The Single Artwork for ''Stay''

The country that gave us a-ha in the 80s has selected their entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Norway will be represented this year by pop sensation Tooji, and his song “Stay”. The 23-year-old singer, in something of an upset, beat out 15-year-old Nora Foss Al-Jabri, in the finals of Norwegian’s Eurovision song selection contest Melodi Grand Prix.

Foss Al-Jabri is a lovely girl and her song “Somewhere Beautiful” is a lovely, Broadway-style ballad of yearning – you can totally hear an animated Disney princess singing it to a butterfly, or a lobster, or a frog. But though the judges loved her, rival Tooji won over the audience vote by the sheer force of his niceness. Apparently, when she’s not singing, Miss Nora has a foul mouth. (Meanwhile, when Tooji’s not singing, he’s talking about how wonderful his team of dancers is.)

Nora Foss Al-Jabri “Somewhere Beautiful”

Note to Norwegian television producers: if you ever consider developing a Norwegian version of Glee, I think we may have found the girl to play Quinn.

Interestingly enough, for the first Eurovision hosted by the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan – which is just about as Middle Eastern as the European Broadcasting Union gets – both of Norway’s top two finalists have roots in the region. Al-Jabri’s father is from Iraq, and Tooji was born in Iran. His Persian roots are showing on “Stay.” Imagine if Salome had done her dance of the seven veils in a Munich night club, circa A.D. 2009.

I have to say, I’m totally with Team Tooji on this one. “Stay” is the most convincing Eurovision entry I’ve heard so far this year. It’s got a great beat, and you can sabre dance to it. And: it’s actually available for download on Amazon here in the U.S. (Yup, I’ve already got it on my iPod!)