This week we received the final batch of songs for Norway’s infamous Melodi Grand Prix, and that means it’s time for the writing staff at ESCUnited to review them!

This week features the same writers: Boris, Tyler, Connor, James and David and their equally bold opinions. Is someone’s winner found in this bunch?  Will the staff reviews match the final results on Saturday? The answers to both questions could be unlikely – but you’ll just have to read to find out!

Akuvi – “Triumph”

Boris: “Racking my brain how “Kumoji sister brings an embarrassing gimmicky anthem to MGP after a promising début a few years ago” has morphed an MGP archetype. Akuvi tires me with this “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Laurel” type BS. “Triumph” soars highly into “Wild” territory in terms of word salad nonsense lyrics and cheap “borrowed” rhythms (Rybak WOULD like to have a word with you, surely). AND WHY DOES AKUVI (a native speaker of Norwegian) SING LIKE THIS, IT’S AN ACCENT NOT A SINGING STYLE. Or is this English accent the one taught in Norwegian schools? Anyway, I can’t wait for the fans to convince themselves it’s a slay when in reality its more the first result you’d get when “compose something fierce” is typed into chatgtp.” 5.5/10

Tyler: “Triumph” is fine, and I also thought “Wild” by Raylee was fine too. I don’t find this song to be that innovative. It feels generic from the structure to the beat. I still mildly like the song though, it just doesn’t inspire in me the idea that it will Triumph and represent Norway! Score: 6.5/10

James: “Not quite a triumph, but a solid entry from the other Kumoji sister with great beats and heavy infusion of her Ghanaian roots. Lyrically, it’s a little lazy for a flex song, but they’re generic enough to get enough people to sing along. Staging wise, I hope she goes with the Afro-futurism and Norwegian folk blend theme of this single’s cover art, but without the Scandinavian lack of subtlety that often dooms cross-cultural efforts there. A good staging and Norway could have a solid contender for Liverpool.” 8/10

Connor: “Last week we got Brazilian culture from Ella, and this week we’re getting hints of Afro Scandi pop. I’ve always appreciated the energy that Akuvi brings to her performances and this is giving me much more than her 2020 song. I expect this to light up the stage and grow on me even more – but I have to admit that the build up to the final chorus leaves much to be desired.” 7.5/10

David: “Actually, a great composition, but lyrically, it’s rather pointless. I’m enjoying the music far more, than everything I’m hearing vocally. The overall package just doesn’t leave me with any feeling nor care for the song, which just makes it seem a bit dull. I think I would’ve wanted a more powerful vocal presentation, to go with the powerful music.” 4/10

Average: 6.30

Tiril – “Break It”

Boris: “Break it” – “Yes, YES, let’s make this mediocre semi even more mediocre by letting this hopeless filler ballad in. THAT will surely draw in the ratings after last year’s flop selection.” — NRK producers under the possession of the Bad Decisions Demon since 2019.” 4/10

Tyler: “I really want to like “Break It” as a breakup song, but the song is ultimately frustrating for me. I think the song is going to break my expectations and the drop is going to be great and the music swells… and it’s a clunker. The ending of the song is super weak to me too, and the overall is not meeting my expectations. There needs something to the entry to make it pop, but it just remains the same throughout and it’s frustrating! BYE” 5.5/10

James:“A somewhat boring break-up ballad. I like the way the song adds layers as it goes along, starting with a simple piano riff and adding bass and backup singers as the song progresses. To what effect I don’t know because the same build is not present in the lyrics, which hew to the “I have the sadz for an errant  boi” formula.” 5/10

Connor: “Everything says you should love this song, but I think this is a case of the singer being let down by a track that goes nowhere until it’s too late. Even when it does build for the last chorus it’s a simple raise in volume and harmonies but no beat, tempo change, energy switch. She sounds absolutely fantastic but this really just lack life in studio.” 4/10

David: “A quite lovely vocal performance and a powerful song to go with, but I’m not really effected by the overall result. Again, we’re in sad ballad-land, and I’m just not emotionally feeling it. Eventually I’m just leaving and not paying as much attention as I probably should. I can see potential, but this will just not be for me.” 3/10

Average: 4.30

Skrellex – “Love Again”

Boris: “A big fat YAWN. What’s the point of sending drag anthems in 2023 if you’re taking the most generic, unimaginative road possible? Isn’t drag supposed to be about razor sharp wit and mind-blowing queer creativity (‘queerativity’?). “Sound of My Stilettos” excites me more, and that one sounds EXACTLY like “Girls Get Down” (minus the Squidward noises ofc).” 4.5/10

Tyler: “Love Again” is okay. It isn’t very interesting, doesn’t feel very special to me. Unless because it’s a drag song that it’s supposed to be special, but that doesn’t mean automatically good to me. The song is an upbeat dance bop for the clubs, which is fine, but wouldn’t stand out to me either in the playlist. I also see the Skrillex influences in here too, so yay for that! 4.5/10

James: “I am usually down with these dumb yet self-aware club bangers, but this one has a couple things going against it. Granted, this is one of those tracks that is going to rely on the dance moves and visuals and costumes, but the track has a “been there and done that” vibe, like I am listening to a RuPaul B-side. From ten years ago. But that’s about the worst I can level at this song, so rather than dwell on the negatives I will watch MGP and hope that the fun and the love carry through.” 6/10

Connor: “Okay so objectively I shouldn’t love this as much as I do, but it’s pure camp Europop, and if I’m gonna bop around to Steps at the club, I have to bop to “Love Tonight” too. I just KNOW that this song is going to turn the party live, hopefully with great choreography and a disco ball or something. Is it the strongest track in the semi-final? Nah. Will it be the most fun and make me happy? Hell yes.” 7.5/10

David: “Let’s just crank the beat to 18, cause… WHY NOT!? An overall discotheque mess, there is just pumping beats everywhere in the song, it ends up becoming uninspiring. Not impressed by the vocal performance either, like why the need for a screeching “toniiiiiiiiight” multiple times as well?” 2/10

Average: 4.90

Eline Thorp – “Not Meant To Be”

Boris: “Hooray, an accurate song title. Eline’s starts promising and then slowly unspools into a standard darkpop anthem, and it feels like it builds up to something. Then it fizzles out and my last memory of it blows away in the wind like a dandelion. “Not meant to be” comes close to Actually Being Viable, but just falls short due to the lack of originality and memorability – the standard issue in this MGP. It’s not all a bad song (I like it despite the shortcomings), but especially in a semi where *every* other song sounds like it was composed by a Neural Net, I wish my favourite pulled a stronger punch than ‘Well, this is has been a cromulent three minutes.’ ”  7.5/10

Tyler:  “This song is almost there to being a top favorite of mine this season. I wish “Not Meant to Be” had more levels to it, as while I like the beat and the vocals and the lyrics, there isn’t enough variety to me with the music. It’s still pretty good and something I needed when I was throwing stuff out related to an ex. But it’s not quite there to give me a ringing endorsement. Score:” 7.5/10

James: “Her vocals at the bridge, where she repeats the chorus in an almost rap style, rips through this song like a the fart of a Skyline Chili customer on a flight out of Cincinatti. It’s a big misfire on what was a decent post-break up catharsis song until that point. An additional minor quibble: how long has this song been sat in a drawer? Who prints out photographs (to burn) and personal voicemail messages (to delete) in the year 2023?” 5/10

Connor: “I really struggled with this song honestly because I was so excited in the beginning, and then the chorus hit and I felt like I was just robbed of a super cool mysterious pop ballad. I sorta feel like the songwriters had two fantastic ideas for a song and track, but couldn’t decide which was better so they just cut them up and taped it together. Each of the pieces are wonderful, but they struggle to tell a cohesive musical message.” 4/10

David: “Actually, a great composition, but lyrically, it’s rather pointless. I’m enjoying the music far more, than everything I’m hearing vocally. The overall package just doesn’t leave me with any feeling nor care for the song, which just makes it seem a bit dull. I think I would’ve wanted a more powerful vocal presentation, to go with the powerful music.” 4/10

Average: 5.60

Stig van Eijk – “Someday”

Boris: “Ahh, nothing to rope in the audience with an absolute eyecatcher of a song title. Snark aside, Stig’s song is an adequate reggae song, of the generic sort I’m sure you can order online somewhere (wherever Elis Mraz got her track for ‘I am a Bee’). ‘Someday‘ is there to pad out the numbers it this delfinal and doesn’t offend while doing so, which is good enough for me.” 5.5/10

Tyler: “Super glad to see another old school ESC alum here, but I’m immediately offput by the child singing that is just going to get cut anyway. The contrast between the opening and the actual song is pretty jarring in a good way! But once that’s done, the rest of the song doesn’t do anything to keep me engaged. Maybe someday I’ll like this song, but today is not that day!” 4.5/10

James: “What the hell is with the little girl’s vocals in the intro, outro and bridge? And in case you’re asking, I am one of those angrier older gentlemen who gets annoyed by random kid stuff. I am not going to play Slayer’s “Angel of Death” at a Norwegian kids’ birthday party, so what are kids doing on a reggae song at a Eurovision national selection? Anyway, “Someday” is more of a vibe than a song, and dare I say with some of the instrumentation a little overstuffed? With some of the choices and the dischordance I am wondering if he originally wrote this for a children’s album and decided to enter MGP with it instead.” 6/10

Connor: “Talk about being robbed of a ballad! This false introduction caught me very off guard after knowing Stig’s move to reggae since Eurovision 1999. Reggae with me is VERY tricky because I either think it’s perfect and you can’t tell me otherwise, or it’s a pass for me. The song has been slowly growing on me over the week, but it’s not a standout candidate. I worry this could have a bumpy path to the final.” 5/10

David: “Not gonna lie, I was caught off guard here, a clever twist in the beginning, but I wish it wasn’t there, seems pointless. The song feels fun and happy, which I do enjoy, but I was hoping the song would slowly elevate itself some more, rather than staying in the same pace. Vocally it also pulls me down, since I’m not feeling the same kind of fun, compared to the music.” 5/10

Average: 5.20

Maria Celin – “Freya”

Boris: Ever since the snippet came out, Freya has been hailed as THE GREATEST THING EVER, and a SURE-FIRE EUROVISION winner and it’s one of those cases where I feel I’m living on a different planet (the one that houses the more sane people). “Freya” is merely okay, and nothing more. It has some baseline charm as a pulpy Eurotrash entry (in the same sense as “Hammer of Thor”) and that makes it better than most in this delfinal. Is it standalone good, though? Ehhh. “Freya” is above anything else really noisy, and bombards my eardrums with a sensory overload so severe I had to restart it THREE times before I could finally get through it in full. Its libretto is a scuffed mess of Nordic references that are meant to appeal to anyone not Norwegian (and/or clueless about The Edda). Will NRK ever realize that Fire Saga was a piece of  elevated fan-fiction?”  6.5/10

Tyler:  “Freya” fits quite nicely in the Norse niche that seems to be popular nowadays (perhaps from the “Thor” movies?), what with the name of the song and the possibility that this is more of a battle cry than pop music. The song is fine, I like the beat of it, but I also don’t think this has the magic of an ESC winner. The chorus also feels lazy to me, and I might have ranked it higher if it had more Norwegian in it. Oh well!” 7/10

James: “On a song invoking the goddess Freya, the devil lies in the details, in which they are mostly gotten correct. The pause in the chorus, the percussion, the deep voiced male backing vocals, the Norse mythology… these carry this from a piffling synthpop track into a more substantial entry. Hopefully the staging is subtle, because this could get real corny if the usual Norwegian penchant for literalism comes through.” 8/10

Connor: “Of the aggressive electropop songs we have in Norway this year, I’d prefer this one over the others, but my goodness she’s been give a song with some wordy verses. I also get that the song’s name is Freya and I’m assuming a reference to Norse goddess of love – but….a chorus that is full of onomatopoeia ba da da is a little bleh and hurts it’s overall impression on me. It’s a fine song and likely to qualify but I wasn’t wild about it.” 6/10

David: “I’m going to take a guess, and say the song is in honor of the Norse Goddess Freya. In that case, VERY clever with the inclusion of some Norwegian lyrics, I wish there was a bit more. It’s powerful, strong, just like the Goddess. Lyrically, I wanted something similar, which is kinda lacking. Instrumental wise, a bit of a mess and a lot is going on, but it is nicely salvage during certain parts.” 6/10

Average: 6.70

Atle Petterson – “Masterpiece”

Boris: “Masterpiece? Excuse me? You sir, are NO Amina Sewali and n-e-v-e-r will be. I dunno, what else do you want me to say? Atle’s song ticks all the boxes for a generic dramatic ballad, he appears to sing it well, it’ll qualify without a hitch and then fail make the superfinal, it’s not the punchiest tale.” 5/10

Tyler:  “Feh! “Masterpiece” is fine, it’s okay even, but I can’t see how exactly this will be pulled off live? The song feels written in too high of a register and Atle doesn’t seem able to pull it off, and if those notes aren’t in live… I’m just the performance will be artsy and there will be backup dancers, but the whole thing doesn’t read as original. Plus, if you’re going to call a song “Masterpiece”, then it had better be one!” 5/10

James: “How can a person be someone else’s “masterpiece”? Did Atle make his lover out of spare vacuum cleaner parts? Or go full Frankenstein and stitch them together out of bits of criminals? Maybe his lyrics take inspiration from his days being in a metal band? There is certainly a Gothic element to them, like he is a sadist letting his lover go but with haunting promises of being in her mind forever. Anyway, this gloomy ballad doesn’t do it for me, and I doubt Liverpool would go for it on a late Spring evening either.” 3/10

Connor: “I actually like this more open and raw approach from Atle compared to his 2020 hyperpop entry, and him and I talked about it in his interview – it feels real because it’s about something personal, his daughter. It pulls on a story we can all relate to, it’s beautifully written and produced, and it really pulls you through a musical narrative with the introduction of drama in the chorus, then a beat and new instruments in the second verse. It’s perfect for MGP and depending on what they do for the staging I do see this being an ESC song.” 9/10

David: “This might just be me, but while listening, it felt like listening to “Hold Me Closer”, it’s quite a similar tone. However, I didn’t care for that song in 2022 at all, and neither do I care for this song. To me, it’s like a weaker male version, which doesn’t really get anywhere. This one even stays quite monotone as well.” 3/10

Average: 5.00

The results:

  • Maria Celin – “Freya” – 6.70
  • Akuvi – “Triumph” – 6.30
  • Eline Thorp – “Not Meant To Be” – 5.60
  • Stig van Eijk – “Someday” – 5.20
  • Atle Petterson – “Masterpiece” – 5.00
  • Skrellex – “Love Again” – 4.90
  • Tiril – “Break It” – 4.30

That means that the overall winner of Semi-Final three per the ESCUnited reviewers is Maria Celin’s song “Freya”, with Akuvi’s song “Triumph” and Eline Thorp’s “Not Meant to Be” finishing in second and third respectively.

What do #YOU think of  our rankings? Let us know on social media @ESCUnited, on our discord, or on our forum page!

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