Tomorrow sees Norwegian broadcaster NRK host the 2018 Melodi Grand Prix, with ten artists competing with their songs in an effort to impress the Norwegian TV viewing public enough to throw them a vote. The winner – of course – getting to represent Norway at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in May.
Amongst the ten artists, we have three who have competed for Norway at Eurovision already, including one record holding winner of the whole thing. And we have a few more who have featured on these very pages in recent years. Plus, behind the songs, we’ve got names like Per Gessle and Kjetil Mørland popping up.
All in all, it’s a strong selection of tunes. And it’s a selection with a clear emphasis on quality pop music. It’s also nowhere near a foregone conclusion who’s gonna win either – with the biggest name involved having arguably the worst song.
Let’s get to know the artists. And listen to the songs that will be performed tomorrow night. And we’ve ranked them from best to worst – to ease your decision on what to prioritise. By the time Saturday evening draws to a close, Norway will have its Eurovision entry. One of these lot!
Stella & Alexandra: You Got Me
Lyrics/Composers: Gustav Eurén / Niclas Arn / Stella Mwangi / Andreas Alfredsson
NRK says: Stella Mwangi (31) and Alexandra Rotan (21) were matched by NRK, since they were seen as a perfect duo for the already written song “You Got Me”. After getting together and singing the song in a studio, it was clear to them and everyone around them that this was a pairing that was meant to be. Being from the same town in Norway, the two musicians have a lot in common and mutual respect for each other’s work. Norwegian-Kenyan Stella is considered one of Norway’s leading rap artists, while Alexandra is travelling the world as lead vocalist for the Norwegian producer and DJ Alan Walker. Stella won MGP with the song “Haba haba” in 2011, and represented Norway at Eurovision in Düsseldorf. Alexandra also has experience from the MGP world, having participated in the Norwegian MGP Junior.
Scandipop says: OMG WE LOVE THIS!!! The most fun song of the line-up, and most certainly the catchiest. It’s infectiously upbeat. Think of Swingfly’s first Melodifestivalen entry ‘Me & My Drum’. THAT good. Definitely our pick for the win tomorrow night.
Rebecca Thorsen: Who We Are
Lyrics/Composer: Kjetil Mørland
NRK says: Rebecca Thorsen (19) from Oslo finished high school with a specialization in music last year. She has won “P3 Urørt U16”, a national music competition for artists under 16 and is pursuing a life in the music industry. She has already performed on stages like the Bluebird Café in Nashville and been a supporting act for Isac Elliot and Donkeyboy. Her song is written by Kjetil Mørland, who won MGP in 2005 together with Debrah Scarlett. They finished in eighth place in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “A Monster Like Me”.
Scandipop says: Arguably the best song of the ten. We’ve got no knowledge of how competent a performer that newcomer Rebecca is. But if she can pull off this song live, then it’s definitely in contention for building on Norway’s result at ESC last year. And we’d love to see it be given a chance to.
Charla K: Stop The Music
Lyrics/Composers: Charlotte Kjær/Per Gessle/Alex Shield
NRK says: Charlotte Kjær (29) from Tønsberg is currently living in Stockholm, Sweden. In 2009, she participated in the Norwegian TV show “X Factor” as part of the group “Shackles”. In 2013 the group participated in MGP, in that case as a duo. Charla K has worked with the Swedish producer and musician Alex Shield, and in 2017 she signed a record deal with Per Gessle’s record label Space Station 12. Gessle is known by many for his success as part of Swedish duo Roxette. Charla’s first single was “Should’a Let Me Go”, written together with Alex Shield and Sharon Vaughn. This year, she co-wrote “Stamina” for Anastacia’s new album.
Scandipop says: We were big fans of ‘Shoulda Let Me Go’, so we’re pleased to see her here in this line-up. ‘Stop The Music’ serves as an easy-listening mid-tempo ballad with an ever-so-slight nod towards country music. In that sense it’s very much on trend. And we really enjoyed this on first listen – which bodes well for the competition. We’ve been giving it plenty of spins too, ever since.
Ida Maria: Scandilove
Lyrics/Composers: Ida Maria Børli Sivertsen /Stefan Törnby
NRK says: Ida Maria Børli Sivertsen (33) from Nesna is a well-known artist and songwriter in the genres of punk and rock. She has been part of the music scene in Norway since winning a national contest in 2006, and has since toured venues and festivals in Norway, Europe and around the world. Several of Ida Maria’s songs have been used in TV series in the US. Her debut album “Fortress Round My Heart” was released in 2008, resulting in a Spellemann Award (Norwegian Grammy). Ida Maria wrote the song “Mama’s boy” performed by Ella in the MGP show last year.
Scandipop says: A massive name outside of the MGP bubble, but kudos to her for fully getting into the spirit of the circus, and contributing a song that is a whole lot of fun. She sounds like she’s having the time of her life, while tongue-in-cheek delivering a song that boasts of the sexual prowess of Scandinavians. Her commitment to it means that it never comes across as cringey. And the fact that it stands out so much amongst the other songs here, means that it could be a suprise winner and head to Eurovision for Norway.
Aleksander Wallman: Talk To The Hand
Lyrics/Composers: JOWST (Joakim With Steen/Jonas McDonnell) / Magnus Klausen
NRK says: Alexander Walmann (32) from Porsgrunn first became known to the public when he came second in the Norwegian TV show “The Voice” in 2012. Still relatively unknown, he was considered an underdog before last year’s MGP where he and Joakim With Steen participated as JOWST. They won the national selection and represented Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev, where they earned a 10th place finish with the song “Grab the Moment”. JOWST has toured Europe and received a multi-platinum award.
Scandipop says: We’re very pleased to see Aleksander back so soon after his success at ESC last year. And with another top-notch dancepop track. This time though, he’s not resting on any past laurels, and has injected a fresher sound into his song – a generous injection of FUNK, as it happens. He could well win again with this. And we wouldn’t be mad.
Tom Hugo: I Like I Like I Like
Lyrics/Composer: Tom Hugo Hermansen
NRK says: Tom Hugo Hermansen (38) from Kristiansand, is a singer-songwriter with several platinum awards. He works both in Norway and internationally, and splits his time between Germany and Norway. Tom Hugo has co-written multiple songs for successful artists in Germany and Japan. His debut single “Open up your Eyes” was released in 2011, followed by his debut album “Sundry Tales” the year after. Tom Hugo is participating in MGP for the second time. His first performance in the show was with the song “Det er du” back in 2013.
Scandipop says: In any other year’s MGP selection, this might well have stood out as something special. But with so many disco and funk infused up-tempos in this line-up, this song gets somewhat lost. And comes across as a less good version of Aleksander’s song, ‘Talk To The Hand’. Quite baffling that this wasn’t held back for another year. It’s inclusion means that parts of the line-up teeter on being samey.
Alejandro Fuentes: Tengo Otra
Lyrics/Composers: Alejandro Fuentes / Angel Arce Pututi / Alejandro Arce Pututi
NRK says: Alejandro Fuentes (30) was born in Chile and grew up in Kristiansand, Norway. He first became known through “Norwegian Idol” in 2005, and has since enjoyed success as a solo artist as well as a member of the group “De nye gitarkameratene”. They were awarded Spellemannprisen 2006 (Norwegian Grammy) for their cover version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. Alejandro has received gold and platinum awards. With his Chilean background, Alejandro wanted to perform the love song “Tengo Otra” in Spanish at this year’s MGP.
Scandipop says: Norway understandably seeking to meet the Reggaeton quota that every national final across Europe is having this spring. Kudos to them though, for going with a suitable artist, and one who will be well known to the Norwegian TV viewers tomorrow night. ‘Tengo Otra’ is enjoyable, but perhaps not quite special enough to justify Norway sending it to ESC to represent them.
Nicoline: Light Me Up
Lyrics/Composers: Nicoline Berg Kaasin/ Johan Larsson/ Emilie Adams
NRK says: Nicoline Berg Kaasin (28) from Bærum, is a singer and dancer who became well known in Norway when she came to the final in the Norwegian “The Voice” in 2015. In 2016 she released her first single “No Suitcase”. That same year, she came to the final in the Norwegian TV show “Stjernekamp”, where she competed with many of Norway’s most established musicians. Nicoline was one of Margaret Berger’s three backup vocalists when she won MGP in 2013 and later represented Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö, Sweden.
Scandipop says: We’re big fans of Nicoline here at Scandipop! And if this were just her new single, we’d be quite happy. But it unfortunately feels like it lacks a competitive edge to be in with any sort of a chance in Melodi Grand Prix.
Vidar Villa: Moren Din
Lyrics/Composers: Vidar Andrè Mohaugen / Jonas Thomassen, Martin Thomassen
NRK says: Each time Vidar Villa (26) from Oslo releases a new song, it gets streamed millions of times on Spotify. His song “One Night Stand” was one of Norway’s biggest hits last summer, and received a four times platinum award. In 2017 his songs were streamed more than 27 million times, making him one of the most streamed Norwegian artists last year. Vidar Villa’s song is in Norwegian, and is about a man falling in love with his friend’s mother.
Scandipop says: Sounds like the kind of thing that will end up becoming quite a massive hit in Norway over the coming months, regardless of what happens at Melodi Grand Prix. It’s got its charms and it’s difficult to dislike it, as a result. But it’s not our favourite of the bunch by any stretch. Will be a serious contender tomorrow night though. Albeit less so in May.
Alexander Rybak: That’s How You Write a Song
Lyrics/Composers: Alexander Rybak
NRK says: Alexander Rybak (31) became known all over Europe when he represented Norway and won Eurovision Song Contest in 2009. He broke all previous records with 387 points. The song “Fairytale” topped the European charts after his victory, and his album “Fairytales” was released in 25 countries. Since then, Alexander has been working on numerous music projects and toured Europe. Alexander was born in Minsk, Belarus. At the age of 5, he and his family moved to Oslo where they settled in Nesodden outside of Oslo. He learned to play violin, and it was not long before he started performing on stage.
Scandipop says: Not sure quite what he was thinking coming back to the contest with this. Thanks to the record breaking points tally that he scored with his Eurovision win in 2009, he’s most definitely ESC royalty. He doesn’t really need to return to either MGP or ESC. But if he wants to – for whatever reason – he should be coming back with another obvious winner. At first, ‘That’s How You Write A Song’ is bland, at best. But then from the 1:20 mark it nosedives down into being just plain awful. Still – we have a positive from all of this. It means that MGP is wide open this year, despite the presence of his name in the line-up!