Fans starved for Eurovision-related content in the wake of the contest’s coronavirus cancellation have something else to chew on. On Tuesday Norway’s Ulrikke Brandstorp debuted “Veien til Rotterdam” (Road to Rotterdam) — a new vlog docu-series on her YouTube channel. She intended to drop it during Eurovision week, but why hold back when fans need lockdown love now?
The series was originally meant to take viewers on a journey from the memorable vote reveal at Melodi Grand Prix’s Gold Final all the way through to her performances on the Eurovision stage in Rotterdam. Even though the contest was cancelled in March, and the series could not reach its natural conclusion, four episodes are all wrapped and ready to go. All four will be released by May 14th (the date intended for the second semifinal).
Road To Rotterdam / Veien til Rotterdam: THE MGP FINAL
In the opening minutes of Episode One — entitled “THE MGP FINAL”, and after an introduction by Ulrikke and her manager/friend/roommate Christoffer Gunnestad — viewers are taken on an emotional flashback to February 15th, the night of the Melodi Grand Prix final. We see Christoffer and other supporters stressing heavily over the collapse of NRK’s phone voting system in the first round, which caused much controversy after it was replaced by a thirty-person jury. Then we relive the moments of the tense final vote reveal (which saw Ulrikke pull out the victory over Kristin Husøy by just 5,678 votes over almost 400,000 votes cast). Once again, we see the whirlwind of emotions Ulrikke and her team experienced in the minutes after her win, with confetti flying and media swarming, and the mood is decidedly happy. The embrace from her parents is particularly sweet.
But this isn’t a fairytale. “Being the winner of MGP 2020 turned out to be quite a different experience than what one imagined”, Ulrikke explains. Sleeping only 8 hours across almost three days of press attention in the wake of the voting system scandal (with Ulrikke commenting on the under-eye bags it caused), she and her team are forced to try to make the best of a difficult situation. Appearing on shows such as “Good Morning Norway”, and on radio interviews with NRK (braving some seriously fierce Arctic wind while walking between appearances in the process), Ulrikke manages to still be happy and full of energy over her win, while not letting the building controversy get to her, even managing to get a quick nap in while waiting to be interviewed. “I just really wanna make Norway proud. So now I’m going to do everything I can to bring the victory home in May,” Ulrikke says confidently.
Later on, after coming out of the NRK radio show, “Nitimen”, Ulrikke still strikes an appreciative tone, saying how fun and emotional her appearance there was. Two appearances on the P3 and Christine Dancke shows follow (Dancke having her own MGP connections, having written the 2011 MGP entry, “Trenger mer (Need More)”, performed by Sichelle, which did not make it out of the first semifinal). On the P3 show, Ulrikke is shown a picture of her fellow Eurovision representative Tom Leeb (who would have represented France in the contest in Rotterdam), and she exclaims happily, “imagine the beautiful babies we’d make!” (one can dream girl!). She is also asked what her staging choice would be between pyro, a pyro waterfall, and sequins (and of course, she picks her own pyro waterfall, which was a hallmark of the staging for her song “Attention”). The happy mood from the interview is soon shattered, though, as Christoffer is alerted to throngs of media waiting to pounce outside the studio, thanks to the voting scandal. Christoffer and Ulrikke are forced to find another way out and make a speedy exit. Through it all, Ulrikke still keeps that ever present smile on her face, saying, “Got a taste of the rock star life today! And if that’s how it’s gonna be, that’s how it’s gonna be!” If only all celebrities could deal with fame and controversy in such a cool, calm manner!
Finding their way back to their apartment, nicknamed “Casa The Kaos” (which just happens to be the name Ulrikke gives her podcast), Ulrikke and Christoffer gather themselves for a bit before heading off to yet another interview session (this time in Trondheim). Ulrikke continues handling her newfound responsibilities like a champion, even while still having to wade through the media storm of controversy (and we learn at this point that NRK had received 840 complaints due to the voting problems). Surviving this last interview, Ulrikke and Christoffer walk off into the night, still laser focused on their mission to prepare the best performance for the stage in Rotterdam, and even signing off with the Wiwibloggs standard “Let’s Do This!” Knowing what we know now as Eurovision fans, this ending is both happy (a lesser person would wither from so little sleep) and bittersweet (given the contest’s cancellation that came only a month later).
Are you excited to see what else Ulrikke’s vlog reveals about her intended plans for the Rotterdam stage? Do you think the Norwegian media gave the voting problems too much attention? What do you want to see in the upcoming episodes? Let us know in the comments below!