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Savan Kotecha, Rickard Göransson and Fat Max Gsus are no strangers to receiving acclaim and recognition for their songwriting. Kotecha has helped co-write hits such as Ariana Grande’s “Boom Boom,” The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” and One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful,” while Göransson has written songs for the likes of Avril Lavigne, Zara Larsson and Flo Rida.
And yet, for all the Grammy nominations, platinum records and chart successes, nothing quite compares to the responses they’ve engendered for “Husavik,” the climactic power ballad part-sung by Will Ferrell at the end of the Netflix comedy Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, which is Oscar-nominated for best original song.
“Personally speaking, I’ve never gotten this kind of reaction before for any of the things I’ve been lucky to be a part of, not ‘What Makes You Beautiful,’ not ‘I Can’t Feel My Face,’ none of that stuff,” recalls Kotecha in a THR Presents Q&A powered by Vision Media.
Kotecha added that he’d received numerous emails and texts from fellow musicians — including Charlie Puth — about “Husavik,” while Grande’s brother Frankie Grande sent him a video of himself dancing to the song the day after Eurovision was released on Netflix, telling him, somewhat prophetically, that it would land an Oscar nomination.
“This is just a different world, with so many people reaching out and actually being moved by this or being emotional,” says Göransson, who claimed that the timing of the film — coming out just months into the pandemic — played a part. “The song just speaks so much about the fundamentals in life that everybody got to experience this year when a lot of things were taken away. So I think that’s another reason why it resonated with so many people.”
For Gsus, “Husavik” has seen him become a minor celebrity in his hometown of Karlskrona in Sweden, where his local newspaper placed him on a list of homegrown success stories. “They list the top five, and today I made number two,” he says with a laugh. “Right under a shoemaker who’s had his store open for 10 years.”
But perhaps the biggest reaction has come from the real-life Icelandic town of Húsavik itself, where Eurovision is predominantly set. The fishing port — which has a population of less than 2,500 — has fully embraced its moment in the limelight, with visitors now able to drink a “Double Trouble” cocktail in the newly opened “Jaja Ding Dong” bar (both named after other songs in the film). The town has also thrown its weight behind the bid for Oscar glory, releasing an utterly charming campaign video in which a children’s choir sings “Husavik” and fishermen pose with their catch as if they were Oscar statuettes.
“Watching that was amazing,” says Kotecha. “But we really didn’t think it through. I never stopped to think that this must mean a lot to Húsavik. So hopefully we can bring it home to them.”
Kotecha, Göransson and Gsus all agree that Húsavik would be one of the first places they’d visit should they win the Oscar.
Says Gsus: “I’m going to stir my martini with the statuette in the Jaja Ding Dong bar!”
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