Tonight, Norway kick off their Eurovision 2021 search in style, with the famous Melodi Grand Prix flinging open its doors once again (in a metaphorical sense, of course). Norway’s lengthy selection begins with the first semi-final in Fornebu tonight, and there is some considerable star power already announced as part of the selection.
It was revealed earlier this week that Atle Pettersen, Kaja Rode, Rein Alexander, Stavangerkameratene and Tix would be directly qualified for the MGP final on 20th February. There is also the small matter of KEiiNO, the European public’s winner in 2019 and firm fan favourites ever since they conquered this competition with “Spirit in the Sky” two years ago.
But the semi-finals also offer us some great options, with Beady Belle, Jorn, Blåsemafian ft. Hazel and Stina Talling fighting it out for one spot in the February final. Which of the songs do we think should make it? Let’s see what our team members Daniel, James, Melanie, Roy, Sean and Stefan thought of tonight’s hopefuls!
Beady Belle – Playing with Fire
Daniel – 6 – “This is very much a vibe and I can understand how this might have some interesting appeal by transcending many genres. It is jazz infused with a bit of electronica all with a final pop twist to make it Eurovision friendly. I think there are some interesting components to this song and therefore could be promising for the MGP finale. It is a bit repetitive and the key change at the end seemed a little too much, but it is still pretty cool overall.”
James – 5 – “Hands up, who else is bored of fire as a metaphor at Eurovision and the corny words that are shoe-horned to rhyme with fire? It’s somewhat funny then that ”burning inspire” is in the chorus, as this electro-jazz number is short of inspiration apart from two brief moments during the bridge and right at the key change. The lyrics are generic and confusing enough to be about any risk-taking action, though the “don’t see the hunger / the promise in an unlit wake” bit at the end, along with the too cool for school mood of this track, seem to suggest you don’t play with fire?”
Melanie – 5.5 – “We’re going retro disco with Beady Belle! The song itself isn’t bad, but I’m not completely fond about it. I really like her intriguing voice (somehow reminds me of Senhit) and the disco elements in the beat. The lyrics are also a little bit lazy (Playing with fire, burning inspire, leveling higher? Sounds like she’s singing about an Charmander that’s about to evolve in a Charmeleon) and I have the feeling that I’m still am listening to a demo version. ‘Playing with Fire’ is a great stone, but it needs to be polished more to be that big shining diamond.”
Roy – 4 – “I actually really dig the vibe of this song. It starts off in a way that I could picture myself sipping on a lovely whiskey, just jamming and having a nice time. Then the disco beat comes in and I don’t necessarily mind that either, sure I will get out of my chair for a bit for a little dance. But then… These lyrics are absolutely atrocious… “Fire, Aspire, Higher” just overused rhyme words that have been used to death and really annoy me at this point. Completely ruins this otherwise decent song for me…”
Sean – 8 – “FUNKY! This reminds me a little of “Skarb” by Ramona Rey (an excellent track from one of our forum contest’s history), crossed with the nu-disco revival currently sweeping the UK (at least!). It’s a little basic and the lyrics leave a little to be desired but this is a fun, danceable track and I can’t wait to see what they do with the staging. And that key change – wow! Really interesting track!”
Stefan – 2 – “Probably my least favourite in this semi. Sounds unfinished, unpolished, like it’s a demo. Also, I don’t fancy her voice. But as in TV series, obviously shows like this have to have a bottle entry, perfect for a toilet break.”
Total = 30.5 (avg. 5.08)
Jorn – Faith Bloody Faith
Daniel – 8.5 – “This is there on the metal and musical diversity department. But rather than just be a show-and-tell song there is a lot of value and substance behind this song. The first part of the song is this almost near Eastern build-up with a romantic twist that develops into a very Evanescence-like rock delivery. It is very digestible to non-rock or metal lovers and still keeps you very engaged. I think that this song also features very impressive vocals that can only serve to elevate it. There is something that makes me feel like this song is just super cool and interesting.”
James – 5 – “Jorn’s appearance at MGP is something of a head-scratcher as I doubt the crossover appeal of “Faith Bloody Faith,” a paint-by-numbers power metal criticism of organized religion that sounds like it’s three decades old. Additionally, this song commits the cardinal sin of reminding you of a far better song, namely Sepultura’s 1996 masterpiece “Roots Bloody Roots,” which lyrically covers similar ground except one twist – Sepultura’s response to our violent roots is a coming together of the faiths and non-faiths, whereas the constant mention of “apes” in “Faith Bloody Faith” suggests peace is only possible with the eradication of faith. Jorn has rightly earned his place at the top of the European power-metal mountain, but this whamly and divisive (to a metal audience let alone a general one) track at a national selection for a contest most metalheads view with suspicion will neither enhance nor diminish his elder statesman status. However, a bonus point for use of Wigwam’s vocalist Åge Sten Nilsen as a co-writer.”
Melanie – 7.5 – “Yes Jorn, give me some epic old school rock music! So happy to see this kind of song in a national final. The slow intro really built well to the first verse that opens with massive instrumentation. It just keeps building really nicely throughout the whole song and keeps me very interested. It never really gets dull in the 3 minutes during this rock anthem. The only thing what is kind of weird is the Egyptian inspired break in the middle of the song. Nevertheless, a welcome addition in this year’s Melodi Grand Prix and curious how this will do in the contest.”
Roy – 6.5 – “I was in desperate need of an influx of rock songs into National finals and Eurovision so I love that this song is here. It is lovely to rock out to, but it feels a tad dated to me. The vocals wouldn’t be out of place about 10-15 years ago. It definitely has its market and the execution is quite good, it just isn’t a song that I could fully root for or get behind. Amazing song for adding some much needed diversity in Norway though!”
Sean – 7 – “The chorus of this one is a bit of a let-down but I’m willing to let it slide to reach a wider Eurovision audience. What we have here is an almost schlager-metal track from an experienced craftsman, with great production value and MASSIVE stage potential. It’s surprisingly catchy too. I would like it to feel more rocky but Norway gave us a brilliant Wig Wam entry 16 years ago and this would be a worthy sequel!”
Stefan – 4 – “I’m not a fan of rock, dark metal, what ever this is. For sure he can sing, but it’s just not my cup of tea. I know many fans want to see/hear something like this at Eurovision, but IMO we can get Something Better (pun intended). Thumbs up for the chords.”
Total = 38.5 (avg. 6.42)
Blåsemafian ft. Hazel – Let Loose
Daniel – 8 – “This has an interesting undercurrent to its sound and sounds super contemporaneous. Between the instrumental drop and the strong brass and bass, this song is a club banger. While I am not sure how appealing it is to a Eurovision crowd, this is extremely relevant and sounds like something you would hear in the beaches of Mykonos or Ibiza. I think that it adds the modern pizzazz that a national selection usually craves and the production is very slick so it does its job well.”
James – 3 – “I can’t harangue Jorn for sending something that sounds not from 2020 and then give a pass to this one. This is a frankly irritating blend of brass instruments and dance music, and speaking of that blend, I think we may have come across this at Eurovision before (hint: A Moldovan group with a saxophonist guy whose playing was quite epic). I do enjoy a daft dance song, but this one is derivative, sounds like it’s from an era where saying “they dialed it in” is also technically possible as well as metaphorically, and it’s way too repetitive.”
Melanie – 8.5 – “This one is definitely my favourite of this semi-final! And while it’s my most favourite song, it’s also the one I’m the most concern about. The song is relying heavily on its amazing beat, while the singing parts are just a minor part of the song. The staging of it will really make it or break it. I just hope that they can bring the party on stage, because this song has all of the elements to be a big hit in the mainstream charts.”
Roy – 6 – “I love myself a lovely little EDM-tune. This is groovy and well made. The lyrics are a bit uninspiring and that could have definitely been a bit better. I like how you feel like you know where the song will go for most of the time, yet the drop still surprised me, that is a good thing! Decent little song, but nothing out of this world really!”
Sean – 6.5 – “Without knowing exactly how the dynamics of this group works, I’m hoping to see a band like Meute rocking the MGP stage with this entry. The blend of percussion with piano-based dance beats is seamless and modern, and while I would like a better drop, this is a decent entry. Might bump it up a few points when a live performance is revealed!”
Stefan – 10 – “I know it is just the first semi, but gosh this could be such a party anthem in Rotterdam (hoping there will be some audience and Euroclub!). I love the rhythm, the lyrics, the sax in the intro. Only bad thing about this is that it’s only two and a half minutes long.”
Total = 42 (avg. 7)
Stina Talling – Elevate
Daniel – 9 – “Ahh the ballad that we often crave. Oh but there is something about its intro that makes me feel that there is something behind that façade and cliché lyrics. There is the drop, very a la Alan Walker. This is an electro-ballad with an interesting twist and carries itself very well. If the vocals are on point and the visuals match the energy in the build, then this song has the potential to make a huge impact on this contest. I think the production is strong and the elements are such textbook-examples of strong musicality.”
James – 7 – “For the first few seconds, I thought we were being led into a Roxette ballad, but we have a generic, modern self-empowerment pop song instead. I do like the lullaby-esque singing in the chorus that gives the song a sweetness you normally don’t encounter in these “they can’t keep us down” kind of songs. It mixes defiance with the assurance that everything will be okay, a pushback against the prevailing populist darkness but given a sugary, glittery kiss. And soothing and sweet may be what the punters are after in 2021, so even though it lacks power and has little impact, we can hope to burn the songs of the cynics and replace them with anything that even brings so much as a candlelight to the darkness.”
Melanie – 6 – “A very cute pop song from Stina Talling. She has a very pleasant voice that really compliments the song. The song itself is very average and sadly not special enough to stand out. It feels kinda empty, like I don’t really feel that she means what she sings. I don’t get elevated at all by listening this song. I hope that she will come back next year with a better song. I hear a lot of potential in her, but it’s not her year yet.”
Roy – 7.5 – “You know what, yes, why not, I am getting behind the scandi-pop song for this semi. Is it the most ground-breaking? No! Is it good though? Definitely! The lyrics have something that a lot of people could resonate with. It is an easy listen and I keep coming back to it more than the others. Just pleasant, I am curious to see if she can pull it off live and how it will be staged!”
Sean – 5 – “I’m going to take a wild guess that this is the favourite of these four in Eurovision circles as it feels very Melfest pop. While there isn’t anything fundamentally wrong with that – and I’m sure this entry will be a good success in MGP – to me, it doesn’t feel that intriguing. The verses are atmospheric enough but the basic beats of the chorus don’t give me that energy rush that a good, melodic pop song should. Do I dance to this? Do I vibe? It feels caught between two minds.”
Stefan – 8.5 – “Not a typical ballad, what is a plus for me. I love her voice, but my only concern is how will she sound live. Have to admit that it is just a bit monotonous, but it still has some X factor. The “only” thing I missed is some kind of culmination. Still it’s a very, very good song.”
Total = 43 (avg. 7.17)
It seems that our team want Stina Talling in the final above all else, but do #YOU agree? Vote in our poll below and we’ll reveal YOUR favourite before the show!
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