Ahead of tonight’s second semi-final in the Norwegian selection for Rotterdam, our team took a look at the four hopefuls from Eastern Norway. Could our panel agree on a favourite in tonight’s Melodi Grand Prix show?

This week’s reviews come from Daniel, David, James, Melanie, Roy, Sean and Stefan. Read on…

JÆGER – How About Mars

Daniel – 3 – “I really like the beginning of the song and the build. And then the chorus hits and I think I am left all sorts of confused. I think it must be because it really has a cacaphonous drop that is further made weird by the robot-sounding background. I do not think Mars will get a lot of fanfare, at least the way that Spain JESC got.  The song, while unique starts to tread the line of Iceland 2006 and becomes more of a joke entry and not the satirical joke but the yikes kind. Overall not the best impression for Norway.”

David – 1 – “What… on… Earth… did I listen to?!?! Oh wait! Absolutely ridiculous, a way too long build up and I’m left completely disappointed and then it just gets weirder and weirder. I don’t even know what genre I should categorize this under? Techno? Dance? Pop? Sounds? I’ll just call it trash.”

James – 8 – “If John Gray is correct and women are from Venus and men are from Mars, what would be the point of a guy going on a starship with JÆGER if he’s just going home? If a song is a great club banger, then I will forgive stupid lyrics. And this one does have stupid lyrics, including the not at all subtle “romp-pa-pa-pom” as to what a ride on the starship entails. Thankfully it’s a great club banger and Roel Rats is beginning to develop an odd reputation as a Eurovision songwriter for women who want to have sex in odd places (outside Number 22 of a council estate for Ireland’s entry at Eurovision 2019, and now on a starship taking off from Eastern Norway). Be the Jaegermeister and let her shock your bones, this is fun.”

Melanie – 6 – “JÆGER is taking us on her spaceship with her song “How About Mars.” This songs sounds like a current modern pop song and like a sci-fi version of a song of Billie Eilish. The instrumental parts make this song very interesting, but also a challenge to stage right. If they don’t keep the audience attention in those parts, this can really flop on stage. Please Jager, make this song work!”

Roy – 7 – “I hate how much I enjoy this song. It is a way-too-catchy earworm that I simply can’t get out of my head. My biggest issue with it is that it is way too simple to be good, yet I still enjoy it. I guess it just kind of works in it’s simplicity. I also have the feeling that they can do a lot with the staging on this. I hope JÆGER won’t make it a “joke” performance that goes very over-the-top on the alien subject. To me this is the clear favourite in this semi-final. I also find her voice intriguing and I am just super curious about the overall package that this song will offer us on Saturday.”

Sean – 7 – This is certainly unorthodox and one of the early front-runners in terms of unique national final entries for Rotterdam. A lot of the success in this track will hinge on the live performance, impress on the stage and this will have a major impact. I like the vibe this creates and it’s good to have a variety of approaches to the electropop genre, although I’d like it to be a little beefier. It does get a little repetitive, and I can see this bypassing a lot of people.

Stefan – 9 – “Can I have a shot of Jaeger? Yes please! It’s funky, trendy, cool, out of the box and even though there’s no big culmination I am so loving it. I hope we’ll see lots of pyro effects. So far best MGP entry of 2020.”

Total = 41 (avg. 5.9)

Kim Wigaard & Maria Mohn – Fool For Love

Daniel – 7 – “A romantic ballad with a rather compelling soundtrack. While it sounds slightly dated, one cannot deny the impact it leaves, particularly with the instrumentation. This song has cheesy written all over it but that is not necessarily a bad thing because it presents a rather universal emotional appeal. The strings brings the song together and there are moments where the voices really deliver. As a duet I think they work very well, not as well as 2015 but still the strongest of this semi.”

David – 1 – “Oh wonderful, the beautiful and touching duet ballad… Sorry but I’m already sleeping, NEEEEEEEEXT!!!”

James – 8 – “An old-fashioned duet backed by string instruments and led by two phenomenal vocalists, clearly inspired by classic musicals of old. Now unless Norway suddenly gets an influx of Andrew Lloyd-Webber loving grannies, I doubt this will make the MGP Final. But if you are a fan of bombastic string heavy ballads, “Fool for Love” will go down a treat as it is an ably done one led by two dynamic vocalists whose interplay is exquisite. If you’re not a fan, you go stan with the rest of your ageist cohorts over there and let the rest of us enjoy this in peace even if we know the odds are long on this winning.”

Melanie – 3 – “So Kim and Maria can sing. They give me emotions and they sound great together. Unfortunately, the song is outdated and not original. We’ve heard it all before. Also, if you give us a ballad, I expect really deep lyrics, but it’s just a cheesy James Bond song that I’m not feeling at all.”

Roy – 3 – “This is (unfortunately) the slow duet-ballad in the selection. Normally I don’t mind them as much in a massive field of songs, but in this format I feel like it hinders itself even more than usual. I often find them pleasant breaks in between all the other high-tempo songs. In a group of 4 this will just come across as a standard duet-ballad. The song in general is also quite poorly written and I don’t get anything from this personally. I do see what they were going for and I have to admit that the instrumentals are quite good, but it just doesn’t pass the test for me.”

Sean – 4 – I thought this was going to go down the “Hope Never Dies” route of a mysterious rock ballad, like an Evanescence album track. Unfortunately it’s not as interesting as this, and we’re left with a solid but deeply uninspiring duet. I have to praise the vocal qualities or Kim and Maria but this is not revolutionary listening for me.

Stefan – 8 – “Producers of latest 007 movie called and they want their song back. I can literally feel their energy bursting and their voices work so good together. There’s something mystical here and hopefully they will be able to transfer that on stage.”

Total = 34 (avg. 4.9)

Rein Alexander – One Last Time

Daniel – 5 – “I love the epicness that this song carries. I will say in a superficial matter, this song has a lot of the key signatures of a good pop song: a strong voice, heavy use of metaphors (war) and a riveting bit. My issue with the song is the fact that it is rather formulaic and repetitive to the point where I feel many of the more successful songs at Eurovision at least have some element of surprise. While good, I would not venture to say that this song is great.”

David – 8 – “A fierce looking guy, that resembles a modern and classy Viking, singing about love and an up-tempo track, not gonna lie, that’s pretty dope. It’s kind of unexpected, but very fascinating. There is a catchy tune to this and this guy just mesmerises me. Lacking a bit on the energy, I feel that the song demands it, but if he can go all Braveheart on stage… then it would make it all more epic!”

James – 9 – “This is quite an unlikely track from a burly 48-old-year Papa Bear who used to be a commercial fisherman in the Arctic, but it’s rather good. Fellow musical veterans Wigaard and Mohn went with a classic duet that would fly in a musical, but Alexander has stones for giving us a peppy mid-tempo pop song. The lyrics suggest this is a personal anthem for him based on his own experiences in life and love, and when he bellows that he is giving his all for one last clarion call, you believe him. For anyone who’s been told they’re too over the hill or it’s too late to pursue any dream, this is the anthem for you.”

Melanie – 5 – “One Last Time sounds like a cliché Eurovision song, sung by a Norwegian pirate. It is instead a banger that I know will be a hit at Euroclub and with the Eurovision community! Nevertheless, we’ve heard these kind of songs very often already at Eurovision, so it wouldn’t win the originality prize. To be honest, I thought the same about KEiiNO last year and we all know how that ended. So maybe this will also be a hit at Eurovision?”

Roy – 5 – “This is kind of interesting, I did not expect such a song when I saw the picture of the artist. Unfortunately this is something that would be cool in the past from 2007 until 2012. In 2020 this just doesn’t pass the test of quality for Eurovision in my eyes. This is a weird semi-final however and it could maybe grab a surprise win to go to the final in this. I see Rein being a very charismatic character and a lot of people in Norway could fall for it. It is televote only, so who knows what happens?”

Sean – 8 – Let’s go! I’m really enjoying this one even if I feel like it should be a guilty pleasure. I’m looking forward to seeing how this works out on stage but “One Last Time” is a bombastic dance track with an element of feeling that is often missing from these tracks. From the audio only, it also seems to have a slight hint of a viking/pirate vibe which would be interesting combination, but I may be misinterpreting the sounds and backing vocals slightly.

Stefan – 5 – “Mr Santa Claus still got it, but… It’s a bit outdated IMO. It’s something we could have heard at Melodifestivalen back in 2010. I know Scandinavian people who like their schlager – heck even I do – but this is not my cup of tea.”

Total = 45 (avg. 6.4)

Tore Petterson – The Start of Something New

Daniel – 2 – “Cabaret and cavana. I would like to remind Norway that one of their worst performances in recent memory was when they tries to hard with a latin-infused song (2007). I mean this song is a middle-low tier tune on a low-budget cruise line. I usually try not to be too harsh but this song was not captivating and rather just a hodgepodge of what Europe thinks Latin music is and frankly it is slightly ridiculous. It lacked structure and clarity and any redeem qualities could be brought by the backing dancers and the iconography.”

David – 0 – “Well… to me this is a musical nightmare… next”

James – 9 – “If John Legend had the camp swagger of Roger Cicero, we’d end up with Tore Petterson. This is top shelf pop-jazz, and most importantly it is fun and relatable. Jazz usually tanks at Eurovision (and I’m sure many an edgelord stanning a basic pop song at MGP yet still claim they’re edgy will remind us ad nauseum), but with the correct staging this could do well enough with a diverse coalition of fans. There’s not much to fault here except how it may “fit in,” but Petterson is a lively enough positive figure to carry the torch for those who don’t feel like fitting in and potentially shock Norway and Europe.”

Melanie – 2 – “To be honest, I seriously think that this song is a start of something new; Norway that bring us a song that sounds great in a lounge of a cruise ship. Is this also great for on the Eurovision stage? I don’t think so. The lyrics are too repetitive and this won’t stand out in a good way. It’s just a typical lounge song that you’ve heard before, but it’s great that Norway give us some music diversity.”

Roy – 3 – “It is cool because it’s different I guess. We never really hear anything like this, but I don’t feel like it pulls off what it is going for. The overall composition is just a bit boring and his voice also never gets interesting. This sort of music would be fine to play during lunch at some sort of hipster bar, but it should not be used for anything more than that…”

Sean – 6 – This is… something… there’s a lot to uncover with this one. I do appreciate the jazzy, loungey sound and the quality of Tore’s voice, and the music wouldn’t sound out of place in Mario Kart. But the song runs out of ideas about two minutes in and doesn’t really change pace or direction. Perhaps a shorter but sweeter version would’ve been more effective. It’s certainly a unique sound for Eurovision though, and hopefully this may make it stand out!

Stefan – 5 – “It’s cute. No more, no less. I have lukewarm feelings towards it. I can listen to it, but it’s highly unlikely I will do it again.”

Total = 27 (avg. 3.9)

So… as you can see there is a lot of variation in the views of our team! But could we reach a consensus in the end? Here’s what our scores tot up to…

  1. Rein Alexander – One Last Time – 45
  2. JÆGER – How About Mars – 41
  3. Kim Wigaard & Maria Mohn – Fool For Love – 34
  4. Tore Petterson – The Start of Something New – 27

In the end, decent scores from all of our panel saw Rein Alexander take our Eastern Norway crown with “One Last Time”, but will he be victorious in the second semi-final later this evening? Stay tuned to ESC United to find out!

What do #YOU think of this semi-final’s entries? Do #YOU agree with the verdict of our editors? Share your thoughts with us on our forum HERE, or join the discussion below and on social media!

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