How a Norwegian Performer Will Positively Influence Eurovision

Courtesy of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK)

I’ll let you in on a little secret- I am very into Eurovision. And when I say that I’m very into Eurovision, I mean that it’s pretty much half of my life. And, after two long years, I was finally able to watch all the Eurovision shows live (at my house, of course, because I can’t afford to travel). My favorite song to win was Italy with Måneskin’s “Zittti e buoni” (which did win and I’m very happy). Actually, Eurovision 2021 in general was very eventful. There were tons of awesome songs, the hosts were amazing, four countries got 0 points from televoting (As a matter of fact, the UK got 0 points in general.), and Italy, Romania, and Russia sent some very impactful songs.

But, as impactful as Italy, Romania, and Russia were, those aren’t the songs that have impacted me the most. No, if you really want to know which song impacted me the most this year, you’ll have to listen to “Fallen Angel” by TIX, who represented Norway this year.

When TIX won his country’s national selection Melodi Grand Prix 2021, a lot of people were upset because they wanted fan favorites Keiino (who represented Norway in 2019 with the awesome song “Spirit in the Sky”) to win with their song “Monument”. A lot of other Eurovision fans weren’t too keen on this song, either… at least, not at first. But for some reason, I kind of got into it. Maybe I just have weird taste (Okay, I have really weird taste in music.), but “Fallen Angel” kind of connected with me a bit. It’s kind of like how Australia’s song “Don’t Break Me” by Montaigne connected with me last year.

Now, before I get into the specifics of Norway’s song this year, I just wanna say that many Eurovision songs this year had a lot of impact and sentiment on me. Italy’s song, the winning song, is a banging rock song about staying true to yourself even when people are spreading false accusations about you (much like people were spreading false accusations about drug use after they won). Romania’s song “Amnesia” by Roxen is about mental illness and how self love is never gone. Russia’s song “Russian Woman” by Manizha is an empowerment song about how every Russian woman is a powerful woman despite the social stigmas surrounding them (which is especially empowering considering the fact that Manizha is originally from Tajikistan and faced a lot of backlash because of it). Malta’s song “Je me casse” by Destiny (who won Junior Eurovision 2015) is another female empowerment song. Iceland’s song “10 Years” by Daði og Gagnamagnið (who had my winning song last year) is a quirky song about how lead singer Daði Freyr has been with his wife Árný for a decade. But enough about those songs. Let’s get back to Norway’s song.

“Fallen Angel” is a song about a guy who’s been rejected by a girl and is initially depressed before accepting this rejection and letting her go “to heaven” because he’s not good enough for her and is a “fallen angel”. At first glance, this sounds just like every other heartbreak song, so why did it connect so much with me? Well, I’ve had many thoughts about demons tearing me apart and not being good enough for someone‘s love. But there’s something else about this song, something about TIX in particular.

TIX has Tourette Syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by multiple and involuntary movements called “tics”, where the singer got his stage name from. Naturally, he was bullied as a child by others for this, so I guess this is why I connect to his song more than others. Autism is not the same as Tourette Syndrome, but like TIX, I have also been bullied by others for a big part of me I can’t control. And really, what is so harmful about autism and Tourette’s? Who are we hurting by the movements we can’t control, and why should we hide a big part of who we are and how we express ourselves?

So, anyways, TIX is a mental health awareness advocate and has shared his experiences with Tourette’s, loneliness, and suicidal thoughts (possible due to the bullying he had received in his younger years). And yeah… I can kind of see this in when I hear “Fallen Angel”. I, too, have experienced loneliness and suicidal thoughts, and those are some very painful things to go through. But that’s enough about me; let’s talk about TIX’s Eurovision performance.

Disabled and mentally ill people performing at Eurovision isn’t exactly a new concept. Corinna May and Diana Gurtskaya, who represented Germany in 2002 and Georgia in 2008 respectively, are both blind. Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät is a Finnish punk rock band composed of developmentally disabled musicians and have represented their country in 2015. Actually, 2015 was pretty huge for performers with disabilities since Monika Kuszyńska, who uses a wheelchair for mobility, represented Poland that same year. Julia Samoylova also uses a wheelchair for mobility, and she represented Russia in 2018 although she is the only Russian act (so far) to not qualify for the final. And there have been plenty of performers who have battled mental illnesses competing on the Eurovision stage- Agnete (Norway 2016) has opened up about her Bipolar Disorder.

But again, let’s get back to TIX. What makes his performance stand out to me? Well, I think it stands out towards the end of the performance. When Julia Samoylova performed in her semi-final back in 2018, she hid her wheelchair with an iceberg prop. Now personally, I think it should be up to the artist themselves whether they want to expose their disability/mental illness to the public. And if the artist doesn’t want to expose their disability/mental illness at whatever time, then more power to them. But I find it way more powerful when an artist exposes their disability/mental illness to the public, especially live on television where hundreds of millions of people are watching. And that’s what TIX did at the end of both of his performances in his semi-final and the grand final.

My sincerest apology for not getting the actual live video. They’re all blocked in America, and that saddens me.

As an autistic person myself, it’s really amazing to see someone like TIX expose his tics to hundreds of millions watching Eurovision. Again, it’s normal for disabled/mentally ill people to hide a part of who they are because of the stigmatization from our society, so for TIX to show the tics in his eyes really connects to me deeply. I was so happy when Norway was the first country announced to make it to the final on Tuesday, and I hope TIX’s performance inspires more performers to say to the world that it’s okay to be open about your disability/mental illness. In the immortal words of TIX himself-

Remember guys, you are not alone!

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Emily Alexandra

Emily Alexandra

Just some autistic person wanting to write and write. I also like to draw and have a cat and dog that are my life. I publish on 8th, 18th, and 28th every month.