Norwegian broadcaster NRK has come under fire for the use of a back-up jury at Saturday night’s Melodi Grand Prix 2020 grand final. The broadcaster had used the 30-person jury when the online voting system had crashed after the first round.

The broadcaster was using a new online-only voting system, introduced for the first time this year. However, things didn’t go as planned. After the first round, the online voting crashed and a back-up jury had to determine the four qualifiers to the next round.

Now NRK has been criticised by both Norwegian media and managers of the competing acts. The managers say they were not informed of the back-up jury ‘plan B’.

Stig Karlsen replies to Melodi Grand Prix 2020 criticism

Melodi Grand Prix chief Stig Karlsen met with strong criticism after the show, especially when he revealed that the back-up jury consisted of just 30 people. After journalists questioned the size of the jury, Karlsen said:

“There are 30 people who are of course composed in a representative way from all over the country at different ages. (…) This was a back-up for when things were not going well. We are left with a winner who has been a long-time favourite.”

Songstress Ulrikke Brandstorp eventually won Melodi Grand Prix 2020 with “Attention”. She was the bookies’ favourite and also managed to get on top of our Wiwi Jury rankings. In the final duel, she won over Trondheim native Kristin Husøy.

Emojis made Melodi Grand Prix 2020 online voting crash

Though one of the contest’s big favourites was chosen, Norwegians do not seem completely happy with how the crash was mitigated.

During the first semi-final of Melodi Grand Prix 2020, NRK faced technical problems with the voting too. However, these problems were quickly solved and did therefore not affect the eventual outcome.

But it doesn’t seem that the first voting round was to blame for the online voting to crash. Broadcasting manager Vibeke Fürst Haugen revealed that it seems that emojis made the online voting system crack.

Vibeke Fürst Haugen explained, “We are very pleased with the show, and so we are very sorry for the technical problems. Before we can say anything more we have to evaluate and look at what went wrong, but it seems that it was 38 million emojis that made it crack.”

After each performance, the Norwegian public’s emojis were displayed, but this ceased to happen after the seventh performance of the night. During the last three performances, emojis were not displayed at all.

However, the broadcaster could quickly reset the voting system to make it again available for the general public in subsequent rounds.

Acts and managers claim they were unaware of the existence of a ‘plan B’

Several managers of acts who performed during the Melodi Grand Prix 2020 final are unhappy with the decisions made by NRK.

David Eriksen — who worked with Tone Damli — commented to VGTV that using the back-up jury was “disrespectful towards all people who worked on the ten songs”. He added that nobody heard before about a back-up jury as a ‘plan B’0.

The Solli-Tangen brothers’ manager Finn Håkon Rødland compared the situation with Melodi Grand Prix in 1989. Back then, a jury determined that audience favourite Jahn Teigen was not among the four to go to Gullfinalen. This led to a huge outrage among the public. Didrik Solli-Tangen followed up with an ironic comment on Facebook, which translates to “Poor Jahn Teigen”.

Stakkars Jahn Teigen!?

Posted by Didrik Solli-Tangen on Saturday, February 15, 2020

UPDATE (12:30CET): NRK reveals back-up jury did not watch the show live

During a press conference on Sunday, Norway’s public broadcaster NRK revealed more details of the back-up jury. Stig Karlsen revealed that the back-up jury did not base their voting on the performances in the final, but rather assessed the studio versions released ahead of the live shows.

“The jury of 30 is a jury of people with a good spread in age and geography. The artists were also informed that this assessment was done on the basis of the studio recordings. (…) They do not work with TV, they do not work in NRK and have nothing to do with the music industry. It is a neutral jury with TV viewers, who do not relate to TV or the music industry.” Karlsen revealed during the press conference.

Furthermore, Karlsen added that a new voting would not happen.

What do you think? Was NRK fair to use the back-up jury? Should Melodi Grand Prix 2021 use the same voting system? Tell us your thoughts below!

Read all our Norway Eurovision news here

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Jaz49
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Jaz49

Well, although some commentators here state that a back-up jury of 30 people is a lot, compared to the ESC, they easily forget that with the ESC there is an additional public vote. For this year, the NRK has set-up the back-up jury just in case… And it was needed. What I feel is not correct is the fact that the jury voted on the studio recordings. Yes, the quality of the songs was verified, but in ESC it is the combination of a song and a singer, who can -to be honest- make or break a song. And we… Read more »

Stian F
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Stian F

A back up jury with 30 people!!! That’s 6 times more than in actual Eurovision!!!! So 6 times the quality check compared to real Eurovision. A jury based on the quality of the actual songs and not the glitter, stash and other things supposedly…. Its shit that one can’t vote for ones favorite, but for sure if there had been 4 other songs in the silver final then other people would have complained as their acts didn’t go through!!! Such a strong field of songs this year so there was bound be a lot of upset reactions no matter how… Read more »

Wolfik19857
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Wolfik19857

They robbed Tone, Rein nad Magnus, i voted with Alp do fast s? i can with my fingers nas i dont believe there is fair to vote for A song without watching live performance

Isak
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Isak

I saw an interview with Karlsen 6 days before the final where he said briefly that they had a backup jury ready if something “extreme” would happen with the voting, which turned out to be what happened in the first voting round. This was done to make it sure that they would have a final winner no matter what. I doubt the managers didn’t know about this, but maybe they just forgot. What I question about this is who’s in the jury, why the jury wasn’t made of music experts (at least then they could’ve published their names), and why… Read more »

Mimi
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Mimi

It has been confirmed that the back up jury is mentioned in the artist contracts. So this should not be a surprise to the managers.

alex
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alex

It was a bad idea to get rid of televoting completely. The same happened at Melodifestivalen 2015, when the online voting crashed in the first heat, and then completely during the grand final. Luckily, SVT still had the SMS voting in place that gave a valid result.

Also, it’s a mystery to me why NRK lets international viewers vote in the final. IMO the decision should be taken by the Norwegian public only and it’s one more reason why the servers went down on Saturday.

Marseille
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Marseille

What a dumpster fire. If this had happened in Eastern Europe, fans would be clamoring for the country to be sanctioned by the EBU. I’m sure Norway will return to the televote next year, as they should.

Whisker
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Whisker

Shady af, that’s what this selection was like. It’s upsetting and annoying. They should re-do the selection.

TTTF
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TTTF

Norway is new Belarus, Ukraine

Aaron
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Aaron

It just reinforces my thoughts that the whole competition was geared around a certain act, I initially thought Tone but now I am inclined to think Ulrikke.

Based on Tone’s reputation I’d have expected her to be in the top 4, regardless of whether we like the song or not.

I am moderately happy with the winner but I share the same upset as acts such as Akuvi who worked hard on their performances and it came to nothing.

BREXIT CAREER WOMAN
Guest
BREXIT CAREER WOMAN

a set up

Edward
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Edward

Oops. I probably shouldn’t have sent 250 hearts to Raylee and 1100 to Rein Alexander ??

filipko54
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filipko54

Can someone who knows Norwegian please tell me what Tone Damli says in her last instagram post?

filipko54
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filipko54

Thank you 🙂

sksksk
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sksksk

She basically said that she felt empty because the voting was unfair and messy, and that she criticized the backup jury for not having even seen the artists’ performances before judging. She also thanked everyone who has supported her, and said that Ulrikke was a worthy winner.

PP77
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PP77

Without juries Rein Alexander would be MGP winner.

Denis
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Denis

Don’t fool yourself!

Oy oy
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Oy oy

Totally unrealistic…

Mimi
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Mimi

Nah, his song was ok. But the act looked like Eurovision 15 years ago.

Sucof
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Sucof

There’s something rotten in Norway!

ESCFan2009
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ESCFan2009

Ulrikke was the pre-contest-favorite, so no problems for the impact I would say. And y’all complaining about Rein Alexander, I mean, honestly: A “viking” with a pop-beat singing about war and peace? You wanted this in Rotterdam? All right, then please send a song about cheese and tulips for NL, beer and sausages for Germany and chocolate on mountains for Switzerland. Wtf? This was just an outdated boring clichee about “the country’s culture”.

Esc1234
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Esc1234

Denmark 2018 says hi

ESCFan2009
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ESCFan2009

With one little difference: Rasmus played the nice viking who sang about peace… Rein also sang about “let’s finish the war”, but he behaved on stage and especially in the greenroom when the camera caught him like a strong macho viking with that face expressions and showing bizeps etc. And I can’t stand this…

Mia
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Mia

^ Agree !

Polegend Godgarina
Guest

well, the one who had to win won anyway

Denis
Guest
Denis

But what does the actual four gold finalists think? Of course Tone Damli and the brothers would object since they weren’t picked but what they think isn’t really important. But what do Raylee think? or Ulrikke?

Isak
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Isak

Only Ulrikke of the four gold finalists has commented on it, as far as I have seen. She just said that it’s NRK’s problem, and she enjoys winning and doesn’t feel it was unfair in the end, but I guess she’s thinking of the results between the final four. I don’t think the final four can complain.

XxdanyxX
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XxdanyxX

Raylee “shaded” the voting system by posting a story on insta that portrayed the total number of streams of Wild saying “Well, at least Spotify works”.
Was she the most played MGP artist on the platform?

Isak
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Isak

She is, but her song was published six weeks before the last ones, and is a song probably played at parties. It’s a party bop. You can’t compare that to any final result. I like Tone’s insta post after this, but not a fan of how Raylee is portraying it.

Whisker
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Whisker

I am not supporting Norway this year.

Daniel
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Daniel

Something doesn’t add up to me. After seven songs NRK had recieved 38 million emojis through the voting system, but in the final duel they only recieved 400.000 votes? Am I misunderstanding something here?

Stig
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Stig

The number of emojis weren’t limited. But people were only allowed 3 votes each.

Daniel
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Daniel

Oh, didn’t catch that. Guess it makes sense then 🙂

Isak
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Isak

The emojis were only a way of getting fan reactions live, had nothing to do with the voting.

Elisabeth
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Elisabeth

About 1 million Norwegians watched the finals, but after the jury robbed many of us of the chance to vote our favourite into the final 4 contestants a lot of people switched channels or simply did not vote. There may have been roughly 400 000 votes in total for the final two contestants, but divide that by 3 (the number of votes each person could give) and you’ll get that less than 150 000 people actually voted. We are literally PISSED at the way NRK pulled this off.

Briekimchi
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Briekimchi

It’s unfortunate but why are they taking soundbites from representatives of two acts who had NO CHANCE of being in the top four anyway?
I don’t care what Tone, Didrik or baby brother have to say….what does Rein Alexander think?

Esc1234
Guest
Esc1234

Also , if nobody heard about the jury, maybe the chief picked himself the songs going through. Did anyone came out and said that they were part of the back up jury?? No.

filipko54
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filipko54

I don’t know what to say.. I wanted Ulrikke to win but not like that.. I think that she would still win, but maybe not, who knows

Preuss
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Preuss

First of all, this mess isn’t Ulrikke’s fault at all, it’s our broadcaster that messed up big time. To be honest, I support everyone who feels betrayed and let down by yesterday’s mess, it’s a scandal! Especially when the contestants didn’t even know it existed, and if the «jury» was supposed to simulate any form of vote, then Rein would’ve gone through as I see no situatuon where he wouldn’t be top 4 in the televote lol, given how the act was performed and how we usually vote. Our HoD has the shittiest excuse, claiming that «this is all good… Read more »

Esc1234
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Esc1234

Who can guarantee that Rein Alexander wouldn’t win if chosen to move to the next round? People in the stadium loved it and it was great tbh

Fabian
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Fabian

No it was not, it was absolute garbage.

filipko54
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filipko54

People in arena liked it and what? I liked it too but that doesn’t have to mean anything

Mia
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Mia

Rein Alexander can go to circus with his tacky performance.

Oy oy
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Oy oy

I actually support NRKs decision to use online-voting. Its for free (unlike televoting) and therefore is in the line of everything else being done in Norway to include everybody no matter (socio)-economic status. There was alo a limit of three votes pr.person/user. This aviods the extremely regionalistic Norwegians (my own Western in the worst) from sending loads of votes for acts from their own region. But for next year I think NRK should drop the emojis to aviod what happened yesterday.

Kosey
Guest
Kosey

You still need access to the internet to be able to vote, so it’s not entirely free, but I understand your point. The devastating thing is that it happened during the national final – it has unfortunately not given a good impression about Norway’s organizational abilities to people, like me, looking in from the outside.

Ingri
Guest
Ingri

I just question jury’s taste. They chose Liza Vassilieva to the top 4.. They should’ve picked Rein Alexander, Tone Damli or Solli-Tangen brothers so it would’ve made sense.

BREXIT CAREER WOMAN
Guest
BREXIT CAREER WOMAN

Liza was smashing

Una
Guest
Una

This situation is chaotic. Maybe someone in the know could clarify what has happened and when? Another thing: had NRK published the rules of the contest? And mention a back up plan should there be any problems with the online voting? I can’t get my head around these problems. And how could they not predict the emojis issue or any other potential problem for that matter? Any new voting system should be run from beforehand in order to assess potential problems in the night of the contest. It looks like the problems in the first semi (creating accounts in order… Read more »

Mws
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Mws

It’s like, they cross to Jon Ola Sand before announcing the winner and he’s like “I can confirm we have an invalid result. Take it away!” 😀

1TruSeer
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1TruSeer

Raylee was robbed!!!

Henk Jan
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Henk Jan

Raylee had the worst song of the evening. Didrik and Emil were robbed. But I love Attention! Big chance of winning the whole thing! What a voice. What a power. What an exciting song. What an emotional song.

1TruSeer
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1TruSeer

LMFAO, Norway will be lucky to qualify for the final with this.

yodenman
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yodenman

You have a great sense of humour. I almost believed you. You of course meant this is highly likely to be a top ten finish.

yodenman
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yodenman

Totally disagree. This is a song we’ve heard dozens of times before. The winner was fully deserved. It gives Norway a realistic chance of a top ten.

Oy oy
Guest
Oy oy

Why was she robbed? She got through to the “gullfinale” anmd stayed there. Unfortunately for her Raylee`s performance was maybe the weakest amogst the ten finalists.

Ethan1994
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Ethan1994

It’s not a good look for NRK that they had to use the jury because it crashed. I get why people are calling it unfair, but the thing is, I don’t really see what they could have done otherwise. NRK have a TV schedule to stick to, the show was already going to overrun, so they had to just go with what they had. And judging by what the presenters said, I get the feeling it was always the plan to use a jury in the event of the voting site crashing. I’m just curious as to see if they’ll… Read more »

Anita
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Anita

they fixed the system, so let the people vote again than!

Andrei
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Andrei

Hahaha, I knew it! As I was saying in a previous comment for another article, they will regret using this kind of online voting. It could easily crash, and also it can be spammed. It should have been Raylee and Ulrikke in the final 2, but the producers were afraid “Wild” was going to win, so they used “Plan B”. Karma will hit, Norway! You shall see during Eurovision….

Walter
Guest
Walter

But Raylee made the final 4… and in the final 4 the voting system worked perfect. You are just soar Raylee didn’t win.

Nils
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Nils

Nice theory but 100% wrong.
Maybe the “People tell me I´m a fish” song lacks on quality 🙂
Think about it

Jakub
Guest
Jakub

Now you can see what happens when you are experimenting with online voting… They should’ve used televoting as every country… They tried to be too modern and here we are…It’s unfair for artists because it’s not clear TOP 4 with televoters would be the same (for sure there would be Rein Alexander in TOP4)

Kosey
Guest
Kosey

What a terrible advert for online voting! It’s sad for Norway that something like this happened at such an important point. There will always be a sour taste that the result was manipulated in some way. Even if it wasn’t, this is unfortunately the impression they have given.

Diego
Guest
Diego

It makes me wonder if Raylee would’ve been the winner ? I was definitely very sad that she did not win, but Ulrikke is more than deserving of the victory! She’s my #1 for ESC 2020!!

BJH
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BJH

No, NRK had the voting working by the final 4.

Alex
Guest
Alex

We are just destined to have a jury controversy in NFs.

Berit
Guest
Berit

Its a complete scandal, unfair to the artists and the public, and Norway should be banned from Eurovision unless a representative and statistically valid re-vote is done.

Tom
Guest
Tom

They dont give a f… About your bad opinion. Its online voting, everyting can happen gosh …

Mia
Guest
Mia

Ulrikke won, get over it 😀

Joseph Mendy
Guest
Joseph Mendy

That’s far too harsh.

Jake
Guest
Jake

If the problem was fixed before the final 4 vote — why not have the country vote for the top 10 again for 5 minutes. Seems odd to go to a jury and then go to the app vote.

Ethan1994
Guest
Ethan1994

Because the show was already going to overrun, and NRK have TV-schedule to stick to. In the end, the show overran by 15 minutes.

Mws
Guest
Mws

When the new online voting process for Norway was announced in an article on here I left a comment saying it can be unreliable for a number of reasons, one being it can crash, and it has happened. Wow. Back to televoting now I can surely imagine. Juries deciding is very anti-democracy way to choose.

KuhKatz
Guest
KuhKatz

I dont know, what to think about this.

One of the fan favourites made it, thats for sure, but I still believe that at least Rein Alexander would’ve made it to the Gold Final if the public had counted.

UmBv
Guest
UmBv

I saw the votes of the first round leaked somewhere and Rein was well in the lead with about 50%

Fredrik
Guest
Fredrik

Those “votes” were not televotes, that was ‘Nettavisen’ who had a poll on who people would have voted for if the system had not crashed. This is kinda unreliable since people were angry after the incident. It’s tragic, but I think we got the right winner. Both Ulrikke and Raylee were bigger favorites to win than Rein, and they both made it to the top 4

Marc
Guest
Marc

Being fan favourites does not mean that much. Look at Kristin who almost won..
Locals are another thing