Eurovision Song of the Week: Voi Voi (Norway, 1960)

Are you ready for another Eurovision earworm? (German: [der] Ohrwurm) Norway’s 1960 entry Voi Voi must be one of the catchiest songs in ESC history!

For the third week in a row, I feature a song from northern Europe. That is, a song in a Germanic language. Although my German wasn’t very useful for understanding a Swedish song (Link), it helped a lot with a Dutch song (Link). What do you think will happen with a Norweigan song?

First Impressions

Voi Voi was very catchy from the beginning, but by the middle of the chorus, it also felt familiar. I didn’t understand the words, but the melody seemed like something I already knew. I played it several times just for the music, hoping I could remember the old song it reminded me of. Does it sound like something you know, too?

After I started also listening to the words, the first one that made sense was “sangen.” I guessed it was related to the German verb “singen” (to sing). Then I heard “stille” — German for “still” or “quiet.” My favorite was something like “Wirklichkeit” (German for “reality”) — which I later learned was “virkelighet” (Norwegian for “reality”)!

But I also made some embarrassing mistakes with other parts of the song. For instance, what I thought was “gesang” (German for “sung”) was just the end of the lyric “samepike sang” . . . Then I believed I heard “gerade” (German for “direct”), but that was just the last three syllables of “dager er det” . . . It’s some consolation, however, to think that my ears now seek out not just English sounds, but also German sounds! I even related the Norwegian “fortelle” to the German “vorsagen” (“to prompt”) before I realized it was closer to the English “fortell”!

At first glance, German seems more helpful for Norwegian than for Swedish . . . But I was able to understand one whole line in the Swedish song and only scattered words in the Norwegian song. I’ll need to hear more Eurovision entries in both languages before I make my conclusion.

Further Consideration

Now let’s listen to the live version of Voi Voi from Eurovision 1960. If you were watching the UK broadcast, you would have also heard the introduction in this clip:

Does knowing the story behind the song help? After I heard it, I started thinking of “Voi Voi” as “Hey Hey”! It makes sense as what a girl would say to get her lover’s attention. (Note: Google’s translation feature says that “voi voi” is “oh oh” in Finnish.)

The song was edited a little differently for the live performance. Instead of the verse, Nora Brockstedt began with a strong “Voi voi” and the first four lines of the chorus. A great improvement, I think! It really brings out the energy in the song! This orchestral arrangement also makes the song sound familiar to me from the very beginning. Now I could swear I’ve heard it before!

Lost (and Found) in Translation

There is no English version . . . but there are translations in Swedish (Link) and Danish (Link)! If you listen to the Swedish recording while reading the original Norwegian lyrics, you’ll see why it was easy to do. The Danish translation also has strong similarities, but not (in my opinion) as many.

I en liten dal, langt mot nord.
Der hvor solen lyser natten lang.
I en liten dal, langt mot nord.
Hørte jeg en samepike sang.

Sangen var visst kommet med en vind,
Søndervinden tok den over havet.
Piken var så lys og lett til sinn,
Og rytme fikk hun visst i vuggegave.

I en liten dal, langt som få.
Hørte jeg en sang som lød som så.Voi, voi! Høyt oppi fjellet.
Hører du denne hilsen fra meg?
Voi, voi! Jeg vil fortelle,
At jeg venter på deg.

Voi, voi! Tiden står stille,
Når jeg venter på kjæresten min.
Voi, voi! Skjebnen vår ville,
At jeg skulle bli din.

Voi, voi! Om noen dager,
Er det lørdag, du vet!
Voi, voi! Da vil en fager drøm,
Bli virkelighet.

Voooi! Snart vil du komme,
Ned til dalen med kjæresten din.
Voi voi! Uken er omme,
Lørdagskvelden blir fin.
Lørdagskvelden blir fin.

And now that I’m finally reading the lyrics, I believe that a German translation would have been a little more challenging . . . but not too hard. But this might just be wishful thinking on my part. There are few Eurovision songs I’ve wanted to sing as much as I do Voi Voi!

What do you think of our Eurovision Song of the Week? Again, 1960 was too early for the televote, but I want to end this post with my usual question:

Would you have voted for Voi Voi in Eurovision 1960?

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