song itself reminds me a bit of Norway 2010, except Didrik was very good looking and could actually sing. Or we all thought so until the final anyway. Norway has had horrible results lately with bad singers (2011, 2012) and one very good one (2009). I can easily see this one not reach the final. If it does, I think it will be compared to the Belgian entry, which is slightly similar The only catch is that Axel is a very good singer.
All 19 members of our jury rate each song. However, we only have room to share 10 written reviews. Here are the remaining nine scores.
William C: 8.7/10
The highest and lowest scores are removed before calculating the final score. We have dropped a low of 1 and a high of 10.
The Wiwi Jury Verdict: 7.72/10
You can check out our latest Eurovision 2014 reviews and rankings on the Wiwi Jury page. 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.