This isn’t a dream! This is really happening!
KEiiNO is a pop group who formed to perform “Spirit In the Sky” at Melodi Grand Prix. Tom Hugo is a singer-songwriter who had a top 20 single on the Norwegian singles chart in 2012 with “Open Up Your Eyes.” He wrote “Spirit In the Sky” with his husband Alex Olsson, then recruited Alexandra Rotan and Fred Buljo to form the band. Alexandra teamed up with Stella Mwangi for MGP in 2018 to perform “You Got Me,” while Fred is a member of the Sami rap group Duolva Duottar that competed on the 2008 edition of Norske Talenter. The band took its name from Fred’s hometown of Kautokeino.
This is not good. It’s not. It is generic schlager gussied up with some joik singing to give it gravitas. The lyrics are bland aphorisms tricked out with folk tropes. It gives into every mawkish instinct with a straight face. Then there’s the official video, which is irrepressibly cheesy.
Needless to say, we love it. “Spirit In the Sky” is ridiculously catchy and KEiiNO’s earnestness makes it both more compelling and more kitschy in a way that bring us joy.
We will always defend the Eurovision Song Contest to any casual viewer who pokes fun at its hokey excesses and only tune in for the next Nicole and Hugo. On the other hand, Eurovision’s campiness is what sent us down this rabbit hole in the first place. We may not be in an era with a high cheese factor anymore, but that doesn’t mean the cheese platters have gone away either. It’s that combination of the ridiculous and the sublime that makes Eurovision so entertaining to us.
Also, we still hold out hope that KEiiNO will wear the fox ears in Tel Aviv.