Review: Norsk Melodi Grand Prix & Melodifestivalen Andra Chansen

Posted: 03/03/2019 in Eurovision 2019

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor bebe zahara benet meme

Trend alert: every year there’s this one National Final that trumps – *coughs* nay triumphs over – all other NF’s. And rather unexpectedly *coughs again* it was one of the Nordics holding it in store for us!

If you thought the Nordics had gone stale with their NF’s, guess again. Not only did we get a splendid selection in Iceland and a rather entertaining NF in Denmark, and even the Swedish final manages to offer a nice variety, it was Norway that ultimately proved the place to be. Disclaimer: we’re not counting that three song selection in Finland as a NF, OK? OK.

MF Andra Chansen

But before we travel to Oslo, it’s time for our weekly Swedish lay-over. Andra Chansen is usually a bit of a filler with quite clear (read: predictable) outcomes. Yesterday proved it can go the other way…even if the outcomes were almost Vulcan in their logic. No detailed run-through, we’ve already been there and done that, so I’m gonna take a look back at last week and comment on my comments – just for the meta fun of it:

  • Andreas Johnson vs Anna Bergendahl: Pity, two of the better ones against each other. Don’t have a clue actually – but my gut is telling me it’s gonna be Andreas. As I said before: I think ‘Ashes to Ashes’ is the new ‘Something In Your Eyes’.” You know, I would have been fine either way as I like both of these. But I’m kinda happy Anna made it, as we were still lacking a bit of old skool MF charm in the final. ‘Ashes to Ashes’ keeps on getting catchier every time I hear it, so maybe this passage through Andra Chansen actually did her a favour. Pity for Andreas though, for once he served a song I actively liked.
  • Vlad Reiser vs Nano: “It should be Nano, but if he’s as nervous as he was in his semi then it’s gonna be Vlad. Yes, I’m still saying that with a thick Russian accent in my head.” Both gentlemen did A LOT better than in their actual semis…but Nano always had the better total package. This was an entirely different experience than the semi performance and in my head he’s gone from a borderline Andra Chansen survivor to a serious contender.
  • Martin Stenmarck vs Lisa Ajax: “Martin all the way for me. So it’s probably gonna be Miss Dutch Football Team.” Normally I take pride and joy in being right, but not right now. Should have been Martin. Even if I have to admit that Lisa’s task of singing that intricate melody over nothing but the sound of a heartbeat and/or two notes on a piano is an incredible challenge. Side note: Lisa was repeating “Martin’s a very experienced artist” a couple of times during the intro movies. That’s a not so veiled way of saying someone’s old, and to quote Trinity The Tuck: I call shade.
  • Rebecka Karlsson vs Arvingarna: “Should be The Töppers, just for the fun of it. I think they’ll make it. We’ve already got Wiktoria in the final, and Rebecka needs a couple more years to really be full blown MF material.” The most just and easy to predict result of the evening, even if nails were bit off to the elbow at Casa Dimivision as my two besties were rooting for the Töppers. They really nailed it as a foursome, didn’t they? It’ll make for a swell closer next week in Stockholm, that’s for sure.

So who’ll be the next MF-king or queen? Haven’t got a clue. I’ll do an entire MF-preview post towards the end of the week though, so watch this space.

Norsk Melodi Grand Prix

Off to Oslo then, where we were in time for song number five and quickly played catch-up with the first four during one of the lengthy talking bits. The hosts looked as though they were having fun, as was the rest of the impressive Spektrum. As per usual the production was top notch as well, and it’s nice to see a broadcaster taking enough effort to mimic an actual Eurovision stage. *glares at the German broadcaster* BUT, dear Norway, what is the deal with the enormous amount of people on stage? I saw acts with a whopping dozen people on there! I know you’re more preoccupied with making great television, but come on. Quit being a petty Eurovision fan, you say? How very dare you! And speaking of Eurovision: loved the interval medley, Heidi Ruud Ellingsen brought AND served it. Her timing was so impeccable, and a nicely phrased montage is always a swell idea.

Anyway, the selection of songs and the professional productions made for a very entertaining evening:

  1. Chris Medina – We Try: You know, I’ve been throwing around the reference to the combo Coldplay-Avicii A LOT this season (and possibly the past two seasons as well) but hey, if the shoe fits… This is a pleasant entry and if Måns Zelmerlöw hand’t won in 2015 I’d probably state that we’d probably get this kind of winner some time soon…but he has. So even if I like it, I’m kind of over this form of EDM-pop. A pleasant opener to the evening’s shenanigans, but a bit too expected to do anything much.
  2. D’Sound – Mr. Unicorn: Unicorn-fans unite! Those who follow me on Instagram (@dimivision, you got that right) will know that I have my own unicorn onesie ànd an inflatable pool-unicorn as well, so yay to D’Sound for taking the fantasy-route. Loving the production here and the stage act was quite nifty, even if it borrowed bits and pieces from Ace Wilder’s MF-performances. The thing is: for this to work it has to be flawless, any kind of slip-up overshadows the flirty happiness of this kind of 80’s pop. And I’m not talking about that almost-slip that was repeated in every ‘snabb-repris’. It’s all about the very fragile high note when singing ‘Miiiiiister Unicorn’. A long stretched ‘i’-sound is always a bitch to sing and if you get that wrong, especially on a high pitch in the title section of your song, it’s hard to recover from. Pity, but you can be assured this’ll be played a lot at Casa Dimivision in the weeks to come.
  3. Mørland – En Livredd Mann: Probably the song and performance that tore me the most in this selection of songs. It’s got intriguing bits and pieces, especially the electronic vibe in some sections, and then some bits feel a bit been-there-done-that. Not only does it create a bit of a weird mix, it also doesn’t even feel like they’re not part of the same song. Yet they are. Add to that the modern dance choreography and you get a performance that wasn’t quite my cup of tea. Or coffee. Or even water. Sorry about it, lovely Mørland.
  4. Anna-Lisa Kumoji – Holla: (disclaimer: no live performance available on YT…) YES, YEZ and YAAAASSSSSSSSS! Mufasa realness! I didn’t know I needed this blend of Kelis, Missy Elliott and Bebe Zahara Benet but I am sooooo here for it! We need more of this kind of Black Girl Power in NF’s all over Europe (or/and in Eurovision, bien évidemment). I knew it was game over once she was up against that Bubble thing in the second voting round, but I’ll HOLLA at you any time you want, girlfriend. BAM! Side note: that fake fur coat inspired a new drag name: Diana Von Muppet. It’s already been patented, sorry.
  5. Erland Bratland – Sing For You: So Erland was a bit emotional in the intro movie, wasn’t he? Talking about expectations and stuff… Just be your own you, boo. And that’s exactly what he did, so *insert rocky devil’s horns hand gesture emoji*. Even if it’s not entirely my thing – a bit too bombastic for my liking (surprising, I know). But he sure knows how to use those vocal chords of his, and it can’t have been easy singing surrounded by those pyro effects – or keep on singing while seeing that those were failing the first time ‘round. Pity the song doesn’t feel quite right for this era we’ve entered in Eurovision where everything is either way out there or really focused and petite.
  6. Ingrid Berg Mehus – Feel: Not the catchiest of artist names there. Dear Ingrid didn’t make a very good first impression while she was trying to control her nerves during the first verse (and the second, for that matter). But she made up for A LOT in that quite fantastic chorus, which brought back memories of Eurotrash pop in the mid nineties (Robert Miles, for instance). Didn’t really need the violin, to be honest, that instrument has been over-emphasized by last year’s MGP winner. Not the most exciting entry in this field but a nice addition to my ‘2019’ playlist.
  7. Hank von Hell – Fake It: During the first half of this KISS-meets-Lordi pastiche I seriously thought it would be a contender. Until he went, almost unimaginably, overboard with the skybox slash elevator thingy. As if it wasn’t ‘too much is not enough’ I quite enjoyed this glamrock, OTT, anything-can-happen entry. But it didn’t have enough musically memorable moments to really make it shine. Nor did he manage to fully keep himself together throughout. But a delicious addition to this varied field, that’s for sure.
  8. Carina Dahl – Hold Me Down: Orange is the new black, you say? Cool, it happens to be my favourite colour so I don’t mind one single bit. I’ll have that catsuit in three more colours, thanks. But don’t hold me down for anything else – as much as Carina tried to sell me this standard piece of pop, it simply was not memorable enough to convince. LOVING the entire choreography though, but when the packaging outshines the content something’s not quite working…
  9. Adrian Jørgensen – The Bubble: So… I really thought this would easily walk with it while watching it for the first time…until we got to 2/3rds of the song and suddenly the vibe is interrupted by an unannounced, otherwise invisible female singer. I’d give her actual name but she’s not credited, nor was she visible during the interviews and/or voting procedure. Quite the peculiar approach – they were probably gunning for a surprise effect but actually it kind of took it into a completely different direction and I’m not too sure that was the best of gambles. If he’d have carried the entire song alone it could have fared better and benefited from a kind of Ed Sheeran effect. Now it was a bit of a bizarre experience, even if said female singer had a beautiful voice and was quite charming. I liked the overall Switzerland 2011 slash Amelie Poulain vibe here but the concept-bubble burst and it’s ever so sad. Loving the bubble analogy though, it’s one I use every so often (especially when referring to the entire Eurovision experience). But bubbles are ever so fragile and this one was no different.
  10. KEiiNO – Spirit In The Sky: Let’s not call each other Nancy (or better yet: let’s!): this is what Eurovision is all about, isn’t it? It’s catchy as hell, has a whiff of world peace (in this case by integrating a minority) and ticks enough of boxes to please nearly everyone. What makes it exciting for me personally is the electronic touch, the spacy setting and the excellent singing. The concept of spirits in the sky could be seen as contrived but it is a great locomotive for the inclusion of the joik sounds, and even if the joik-ing is a tad too on the fragile side for comfort it polishes it somewhat tarnished reputation (cue Sámiid Ædnan images). You can also tell this threesome is having a lot of fun together, something that cannot be underestimated in this kind of performance. This was the clear frontrunner at Casa Dimivision, even if I personally wouldn’t have minded another winner *waves at Anna-Lisa* Bonus: it is probably the first entry to spark could-win-in-May vibes for me and my besties.

Thank you, NRK, for this excellent NF. The level of entertainment comforts me in having had to miss to Icelandic NF, where I had full confidence in the eventual outcome. But more on their entry in my actual preview posts.

And you, who did you love in MGP?

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