Ever year Norway’s Eurovision selection show Melodi Grand Prix promises to thrill the viewers with showstopping performances, memorable stagings, and the occasional whacky entry that makes you chuckle. Despite keeping the total number of entries the same, all 21 entries for MGP will pass through the semi-finals and must qualify on their own merit for the Grand Final on February 4th.

For the purpose of this review article six ESCUnited writers – Alastair, Boris, Connor, David, James, and Tyler – ranked all seven entries competing in the first semi-final on a 1-10 scale, and offered feedback on the entry. Then, each reviewer’s score will be averaged together to create an average rank. What does the ESCUnited writing staff think about the first seven entries of the selection? Who do we think will qualify for the final? Let’s find out!

Kate Gulbrandsen – “Tårer i paradis”

Alastair – “I always love a wee ballad in Norwegian or Swedish. So this ticks a box from me. Sadly I feel they get lost but I have a secret love for it. The move between chorus and verse is so smooth and I love. The ending as well! I hope this translates onto stage nicely with some lovely backgrounds, I don’t think it needs much staging. Love!” 8.5/10

David – “A touchy power-ballad, I do like the well composed and the power of music, but maybe this is one of those just too sweet songs, trying to remind us that everything will be okay…? I feel it’s trying to hard, and there’s a lack of a proper feeling to the song, which leaves me not caring. There might not be anymore tears in her paradise, but I’m nowhere near finding my own paradise.” 2/10

Tyler – “I was super excited to see Kate Gulbrandsen return, and yet I find this song to be just okay! I like the vocals and the instrumentation could be good too, but the song overall doesn’t really go anywhere for me to really care about? I think the live performance will be good, but “Tårer i paradis” feels a little dated too. I won’t be surprised if this doesn’t make it to the final, but still cool to see this entry! ” 6/10

Boris: 6.5             Connor: 6           James: 8

Average: 6.17 out of 10

JOWST and Byron Williams Jr – “Freaky for the Weekend”

David – “A slick composition, absolutely without any feelings. I do wish to point out, “Grab The Moment” remains one of my most ever played songs, so I have VERY HIGH expectations, if JOWST will ever be able to impress me even more one day, but this just ain’t the song. No charm, no proper message, it’s just a slick song that was made for… I don’t even know what.” 2/10

Boris– “If “lametastic” were a word in the online dictionary, this song would play the second you opened its page. (which I <3)!” 7.5/10

James – “This is a refreshingly fun club banger with Williams’s vocals and the guitar giving it an old fashioned disco-like feel. This is just stupid fun for the older dance set, for the guys who just want to dress up and peacock in front of some older and wealthier ladies and gentlemen in a club in Palm Springs. Jowst injects some modernity into this enterprise, but it blends surprisingly well with the vocals of a man who thinks he’s strutting his stuff in another decade.” 8.5/10

Tyler: 5             Connor: 3           Alastair: 7

Average: 5.50 out of 10

Alessandra Mele – “Queen of Kings”

Boris – “If the Duracell Bunny were a song, this would be it. This frantic “Running to the Hills” clone is rapidly outpacing its own nightcore. So of course I fell in love with it instantly. “NOTHING IN THIS WORLD CAN STOP THE SPREAD OF OUR WIGS / A WITCH!!!” is already an iconic misheard lyric.  Yes, there are obvious issues here, but a lot of it can be fixed with a good on-stage presentation. If there’s something Norway have a staging talent for, it’s the hammy eurodance songs a la “One last time” and “Hammer of Thor”, and “Queen of Kings” should by right in their ballpark.” 8/10

Tyler – “And I run. To the hills. I heard “Queen of Kings” and I was immediately transported to Melodifestivalen 2022 with Klara Hammarström. Obviously not the same lyrics, but the same beat, and if I want a “YAS KWEEN” anthem to back, I want it to unique! It’s a serviceable song, but not very original IMHO” 5.5/10

James – “The idea here is great: A female empowerment anthem that blends folksy elements with EDM and bringing in some ambitious vocals (particularly those high notes at the bridge) for some potentially show-stopping live moments. There are a few execution, issues, however. The lyrics are confused – stick with the insect metaphors or stick with the high seas metaphors, but not both. The song comes in 30 seconds short, and they could have used that great beat in the chorus and the violins at the bridge and blend them into an extra section to cap the song off on a victorious note.” 6/10

Alastair: 9            David: 6           Connor: 7

Average: 6.92 out of 10

Umami Tsunami – “Geronimo” 

Alastair – “I can’t pinpoint what I like and dislike in this song. I like the poppy aspect to this song, I can see me bouncing along to it. But the rap slightly ruins it for me. Its got a good bass and I do enjoy listening to it but I’d prefer it without the rap. And its catchy with its repetitiveness.” 6/10

Connor – “I think the biggest issue I have with the song is that it kind of blends into the background of the bunch, despite being such a pop song with a LOT going on within it. It wants to be this pop banger with a lukewarm beat, fast-flying lyrics, and a very lacking melody. If this has more energy live it might be better for me, but as of right now it’s just not doing much for me musically. The sped up version though? *chefs kiss*” 4/10

David – “There are SOOOO many cliché’s in this song, we have a boyband, loud music, a speedy verse, easy sing-a-long chorus. However, I’m a fool who will eventually enjoy this kind of music, but that takes time, which these boys don’t have. If it doesn’t click immediately, then it doesn’t matter in this competition. The put it simple, the song is just overpacked as it is.” 2/10

Boris: 1            James: 1           Tyler: 4

Average: 3 out of 10

Rasmus Thall – “Tresko” 

James – “A low effort, basic novelty song that offers very little to the listener despite the braggadocio of the song’s protagonist. Its two minute run time feels longer due to its lack of variation and complete lack of charisma coming from the vocalists. How can you dance the night away on a track this basic and with characters so dull?” 2/10

Connor – “Why is this entry so short??? There a large part of me that wants it to keep going, but it ending nearly a minute early just is a robbery. That said I love this groove style the song has, and I expect for us to have a very fun and energetic staging to go with this. I also really enjoy the melodic flow of the song because Rasmus layers a relatively simple lyrical beat over a moving instrumental line in a really playful way that keeps your attention and makes you just want to dance!” 6/10

Boris – “Drip” by MeAndI but amped up a ton. I am OBSESSED.” 9/10

Tyler: 5.5            David: 2           Alastair: 3

Average: 4.58 out of 10

Ulrikke – “Honestly”

David – “I’ll be honest and say, the few Norwegian parts, are literally pointless, just keep it fully in English. Somehow, I feel like Ulrikke tried to go for something different, but yet something similar as “Attention”, composition wise. Of course, pure speculation, but it doesn’t hit me as well, actually far from it. I just end up not caring in the end anyhow.” 3/10

Alastair – “This song has big shoes to fill. I loved Attention. I do like this song, I know it’ll grow on me and I think no matter it will do well. On first listen, I really like it. I like its build and Ulrikke can sing. Does it have the same drag I had to Attention, not yet. But I know live this will be amazing and really stand out, as Ulrikke did in 2020. I would rather there was more Norwegian though.” 9/10

Boris – “Ulrikke is back and instead of the downtempo Robyn-like pop ballad I had been hoping for, we instead were gifted a Frankenstein ballad: “Honestly” possesses elements of a Powerballad, a Disney Ballad and a Melfest-style Schlager ballad, plus some belting in Norwegian, and patches them together with rather unsmooth transitions. The lack of a commitment towards any of “Honestly’s” many subgenres makes the song difficult to connect with. I like it? but I also can’t wrap my brain around its existence. Pity, because the narrative of “Ulrikke looking out for her mentally ailing lover and maintaining a front of strength while being dead scared on the inside” is a rather poignant one.” 7/10

Tyler: 6.5            Connor: 8           James: 9

Average: 7.08 out of 10

Eirik Næss – “Wave”

James – “Boring, outdated indie-folk of the Lumineers variety. A thoroughly unremarkable jangle from its “whoa oh” usage and acoustic guitar over a basic beat and beach imagery as a metaphor for time and living in the now.” 4/10

Connor – “This is the exact kind of music that I listen to on the daily basis, and so naturally I am drawn to this as a favorite for the semi-final. My mind is already picturing a staging similar to ‘Storm” by Victor Crone with a simple opening that comes alive as the song progresses. From the entire crop of songs, I’d say this is the song that fits the current music industry and has potential to do well post-MGP even if it doesn’t win or qualify.” 9/10

Tyler – “A song that felt much longer than the sum of its parts, “Wave” doesn’t make any…waves for me! Good ones at least. I found the song to be pretty generic and not all that interesting, as the instrumentation and the ambience it makes to be unoriginal. I’ve definitely heard this song before, just in a different form that one could argue was done better. Not my thing, but good luck on Saturday!” 4.5/10

Boris: 4            David: 3           Alastair: 4

Average: 4.75 out of 10

The final ranking

With all seven songs ranked, the averages shake out as such:

  1. Ulrikke – “Honestly” – 7.08
  2. Alessandra Mele – “Queen of Kings” – 6.92
  3. Kate Gulbrandsen – “Tårer i paradis” – 6.17
  4. JOWST and Byron Williams Jr – “Freaky for the Weekend” – 5.50
  5. Eirik Næss – “Waves” – 4.75
  6. Rasmuss Thall – “Tresko” – 4.58
  7. Umami Tsunami – “Geronimo” – 3

That means that Ulrikke wins this round of ESCUnited reviews finishing just .16 points in front of The Voice of Norway 2022 winner Alessandra Mele. Kate Gulbrandsen rounds out the staff’s qualifier list with her simple yet heartwarming track in Norwegian.

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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