Photo: Ulrik Kramer/NRK

We’re only in January, but Norway is already turning up the drama and intrigue of national final season. Following the public reveal that Auto-Tune will be allowed in this year’s shows, attention is back on the songs and live performances, which kick off this weekend with Semi-Final 1.

Seven acts will sing and three will advance to the grand final in Trondheim. Now that the songs are out, which three do you hope make it to the final? Vote for your three favourite in our poll to let us know.

 

 

Semi-Final 1

Ulrikke Brandstorp: “Honestly”

Lyrics and music: Jim Bergsted, Helge Moen, Ben Adams, Ulrikke Brandstorp, Joshua Oliver and Christoffer Gunnestad

Ulrikke Brandstorp has had a big heart for Melodi Grand Prix for many years. Many remember her from the 2020 season when she won the competition with the song “Attention”. Eurovision was cancelled that year, but now she is back hungrier and more motivated than ever. In recent years, audiences have seen her as the Troll in Maskorama, in the mud at Kompani Lauritzen, and not least in the lead role as Sophie in the musical Mamma Mia.

Ulrikke is back in MGP with her most personal song so far, “Honestly”. The song is based on her own life. It’s about how you want to be there for someone you love when they go through bad experiences. It is often difficult to know how to stand up for the other as best as possible, without losing each other completely. At the same time, a moment occurs where you realize how much this relationship means to you. No me without you – a message she believes many people will recognize.

Eirik Næss: “Wave”

Lyrics and music: Viktor Ljungqvist, Amalie Olsen and Eirik Næss

Eirik Næss (35) is an artist and songwriter from Larvik. He moved to London straight after high school, lived there for seven years and spent much of that time playing his own music in the city. Eirik has been a session guitarist in Oslo since he moved to the capital, where he has, among other things, been in the Stjernekamp band. He still plays in several bands and does everything from heavy rock to a Christmas tour within a year. Since the start of the corona period, Eirik has spent a lot of time writing music. He has been to Nashville, the Bahamas, Amsterdam, the Seychelles and Seoul to write new songs. Last year he went to the Maldives after being contacted on Instagram. There he met the artist Ljung, and they became friends quickly. Afterwards, they travelled a lot together and wrote several songs. One of these is the song “Wave”, which is about taking a chance and saying yes to the opportunities in life. They have written the song together with Eirik’s friend Amalie Olsen.

Kate Gulbrandsen: “Tårer i paradis”

Lyrics and music: Kjetil Mørland and Kate Gulbrandsen

Kate Gulbrandsen (57) is a well-known name in the music industry. She is from Slemmestad and now lives in Hokksund. Kate has been making music since she was around 7 years old. In the 80s, she took part of several singing competitions. She won a local pop contest in 1985 with the song “Første forsøk”, which allowed her to take part in the Pop Festival in Egypt the same year. She also participated in the World Popular Song Festival in Japan in 1986, and won the Golden Award with the song “Carnival”. The song was written by Rolf Løvland, with whom Kate has collaborated a lot throughout her career.

Kate became a celebrity after the victory in MGP 1987 with her catchy song “Mitt Liv” and her long hair. In 1994, Kate sang the song “Welcome to Lillehammer”, which Rolf Løvland composed in connection with the Olympics in Lillehammer. Four years later, she was the voice behind the Paralympics song “Med gullet for øyet”, written by Jørn Hansen. Afterwards, Kate has been seen on many stages at home and abroad, as well as TV appearances on Beat for BeatStjernekamp and Allsang på grensen. Now she is ready to enter the MGP stage again with the song “Tårer i paradis”.

Rasmus Thall: “TRESKO”

Lyrics and music: Rasmus Simon Vedvik Thallaug, Farida Louise Bolseth Benounis and Robin Alexander Vedvik Helmersen

Rasmus Thallaug (30) is a songwriter, producer and artist from Tønsberg. He goes by the stage name Rasmus Thall, and has been making music for 15 years. In MGP last year, he was both producer, co-songwriter and pianist on his girlfriend Farida’s contribution “Dangerous”. Now he is back in the competition with a song he will sing himself. Rasmus is the grandson of the well-known Norwegian artist Anita Thallaug, who participated in the same competition on several occasions in the 60s. This year marks 60 years since she was the Norwegian representative in the ESC with the song “Solhverv”. Now it is the grandson’s turn to stand on the MGP stage, and he will do so with the song “TRESKO”. Rasmus has written it together with Farida and his older brother, Robin. The song is about the brother and his everyday life after an accident he suffered in 2010. He got an ice block on his head and had to learn to walk again. Rasmus has a close relationship with his brothers, and it was precisely Robin who has been a musical inspiration for him.

Alessandra Mele: “Queen of Kings”

Lyrics and music: Henning Olerud, Stanley Ferdinandez, Alessandra Mele and Linda Dale

Alessandra Mele is a Norwegian-Italian artist and songwriter. The 20-year-old has lived most of her life in Italy, but decided to move to Norway two years ago after finishing high school. She wanted to get closer to her Norwegian family and to develop her interest in music. From a very young age, she began to sing, dance and cook with her mother to the sound of Frank Sinatra. She took part in her first singing competition when she was 6 years old and won it all with the ABBA classic “Dancing queen”. She loves being on stage and feels that this is the place where she can be herself. Alessandra has studied piano and has regular singing lessons with a teacher in Italy. She participated in The Voice in Norway in 2022, where she received a lot of praise for her unique voice. She now lives in Lillehammer and studies at the LIMPI music school. The song “Queen of Kings” is about daring to be yourself and coming out stronger after difficult times in life.

Byron Williams Jr & Jowst: “Freaky For The Weekend”

Lyrics and music: Byron Williams Jr and Joachim With Steen

A music match made in Oslo! When the artist Byron Williams grew up in warm Miami, he had no idea that he would end up on the MGP stage in small, cold Norway. MGP was one of the first shows he saw on TV when he moved to the Norwegian town Fredrikstad. He wanted to stand on that stage himself – and now it is about to become a reality. Byron has been a member of the group The Drifters, and is known to many Norwegians through his participation in The Voice in 2021.

Joakim With Steen (Jowst), who won Melodi Grand Prix with “Grab the Moment” in 2017, has since been streamed over 30 million times, been on over 400,000 individual playlists and reached over two million monthly listeners on Spotify. Jowst has shared the stage with artists such as MØ and ItaloBrothers, played on VG-lista and festivals throughout Europe, and participated in Eurovision in Ukraine in front of more than 187 million viewers. Together with Byron, he makes catchy EDM pop, and they are soon ready with a EP that includes the MGP contribution “Freaky For The Weekend”. The song is about getting ready for a party – and the boys have big plans to do that in MGP as well.

Umami Tsunami featuring Kyle Alessandro, Kristian Haugstøyl & Magnus Winjum: “Geronimo”

Lyrics and music: Torgeir Ryssevik, Carl-Henrik Wahl, Bjørn Olav Edvardsen, Sindre Timberlid Jenssen, Lasse Midtsian Nymann and Kristian Lund.

Umami Tsunami is a project that started in the summer of 2022. This is a community of songwriters, artists, producers and people who work with design and visual expression. What happens when European pop music is inspired by Asian pop music? It became the starting point for Umami Tsunami. Three young talents are featuring artists on Umami Tsunami’s MGP song “Geronimo”. Kyle Alessandro (16) from Steinkjer is known from TV programs such as Norske talenter and Allsang på grensen. He has collaborated with renowned artists and producers such as André Jensen from the duo Hagle, Jesper Borgen, Erik Fjeld, Ola Klæbo (OKEY) and Lars Rosness. Kristian Haux (20) from Åmli comes from a musical family and has been singing for as long as he can remember. In 2020, Kristian participated in Idol. Kristian has worked with children and has been a parkour instructor, as well as a substitute teacher and support contact. The leader of the group, Magnus Winjum (17) from Lillestrøm, has taken part of MGPjr and participated in BlimE! and Allsang på grensen. He has held several concerts and been on Christmas tours. In addition, Magnus has had the lead role as Troy in High School Musical, worked as a voice actor in several series, and was an actor in the series Klassen on NRK.

 

 

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aevgav
aevgav
23 days ago

Really happy to see there are no preqs this year. Anyway here is my ranking:
1./2.Queen of Kings/Honestly
3.Tresko
4.Geronimo
5.Wave
6.Tårer i paradis
7.Freaky for the weekend (the autotune and their popularity will only make things worse)

P.S i just heard a snippet of elsie bay’s song and sorry but she has won already

aevgav
aevgav
23 days ago

well tresko is not good for esc but its still catchy i dont understand why is it not liked
anyway stan queen of kings everyone

aevgav
aevgav
23 days ago

queen of kings gives me Oda vibes from last year and its an abssolute banger. I do have one question tho: why does the geronimo thumnail say : oficial BTS clip?

aevgav
aevgav
23 days ago
Reply to  aevgav

but in general the autotune this year will for sure be a problem, i just hope ulrikke doesnt use it

Addie
Addie
23 days ago

Personally im not a huge fan of Ulrikke’s song, but i think it will grow on me slowly. But it’s pretty much guaranteed to qualify. That aside, Geronimo is an absolute banger!!! On my first listen I thought it was somewhat of a cringefest but it quickly grew on me. I really hope they qualify. Then I also like Alessandra’s song too. It has the distinct Norwegian viking vibe to it and it probably will qualify too. And then there’s Tresko. It seems to be really unusual and it has piqued my interest. But i dont see anyone liking it… Read more »

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
24 days ago

Ulrikke will obviously qualify because of the vocal quality (which we might not be hearing completely live but whatever)…but the song itself, is interesting. It’s like parts from 4 or 5 different songs spliced together. In terms of song, I think I much prefer Tårer I Paradis. I hope it gets through.

Yeah yeah fire
Yeah yeah fire
24 days ago

Honestly ZzZzzZzz.

Oihana
Oihana
24 days ago

I think 2022 was stronger. This year I’m a bit underwhelmed, especially in this semi. So we’ll see.
PS. My guess is Ulrikke, Alessandra and Umami are going to the final.

Dane
Dane
24 days ago
Reply to  Oihana

for me this year is so far much stronger

Thanos
Thanos
24 days ago

My top 3 right now has to be ‘Honestly‘, ‘Wave‘ and ‘Tårer i paradis‘ with my favourite out of them being Ulrikke’s song. Wave is a very mainstream yet pleasant Scandinavian sounding song and Kate’s song sounds like some good pre 2000 Nordic Eurovision entries. The rest of the song didn’t do much for me with Rasmus’ song perhaps drawing my interest more. Can’t wait for Saturday!

dakaza
dakaza
24 days ago

ulrikke is certainly going to win the semi-final, and i think umami tsunami and alessandra will join her. sadly, jowst can steal the spot from “geronimo.”

lasse braun
lasse braun
24 days ago

voted for tresko only,because this song sounds different.

Addie
Addie
23 days ago
Reply to  lasse braun

Thank you!!! Atleast someone had taste <3<3<3

GojoSatoru
GojoSatoru
24 days ago

Ulrikke by far the best in this semi. Good thing that she prioritizes emotion over attention seeking behavior this time.

GojoSatoru
GojoSatoru
24 days ago
Reply to  GojoSatoru

My ratings:
Ulrikke: 8/10
Everyone else 4/10

Saya
Saya
24 days ago

Ulrikke and Alessandra both of em lock for final Umami might be the third qualifier but I won’t be surprise if Kate end up qualify what a cute song.

BadWoolfGirl
BadWoolfGirl
24 days ago

This is my personal ranking for MGP semi final 1:

  1. Honestly
  2. Queen of Kings
  3. Tarer I Paradis
  4. Geronimo
  5. Tresko
  6. Wave
  7. Freaky for the Weekend
Sabrina
Sabrina
25 days ago

I guess the question about Ulrikke is if she can win MGP again. Because we know she’s a terrific live performance and “Honestly” gives her all the opportunities to show all the gears in her voice. We’ll only know how big of a frontrunner she is after listening to the songs from the other semis. I assume Alessandra has a big chance of qualifying. Her song is nothing new in terms of nordic national finals, but seems dynamic and entertaining enough to sail with ease to the final. This would leave one spot and I would pick Rasmus for trying… Read more »

Colin
Colin
24 days ago
Reply to  Sabrina

We pretty much agree on this semi. My qualifiers are: 1. Ulrikke / 2. Rasmus / 3. Alessandra / Kate I am afraid, though, that Jowst’s popularity or the undoubtely catchy hook of Geronimo will keep both Rasmus and Kate in the semi, but fingers crossed. I said how I think this might be the most difficult semi, but who knows, maybe when others release their songs in full, I change my mind. Except Elsie and Akuvi, whose songs will obviously be at least solid, there are a few potential hidden gems. For instance, Maria’s Freya could be amazing if… Read more »

Sabrina
Sabrina
24 days ago
Reply to  Colin

I agree that “Geronimo” is a threat because it’s catchy. But let’s hope for the best. Or to be more precise, what we consider it’s the best! About the other semis, I haven’t listened to the snippets, but I’m curious to see what Elsie will bring. She has been my personal MGP winner last year, after all.

Colin
Colin
24 days ago
Reply to  Sabrina

Elsie was my 3rd last year, but still in top 5 of all NF songs (MGP was just that good for me in 2022), so my expectations are very high too. Snippet sounds great to me, but the whole song may or may not have an equally wonderful momentum.
I’ve just seen your last post, and I am glas you are fine. I hope that the upsets from criminals who can’t except that they have lost in the elections didn’t interfere with safety of you and your dear ones. Sending you my best wishes.

The Voice of Reason
The Voice of Reason
25 days ago

The idea is that they are the only boyband in the contest, unique from the rest.

The Voice of Reason
The Voice of Reason
25 days ago

REALLY tough first semi final. They are ALL good, but I think a lot of us know who may win MGP. I think a woman will manage to win this year…

Benito Camelo
Benito Camelo
25 days ago

Ulrikke will make it to the final, she’s a vocal powerhouse and her performance will sell the song/hide the fact that the song isn’t lyrically as good as Attention.
As for the other hopefuls –well, Umami Tsunami’s song looks like it’s auto-tuned and JOWST is disappointing, so I’d like Eirik, Alessandra and/or Kate to be the other two finalists 🙂

Dane
Dane
25 days ago

My qualifiers from semi 1 is (in no order):
Alessandra
Kate
Ulrikke

Im not sure about Ulrikkes song. There is something about the song I found messy. I dont know what it is, but the song still deserve the final tho.

BadWoolfGirl
BadWoolfGirl
25 days ago

Ok, we’ve got our first set of semifinalists. Who qualified to the final on Saturday? I definitely think it’s a lock for Ulrikke and Alessandra, but I admit I’m struggling to think of a third qualifier. I am wavering between Kate and umami tsunami. My personal pick would be Kate as the third qualifier, but the televoters might go for the boy band trio, so I guess we’ll have to see what happens on Saturday.

Danny K
Danny K
25 days ago

Yuppp 10000%

Héctor
Héctor
25 days ago

Well, I got carried by the less produced songs it seems or at least the different ones. I think the Nordic countries, specially Denmark and Norway (sometimes Iceland and Sweden), always end up with neat but overproduced and artificial pop songs in their NFs that sound very similar to other already known songs or have no soul or inspiration at all, making them boring or uninteresting. I’m talking both about the ballads and uptempo music. All design by the same pattern. Anyway, I’d go for: Eirik Næss – Wave Umami Tsunami – Geronimo Rasmus Thall – Tresko But I think… Read more »

Héctor
Héctor
25 days ago
Reply to  Héctor

Oh, and yeah, I’m highly disappointed with JOWST.

BadWoolfGirl
BadWoolfGirl
24 days ago
Reply to  Héctor

Freaky for the Weekend is definitely a downgrade from Grab the Moment. It’s my least favorite song in this semi.

West
West
25 days ago

No going to lie – I expected more. This is pretty underwhelming. If I had to pick three to advance I would pick Kate, Eirik and Ulrikke. If I had to bet who’s going to qualify, then Ulrikke and Alessandra. And maybe Eirik.

Ethan1994
Ethan1994
25 days ago

I’m currently hoping that Alessandra Mele, Rasmus Thall and Ulrikke Brandstorp make it to the final, based on the songs alone.

Lolek
Lolek
25 days ago

Ulrikke, Alessandra and Umami Tsunami are the three I am currently rooting for to get through to the finale.

However, I would kind of like to see Kate Gulbrandsen get to the finals.

Zanoni
Zanoni
25 days ago

And as for the JOWST song, does anyone remember Was (Not Was) from the 80s? They used to do this kind of thing with soul singers but they did it so much better.

Tibor
Tibor
25 days ago
Reply to  Zanoni

Of course, “Walk the dinosaur”. Did they also have a DJ? I thought they were just some sort of watered down funk band. By the way, weren’t you the one who felt like some of the lyrics from Latvia were written by an AI? I was listening to “Freaky for the Weekend” today and thought to myself, that’s what an AI would generate if you fed it all the lyrics from all the “I work so hard during the week, so at the weekend I’m going to the club, have a couple of drinks, flirt with the girls and dance… Read more »

Zanoni
Zanoni
25 days ago
Reply to  Tibor

Was (Not Was) started as a post-punk dance group, but by their peak they were more of a producer-driven (Don Was was a major producer in the 90s and beyond) eclectic music project. I don’t think they were DJs, but I do think that in a way they were historical precursors of today’s DJ-producer as solo artist. Lots of guest vocalists on their records, and a coterie of recurring soul singers, often doing very silly things. I really like their early “mutant disco” stuff. It was actually more the music in Latvia’s selection that was giving me uncanny “this doesn’t… Read more »

Tibor
Tibor
24 days ago
Reply to  Zanoni

Oh, we can all change our minds, at least you do it in an informed way. Glad that you’re on board with the Latvian selection now, I think it received a lot of exaggerated criticism.
And thanks for the info on Was Not Was. I rather perceived them as a one hit wonder ( perhaps they were in Europe?) and never knew about their background.

Zanoni
Zanoni
24 days ago
Reply to  Tibor

I’m new to following the national selections, so I’ll take this as a lesson to maybe cool off a little before making broad statements about general quality.

Tibor
Tibor
24 days ago
Reply to  Zanoni

I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Spontaneous first impressions can be interesting, too.

EmmelieDarlineFrancescoFan
EmmelieDarlineFrancescoFan
25 days ago

Ulrikke all the way – Honestly is amazing!

Jonas
Jonas
25 days ago

Geronimo was a Native American prisoner of war, having fought against the invasion of his lands. Hm, do these people even know that? #Ukraine

Colin
Colin
25 days ago
Reply to  Jonas

Geronimo is not a great song, its lyrics are quite iffy, and band’s name is questionable as well. The issue is… it’s catchy, so it will probably strick with people. However… it would be my 6th in this semi.

BadWoolfGirl
BadWoolfGirl
25 days ago
Reply to  Jonas

The name Geronimo has become an exclamation, which is rooted in American paratroopers shouting out “Geronimo” as they jumped out of planes during the second world war. Legend has it that the cry either came from the troopers watching a western film featuring Geronimo the night before the mission or from a popular song called Geronimo at the time that the troops really liked. I wouldn’t be surprised that people use the word Geronimo without realizing that it’s the name of a Native American leader, especially if they’re not from America.

Zanoni
Zanoni
25 days ago

I’m more interested in Heat 2 to be honest. In this one, Ulrikke is solid but basic, Kate’s is pretty nice, Alessandra leaves an impression but I’m not 100% sure I like it. No Umami Tsunami please.

BadWoolfGirl
BadWoolfGirl
25 days ago
Reply to  Zanoni

I’m really looking forward to the full length songs of Ekko inni meg and Freya, but I have to wait.

Colin
Colin
25 days ago

Unless some subsequent songs turn out much more captivating than their snippets suggest, this is probably the toughest semi. I like all songs aside from Jowst’s (which is a shame because his 2017 entry is in my top 10, and this feels like San Marino 2017 meeting San Marino 2020). Only three can qualify, and one has to be Ulrikke. Honestly is very lovely, and I’m sure she’ll be great. Now it gets tricky, as I’d put Rasmus, Kate, and Alessandra in the finals. Each would add to the line-up’s diversity. I assume that Queen of the Kings will be… Read more »

Colin
Colin
25 days ago
Reply to  Colin

Just to add, I feel like Akuvi and Elsie Bay could be just as good as my qualifiers here, but I feel like the other two semis aren’t as stacked on average as the first one, unless some songs are big growers.