Bærum, 15 January 2022

Tonight, the first 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 Eline Noelia, Mira Craig, Frode Vassel and TrollfesT.

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 – Elsie Bay – “Death of us”

Each MGP live show will feature a live showcasing of one of the finalists. This week, the featured finalist is Elsie Bay, who is heavily rumoured to be NRK’s ideal winner. 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. Elsie’s scores have been collected beforehand however, to ensure that every Autoqualifier is rated fairly and equally.

And now, for the actual reviews:

Duel 1 –  Eline Noelia vs Mira Craig

Eline Noelia is a new name to the Norwegian scene, débuting at the contest with her song “Ecstasy”. This is what our team had to say about her: 

Boris – 6

“‘Ecstasy’ starts off like a Kadiatou-In-Whiteface vehicle all “I WANT THE GAYS!!!!! AND I’LL MAKE THEM WANT ME AS I NQ IN THE HEAT” and I’m like… “yass, girl, take my wig!” And then… The Foghorn. I’m not sure why Eline thought adding a deafening loud noise somewhere between “QI Klaxon” and “Wet camel fart” to her song would make it better (if this is a valid question you’re asking yourself about your own music, please do not apply for NF shows), but at least it distracts from how increasingly shrill Eline’s voice gets in the chorus AND from her rhyming ‘Desire’ with ‘Higher’ and ‘Fire’. “Ecstasy” isn’t good, but there’s no way it won’t be hilarious live, making it the quintessential Melodreck Grand Prix 2022 entrant in my mind.”

David –  1 

“The only word I can think of to describe this after the first listen, was “annoying”. The song has some good moments, but then it just goes downhill, a promising beat, a promising singer, a promising style… all of these things get ruined. Beat gets lost, annoying squeaky voice, is this a pop or electronic song? I’m confused and utterly disappointed.”

James – 3

“For a song called “Ecstasy,” it is really dull. I can’t make out her lyrics because of her voice, which really grates. Maybe Norway’s hoping for a battle of women with unusual vocal techniques and boring songs between her and Craig?”

Roy – 6.5

“This is a decent pop-tune that has heaps of potential for the live performance. Eline’s voice is very interesting and I absolutely love the big sounds after the chorus that sounds a bit like an elephant. My biggest issue is that before she sings the word ‘ecstasy’ I cannot understand what words she is singing for the life of me. I know how tough it can be as a non-native speaker, but right now it sounds a bit like: ‘ra-kaka-kaka-ka ecstasy’. I hope she can do that a tad better live.”

Stefan – 7 

“This can be a showstopper, but only if she manages to pull of those high notes. My guess is that we’ll also get some uber-futuristic performance. Like I said in some previous reviews, I like, but I don’t love it. It really all depends on the performance when we’ll get the full picture.”

Tyler – 6

“I’m not very ecstatic for “Ecstasy” to say the least! With that out of the way, look, I don’t think the lyrics are very good (I just think it’s a cop-out to have a half chorus with the other half being “ah-ah-ah-ah-AH”), and the abrupt whale call after the first chorus is jarring, both in a good way as a surprise but also in a bad way in “what is going on?”. “Ecstasy” never really goes anyway new for me, so while this might be a fun performance to see (if there’s no whale in the background I’m rioting), this doesn’t seem like a viable option at all.”

William – 5

“There’s A LOT going on here. Maybe TOO much. The horn(?) blowing is a nice bit of seasoning, but it should be used sparingly. There’s really no reason for it to be quietly playing underneath the verses. Save it for the big moments. It will have a greater impact. This vocal is … CRAZY, I think in a good way. If she can deliver these high notes live, we might really have something, but I could just as easily imagine this performance completely falling apart on stage. I’m a little wait-and-see with this one. It could really go either way”

Total Score: 34.5/70
Highest: 7 (Stefan)
Lowest: 1 (David)
Average: 4.9



Eline’s duel opponent, Mira Craig is a music veteran, who had previously co-written by the 2008 Norwegian entrant, “Hold on be strong” by Maria Haukaas-Storeng. This is how we critiqued her song: 


Boris – 6

“I appreciate Mira for bringing pure unfiltered “Eurosong 2008 Reject” realness with her ethnodreck trashbop, complete with broken grammar, incoherent vocabulary, operatic key changes and instrumentation she probably mooched got off a music stock website for 5 Norwegian crowns during a Christmas sale. <3 This mess isn’t just hot, it’s lava.”

David – 2 

“I’m getting some very heavy Middle eastern belly dancer vibes from this song, which is something that can be very rhythmic and fun, but this is VERY boring. It’s the same beat over and over again, absolutely dreadful on the lyrical part, goes nowhere at all and overall, it’s a very poor attempt. Lyrics are pointless, it’s the music that’s the focus and even that gets dull very fast. It’s a style I like, but done very bad.”

James – 6 

“Not sure what to make of this one. It seems strange that a song with such oddball elements – the Rastafarian imagery (“I am the Lion”), the constant “Na Na Na”, her operatic-ish vocals on the way out – lands with a “meh.” Maybe it’s the basic track’s plodding along? Craig feels restrained, and normally reviewers advise artists at Eurovision national selections to exercise restraint, but I would advise the opposite here – just go all out. Turn up the bass, speed it up, add more percussion, a lion roar… whatever. This needs more, and we know Craig is more than capable of delivering it.”

Roy – 3 

“This song is so puzzling. The sounds that are used in the backing track are so odd. It sounds like someone is smacking a piece of rubber on a piece of plastic. Besides that, the chorus is just very lacklustre. Repeating ‘nananana’ will never really be something that I enjoy and that is no different here. Then randomly towards the end it gets operatic as well.. I like the quirkiness and the idea, but this is just too much of a mess.”

Stefan – 8

“If this doesn’t scream drama and theater, I don’t know what does. The subtle oriental backdrop is buying me, but the question is, will it be enough, with that amazing voice of hers to get her to the final. Also, comparing to Eline’s voice, I choose Mira’s”

Tyler – 7.5

“First of all, love Mira’s vocals. I think her vocal style is very nice, and while I feel like it may not fit “We Still Here” very well, she still elevates the song and I think is great. Second of all, the music itself is quite interesting, even if I can’t parse out what exactly it’s going for. The beats and notes are very eclectic and taken from different styles all over, and at times feels cacophonous. That all considered, I still kinda like this song? Didn’t think so at first, but towards the end, it convinced me! Excited to see more from Mira Craig.”

William – 4.5

“I mean, this is a bit of a hot mess, but it’s still a good time. I guess I’d describe this song’s sound as … manic dance klezmer? Can such a thing even exist? Apparently so. And that’s not even mentioning the random switch to an operatic vocal in the song’s last few bars. The first semi-final is such a chaotic grab bag. I have no sense of which song is going to make it through, but I suppose Mira could be the one. I look forward to seeing this performed live. There’s almost no chance it will be boring.”

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


Duel 2 – Frode Vassel vs TrollFesT

Frode Vassel is a former The Voice alumnus who has, like many others, made the transition to a Eurovision selection show with his first single. Below you can find our reviews of “Black flowers”. 

Boris – 7

Salivating at the prospect of William and James roasting this song because of its insipid lyrics <3 What even are ‘Black Flowers’? Whatever, the beat is really damn’ dope and its Lõhmus-style ecomaniacal libretto makes “Black Flowers” hilariously lame to me. Frode getting his life playbacking the chorus during the live presentation only underscores it. (DEAD@ his IG handle being “King Frode” because of course it is). How did “Black Flowers” end up in Norway, though? Perhaps the songwriters got lost on their way to Latvia…”

David – 3

“A very heavy drum-based song, all I remember are the drums, I have no clue if I could hear any other instruments being used, other than a synthesizer as well. The song just fails to convince me, easily my preferred part is the chorus, but I’m still lacking a proper hook, there is nothing that draws me back to the song and it’s easily forgotten in the end.”

James – 5

“This has ‘Voice Contestant’ written all over it – a generic mid-tempo pop track with a slow down after the bridge to allow the contestant to strut his stuff. Lyrics-wise, Frode is Karen and he wants to speak to the planet’s manager. The lyrics are smug and have a sneery tone you don’t really want at a celebratory music festival. This will be left dead and forgotten the moment Semi-Final 1 is over.”

Roy – 5.5

“I feel like this song is a bit of a mismatch with the singer. His voice doesn’t fully suit the beat of the song in my opinion. That makes this song fall a bit flat in the end. A singer with a more epic voice could have elevated this song a lot. I am not saying that Frode can’t sing, but I think a different, more smooth song would have suited his voice better. It definitely isn’t an unpleasant listen though, but this shouldn’t go to Eurovision.”

Stefan – 10

“I took a bite of his The Voice performances and I can say that this song is totally his style and that I have no doubts that he will rock the stage down. This could be the dark horse of the contest (and I kinda hope so). Such a powerful voice! Chills, literal chills. ”

Tyler – 5

“A bit too on the nose for me, “Black Flowers” is the sort of climate change song that doesn’t really say anything new to me to make me want to care about it. “Black Flowers“‘s sound feels like it’s from a decade ago, and trying to be rocking, but it’s just rolling out of the arena. I don’t think Frode did a bad job with singing, I just find the song’s beat to be too generic for me to really parse out anything original to like too much about it.”

William – 3.5

“What are these lyrics? Even the kids from Green Forces would call this song’s environmental message a little on the nose. ‘I know we’ll grow/Our roots are deep below’.  Yeah, I think I got it. The actual music track is ROCKING, though. If I could just tune out the words he’s singing, I think I’d be into it. As it is, I respect the effort, but this just doesn’t do it for me. All is not lost. I COULD be convinced by a great stage show, but I don’t have much faith in this making it out of the semi-final.”

Total Score: 38.5/70
Highest: 10 (Stefan)
Lowest: 3 (David)
Average: 5.5

Comedy band TrollfesT, selfstyiled ‘pioneers of true Norwegian Balkan Metal‘, find themselves at the bottom of our ranking with our team being violently divided between Love and Loathing. This is what each of our jurors had to say:

Boris – 0 

“These f’cking cringelords. In addition to being deafeningly loud, utterly nonsensical, borderline inaudible and IQ-droppingly stooped (which is how I image TrollfesT spell “stupid” – not because they can’t spell but because it’s part of their shtick.) “Dance like a pink flamingo” features the most stilted and unfunny memedance in recent memory. The visuals look like they were taken straight from a bad Belgrade2008 novelty act, while the vocals sound like someone throttling the crap out of Dustin the Singing Turkey.  It should be nuked from orbit.

David – 8

“What… the… freak…?! This is mental, all over the place and literally psychotic. Awesome! What the heck do you say about this…? It’s all over the place, in your face, I can’t tell if this is serious or not. I love how the instruments and especially the electric guitars get to shine, even with the manic singing and it does one very important thing right, and it easily stands out. Maybe a bit too much, but freaking great first impression.”

James – 1 

“A band known for crap comedy songs hops on the TikTok dance bandwagon, climate change messaging and rock band at Eurovision 2022 tokenism to produce a dated folk metal jaunt. Its obvious influence is Men Without Hats’s “The Safety Dance,” which TrollfesT blatantly lifts from. TrollfesT, however, adds lyrics instructing you how to do the dance and has clips of random Norwegians in community centers doing it. As metal goes, it’s sloppy with some poor seal barking vocals. As comedy metal goes, there’s acts who do it much better (Nekrogoblikon, FinnTroll, etc.). As Eurovision comedy goes, there’s acts who do it much better. This is a poor, cacophonous knock-off, and hopefully Norwegian kids recognize it for the fortysomething baiting cringe this is and vote in something else.”

Roy – 7 

“Easily the best song of the first semi. It is some unique, very fast paced metal which I really enjoy. Now, obviously, this is a bit of joke entry. I want to be very clear about this, in no way should this song represent Norway at Eurovision, I want as few joke entries as possible. But out of this batch of 4, it is definitely the one that should qualify for the final. It’s fun and would add to the diversity in the finally nicely. That grunting voice in the end is sooo intriguing and cool as well.”

Stefan – 6 

“So that’s it. It’s either a rock/metal song, either a powerful girl voice song. Hahaha… Anyway, the band’s name says it all. I’m not a fan of dark metal, but I just can’t deny It would be quite a refreshment at Eurovision and that it could get a load of shock-vibe voters.”

Tyler – 5 

DragonForce is going strong in Norway, except their sweet licks are neutered here to fit the three-minute time limit. “Dance Like a Pink Flamingo” is a chaotic song, with screaming and actual singing involved, and the music itself fluctuates as well. I don’t HATE this song exactly, as I think it could be interesting to see live (I wonder which member gets cut if they make it to Eurovision if the thumbnail is an accurate depiction of the band). This song though is definitely Not My Thing™, and I find this to be a celebration of noise just to make it.

William – 6.5

“OK … this blend of self-aware camp and screamo metal is not something I would otherwise listen to in a million years. But I can’t help but be charmed by it? The song is catchy and … energetic? If nothing else, Trollfest is committed to the bit. There’s nothing worse than lazy shtick, so I’m glad they’re GOING for it. This is SO unhip and square, but in a way that’s endearing and (I think) on purpose. No one is more surprised than me that I like this, but, as a harmless bit of fun, it gets the job done.”

Total Score: 33.5/70
Highest: 8 (David)
Lowest: 0 (Boris)
Average: 4.9

Duel Progression (according to our panel)

If it were up to our jury panel, tonight’s duels would play out like this:

Mira Craig and Frode Vassel would beat out Eline and Trollfest in the initial duels. In the Final Duel, Frode would narrowly edge out Mira to become the qualifier. Tune in tonight if for Melodi Grand Prix’s first heat to see if this will actually come to pass!

MGP Ranking Week 1:

  1. Elsie Bay – “Death of us” (TBA)
  2. Frode Vassel – “Black flowers” (55%)
  3. Mira Craig – “We still here” (53%)
  4. Eline Noelia – “Ecstasy” (49%)
  5. TrollfesT – “Dance like a pink flamingo” (48%)

Ties will be broken by looking at the median score. 

To find out how the acts have been distributed between the Delfinalen, consult this comprehensive chart:

Do #YOU agree with our team’s takes? Which act from tonight do #YOU want to see in the final? Let us know in the comments, on social media, or on our forum HERE.




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