What is Joik, as heard in Norway’s 2019 Eurovision entry Spirit In the Sky?
Norway are aiming for their fourth Eurovision win in 2019, as supergroup Keiino and their song Spirit In The Sky take the hopes of the Nordic nation to the contest in Tel Aviv.
The track is a classic Eurovision banger – catchy, upbeat chorus and all – but there’s one part that marks it out as a tad more unusual than your average song contest anthem, and that’s the presence of a strange vocal chant in the middle, courtesy of band member Fred Buljo.
Wondering what that bit’s all about? Well, it’s actually a form of song known as Joik – but what’s that when it’s at home exactly?
Here’s what you need to know…
What is Joik, as heard in Spirit In The Sky?
Buljo’s mid-song chant (fast-forward to 2:02 to hear it) is a traditional type of song performed by the Sami people – otherwise known as Lapps or Laplanders – who inhabit the Sapmi region, encompassing large parts of Norway and Sweden as well as northern Finland and Murmansk Oblast in north-west Russia.
The sound, which has been compared to the chanting of some Native American cultures, is often deeply personal in nature, with each joik meant to reflect or evoke a person, animal or place.
Eurovision aside, it’s found its place in popular culture, serving as inspiration for the likes of Disney’s Frozen – with the opening song, Vuelie, heavily influenced by Sami culture.
However, Spirit In The Sky doesn’t mark Joik’s first appearance on the Eurovision stage, as it also featured in their 1980 entry Samiid Aednan.
Sweden also had a Sami-influenced song – Jon Henrik FJallgren’s Norrsken – in the running to represent them this year, with the track reaching the final of Melodifestivalen:
Who are Norwegian hopefuls Keiino and who is Fred Buljo?
The band is a supergroup consisting of Buljo, along with Norwegian singers Alexandra Rotan and Tom Hugo – who formed in the summer of 2018 when Hugo and his husband Alex Olsson began writing Spirit In The Sky.
The group name is taken from the name of Buljo’s home town Kautokeino, which is part of the Sapmi region.
Buljo originally found fame as a rapper, producer and Sami parliamentary representative before joining the band.
Since then he’s not only lent his joiking skills to Spirit In The Sky, but has given similar treatment to other songs, including Emmelie de Forest’s 2013 contest winner Only Teardrops:
He has also, along with Keiino, given Lady Gaga’s Shallow a bit of a Nordic makeover:
When is the Eurovision Song Contest 2019?
The grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 is on Saturday 18 May in Tel Aviv, Israel, following semi-finals on Tuesday 14 May and Thursday 16 May.
Keiino will perform in the second semi-final – in which UK viewers can vote – in their bid to win a place in the final.
The semi-final is on BBC Four from 8pm, while the final kicks off on BBC One on Saturday from 8pm.
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