Preview MGP Final Norway: “Mwangi has a teen movie song; Rybak’s entry dated”

With three former Melodi Grand Prix winners – Alexander Rybak (in 2009, also won the Eurovision Song Contest that year), Stella Mwangi (in 2011), and Aleksander Walmann (in 2017, with JOWST, finished 10th), – it looks like Norway is gearing up to bring it this year at their national selection. Our guest editor Mary Ivanova takes a look at the songs.

In 2018, Norwegian national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 attracted a record amount of applicants. Just a few songs shy of 1,200, which is 200 more than last year, informs their national broadcaster NRK. After careful consideration, the channel announced the ten finalists, who will compete in the national final, scheduled to take place on March 10, 2018, at the Oslo Spektrum Arena.

Much of the attention has been drawn by former participants Stella Mwangi and Alexander Rybak. I personally enjoyed Mwangi’s uptempo entry which could easily have been a teen movie theme song. However, I was less enthusiastic about Rybak’s entry. Let’s go through the songs according to the running order for next Saturday.

01. You Got Me by Stella Mwangi and Alexandra

Stella tells you from its very first seconds that the song is all about tons and tons and TONS of unapologetic FUN! Love child of hip hop and pop, the track isn’t original or extraordinary per se. However, its familiar beat screams timeless joy and guaranteed good time. Would make a perfect soundtrack for a summer teen movie.

02. Talk to the Hand by Aleksander Walmann

This borrows the vibes of a classic Justin Timberlake hit, making an attempt at catchiness, and failing. It’s a decent club tune that can get you going on the dance floor, but probably too forgettable to stand out and get enough viewers to care enough to vote. As it gingerly instructs the audience to “talk to the hand cause the face ain’t listening”, the TV viewers might just think exactly that.

03. Scandilove by Ida Maria

Oh, this is everything That’s How You Write a Song wants to be – fun, catchy, with a sharp sense of humor, self-aware and self-deprecating enough to be relatable. It’s the kinda song you play at a pajama party to get everyone jumping, dancing and laughing like no one is watching. By the end of its three manic minutes you will find yourself struggling to resist singing along.

04. Light Me Up by Nicoline

The song feels like it’s all chorus and no verse. The vocals sound a bit like Rihanna, but otherwise the song lacks hit value. It’s a solid uptempo tune that suffers the same shortcomings as fellow competitor Talk to the Hand – it’s forgettable and repetitive without being catchy enough to engage the audience.

05. I Like I Like I Like by Tom Hugo

This reminds of a noisy pop hit you are tired of hearing all summer at the mall. This catchy potential earworm feels like it could very well have been a commercial release by a fading pop star designed to go on radio hit Top 100 and everyone’s workout playlist. The tune might not touch its audience’s souls, but it will definitely make for a top-notch cardio.

06. Stop the Music by Charla K

This is the first ballad in the lineup. It features dramatic high notes and choir, fitting comfortably within the parameters of mainstream pop. A beautiful modern take on an arena-filling powerful slow dance song, it might as well have been recorded by Zara Larsson. The success of the entry will be contingent on staging and presentation.

07. Tengo Otra by Alejandro Fuentes.

It’s an uptempo song and, wait, is it… in Spanish? Yes, the song is definitely in Spanish. It has a pleasant rhythmic beat and understated percussions during the chorus. It’s a strong effort at Latin pop that does not necessarily bring much innovation to the proverbial table but will definitely not be lost among other Eurovision entries, should it make it through, as this genre is not often heard at the song contest but loved across the globe.

08. Moren Din by Vidar Villa

The only song among the selected ten sang in Norwegian. The verses are accompanied by what sounds like a guitar or an ukulele. And the lyrics apparently talk about the lyrical hero being in love with his friend’s mother. Given the song’s tone, one guesses the work is to be perceived as tongue-in-cheek, and while the meaning will definitely be lost on all the non-Norwegian speakers out there (at least until they google it), the tune is quite charming on its own. Could shine if delivered with some creative staging.

09. Who We Are by Rebecca

Who We Are is a mixed bag. The singer’s beautiful and raw voice is mesmerizing, but the song itself is a classic quality Eurovision ballad, which is not necessarily a compliment. Who We Are is big, dramatic and memorable, yet something we’ve seen countless times at the Eurovision stage over the years. In terms of both melody and the lyrics.

10. That’s How You Write a Song by Alexander Rybak

Rybak opens with his signature violin solo quickly followed by something that sounds like it was taken straight out of a 90s infomercial – the main riff of the song. Surprisingly dated and unimaginative, the song seems to be unsure whether it wants to be serious, fun, or sarcastic. Its lyrics boil down to a list of instructions on how to, well, write a song, but with a twist – trying (?) to feature as many cliche phrases as it possibly can: “enjoy the small things”, “work your magic”, “just roll with it”.