Rehearsals for Melodi Grand Prix 2018 are in full swing in Oslo. Tonight 10 artists — established and emerging — will slug-it-out for the chance to sing at Eurovision. Their weapons? Catchy songs, a bit of choreo and some very big voices.
In recent weeks the Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of musical unprofessionals — have been busy listening to and rating all of the songs.
Our jury for this edition consists of 15 jurors who come from Australia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Iceland, Lithuania, New Zealand, Portugal, Romania and the United Kingdom. Each juror assesses each song independently, and awards each song a score from 0 to 10. Before calculating the Wiwi Jury verdict, we drop the highest and lowest scores to reduce potential bias and outliers.
In the end Eurovision 2017 contestant Aleksander Walmann came out on top with his feel-good song “Talk to the Hand”. His empowering message about living your life and putting your troubles behind you struck a chord with our jurors, who praised its lyrical content as well as its musical sensibility. He finished with an average score of 7.54 — very respectable when cutting across countries, age demographics and more.
In a very close second is Rebecca with her song “Who We Are”. The bookies in Norway have been backing her for weeks. Assuming her live performance can live up to the studio cut, this could really come to life live.
Isa Maria — the edgy songwriter serving “Scandilove” — is the only other act to have achieved an average score of 7 or higher. Her cheeky, lyrically amusing song averaged exactly a 7.
Eurovision 2009 winner Alexander Rybak — who came out on top in our readers’ poll — finished last here.
Aleksander Walmann – “Talk to the Hand” (7.54)
“This is much better than what Aleksander had with JOWST last year. The song is very catchy and a lot of fun. You just want to move along with the beat. Performed live, this should be even better because Aleksander can give an amazing performance. From all the songs in Norway this year this one might be the strongest one. It is fresh, modern and easy to remember.” (Lukas)
“Call me an old granny, but I remember when “talk to the hand cos the face ain’t listening” came to fame as a cringey catchphrase from an early ’90s sitcom. So whenever the chorus comes along, it just sounds so naff. The rest of the song is great, though! The Walmann/JOWST combo proves to be a success, and this time I get the feeling the song is more in line with Walmann’s taste in music. I’m not sure if this would do better than “Grab the Moment”, but it wouldn’t do badly.” (Robyn)
Rebecca – “Who We Are” (7.42)
“I think this is our MGP 2018 winner. This song is exactly what I want to hear in Lisbon. Some parts of the song give me goosebumps all over, and I can’t wait to hear the live version to see how much Rebecca can slay. I really want to go back to Norway one day, so why not Oslo 2019?” (Cinan)
“Rebecca’s style of singing is quite dated. In 2018, I have bigger expectations from the country that gave us Susanne Sundfør and Ane Brun. And Mørland’s song may be better than others in Melodi Grand Prix, but it’s a major step back from his brilliant “A Monster Like Me”, which I voted for in Vienna. Maybe it will come alive on stage, but until then I am not impressed. Love the lyrics though.” (Bogdan)
Ida Maria – “Scandilove” (7)
“This is going to be a Marmite song (or should that be lutefisk?) — people will either love it or hate it. I’m firmly on the ‘love it’ side. It’s fun, funny and has genuinely hilarious (and relatable) lyrics. And Ida Maria just seems like she’d be a really cool person to hang out with. When other national finals seem packed full of super serious songs about how messed up the world is, it is just so refreshing to find a singer who can gleefully be fun and entertaining.” (Robyn)
“‘Scandilove’ could have been a hit in the ’90s. In 2018, it reads like a joke entry and while both the song and Ida have their redeeming qualities — and I’m sure the live performance will be epic — I can’t possibly take it seriously in the running for representing Norway at Eurovision. There are definitely better entries in Melodi Grand Prix.” (Bogdan)
Alejandro Fuentes – “Tengo otra” (6.73)
“This song has me slightly torn. Musically, it’s a great piece of reggaetón and wouldn’t be out of place on the radios of South and North America, as well as Europe. However, it would feel slightly odd if Norway were to send this to Eurovision as a representation of their music industry. If it were a Spanish entry there would be no questions asked. But despite its danceability, it’s probably best if it became yet another national final ‘Despacito’-copy reject.” (Jonathan)
“Norway’s ‘Despacito’ knockoff is one of the weakest ones in all the national finals around Europe this year. If you’re going to be the token Spanish act in your national final, at least do it well. Norway should stick to doing what they do best, and if they’re desperate to send a bit of Spanish to Eurovision, they should probably forget Alejandro and give Adelén a call.” (Antranig)
Vidar Villa – “Moren din” (6.50)
“Look, if Sweden gets to have Samir & Viktor singing about selfies and skinny dipping, then Norway can have Vidar Villa singing about fancying his friend’s hot mom. “Moren din” is a super catchy song and one of the two welcome bursts of humour in MGP 2018. It won’t have much appeal to anyone who isn’t a Norwegian student, but expect a lively show at the national final.” (Robyn)
“I like the melody here, and although the song’s message is controversial, I’m not opposed to it. Vidar Villa made his mark on on the Norwegian digital music charts last year with some infectious party songs. It is assuring to note that he is stamping his signature on “Moren Din” whilst retaining his libido.” (Deban)
Charla K – “Stop the Music” (6.38) *
“‘Stop the Music’ starts out very promising and has a great build-up. But when the chorus hits, it goes downhill for me. The verses are much better than the main chorus and that is never a good thing. The song is a little bland and while Charla has a great deep voice, the song doesn‘t do much. With a more powerful chorus this could be much better, but for now it is just an okay entry.” (Lukas)
“’Stop the Music’ isn’t about to win Eurovision, but it’s a perfectly serviceable song. There’s no massive journey or tricks up its sleeve. Instead, it serves to be a good — not great — song. It showcases Charla’s vocal well, certainly. If she can deliver all the way through the performance, there’s an outside chance this could win MGP.” (Chris)
Nicoline – “Light Me Up” (6.38) *
“There are so many references to cigarettes and smoking that it’s a wonder the artist isn’t named Nicotine. If you ignore all the Phillip Morris propaganda, “Light Me Up” is a cute love song. It sounds like it’s building up to a pop drop, but wisely throws in a proper — and very catchy — chorus instead. It’s another really good MPG 2018 entry. The national final will be a bloodbath.” (Robyn)
“This should get me up and invite me to the dance floor but the chorus is so underwhelming. Not even Nicoline’s crystal-clear voice makes me move. It’s generic but at the same time it may stand out enough to contend for a victory.” (Bernardo)
Tom Hugo – “I Like I Like I Like” (5.77)
“In a sea of very strong contenders, “I Like I Like I Like” becomes ‘It’s Ok It’s Ok It’s Ok”. It’s a well written song that channels a mood recreated by Bruno Mars in the charts. It’s instantly singable and you could see it placed as a final performance in a semi-final to get people moving. But what it does for MGP, in 2018, many other acts do better.” (Sebastian)
“This sounds like one of those inoffensive tunes that Facebook plays for little animation videos. It’s cute, but lacks character. It may be fresh and funky, but it’s also forgettable. And the “I like I like I like it” in the chorus, while attempting to be a smart hook, comes across as forced, infantile and off-putting.” (Bogdan)
Stella & Alexandra – “You Got Me” (5.58)
“The Kids Bop version of Swingfly. Stella’s career has grown and evolved considerably since the “Haba Haba” disaster of 2011. So why she’d come back to MGP with such a reductive entry like “You Got Me” is baffling. Both Stella and Alexandra sound good, and it’s catchy to a degree, but it’s not quite enjoyable on repeated listens.” (Chris)
“There’s an uncomfortable cohesion here. “You Got Me” is scored with a beautiful melody, but Alexandra’s teen-pop delivery doesn’t quite gel with Ms Mwangi’s street rap. Whilst both performers and heavyweights in their own right, this collaboration feels forced. For Stella, this is a far cry from the heights of ‘Biashara’‘.” (Deban)
Alexander Rybak – “That’s How You Write a Song” (5.38)
“This is a super catchy tune, but it feels more like an educational song aimed at schoolkids. Rybak has always been this way — “Fairytale” has the same dinky style — but what was cute for a young guy now seems fatherly coming from a 30-something adult. I expect this will still do well in the grand final (kids will love it!) but it’s not the secret to a repeat of Johnny Logan’s success. It would be a perfect Junior Eurovision entry, though.” (Robyn)
“’That’s How You Write A Song’ is kitsch, not clever. In what seems like a rather long advert for an Apple product, Rybak’s latest entry sounds dated, repetitive, and oozes far too much cheese. His scat-singing seems uninspired, in an almost lazy attempt to fill three minutes. Props to Rybak for bringing his unique style to the national final, but I wouldn’t be taking songwriting advice from him if this is his showpiece.” (Sebastian)
Who do you think is going to snatch the crown? Who would do the best at Eurovision? Let us know in the comments box below.