Bærum, 22 January 2022

Tonight, the second  heat of Norway’s anticipated selection show, Melodi Grand Prix will air! During this live show, four acts will compete in a series of duels, with one qualifier reaching the finale on 19 February.

Naturally, we at ESCUnited wanted to get in our reviews of the four hopefuls before the live performances screw up our hopes, dreams and expectations. Buckle-up for 28 spittle-flecked rants about Lily Löwe, Steffen Jakobsen, Farida and Daniel Lukas. 

On today’s review panel we find:

  • Boris Meersman, a self-proclaimed article gremlin and fan blogger from Belgium
  • David Popescu, our Discord Admin doubling as a correspondent for Denmark and Romenia
  • James Maude, an exiled British Rock fan currently residing in California, where he writes about all things JESC.
  • Roy Postema, a part-time Youtuber and full-time (unintentional) United Sex Symbol, from the Netherlands
  • Stefan Resimic, our Serbian contact and a fan of all things that are bops and bangers
  • Tyler Griffiths, our Alaskan correspondent who can see Russia from his window
  • William Carter, our Texan supersleuth, always on the look out for fun facts to share

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the reviews are those of the person making the statement, and not of ESCUnited as a whole, nor of Matt or Sean. If you take umbrage at what will be written below, take it up with the person who said it, but be aware he may hold the right to ignore you forevermore <3

AUTOQUALIFIER SHOWCASE – Christian Ingebrigtsen

Each MGP live show will feature a live showcasing of one of the finalists. This week, the featured finalist is Christian Ingebrigtsen, who is well known all over Europe as a member of the 90s boyband A1. Because of the way the autoqualifiers are being revealed during MGP, with Anna-Lisa Kumoji being showcased during the Second Chance round, the Autoqualifiers’s reviews and scores will be published on the day of the Second Chance Round (Heat five) on 12 February. Christian’s scores have been collected beforehand however, to ensure that every Autoqualifier is rated fairly and equally.

And now, for the actual reviews:

Boris – 8.5

“A slick lounge banger that I kind of underrated until it was time to write down this review! “Kvelertak” has an excellent synthpop track, a crisp hip-hop rhythm and a biblical reference in the lyrics??? I like the story as well –  Daniel is heads over heels in love with his girlfriend but their bond has broken down, so “Kvelertak” (which is Norwegian for“stranglehold”) alludes to both Daniel’s moral dilemma between attempting to mend their broken relationship against his better judgment, or powerlessly accepting she’s leaving him for good, and to her own need for “personal space” (including implications she’s already found someone else). It’s an emotionally complex and real-as-f’ck narrative that leaves no winners in its wake. I don’t want him to beat Lily but if he doesn’t annihilate Farida and Steffen I will be VERY disappointed in Norway! Again.”

David – 5

“Not what I expected from a song that translates into “stranglehold”. This song is veeeeeeery awkward, it has this upbeat dance style to it, but with very heavy and depressing lyrics. Perfect example of a song, where it’s best not to understand what’s being said in the song, but I can already imagine seeing people dance to this, without knowing what is being said, which to me is very off-putting. It’s so confusing, cause the beat is actually really good, but with those lyrics… plus points for the music, plus points for lyrics, but put together… nah?”

James – 7

“I got excited when I saw this. Kverlertak, one of Norway’s greatest rock bands is entering MGP! Okay, “Daniel Lukas” is a weird name for a song, but whatever. Then I realized it was the other way around. Despite my initial disappointment, “Kvelertak” is a decent synthpop track. Great for the club, I’d pair it with a vodka tonic. Problem for this track is that it is a vodka tonic type of track, a basic club track with enough bass to inspire a shuffle or low key attempt at dancing. Daniel himself needs to be more assertive and the track itself could do with a distinctive moment like a breakdown or a bass drop or a synth solo to make it stand out more. Or send the rock legends from Stavanger instead.”

Roy – 6

“I am very much vibing to this song. The Norwegian language adds to the enjoyment of the song. The biggest issue for such a song is that it might fade into the background if you put it in a big batch of songs. The MGP system has battles, so Daniel might not be hurt by this immediately. I perhaps wish that there was a bit more differentiation in the song as well, but it is definitely a fine effort.”

Stefan – 5

“Just another radio friendly song. I’ll give him thumbs up for singing in Norwegian. Sometimes less is more, but this is just too simple. It’s just too forgettable. I believe most of you enjoyed, but very few of you will come back to it.”

Tyler – 8

“First of all, thank you so much for the Norwegian language! It’ll be great to hear the one time it’s sung on stage in this semi. Second, I really like the beat, as it feels electronica and reminiscent of “The Guest” soundtrack. Great stuff! Third, while I enjoy the beats and the lyrics, I’m not sure how the more discordant beats will go over with the public. There’s this echoing reverb that I think can turn off people, so it may not sit well with others. It’s unique in that sense at least! I’m excited to see this song performed live, even if it’ll flop.”

William – 6

“The ‘80s synth sound might be slightly overrepresented in the last couple years, but, as throwbacks go, this song stands on its own pretty well. The backing music is transporting. The vocal is interesting. There’s percussiveness to the track that gives it a nice forward momentum. Still, it’s more than a little familiar, and I’m unsure how all the artistic auto tune flourishes will really work in a live setting. With the right staging and vocal performance, I could easily be sold on it. I’m cautiously optimistic, but, ultimately, this is settling in the middle of the pack for me. ”

Total Score: 45.5/70
Highest: 8.5 (Boris)
Lowest: 5 (David, Stefan)
Average: 6.5

 

Boris – 3 

“It’s always the same deal with these mousy, baggy clothes-wearing indie wenches that proclaim themselves as a “threat”.  Farida has had enough of her “toxic and overrated” boyfriend [citation needed] and for a brief spell you think it’ll lead to something empowering but in the end it’s just her saying “i am… dangerous… just… trust me on this… -_- ” dispelling any semblance of danger whatsoever. I hope she dresses up in blue tomorrow because then the colour of her outfit will match the colour my balls get after listening to her song.“

David – 2

“I’m struggling… there’s talent, there’s passion in her singing, but the song is so slowly paced, that I just don’t care anymore. No tears here, just plain and boring.”

James – 4

“Oh no, a young white woman breaking up with her beau over a piano! Also known during national selection season as “toilet break.” But seriously, this is one of those songs where lyrically and musically there’s no resolution and little in the way of dynamism, a protagonist stuck in a loop rather than forcing an escape, which makes for the worst break up songs. Also, this one contains mixed metaphors. She suggests her beau is controlling, but she then says she is letting go. Wouldn’t breaking free be more apt? She rants about specific traits he has (“toxic,” “overrated”), but then wants to burn the world for glass ceilings in general? No danger here, so please move on.”

Roy – 8.5

“If you ask me, this is definitely the ballad to beat so far! Farida’s voice is beautiful and where the song starts very minimalistic, it builds in epicness and emotion. I wish the pay-off after the first chorus was a bit bigger, but that definitely improves during the second chorus. The beautiful thing about this song is that the live performance has lots of room to make it even better. I hope she will deliver, I am definitely rooting for this in the semi!”

Stefan – 10

“The piano intro totally bought me. I know it’s a typical 007 movie song, but I never say no to a powerful ballad. And her voice. I just love it. If this doesn’t qualify I’m gonna be … Well I won’t be happy.”

Tyler – 7

Dangerous” is the Bond anthem for me this year and it’s…only okay! “Dangerous” takes a while for me to warm up to before I start enjoying it, and while I think Farida sings the song well, the lyrics are unmemorable to me. The magic of the song would be best exemplified by the staging, which if pulled off well could help Farida advance to the final. It’s a fine ballad that I find a little more enjoyable than the others in this selection, so good at that.

William – 7

“The instrumentation is the star of this song. The strings, the chimes, the organ, the backing beat … this is a really lush soundscape. And Farida’s vocals are no joke. Girl’s got some pipes! I worry this may be overshadowed in its semi-final. Its sound is a little introspective and mournful, and I don’t know if that’s what people are really looking for this year. I have high hopes for how this is going to perform live, though. Regardless of whether this song stays in the semi-finals, I think Farida is going to give us a show-stopping moment on stage.”

 

Total Score: 41.5/70
Highest: 10 (Stefan)
Lowest: 2 (David)
Average: 5.9

Boris – 9.5 

“In a short two weeks, a make-up artist with no discernible music experience managed to unite the internet behind her. That in itself is stanworthy but there’s more: “Bad Baby” is also one of the best Glam Rock songs ever heard in MGP. It eats up the previous entries by Ammunition and Hank von Hell alive.  It has POWER, it has an ADDICTIVE musical hook, it has DRAMA. “Bad baby” is a VISION of campness in a sea of musical conformity. There’s so much potential for staging too: wigs, make-up, pyros, strobe lights, spark showers, sharp camera cuts, list goes on forevermore. This could be great entry for Norway at the Eurovision if they have the cojones to take the risk. I f’cking hope Lily wins, and I’ll be headbanging along if and when she does. RED REDDD BABY OOOOOOOOOOH.“

David – 9

“Death metal, now that’s unusual! Everything instrumental about this song, is pure perfection! Great style and very alive, this simply can’t be ignored. This might be a bit of nitpicking, but Lily’s performance of the song is a big lacking, she stays very calm throughout the song, and doesn’t give the same energy as the song does, at least she gives it some life right at the end with the long note, if she can perform the hell out of this song, it will be a perfect score, but until then…”

James – 9

“A great, modern glam metal song that wouldn’t sound out of place at the Whisky A Go Go. And like the best glam, “Bad Baby” does not take itself too seriously and has a singer who is as ham as she is glam. Staging will be important, and I hope we get flames right as the chorus kicks in and sparklers during the guitar solo. So far across the national selections, this is the best fit for Eurovision purpose rock song. If Eurovision 2021 was about a band influenced by the British glam rock of the ‘70s, it’s logical to progress to 2022 with a band influenced by the Los Angeles Sunset Strip glam metal of the ‘80s, no?”

Roy – 7

“This song starts off immediately as a banger. I wish the chorus was a bit better. Right now it is just her repeating ‘Bad Baby’ and I think they could have done a better job at making the chorus and writing the lyrics for it. Lily’s vocals are really good and this song has a lot of potential for an epic staging. In a way, the ‘ooh’s’ in the chorus remind me a tad bit of Lordi’s ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’. Yeah, not bad, Baby!”

Stefan – 8

“Girl power!!! I’m just hoping for a glam rock performance. No one does it better than Norwegians. Her song is powerful, but tbh it is something what we all have heard in various national finals over the years. Yet again it is growing on me.”

Tyler – 8

“Pretty rockin’ song! “Bad Baby” gives me some sweet guitar licks in a solo reminiscent of hair metal from the 80s, and Lily’s vocals are in a similar style as well. I couldn’t tell you a single word from the lyrics other than “bad bad baby“, but it’s still quite fun to listen to, and sticks out in a good way. I’m not sure if the wider Eurofan community will like this as “Another Rock Song”, but it’s unique enough to what we got from “Zitti e buoni” that I really don’t mind this at all. Wouldn’t be mad if this won the semi and moved onto the final, and could be a contender!”

William – 8.5

“YES, MA’AM! This is the most fun song MGP has this year. If voters are looking for something high energy and rocking, this is the one I’d go with. It’s got a bit of a classic rock/throwback thing going on, but it doesn’t sound dated.  This just HITS. I am so ready to see this performed live. Bring on the pyrotechnics and mania! Her semi-final is otherwise pretty low-key, so I have faith she can make it to the finals through sheer force of energy alone. At least I hope so. The final would be poorer without her in it.”

Total Score: 59/70
Highest: 9.5 (Boris)
Lowest: 7 (Roy)
Average: 8.4

 

 

Boris – 7.5

“Against all of my better judgement, I have grown strangely fond of this stereotypical linedance track. I find it weirdly endearing, and Steffen’s dopey deepthroat twang injects his song’s earnest (and lowkey cute) message with some welcome warmth. It’s not quite AS good as STEFAN’s song in Estonia (although let’s be fair “Hope” is basically an Aviicii track with Spaghetti Western riffs <3), but in this collection of anonymous scandipop and sadboi/sadgirl ballads, I’ll gladly take an earnest country song about a horoscope-reading cowboy longing for his cowgirl’s nightly embrace. NOW DO YOU DUTY GOOD SIR, AND FALL SO QUEEN LILY CAN RISE.”

David – 8

“Of course, we need some western style country music as well, and I don’t mind it either. It does the correct things that I expect from some Wild Wild West music, builds a dramatic tension, tells a story, remains upbeat, enjoyable throughout the song. Maybe performed a bit safely, but it’s done correctly.”

James – 2

“Is this the guy from Right Said Fred doing a Red Dead Redemption tribute? “With Me Tonight” is another obnoxious country inspired Scandipop track with a key change that’s done as subtly as the corny Western lyrics. Like really, what danger is a guy like Steffen going to face in Norway? He leaves his electric vehicle plugged in too long at the public charging station, putting him at risk for a fine? Yeah Steffen, you go with your six shooter to the meter maid and explain why you needed those twenty extra minutes at the farmers market to get kohlrabi. Sergio Leone is waiting to film your showdown with the law, tough guy.”

Roy – 4

“Putting it simply, this song is not for me. I am not the biggest fan of these country-esque songs. I will say that his voice suits the style of the song very well. Staging-wise, this song pretty much writes it’s own staging. I don’t know, I feel like I have heard this songs many times before already as well.”

Stefan – 4

“Can someone please explain to me what’s going on with the Country style music and Scandinavian peeps? I’ve never been a fan of it, and it continues with this song too. I’m also getting deja vu vibes, but I can’t figure out what does it reminds of…”

Tyler – 7

“Despite the tone of voice Steffen sings in and despite the cliché sounding country twangs, I kinda like “With Me Tonight“? It all blends together in a way that makes me enjoy listening to the song, even if those individual aspects are not my thing at all. “With Me Tonight” is a fun song and could do decently in the national selection. There’s one other country song in another current NF that I think has this genre covered, and better mind you, so while this is a pleasant surprise, it isn’t enough for me to think this will do that well.”

William – 4.5

“It’s always a bit strange to me when country singers who aren’t American put on manufactured Southern twangs. Country singers in The US don’t pronounce words that way as some sort of artistic choice. That’s just their accents. I otherwise am a fan of Steffen’s vocal tone. His deep singing voice has a lot of character. The song itself is a little sleepy, but the storytelling aspect present in all great country music is there. The abrupt key change near the end has got to go. It makes absolutely no sense in this song. It feels compulsory, and it’s unnecessary.”

Total Score: 37/70
Highest: 8 (David)
Lowest: 2 (James)
Average: 5.3

If Team United had its way, Lily Löwe‘s Bad, Bad Baby (Oooooh) would be the Norwegian qualifier for this week. In fact, if we look at our cumulative ranking (see below), Lily is by far and away our favourite act so far. It’ll be curious to see if anyone can catch up to her in the following three weeks.

MGP Ranking Week 2:

  1. Lily Löwe – “Bad baby” (84%)
  2. Daniel Lukas – “Kvelertak” (65%)
  3. Elsie Bay – “Death of us” (TBA)
  4. Farida – “Dangerous” (59%)
  5. Frode Vassel – “Black flowers” (55%)
  6. Mira Craig – “We still here” (53%) (Median score: 6)
  7. Steffen Jakobsen – “With me tonight” (53%) (Median score: 4.5)
  8. Eline Noelia – “Ecstasy” (49%)
  9. TrollfesT – “Dance like a pink flamingo” (48%)
  10. Christian Ingebrigtsen – “Wonder of the world (TBA)

Ties will be broken by looking at the median score. 

For a comprehensive visual overview of which act competes in which heat, consult this chart:

Do #YOU agree with our panel? Who is #YOUR favourite in the second Dolphin final? Let us know in the comments, on social media or on our forum HERE.

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2 Comments

  1. […] 1 HEAT 2 HEAT 3 HEAT […]

  2. […] Earlier this morning, a Team ESC United panel of experts weighed in on the songs in this delfinale and collectively selected the song we thought should advance. Did we get it right or did we just embarrass ourselves?? Find out here. […]

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