Week three in Melodi Grand Prix looms, with four more acts hoping to make it to the grand final on 20th February. Unfortunately, only one of the songs can make it tonight, with the chance of a wild-card slot left for the remaining acts. But, which of these four songs would deserve it the most?
It’s time for our panel of Boris, Daniel, James, Melanie, Roy and Sean to pass judgement over the Norwegian hopefuls in tonight’s show!
Dinaye – Own Yourself
Boris – 6 – “Upbeat and frivilous, the rhythm of “Born This Way”, the instrumentals of “What’s The Pressure” and the vibe of “Not My Soul”. Is this… a JESC entry? Still, in these dank corona crisis times, I will happily take a fun, happiness anthem, even one stitched together from every musical cliché under the sun.”
Daniel – 8.5 – “This is like a modern and retro version of “Haba Haba” down to the inspiring lyrics and talking to her mother. The lyrics are so encouraging and uplifting, and her intonation is so crystalline. This also gives me such similar vibes to Belgium 2016 which did pretty well. I think this is just a super fun song that is well composed and has a fun perspective and would likely be staged artfully. This is the pick me up song people need during these grim times. A big fan I am.”
James – 5 – “A generic pop song that sounds like it’s from the late ‘90s, which is no surprise considering the background of the songwriters. It’s a little hard to reconcile Dinaye’s suggestion to “own yourself” and stand out from the crowd when the lyrics are a jumble of self-help clichés you’d find on wooden signs sold at HomeGoods. On the plus side, Dinaye is a cracking vocalist (definitely the best in this semi), the song’s a lively number that paired with the right stage performance and choreography could do well with the crowd who complains modern pop is too slow and mopey. On the negative side, I have doubts there’s enough fans of Steps-like numbers left in Norway to carry this song over the finish line.”
Melanie – 4 – “This sounds like a toned down version of Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way.” It’s quite basic and something that I expect Australia would send to Junior Eurovision. It’s cute, but doesn’t stand out at all in the current competition. Hopefully Dinaye comes back to Melodi Grand Prix with a better song, because she has a great voice. Nevertheless, I’m happy to see that young talent also gets the chance to showcase their talent at the show.”
Roy – 4 – “Another decent effort, but it just doesn’t stand out at all for me. I feel like this could have been sung by any other random artist you could pick up from the streets. This little beat pattern that is there in the start and never disappears is also starting annoying me a lot after a few more listens. Her voice is interesting and there is a lot of potential in her and she can see this as a decent start to her young career. Just not the best song. Kudo’s for using the little ‘rickroll’ thingy in the middle of the song.”
Sean – 6.5 – “It would be an incredibly lazy comparison for me to hark back to “Haba Haba”, but there are a lot of hallmarks that come back again in Dinaye’s entry, sharing parental advice from her childhood and lyrical references to achieving regardless of background or past experiences. The song itself is a near-disco pop track with a catchy refrain and decent staging potential, but it’s not anything groundbreaking and I’m not sure how well this would stand out should it make it all the way to Rotterdam.”
Total = 34 (avg. 5.67)
Big Daddy Karsten – Smile
Boris – 7 – “A fun bout of upbeat Scandirap and House, except this time He’s Gayyyyyy. It’s so easy to turn like this into an (wait for it) un*bear*able string of Growlr clichés, but BDK manages to keep it cute and lighthearted and, dare I say, universally romantic? I swear, after KEiiNO and Raylee, this NF is swiftly turning into a battle royale for emanci*gay*tion and it warms my leftist-liberal heart. May the cutest carebear win. ♥”
Daniel – 8 – “You know this song positively surprised me, the bridge rap portions are carried very well and is stacked with meaningful lyrics. The tropi-beats are so different and highly welcomed. My favorite part of this song is the chorus, it is masterfully done, it is smooth, filled with horns which I love and has such a touching message. While I recognize that it is a standard pop track, I think that it is well composed and carries a spunk of energy. It also ties in different musical tastes into a well-balanced musical entry.”
James – 8 – “For anyone who wants a RuPaul-esque track at Eurovision, the big bear with the big heart and big tunes in Big Daddy Karsten’s “Smile” is for you. It’s simple and smutty, and Karsten has not been known to be subtle and is not subtle here with his trying to romance a cub to be in a couple that may become a thruple. As Norway’s only gay rapper, and with Big Daddy Karsten being a big bear, he would be a very different proposition to Eurovision than what we’ve seen or heard before from a gay performer. I suspect “Smile” will have a small yet fanatical fanbase, and I hope his live performance is a bawdy as his lyrics promise.”
Melanie – 6.5 – “Can we all just have a Big Daddy Karsten? This song just immediately makes me Smile J It sounds very refreshing to hear rap in Melodi Grand Prix. I can see this being a big summer hit. The song itself sounds very optimistic and definitely has a fun factor. He reminds me of Anis Don Demina from Sweden and hopefully he will have the same charisma on stage. Let’s hope he can bring the fun and optimistic feeling alive on stage, because this song has potential to become huge.”
Roy – 7 – “I honestly love how rich the orchestration sounds and how every instrument and element sounds bright and vibrant. I love his voice in contrast to it and I really enjoy the rapping together with the drop. Is the drop the most sophisticated? No! But it is just the best song in this semi-final by a landslide for me. Could be tough to stage, but honestly, good effort!!”
Sean – 8.5 – “Norway’s answer to the question “What would a cross between Macklemore and Anis dom Demina sound like?” That’s no bad thing though; this is a wonderfully crafted blend of talk rap and tropical pop which has no right being as seamless or catchy as it is. I can see enormous staging potential with this one and, suitably, it puts a smile on my face. As long as the live performance doesn’t wreck the mood, this should be the winner in this semi and could be a contender in the final.”
Total = 45 (avg. 7.5)
Ole Hartz – Vi er Norge
Boris – 7 After the Crusader Metal and the Retirement Home Hokey-Pokey, Norway decided it was time to treat the memelovers with a Pirate Schlager Drinking Song. Servicable enough, except PLOT TWIST, it is *also* a jingoistic anthem in which Ole and friends flex about how “Norway is such a great nation” because “we possess all the oil”. When will you be making your nationalism *this* entertaining, American’ts?
Daniel – 7 – The ethno-folk-pop entry of the heat 3. I would be denying that I am not a fan of the Celtic sounding violin. This song is also an interesting addition to the heat. My thing is that it does not sound for Eurovision, which is so subjective, but I would close my eyes and would imagine this in a Pixar film or in a temporal drama of the 19th century Scandinavian wars. I think this will be so unique on the MGP stage and I am glad it is here, not my winner, but a song with important merits that I wanted to highlight.
James – 7 – An old fashioned Norwegian folk footstomper that has a dark side: what nominally sounds like a jingoistic violin and acoustic guitar drinking song, has lyrics reminding Norwegians that their wealth and current luxury is built largely on its large oil deposits. In Greece if “Alcohol is Free,” then in Norway, Ole Hartz brings us “Oil is Free” as this song straddles being a localized folk song with social commentary. As local folk goes, this ticks all the boxes for being up-tempo, having a chorus non-Norwegians can quickly learn and chant to, and has a key change that steps the foot on the gas until the end. And as Hartz reminds us, if we keep stepping on the gas we will bring forward Ragnarok.
Melanie – 8 – Ole is bringing us some traditional Norwegian music, at least it sounds like that! I really love the instrumentals in this song and the party vibe it creates. Like Ole is bringing me to the local Norwegian pub and we are dancing side by side with a beer in our hands. The instruments are amazing in this song and really brings the song alive. If the staging is right, this could win the Semi-Final!
Roy – 5.5 – Let’s be honest here. It is fun, but it is also kind of cringey. I do think the violins are fantastic and the verses are very interesting and nice. The chorus however… I don’t think they necessarily should belong on a Eurovision stage… I am curious to see what they will have as staging as well with all the restriction. I feel like this song relies a lot on people/energy/crowds. It’s gonna be interesting. It is enjoyable!
Sean – 3.5 – Ah, one of those songs that fall into the weirdly popular Viking/Nordic/pirate/Celtic folk clusterf*ck genre that I just really don’t get. I’m sure the jingoistic voters in Norway will lap this one up, but to me it just feels far too pandering to this sensibility, and would get completely lost in international competition. It has potential to create a good, upbeat atmosphere on stage so I’ll see if my opinion changes after this, but this ain’t pushing no buttons for me.
Total = 38 (avg. 6.33)
Emmy – Witch Woods
Boris – 8 – Kick-ass Halloween Trash, with hilarious lyrics and potential for all-time epic staging? Shut up and take my simoleons.
Daniel – 6.5 – This is definitely the most modern sounding bridge that turns into the Brothers Grimm folk-pop drop. This song is overflowing with attitude and a very special hocus pocus vibe all around. That dark break in the middle is ripe with theatrics for the stage. This song is very Halloween Town meets Scandi-production quality meets Scooby-Doo live action movie. This is all to say that there is a lot happening, most of it good, some of it weird, and I cannot wait to see it on the stage.
James – 1 – What the hell is this? Is this from the soundtrack to a feminist version of “The Hills Have Eyes”? Are they trying to cash in on “Midsommar,” but ended up with the Nicolas Cage version of “The Wicker Man” instead? Let’s start with the production itself – loads of brown bass notes and an irritating synthesized violin riff. Not much else. The vocals grind my gears, particularly the synthesized vocals at the beginning, and the combination of giggles and “uuurrrs.” As for the lyrics, they are stunningly bad. Yes, the “we chop chop boys like we chop chop wood” line is fun and the lone highlight, and was most likely the genesis for this song, but everything else is laughably bad. The attempt to mesh Norwegian folklore, a gender swap on the victims of the violence in said folklore, and rap is poorly done. The “Welcome to the Hood” line is the most cringeworthy of the national selection, and the Barbie lyric (suggesting the city boy can casually just go buy a woman if he doesn’t like the singer) most undercuts the point of the song. I see a lot complain about the 2:37 length, but to me it’s 23 seconds of mercy.
Melanie – 9 – This really reminds me of Melanie Martinez. It’s the most intriguing song until now in the competition with the weird quirks. The song isn’t even 3 minutes long, but already is a very interesting listen experience. It never get’s boring and I want to hear more after the song finished. I really hope that she can nail this also live, because I think it’s a hard song to sing. My favourite for the win, but scared this won’t appeal to the Norwegian audience as much as it did with me.
Roy – 5.5 – I don’t know if I am happy that they went balls to the walls with the entire gimmick of Witchiness or if I am disappointed by the potential that lied within the instrumentations and her voice making for an interesting EDM-song. Obviously this is what it is. A gimmick. A well-executed one, but it is still just a gimmick. Just a massive round of applause for sticking to it and going all the way, but also I am a little sad since she is a young talented girl with an interesting voice… I hope she comes back with something better sometime soon.
Sean – 1 – This is ABSOLUTELY not my bag at all. I know this is becoming quite a familiar sound with artists like Ashnikko making waves, but god, I just find songs like this so irritating. It reminds me of Jordan Clarke’s “Freaks” in its swaggering, circus-y, cabaret-y manner, but that’s not a good thing for my ears. Don’t even get me started on the lyrics. I know people will lap this up, but it’s a hard pass for me please…
Total = 31 (avg. 5.17)
Let’s see how the ranking unfolds for tonight’s Melodi Grand Prix show…
- Big Daddy Karsten – Smile – 45
- Ole Hartz – Vi er Norge – 38
- Dinaye – Own Yourself – 34
- Emmy – Witch Woods – 31
It seems pretty clear – unanimous approval for Big Daddy Karsten in tonight’s semi-final! But will this be the case later this evening? Not long now to find out…
Do #YOU agree with our thoughts on this semi-final? Share your thoughts with us on our forum HERE or join the discussion below and on social media!