Warning: this post contains opinions. Please try to not be offended.

Alright gang, Norway’s national final is just around the corner with the first heat (Delfinalen 1) airing tonight. We at ESCUnited of course had our own share of opinions about tonight’s crop of hopefuls, so we’ve gathered our toughts into a smögåsbord of delectable reviews. You’ll have to scroll down and read the nitty-gritty of our opinions below, but we can say that our reviewers did not see eye to eye on most of tonight’s semifinalists. You’re bound to run into opinions you will hard disagree with and some that you may appreciate.

On today’s panel we find:

  • Boris Meersman (BE/BG), edging to be a voice of reason today, the reason being that Norway sucks.
  • Daniel Theophanous (GB/CY), who thought he signed up for earnest reviews.
  • David Popescu (DK/RO), exposing his scandi tastes for all to see.
  • James Maude (US: CA), for better or for worse, our resident cat uncle.
  • Tyler Griffith (US: UT), came in with hot takes and bubblegum, and is all out of hot takes.
  • Yehonatan Cohen (IL), still definitely not pushing eurotwitter faves, we swear.

As stated above, we will be reviewing all six songs participating in Norway’s first heat. The principle is simple: every song will receive a score between 0 and 10, and a review from each editor. After all 36 reviews (six per song), we’ll post a ranking that will show you which our qualifiers are going into tonight. The songs were rated based on their studio cut and their live potential at MGP/Eurovision.

The second and third heats will be posted on 20 January and 27 January respectively. WHICH act will be #TeamUnited’s favourite overal? Well, we do not know yet and you’ll have to follow this series to find out :-).

But first the usual disclaimer:

Opinons stated below only reflect the views of the editor, and not of ESCUnited as a whole, nor those of our benevolent overlord Matt. You may direct your grievances at the editor responsible for vertical classification. Each reviewer is also aware that their opinions will be made public so if you’re one of these six reviewed artists and you meet the editor that eviscerated you, feel free to trash them back. They knew the risks. ^_^

So, let’s get cracking, shall we? From left to right and from top to bottom, these are the song’s we are reviewing today!


ACT#1: FREDRIK HALLAND

Boris – 4 – “Sheeranesque (derogatory) to the core. Stranded is Schulte but without the goodness of ONE LOVE // TWO HEARTS // THREE KIDS // LOVING MUM so what else remains there to get excited about? Ironically, because this MGP is even more stupid meme intensive than normal, I feel like a Will Church-flavoured song like this one could have a realistic chance to win (or at least win the international jury vote in the MGP final) and there’s no conclusion that would bore me less. But it at least wouldn’t be Damdiggida. 🙂”

Daniel –  5 – “The singer-songwriter on the piano vibes here feels rather dated. Yet credit where credit’s due, Halland’s vocals are top notch, but he is having to work with a mediocre song, at best. Not all is lost , with the introduction of percussion beats in the second verse which builds to an emotional crescendo, of-sorts, in the final section propels the song into power ballad territory. But ultimately…another bland song.”

David – 7 – “Oh dear… it’s a touchy ballad. This time, it works very well with me! Strong vocal, a building composition, something I can personally resonate with. It is so rare, that I will credit this kind of songs, so yes, I’m honestly happy and impressed. Sure, there are a few things I wish could be different, but for now, I’m impressed.”

James – 5 – “If you yourself are on the side of the road, how can you provide support to someone who is stranded? Or does this song imply that he’s the tow truck of the relationship, waiting for the call to impound his lover’s heart? I think about this because “Stranded” is a fairly standard piano-based romantic ballad with lyrics that are otherwise familiar tropes (weathering storms, braving the cold, etc.). This feels more at home in Eesti Laul, to be honest, where angst-ridden car salesmen and their emotionally distant wives who’d love this make up the largest voting bloc.”

Tyler – 4.5 –Stranded is a competent love ballad that doesn’t do anything for me, sorry! This doesn’t seem like a song that will do well with the televote nor the juries, and the performance itself won’t be that dynamic enough to be interesting. Fredrik’s a good singer, but the lyrics themselves just aren’t memorable to me.”

Yehonatan – 4  – “This is the classic MGP male ballad that we always see in the competition. Not a lot to say about this one, it’s mostly ok and just like many songs in the heat, it doesn’t have a lot of personality.

Total score: 29.5/60
Highest Scores: 7 (David)
Lowest Scores: 4 (Boris, Yehonatan)
Final Mark: F (49%)

 

 


ACT #2: GOTHMINISTER

Boris – 4 – “Oh wonderful, another one of those “We used to be shoved in lockers, but now we’ll have our REWENGIEEEEE” type of misfit metal clunkers. Sit down, nerfherders. No matter how often you repeat WE COME ALIVE AND n HAPPENS, where n = generic metal song threats, your bag of shock horror tricks has been emptied less than a full minute in and you’re not fooling me. This song offers little beyond the same repetitive clichés we’ve heard before. If you want progressive metal, better pray Danny Voyager makes a full recovery and don’t put your eggs in Gothminister’s basket. This offering stinks.”

Daniel – 4 – “An all-too familiar pop structure, fusing synth pop and industiral metal underlaced by over-production removing every single morsel of authentic rawness. Not fully convinced, despite Gothminister’ dramatic vocal style and equally dramatic goth zombie appearance. Even with a performer with such a striking appearance, the result is unremarkable and bland, attributed perhaps to the overly slick production not allowing for any personality to seep through.”

David – 8 –Fuck yes! This is what I want! Something raw and harsh, but without overdoing it, so it just stays pleasant. This is SO speaking to my freaky side, which just screams for some shock value! I do wish that there was a bit more build-up, and far more lyrically, since it gets repeatable eventually towards the end, but overall, oh fuck yes!”

James – 8 – “Usually I harp on songs with overly repetitive phrasing, but in this gothic industrial entry the constant “We Come Alive” and “The End” it takes on a more sinister quality, and hews to the popular Goth theme of surrender. I am glad that another broadcaster is willing to give a gothic subgenre another go after Lord of the Lost’s rather unfair placement at Eurovision 2023, even if it seems a little less tailored to the contest than “Blood and Glitter” (a perfect metaphor for fans of Eurovision who are also metalheads).”

Tyler – 3 – ” It might just be me, but going for a “Lord Of The Lost But Make It Norwegian” vibe might not be the most successful? Just my opinion! “We Come Alive” follows the same motif of “Vampires Are Alive” back in 2007 that failed to qualify, hmm. I understand going for variety, but this entry seems dead (hehe) in the water with its unoriginal ideas, nothing lyrics, and just non-potential it has to make a big impact.”

Yehonatan – 3  – “The rock acts in recent years of MGP have been pretty solid, so I was rather disappointed to hear this one. It’s cringy and not catchy enough to redeem those lyrics, which just ends up leaving you with a bitter taste after listening to it.”

Total score: 30/60
Highest Scores: 8 (James, David)
Lowest Scores: 3 (Tyler, Yehonatan)
Final Mark: C- (50%)



ACT#3: Ingrid Jasmin

Boris – 3-What if Ela were also Freya is a question we didn’t need posed nor answered, but here it is anyway. Thank you, Stig? Talk about songs that sound like they’ve been composed by songwriter AIs. The fact that Eya exists is embarrassing enough, without mentioning that its title is a composite of the two flops it attempts to be a reskin of, or the dance break it forces instead of a middle-eight, because that’s something ALL Eurovision Slay Songs need to do now in this post-Ewnicorn apocalypse. Zero patience or mercy should be decidated to the derivative and the cringey, especially from a clown car country like Norway. Get out.”

Daniel – 7 – “A mixture of RnB, middle eastern and south Asian vibes coupled with echoes of the Didgeridoo haunt Ingrid Jasmin’s Eya, offering uncharted sounds from a Norwegian entry. Jasmine’s fragile vocals, which at points veers into soft yodeling, alternate between Spanish and Norwegian. The slick Scandi production underlies the whole song initially sounds like background summer beach bar music, but when a heavy percussion drops mid-song it elevates into a decent ethnic bop. I remain unsure of its memorability, but I would say elements of Eya feel tailor-made for a live performance, where the whole thing could come alive.”

David – 6 – “The mysterious and yet charming Norwegian sound, very enjoyable and pulls one in easily. Musically, I absolutely enjoy it, until towards the end, where the style changes out of nowhere, which seems out of place, and pulls it very much down for me. Otherwise, very happy to hear the song being in Norwegian, but still also want more lyrically. Not quite there, but well ahead.”

James – 7 – “There’s a kernel of a great idea in this flamenco pop hybrid, but it doesn’t feel fully fleshed out. “Eya” is only two and a half minutes long, and this one could do with a bit of padding. The percussion only section at the bridge is a great idea, but feels too short. The bass and traditional instrumentation parts feel a little disconnected. Ingrid sounds like a passenger in her own song, lacking much presence. However, I can recommend this because with a few tweaks this can go far as the core idea is intriguing and a formula that can find many fans.”

Tyler – 6 –Eya sounds like a blend of multiple traditional musical genres that mostly works for me! I hear Arabic and Norwegian influences in the music, so I’m automatically interested in hearing it. I like the breakdown towards the end that would be a good place in the live performance to do a dance break or some other moment in it. This has potential, however, I also don’t think the song goes far enough. It’s pleasant, but wouldn’t make people want to get on their feet and be super excited for it at the same time. It’s good, not great.”

Yehonatan – 6 – “While I love the folk elements in the song, and the fact that it is in Norwegian, I wish it was slightly more interesting than it is now. Nevertheless, it is still standing out amongst the songs of this heat and it will help it to secure a pretty safe spot in MGP’s final. Solid effort overall.”

 

Total score: 35/60
Highest Scores: 7 (Daniel, James)
Lowest Scores: 3 (Boris)
Final Mark: C+ (58%)

 


ACT#4: Margaret Berger

Boris – 8 – “A worthy return for our dear beloved Maggie Burger. Oblivion is gritty synthpop with aggro electro riffs and aetherial vocals, very similar in feel to the celebrated I Feed You My Love. A return to Malmö for another fourth place would be a perfect captstone for her Eurovision storyarch and is within the realm of possibilities if she went. The problem for me is that Oblivion doesn’t quite stick out to me in studio, and that’s a big red flag for its potential success at MGP. In a LOUD AS F*CK competition as MGP 2024 with conspicuous camp and deafening memeshits, a high quality song should take the crown, and I really wish Oblivion was memorable enough to immediately cement Mags in a more prominent favourite role.”

Daniel -7.5 –Oblivion is an impressive ethereal pop track, treading on the same dark synth territory as Berger’s 4th place epic entry Feed You My Love from 2013. The song comes alive during its hooky chorus with Berger’s sultry vocals and its spacey ambience comes into full force. The verses in contrast, feel less affecting and less impactful. Perhaps not as immediate as Feed You My Love, but this is still a quality pop song and most certainly stands out in this line-up. ”

David – 5 – “How lovely it would be to see Margaret once again in Malmö, but I doubt it. The song is VERY similar to “I Feed You My Love”, same genre, similar style, but no way near as attention seeking and fierce. This song is way more scaled down, and so is my opinion about this song. The lack of intensity, doesn’t make the song justice, but Margaret is still a very strong vocalist after all these years.”

James – 9 – “Effortlessly cool, mature, mid-paced electronica that Norway is famous for. I am often skeptical of returning acts, though “Oblivion” is a strong entry that has the potential to be on par with “I Feed You My Love” yet maintaining the balance between being different enough and not alienating to existing fans (a balance another previously successful returnee who we’ll discuss later fails miserably at). “Oblivion” delivers on its promise to take you to another realm, an enchanting and entrancing one. Let’s hope there is not a misfire in staging or that Norway has an appetite for televote friendly dog plop that is often Norway’s undoing.”

Tyler – 5.5 – “It’s going to be difficult to top “I Feed You My Love”, and I can confidently say, that “Oblivion” is an adequate sequel to the 2013 entry! I hear similarities to her previous song in “Oblivion”, but there seems to be an effort to modernize it. I think the song is just fine, and I’m not blinded by Margaret’s star power honestly. I’m not that interested in relistening to this song though unless the live performance is amazing and where it all comes together.”

Yehonatan – 3.5 – “We got a very well anticipated comeback and the result is rather underwhelming. Instead of recapturing the anthemic feeling of ‘I Feed You My Love‘, Margaret is bringing a rather empty midtempo pop song that doesn’t do her justice at all. I’d be very surprised if Norway ends up picking this, but if that will be the case, then it’s based on name only.”

 

Total score: 38.5/60
Highest Scores: 9 (James)
Lowest Scores: 3.5 (Yehonatan)
Final Mark: B (64%)


ACT#5: Mathilde SPZ feat. Chris Archer & Slam Dunk 

Boris – 8.5 – “Seems like Norway are desperately trying to create a viral hit since this is how they’ve gamed the meta at the previous two Eurovisions. Out of the three obnox memeshits in this year’s crop though, “Woman Show” feels the most genuine and the least cynical, and I have few qualms about embracing its camp. It really just is a lot of fun, no thoughts required! Chaotic party anthems with robust male rapping like this one were a staple back in the day when animals could speak and Norway was a good Eurovision country. Unfortunately, Woman Show is also more in the En Godt Stekt Pizza ballpark of Norwegian novelty, in that it’s a clear MGP finalist and just as clearly not winning MGP itself.”

Daniel – 3 – A high energy dance pop production reminiscent of early 00s, think Aqua or VengaBoys on speed, interjected by a shouty Norwegian rap. It’s very much on the gimmicky side of things, which Norway is known to serve. Mathihlde SPZ’s vocals are impressive but the lyrics here are questionable: ‘I am a woman show’ ??? Catchy nonetheless!

David – 3 – “Eurotrash is back, and this how it sounds in 2024. Probably should’ve stayed in the trash, because this is just too much, to the point where it just ain’t even enjoyable. Probably would’ve helped if it all was in Norwegian, rather than just one verse. It does have a catchy beat, but that’s about it.”

James – 3 –  “There are a few glaring issues with this dated party anthem. First, it loses points for its blatant pandering to fans of last year’s Eurovision televote winner (“Cha cha cha”). Second, if this is a woman show, why do the male backing vocals sound like something that would have been on a track from the Jock Jams compilation in the late ‘90s? I’d also be a little more forgiving of a fun club track if it didn’t remind me a little too much of a grotty nightclub in the back arse of Lancashire three decades ago.”

Tyler – 5.5 – I love some good Europop schlager, and this song is a great choice to open the national selection for Norway. That being said, this song also feels dated and would be a huge hit in the late 2000s. Not necessarily a bad thing, but this song won’t be added to my “Bangers” playlist. I can see this song doing well with the televote, but not with the jury in typical Norwegian fashion. It’s only an okay entry that can only be improved with a great live performance.

Yehonatan – 7.5 – “Chaotic rap in Norwegian is one of the most fun genres that I’m happy to see returning to MGP, and it’s what makes the song for me. It’s one of the only songs in this heat that doesn’t feel dull at any moment, and I have high expectations for a great show from them.”

Total score: 31.5/60
Highest Scores: 8.5 (Boris)
Lowest Scores: 3 (Daniel, James)
Final Mark: C (53%)


ACT#6: Myra

Boris – 7 – “Myra serves up “The Pleasant You Decide Runner-Up To The Lame Winner” vibes. Hardly pushing boundaries, but its an unpretentious bit of joyful rapture, which is the best possible semi filler. Sadly, I doubt Norway would treat Myra as anything other than filler. Despite this song’s upbeat cheer (which really makes me wish it was better received), this semi already has a memeshit, a metal song, a ballad aimed at insecure straight women and a Maggie Burger. Who remains to cast votes for this? We’re likely getting only one performance of “Heart of fire”, so best we cherish its presence while it lasts.”

Daniel – 4 – “Cheesy pop galore. Generic lyrics, generic production, generic feelgood pink bubble girl pop. This could be something straight out of the Barbie movie. Again, very slick Scandi production with Myra’s vocals sharpened to knife-edge. I can’t totally dismiss due its infectious catchiness, but ultimately the song lacks any substance, it’s completely devoid of personality. At the heart of the song lies nothing… absolutely nothing but empty space.”

David – 2 – “This just ticks all of the boxes for your typical average pop song. Very dull, nothing interesting, boring lyrics… not impressed at the slightest. Even vocally, there’s nothing extraordinary to be impressed by, so it just all gets forgotten.”

James – 8.5 – “Refreshingly wholesome for a Eurovision national final selection. This reminds me of an early oughts teeny bopper song (absent the “take me home” bit). It’s light, it’s cheery, it’s upbeat, Myra sounds like she’s as sweet as a candy apple. “Heart on Fire” appeals to the angelic side of your romantic ideals, which I again mention as wholesome given God knows what Poli Genova meant when she asked “If Love was a Crime.” This is Hallmark Channel to Poli’s SyFy Channel, even though both truck in the same amount of forgivable corniness.”

Tyler – 7 – “I’m a simple man. I hear a peppy and bright pop song, I start bopping my head and enjoying myself before my critical eye can get in the way. Did I at first think this was “Release Me” by Agnes? Maybe so! So the song might not be that modern, but with an even better song, I think Myra’s vocals would be a complete knock-out. I’m not confident this will escape the first semi-final, but will be enjoying this regardless with a little more oomph.”

Yehonatan – 4 – “I’ll wanna start off by making it very clear. Myra is serving probably the most fun and energetic personality based on the artist reveal show. Unfortunately, the song isn’t. It’s a cute Britpop song that would do well on the radio, but it doesn’t capture your attention beyond that. I’m hoping that a great live performance can save it, because I’m sure Myra is capable of so much more than this song offers.”

Total score: 32.5
Highest Scores: 8.5 (James)
Lowest Scores: 2 (David)
Final Mark: C (54%)

 

And that concludes the ratings of Norway for this week. Our initial classification of the MGP participants is thus as follows:

  1. Margaret Berger – “Oblivion” (64%)
  2. Ingrid Jasmin – “Eya” (58%)
  3. Myra – “Heart on fire” (54%)
  4. Mathilde SPZ ft Chris Archer & Slam Dunk – “Woman show” (53%)
  5. GOTHMINISTER – “We come alive” (50%)
  6. Fredrik Halland – “Stranded” (49%)

If our review team got their way, we would see Margaret Berger, Myra and Ingrid Jasmin qualify from the heats tonight. Will we get our way or will we be forced to head into next week with tonnes of copium and spite? Only time can tell!

Here’s the full voting chart for this week:

As you can see, James by far enjoyed this heat the most with an average 68%, while Yehonatan disliked it and gave it a failing mark of 47%. The other reviewers had mixed feelings, all within the 50%-60% range.

Will next week shuffle these statistics around? Very probably, but you’ll have to wait for next Saturday’s post for part two of our review series. Will someone beat Margaret Berger? Will Yehonatan like something? Will David finally start handing out his signature 1s and 2s? Join us next week, and find out!

How would #YOU rate these six acts out of ten? Let is us know in the comments, or join the discussion on our Forum or our Discord!

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