Karsten is known as the only openly gay rapper in Norway, and was recently listed as one of the 300 most influential artists by Norway’s national museum of popular music in the past twenty years. He’s been rapping in Norwegian for 20 years, but only started writing and rapping in English since last spring. His flows and vocal delivery in English are better than most other rappers I know here in the United States, which makes him really stand out amongst the masses.
“Smile” is Karsten’s radio friendly tropical pop-rap hit that still stays true to himself. He sings and raps about a male love interest, and even mentions being in a polyamorous open relationship. Karsten matches his upbeat flows with a soft vocal melody in the chorus that we adore. “Smile” is definitely a song gay people around the world can listen and relate to for years to come. We’re thankful for Karsten paving the way for more queer artists to live authentically as themselves and have fun doing it.
For us English readers, I have some information on how this song contest works.
There will be a total of seven shows from January 16 to February 20, 2021 with four competitors in each heat, and a last chance night where everyone gets one more chance to compete in the final. Here are the dates:
- 16 January 2021: Heat 1
- 23 January 2021: Heat 2
- 30 January 2021: Heat 3
- 6 February 2021: Heat 4
- 13 February 2021: Heat 5
- 15 February 2021: Last Chance
- 20 February 2021: Final
There will be a total of 26 songs in MGP 2021, and 12 songs will compete in the final, with six pre-qualified songs, five winners from the heats, and one wildcard.
On February 15, 2021, one artist will get the Wildcard in the Last Chance round for the Final of MGP which will be selected in a live broadcast on the radio and at NRK.no. This year’s grand final will feature 12 finalists, instead of the regular 10. Like last year, half of the finalists will be internally selected (pre-qualified) and half chosen through the heats.
If Karsten wins the Melodi Grand Prix, he will represent Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest on the international stage! (For the American readers, we’re not also explaining how that song contest works. Google is your friend.)
I’m very blessed to have Karsten as my rap mentor and best friend, so I got the privilege to video chat with him and ask a few questions for us readers.
What was your favorite part creating the song? Least favorite part?
My favorite part was that it gave me a shimmer of light in the darkness of the first lockdown. It actually didn’t start off as a “good song.” It took about four demos to make it catchy and commercial, so it was cool to see the song evolve into that. It was almost as if I were pregnant with the song and it was growing in my belly, then I had birth when it was released!
My least favorite part was that it took such a long time. It was like a double edged sword. It was the best and the worst, because I’m used to writing songs and finishing them almost instantly.
What was the hardest part submitting the song to the MGP?
There was nothing really hard about that. You just send it in, and wait. The hardest part was waiting for the acceptance confirmation. You start to hear rumors about other competitors being confirmed, so it makes you wonder if you’re up next. I didn’t want them to think it was “too gay,” or “too promiscuous.” As an openly gay artist, I will always have self doubt about how my music will be consumed by a mainstream audience. Despite those worries, “Smile” has been all over the country and received so much support, and I almost feel like I’ve broken a barrier for other queer artists to bring gay love songs to mainstream.
Is the song about somebody specific that you like, or based on what you want in a relationship?
It is a bit of both, actually. It’s partially based on my previous relationships, and partially based on what I want for a future relationship. I want to be in a relationship where we put each other first, and that we always feel safe and happy together in that. This song is a testament to that and what I want in a partner.
Lastly, what do you have to say to all the bears and daddies who think you’re hot?
Find me on Growlr! 😜
Thanks for answering my questions, Karsten! Sending you love from the U.S.!
For the bears and fans across the world that don’t live Norway, I have great news! You can livestream the performance here on NRK AND you can vote for Karsten here to win his semifinal in the Melodi Grand Prix! We can’t wait for Saturday to watch his live performance with full choreography and personalized set, and we’ll be cheering him on from the United States! Be sure to stream “Smile” on all platforms now!
Karsten on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/big.d.karsten/?hl=en
Karsten on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BigDaddyKarsten?s=20
Direct Link to Melodi Grand Prix Livestream: https://www.nrk.no/
Sign up and vote for Karsten here: https://www.nrk.no/mgp/stem/
Written By: Bryce Quartz