Eurovision Throwback: Maria Haukaas Storeng – Hold On, Be Strong

Anita: Ah yes, let’s go back to 2008, my first year of watching Eurovision in its entirety, so I have to say that it’s quite a special year for me. As such, it seemed right to pick a song from 2008 for this week’s review. So let’s kick off this throwback series with Maria Haukaas Storeng, who represented Norway with the song ‘Hold on be Strong.’

First off, we’ll look at the song itself. I genuinely like this song. It’s one of those songs which can’t offend anyone, as it’s such a generic sounding pop song. I’m not saying this in a negative way, but for a contest such as Eurovision, and taking it back to 2008, generic pop was where Europe was at, so overall it made sense in the context of Eurovision.

What do you think Seth?

Seth: Well, I started watching Eurovision the year after 2008. I do remember when I first downloaded the CD of Eurovision 2008 that this was one of the songs that stuck with me the most by far. For a while it was my favourite, until Turkey, Albania, Armenia and Azerbaijan surpassed it. I don’t know why, but I think it has to do with the more years passing by. This song gets less enjoyable by the year for me, unfortunately.

That being said, I still fancy the song to some extent. I especially love the lyrics. Though they are simple and generic, even by Eurovision standards, they are very meaningful for me. I used to be bullied a lot at my old schools, and this was one of the songs to console me at night when I had some rough times. One of the better ballads of the 2000’s decade, I have to say. The music is well produced, and I really don’t have a problem with that.

Anita: Well let’s look at the live Eurovision performance. Again, the staging is incredibly generic. We have the ‘matchy matchy’ outfit colours and the coordinated hand movements, which are standard, but amusing, especially during the chorus, when she sings, ‘True, True, True’, such sassy hand movements! I can’t really find a point in the song where her voice doesn’t deliver, and also, the backing singers provide something to the song, which to me, can make or break a song. Again, overall, there’s not much to critique, as it’s all really quite impressive.

Seth? Do you agree?

Seth: I agree with you pretty much. For me it was a very classy performance, like I could have expected from this song. The backing singers certainly made the song more original. It is very risky to rely on them for that, though, as there are examples where this can go wrong all the way (backing singers that aren’t experienced enough or get caught by stress). The performance was cliché, but Maria delivered a great vocal performance, kudos for that!

Anita: So we’ve had a good look at the song and the presentation, and we can both definitely agree that it is neither an outstanding song, nor is it terrible song, it’s in the middle somewhere, which is what we think it deserves. Any final thoughts?

Seth: While I thought it was an amazing song a few years ago, it has lost some magic over the years. Like most of the songs of the last decade, it didn’t age that well. I still think it is one of the better Norwegian entries, though.

Anita: So let’s give this song and performance a rating out of 10. I personally enjoy this song, so I’m going to give it a 7/10. And you?

Seth: I enjoy the song, too, but I usually give songs a higher mark than you when I enjoy them. I’ll give it an 8/10.

Total Score out of 20: 15/20

Song Profile

Year: 2008

Country: Norway

Artist: Maria Haukaas Storeng

Song: Hold on be Strong

Final Ranking: 5th, 182 points