In 1957 Soviet scientists launched Laika — a street dog from Moscow — into outer space. Strapped into Sputnik 2, the three-year-old canine became the first animal sent into orbit. It was a cruel experiment. Technicians bound her in chains to restrict her movements to standing, sitting or lying down, and the pup had no room to turn around. In a history of Soviet space medicine, one doctor famously wrote that she had taken Laika home to play with her children a few days before lift-off: “I wanted to do something nice for her: She had so little time left to live.”

Indeed, Laika burned to death within a few hours. But Sputnik 2 continued to orbit the earth for five months. During re-entry into Earth, the spacecraft disintegrated in the atmosphere along with Laika’s corpse.

It’s that harrowing story — of a stray taken from the streets of Moscow — that sets the tone for “Laika” — the Melodi Grand Prix entry from experimental music and performance art group The Hungry Hearts.

“When I heard about Laika when I was a little kid I was really distributed by the way she was left in space,” says songwriter Tonje Gjevjon. “Now that I’m a grown-up person I figured I could write a song about Laika so the echo will continue forever.”

That echo is filled with melancholy and longing, and the canine cosmonaut’s experience becomes a metaphor for all who have endured loss. It’s a touching and poetic look at isolation, lost love and our never-ending journey to nothingness. The Hungry Hearts use accents and intonation to great effect, taking us to the Cold War and back, all the while making us want to dance. And when we do it’s with love and nostalgia and an acute awareness of our missed opportunities and disappointments.

“Laika had a good life on the streets of Moscow with her girlfriend and with the disco music. And then they snatched her and sent her into the atmosphere. She was going around in orbit around the earth and there is no disco and no girlfriend out there. So she is quite angry. Her longings to her life on Earth, this is what the song is about.”

In the days after the song’s release, Eurovision fans were quick to draw connections between the song’s same-sex relationship and the current situation for LGBT people in Russia. But Tonje and featuring artist Lisa Dillan don’t find it political, but rather organic to them.

“I’m a lesbian, so when I talk about love in songs it’s natural for me to say ‘she,'” Tonje says. “I think if it had been a heterosexual man writing the song and he had sung ‘the streets of Moscow with my girlfriend,’ nobody would have noticed.”

Lisa agrees: “I guess the question is more controversial than actually just singing about love life.”

Are you loving their song as much as we are? Do you think the retro feel will speak to Norwegian voters? Let us know in the comments below!

@thehungryheartsperformance @lisadillan and @helleolsen from Wiwibloggs #norway #Eurovision #nrkmgp

A photo posted by wiwibloggs (@wiwibloggs) on

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[…] drew a connection between the song lyrics and the current situation of LGBT people in Russia, but the singers said it was not their intention. They lost to Agnete’s Icebreaker […]

oxyk
Guest
oxyk

@Lilitta, actually why I touched this space program subject and predicted that Russian will cry about humiliation, is because of recent events with famous Russian system GLONASS. Recently one satellite got damaged, and it makes the whole system suspended, because it’s 3d damaged satellite – remaining satellites won’t cover to provide accurate data. Russian quoted May 2016 as the time frame to return repaired satellite and resume the system. Experts say that it’s highly unlikely that they will resume this project, because of the lack of parts (sanctions, Ukraine does not want to supply their engines too). That means that… Read more »

oxyk
Guest
oxyk

@Lilitta, if you still “do not know” why Ukrainians can’t tolerate Russians, maybe it’s because you’re Armenian and your country gain benefits from Russian protectorate, including your armed conflict with Azerbaijani. ask me this question again when you’ll break your ties with Russia and it will attack you, will kill some 10 000 of Armenians and will occupy 1/4 of your land. Then I can give my answer in a way that you will “FEEL” it.

@Pedro, you’re welcome

Pedro
Guest
Pedro

information***

Lilitta
Guest
Lilitta

@Oxyk, Why are you being so negative about Russia in almost all of your comments? No country out there is innocent, and this is a song contest that was brought to unite Europe, and while it’s impossible to do so, you should at least try to separate music from politics. As for the song, if you go to the eurovision pages on Vkontakte, you would notice that a lot of Russians are in love with this song and want it to win tonight, so don’t talk about something without having all the facts. I’m from Armenia by the way, in… Read more »

Pedro
Guest
Pedro

oxyk, thanks for the informations

Your comments are highly appreciated 🙂

Greetings from Brazil

YoungsterJoey
Guest
YoungsterJoey

wow, this song is now dark lol. now theres actually meaning to the lyrics.

Lilitta
Guest
Lilitta

@Oxyk, Why are you bitching about Russia in almost all of your comments? No country out there is innocent, and this is a song contest that was brought to unite Europe, and while it’s impossible to do so, you should at least try to separate music from politics. As for the song, if you go to the eurovision pages on Vkontakte, you would notice that a lot of Russians are in love with this song and want it to win tonight, so don’t talk about something without having all the facts. I’m from Armenia by the way, in case you… Read more »

oxyk
Guest
oxyk

@V yet again you’re stalking me with accusations in being rusophobe. good old Russian story, eh? 🙂 you’re real typical Russian, you always tear a shirt on your skinny chest and pretend to be a victim. I wont ask you why you perceive my comments here as rusophobic, and even won’t tell the story about my father who served in soviet aviation on one of the customized planes for KB Solnechnoe, at the time when Jury Gagarin trained on jets for his first space trip. I can tell alot of that time. My father is dead and I’m the citizen… Read more »

V
Guest
V

oxyk, and yet again you talk russophobic nonsense. Maybe you should get a hobby.

The song is boring, by the way. Afterglow is much better.

Franco
Guest
Franco

It’s a beautiful and touching song.
Please, Norway! Send Laika to Stockholm.

Amerivision
Guest
Amerivision

If this win, let Russia whine and cry all they want! I love this!

oxyk
Guest
oxyk

if this song will go to ESC, Russia will cry that it humiliates its “national values” such as space program, and part about ‘girlfriend on streets of Moscow” can make their pope and couple of homophobic officials very furious – saying that there’s lesbians on Moscow streets… their reaction can be the same hysterical like with Jamala song.

Euro Sigrun
Guest
Euro Sigrun

I LOVE this song even more after reading this article. I reallyreallyreally hope they will win tonight.

oxyk
Guest
oxyk

Sad story with that cosmic program. in fact soviets killed more than 20 of their pilots (human) at the stage of preparation for the “1st” human in space. and killed vast number of animals because they used them as a meat ball at the very beginning. USA trolled soviets by telling that they “landed” on Moon, showing pictures of something that can be called a staging now. then soviets spent 10 years, lots of lives and money to land on the Moon too (and failed, as expected). Space program as fetish of undeveloped nation who does not value lives. songs… Read more »

Pavel
Guest
Pavel

with a good presentation it may do wonders

ct_greece
Guest
ct_greece

Please Norway choose this! 🙂