Melodi Grand Prix concludes tonight, after a six-week marathon selection that saw 26 songs performed over five semi-finals and one wildcard show. But, tonight is the night it all comes to a close, with the remaining twelve acts taking to the stage in Fornebu one last time. Which one will win the Norwegian ticket to Eurovision 2021?
Since we’ve already covered the qualifiers in previous review articles, today we will focus on our six prequalified entries. Have they justified their special MGP status this year? It’s up to Boris, Daniel, James, Melanie and Sean to pass their judgement on the songs…
Atle Pettersen – World on Fire
Boris – 5 – Heat 4 was a waking nightmare, so while I don’t at all care for “World on Fire” on a fundamental level, Atle’s overentheusiastic douchebro antics were a breath of…air. Retroactively though, that sentiment seems way too generous for a bout of generic, ‘I can’t Believe It’s Not Danish’ bound-to-flop pop (would it surprise you this song rhymes ‘on fire’ with ‘take me higher’, no of course not). Oh well, the ‘awkward pole dance routine‘ is *something*, if one-note, but most of these autoqualifiers are *none*-note, so.
Daniel – 8 – This is a high-production song full of an interesting hook and dynamic chorus. The structure is interesting which I appreciate because the chorus comes rather quick and seems out of place, but I feel like it captures my attention. The bridges are bit short which makes the great chorus seem a bit repetitive. I think this song is like mainstream enough that it is very easily digestible but still has some unique elements. I think it is one of the stronger entries, not the strongest, but definitely one meriting much respect for its quality.
James – 5 – On ESC United’s post-MGP Semi-Final 4 Livestream discussion, both Matt and I forgot that this pre-qualified entry had been shown until reminded by a viewer on the chat. That’s the problem with “World on Fire” in a nutshell – it’s forgettable. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this dance song or Atle’s performance, but it doesn’t stand out or have a “wow!” moment.
Melanie – 5.5 – Atle serves us our typical teen pop singer. Does this guy has a pretty face? Check! Can this guy do some cool moves? Check! Does this guy need a lot of backing track in his performance? Double check! I understand that this song is an automatic qualifier, because he’s a great performer and an amazing opener. He can sell the song, but it’s just your mediocre pop song. And after such a strong national final, I also want a strong winner.
Sean – 4 – Why was this pre-qualified? “Attractive white guy singing a midtempo ballad about making the most of your life/achieving your dream/doing your best” is a cliché that has been bludgeoned to death a million times over, and while I’m sure Atle is a great guy and has a good voice, we really don’t need more of this in Eurovision.
Total = 27.5 (avg. 5.5)
Stavangerkameratene – Who I Am
Boris – 3 – Another one of those head-scratching “Why did NRK advance this, exactly, over something actually good?” decisions I’ll never get. ‘Wow, four middle-aged dads singing about their personal nostalgia in a whiny, endless drone’ now that has got me wishing for more!!! Whatever, I want to dislike it, but it’s honestly not worth the effort of emotion.
Daniel – 6.5 – This folk-pop addition to the final is something I was hoping for Norway. They bring feeling, soul, and a certain genuineness to the competition. This is a song that you cannot help but smile about, it is so cute with the throwback images of childhood. Yeah, the staging is pretty superb, like a wholesome version of Sweden 2015. The song itself is very unique, the four voices work well in the chorus but individually sound rather different (which may add to its charms). I think this is just that feel good song we all seek and while it is not my favorite to represent Norway, it is recognized for its quality content.
James – 7 – Oh look, it’s a queue of “Eurovision fans” forming to screech about how they should have kept this song in Norwegian. I am probably in the minority that thinks it’s the correct choice to use this English version. It turns a parochial ballad about a small town in Norway into a universal anthem about the call of home and how a small place can make you and be restorative upon your return. From Brighouse to Rustavi, Europeans can identify with these five Stavanger comrades, even if it’s unlikely “Who I Am” is going to make it out of Norway.
Melanie – 6 – I’m so annoyed by the fact that they decided to perform this song in English at the Grand Final. It’s not bringing the nostalgic feeling I got from the Norwegian version of this song. I love the instrumentals, the built and the voices together, but it just misses something special to make it an unforgettable listen experience. It’s just an OK song for now, but nothing really remarkable.
Sean – 3 – Man bands are absolutely NOT my thing. Full stop, periodt, etc. So while I can appreciate that they have a good chemistry and harmonies, this song is a pile of nothing and is just a major sleeping pill to me, and shouldn’t be going anywhere near Eurovision for Norway.
Total = 25.5 (avg. 5.1)
TIX – Fallen Angel
Boris – 5 – I’ll start with the positive: I really appreciate how TIX is attempting to draw empowerment from his Tourette’s. Too many attempt a ‘Woe Is My Disability’ sob story routine that always falls flat because WHERE’S THE EMPATHY in that. The Negatives however are um… this song is a rather flat gospel cliché that doesn’t get its message across at all? (a problem translating into English won’t fix) Also, even with the recording backings, TIX’s voice is shaky at best. Finally, any staging concept that conjures up “The Dream” PTSD is just not a great idea. It looks impressive at a glance but upon rewatch it’s just some eerily Christiany BDSM nonsense. Pity. Oh well, it’s merely ‘okay’ so it had better not win.
Daniel – 7 – I think that this song is such a bop. It is like a very standard Scandipop tune and does has strong production, memorable choruses, and engaging musicality. This may also be part of its weakest point because it was pretty standard from the structure, to the key change to the long final note. I think there is good stuff here but it is just a little bit too predictable.
James – 7 – The dark horse for winning MGP, and I can see why. This entry indicates that he’s a “big in Norway” act who has what it takes to strike a chord outside his homeland. The angel wings in his live show initially gave me fears, considering how bad they’ve been used at ESC before. But Tix has redeemed that trope, to a degree. If Norway wants to send some easy-listening pop performed by a quirky, yet charismatic young performer, they can do a lot worse than Tix. And as the sole songwriter, it seems he knows the stops he needs to pull to craft a strong MGP entry and a potential ESC entry that can attract praise across Europe.
Melanie – 6.5 – Tix looks amazing. When you see that guy on stage, you just know that he’s a performer. His voice is great too, but there’s just one really big issue I have with “Fallen Angel” It sounds soo familiar to a song that I already heard before but I don’t know which one it is! I even analyzed several parts with my friends to find out which song it could be. It just sounds like a Norwegian translation of a famous pop song. However, he’s going to perform the English version of this song at the Grand Final. So maybe I finally will find out which song it sounds like! I know that TIX is very popular in Norway, but I just really hope he will come back next year with another song, because the fact it sounds like another song just bothers me.
Sean – 6 – I thought this song would be a lot more interesting coming into it! TIX has a good performance and shows a lot of emotion but there’s only so much he can do with a pretty bland, 90s sounding, nondescript midtempo song like this. Good for radio, but not something to get me hyped or make me remember this in 20 minutes time.
Total = 31.5 (avg. 6.3)
Kaja Rode – Feel Again
Boris – 2 -In a reverse from Atle Pettersen, I wondered whether I was too harsh on Kaja Rode. Heat 3 was loads of fun, so when “Feel Again” came on I was perplexed that *this* was the autoqualifier. This 25-years-dated Imaani reject track, the desperate Loreen aesthetic, the senseless abuse of the BRITNEY MIC (Artists really need to stop using them. It makes you look like a pilates instructor or a TED-talk guest speaker 100% of the time). The complete absense of originality is offensive to all the senses. But again, it came after a strong heat, so maybe I was too rash as I often am? Fortunately, my relisten confirmed that I right all along, hooray! This, an autoqualifier, really? Over anything else? Whatever. ‘It will be easier for KEiiNO or Rein to win if we advance all the insipid filler‘, NRK must’ve thought.
Daniel – 6.5 – This has all the makings of those Scandi-pop with strong schlager influences that is modern but not revolutionary. I think the light show and the staging as among the best at MGP this year so that makes it so much stronger in my view. The song itself is somewhat cliché, down to the key change (Except there is a double key change). This song is one that I would call a classic Eurovision single that is great in composition and merits support for all of its strong qualities. That said, I think that the song still will have to prove to be something very different from what is expected of a Eurovision song.
James – 9 – Every once in a while we come across a young artist who comes out of nowhere with a powerful performance that sounds like it came from someone twenty years their senior. Apparently Kaja Rode is a Voice winner, but her MGP entry “Feel Again” does not feel like a professional debut single. “Feel Again” is a classic, old school ‘90s ballad and if Rode keeps going this way, we have the makings of a world class diva. Her outfit and choreography could use a little more finesse, but for an audience rendered numb by the events of the past year, this could be the right tonic to, dare I say it, make you feel again.
Melanie – 5 – Kaja, why did they give you this song? Girl, you have an amazing song, but this song is just meh. Like when the artist is the best thing about a song, you really need the think twice if you would send this song to Europe’s biggest stage. Kaja please promise me to come back next year with a song twice as better as “Feel Again”, because I don’t want to feel this disappointment again.
Sean – 7 – The pacing is great in this one, and I like the “Heart of Asia” style plinks and synths. This has catchy potential and the double key change is interesting. Yes, I’m vibing with this, although it’s not the standout in this selection by any means.
Total = 29.5 (avg. 5.9)
Rein Alexander – Eyes Wide Open
Boris – 0 – I look on Rein’s works, ye mighty, and despair. To say that “Eyes Wide Open” is a bad song would be an understatement. Even its most basic structural components don’t jive together. The upbeat ‘ding dong’ cheerful schmaltz of the chorus combined with dramatic verses which sound ripped straight from a Van Helsing parody musical? Set to stern ‘This Is My TED-Talk On How To Improve The World’ lyrics??? It’s almost as if the three people involved into writing this abysmal song never actually agreed on how to streamline their concept. Speaking of, the sheer -conceptualization- of this, oh my god; the cliché chess/alien metaphors, the forced spoken word, the fact that this song has its own logo and that this logo consists of three unrelated symbols from three different mythologies??? We’ve entered an Equinox-level Twilight Zone of pretentious gobshite here, but ‘Equinox, The Vocal Concept Group’ at least had the courtesy of falling apart as soon as anyone breathed a critical thought at it. Rein meanwhile serves his New Age neophyte nonsense with a side of smugness, which just BEGS for an iconic, embarrassing, glorious downfall. Until that has happened, I’ll gladly abstain from giving it a single point.
Daniel – 7 – I am not sure how I feel about the beginning, but I love the ominous tones, almost like a James Bond beginning. And then it turns up the funk and disco vibes, all the way to the falsetto. This song is one of those types of songs that has so many interesting elements that in some ways, it distracts from the final product. It is visually stunning but a bit too much with the acrobats the world scenes and then the colorful dancefloor. Yeah, I think I understand the vision it was a bit too glaring.
James – 10 – Is Rein giving us some “Seventh Seal” references in his staging? Either way, Rein did the right thing in not rehashing “One Last Time” and he nailed his comeback by giving us this bombastic ballad. He shows off his range remarkably, particularly in the outro, but it does not feel forced. It feels like an appropriate bellow into the void as the world crumbles around us. A lot of entries this year have been of the “we’ll get through this” variety, but this is the first adult take on that theme. However we emerge from our troubles it will not be the same as before, and we will have to forge ahead with our eyes wide open.
Melanie – 6 -Hahaha well if Rein couldn’t win as a viking, let’s try to do the chique English look then! The verses reminds me of a Bond-kind-of-theme song. The letdown in this song is the chorus. It sounds a little bit cheesy compared with the verses. Please choose a side; Go completely Bond or go completely cheesy. A great staging can maybe elevate the song, but what I saw in the semi-final before, I’m scared this won’t end up high in the ranking.
Sean – 5.5 – Oh Rein, Rein, Rein. You blew us all away in 2020, now what have you come back with? The blend of the vocals all seems just wrong and irritates me slightly on the high notes, and there’s such a loss of energy from his effort last year. It would be right at home in a Bond movie but it’s just not a stand out in this final. Where’s the Viking banger we all secretly wanted?
Total = 28.5 (avg. 5.7)
KEiiNO – Monument
Boris – 8.5 – So, we’ve arrived at KEiiNO. Yes, “Monument” is, by far, a “better” song than “Spirit in the Sky” was. It was specifically composed to be a ‘Competent Spirit’. This is great, because I loved Spirit and I really love listening to Monument likewise! The problem is: “Monument” comes off calculated, because it is. Like the Euro Anthem equivalent of a test tube baby. The fact that it is ‘Better On Paper’ ironically makes it far less approachable than ‘Spirit’ was. Spirit was untampered, wild and flawed, while ‘Monument’ has patched up its weaknesses and in doing so has lost part of its accessability. That’s my only qualm however. Alexandra is great, Fred is great, Tom looks great for his age, they’re still weirdos with no staging whatsoever beyond their weird KEiiNO Kloaks, with a charming Euro Anthem that really holds up after a few listens. It’s still KEiiNO! I hope they win!
Daniel – 9.5 – KEiiNO is back! This is interesting because it seems almost natural to compare to 2019, but this song is very different in delivery and production. I think this song has something that is both possibly a positive and a negative: this song is more mainstream pop which may mean that it would do even better with juries but might miss out on some of the televotes. Well this is just predictions and stuff because it is such a powerful song that I am already thinking in the context of Eurovision. It is fun, full, and innovative in the sounds it brings.
James – 7 – KEiiNO went out of their way to make sure they didn’t retread “Spirit in the Sky.” They don’t rely on Buljo’s joiking to provide the “wow!” moment – this time it’s Rodan with her “Thunder and Gloria!” – and it’s a much more laidback, less frenetic effort. However, “Monument” still has a “Spirit in the Sky” problem. The Roop’s “Discotheque” relegates “On Fire” to the history books. “Monument” constantly uses the past tense, and the title does it no favors in this regard, ossifying the Eurovision 2019 televote winner. “Monument” sets in stone a feeling of past joys we long to enjoy one last time before winter sets in. In the context of ESC, the only past joy we have to link to KEiiNO is their prior entry, and even the staunchest defenders of “Monument” online keep falling into this memory trap. That they didn’t retread their past is not sufficient; they needed to not reference their past as well, and for “Monument’s” unique strengths they could not achieve that clean break.
Melanie – 8.5 – KEiiNO, KEiiNO, KEiiNO, I just don’t know what I should do with you guys. “Monument” is an amazing song and if another act would send it, it would definitely be my favorite. However, you guys already raise the standard so high with “Spirit in The Sky” I just need to compare the two songs with each other. Monument just doesn’t has the same magical feeling I had with “Spirit in The Sky”. It just sounds too polished and trying little bit too hard to really appeal with me. Also, isn’t it a little bit too soon to come back after your glorious televote win in 2019? Nevertheless, “Monument” is a great solid pop song with Norwegian flavour and I think this should win MGP 2021.
Sean – 8 – Now I wasn’t exactly expecting “Spirit in the Sky” 2.0 but I was expecting something with a little bit more energy. Having said that, this is an interesting breakbeat song with hints of UK drum and bass, and I’m glad they could show us another side to KEiiNO. It’s a catchy, memorable song with plenty of highlights, but I feel like the overall blend could’ve been better and their performance needs to be improved to make the right impact.
Total = 41.5 (avg. 8.3)
Let’s see how our team ranks the prequalified entries in Norway;
- KEiiNO – Monument – 41.5
- TIX – Fallen Angel – 31.5
- Kaja Rode – Feel Again – 29.5
- Rein Alexander – Eyes Wide Open – 28.5
- Atle Pettersen – World on Fire – 27.5
- Stavangerkameratene – Who I Am – 25.5
It seems to be a pretty big margin of victory here for KEiiNO, but will they overcome their prequalified competitiors and the six qualifiers to take home the MGP title? We will find out later this evening!
Do #YOU agree with our thoughts on the songs, or have we underrated anyone? Share your thoughts with us on our forum HERE or join the discussion below and on social media!