Monday, April 01, 2013

MGP 2013: The Final, 09.02.13

Hello again!  I'm back after a much-needed break from blogland.  So much has happened since I was last here: national finals season has come and gone, and we now know the full line-up for this year's Eurovision Song Contest which is only 7 weeks away!

Over the coming weeks I'll post my thoughts on the songs, however this post is devoted to what I'm calling the 'Peter Nalitch' of national final reviews.  Yes, it was 'lost and forgotten' (groan) but I'm finally getting around to posting the final chapter of this year's Norsk Melodi Grand Prix.

Like Melodifestivalen which followed, an underwhelming and lacklustre qualifying season resulted in a surprisingly good final.  The venue, as usual, was Oslo Spektrum which was packed as ever, and this year's hosts Erik Solbakken and Jenny Skavlan have done a solid job presenting the show.  However, Jenny's stylist must have had the night off, as I wasn't too impressed with either of her outfits in the final. 

Time for the first finalist: Vidar Busk with "Paid My Way".  Now I still don't get him, and don't really understand why he's in the final, but then again it wasn't so long ago that this kind of thing was doing well in Melodifestivalen, so....

Right, let's get this out of the way: I have a very minor crush on the grinning guitarist in Fjellfolk, you know, the one who looks a wee bit like Bret McKenzie.  Anyway I'm feeling a lot more charitable on final night and even the tongue-twisting-title "Ulvetuva" sounds better than it used to.  It's a hypnotic Norwegian folk lullaby which then erupts into something a bit more lively.  OK then, maybe 'erupts' is a bit too strong.  Oh what the heck, let's have a gratuitous photo of Trym Bjønnes (the grinning-guitarist-Bret-lookalike)...  

In the lead-up to the final, "Bombo" sung by Adelen was topping the iTunes chart in Norway and she had become Margaret Berger's main competition.  In the weeks following the contest, the young singer has unfortunately been the victim of internet bullying, as reported by the excellent Wiwi Bloggs:

I would agree that they're probably just jealous that she is young, extremely pretty and appears to have a cheerful and bubbly personality.  She certainly doesn't deserve that treatment.  Unfortunately her vocals aren't up to the job, but this is such a catchy song that there was never any doubt that it would make it to the final 4.

Next: it's Gromth featuring Emil Solli-Tangen.  I've never really been sold on "Alone" and would have preferred Gothminister in the final to fulfil the metal-quota.  Anyway, Gromth do their symphonic death-metal thang and then in strolls Mr Tangent-Thingy in his dinner suit.  Any more members of the Tangent-Thingy family want to come and have a go at MGP if they think they're operatic enough?

So Erik's just having a wander round the audience and who should he spot but some schlager royalty.  Oh look, there's Bettan!  And Guri Schanke!  Now, where the bleep is Alexander Stenerud?  We need him back in MGP.

But on we go to the next song, "Awake" sung by Gaute Ormåsen.  This is Morten Harket-lite, with a little bit of Donkeyboy thrown in.  The kind of effortless pop which Norwegians seem to do in their sleep.  This is one of my favourites in the final however is spoiled by the distraction of some women in sequinned trousers wheeling mirror frames around in the background, as you do.

The best thing about Lucky Lips is the lead singer's pink hair.  I can't believe that "Sweet and Heavy" was chosen as a wildcard to the final, as it's soooo banjo-plucking irritating.  The way she sings "dark red wiiiiine" annoys me beyond belief.

But fire up the glitterballs because it's D.I.S.C.O. time and my favourite MGP entry this year: "The Underground" by Datarock.  They are still dressed in those silly red tracksuits with 'Datarock' written on them.  But even if the styling is rubbish, I still love the song and never tire of it.  The intro is particularly amazing....come take a ride to where dreams are made of!  It was a better performance of the song than in Steinkjer and he nailed the key change this time.  But I couldn't see it as a superfinalist though.

Unlike Annsofi, who had the magical ingredient of a song written by Alexander Rybak, and indeed a song which became a real grower over the weeks.  "I'm With You" was performed well on the night.  I'd done some research to find out more about Annsofi Pettersen who had come 3rd in Norwegian X Factor in 2010.  She is still only 18 years old and I'm sure that she will be back at MGP in years to come.

And now to the pre-contest favourite, Margaret Berger or should I say "Marrrrrgarrrret Bergiiiirr" (I love that pronunciation!).  She seems quite likeable, away from the scary ice-queen character in that dress, performing "I Feed You My Love".  The intro recalls "Euphoria" and the staging of blue backdrop and flashing lights is very effective.  Let's face it peeps, she is probably the nearest thing we'll ever get to seeing Robyn at ESC so for that reason alone she had to win!

One more song to go, and it's "I Love You Te Quiero" sung by those chest-flashing Sirkus Eliassen brothers, who are like a Norwegian equivalent of LMFAO.  They look like the kind of guys who'd be good fun on a night out then would start to get very annoying.  But they're not as annoying as Sean Banan.  Anyway they are cute in a geeky kind of way, and extra points for the white rabbits.  This song is catchy but I could see a disastrous result if it was to represent Norway.

Songs over and it's time for Loreen to entertain the punters, stopping off at Norway on her national finals mini-tour.  She's chosen not to perform "E*******" but "My Heart Is Refusing Me", its Melfest predecessor.  Doing her usual mystical dancey thing.

Part 1 of the final is over - now there's some serious cross country skiing action to be done with!  On prime time TV on a Saturday night!  Only in Norway....oh well I'd rather watch that as most of the garbage we have inflicted on us on Saturday night telly here in the UK.  No wonder so many of us are spending our Saturday nights from January to March in national finals land!

But it's not long till MGP's back and it's time for the....Gullfinal!! The super-final in other words.  The hosts have had a costume change: I don't like Jenny's dress.

Adelen is the first of the four grand finalists.  Once again she celebrates as if she's won the whole thing.  Aww bless.  Anyway she gives "Bombo" her all.  She's followed by Annsofi.  By the way is it just me, or does anyone think Alexander Rybak looks very dishevelled and stressed out these days?  However he's cheered up by the announcement that his song "I'm With You" has made it to the final 4.  Annsofi gives a fine vocal performance and if this had been another year it may even have been an MGP winner.  

Erik's talking to Bettan (again) and outgoing champion Tooji, complete with his little blingy collar.  His advice to his successor: "Enjoy the ride!"  He might have come last in ESC but he doesn't seem particularly bothered.

Who's next to the superfinal?  Only Magnus and Erik Eliassen, with their perfectly waxed chests and white rabbits in tow.  By now "I Love You Te Quiero" is worryingly growing on me.

After a chat with Loreen and her personal bodyguard (OK I'm kidding) Mr Eurovision Jon Ola Sand, it's time for the announcement of the last finalist.  As the camera pans along the line-up of contestants, they know it's all lost.  Except of course for Maggie B who once again feeds us her love.

In his final act as reigning MGP champ, Tooji bows out with an 'alternative version' of "Stay" which I don't like to start with but then it eventually gets going and grows on me.  By the end of the song I rather like it, but the twirly hand dance seems to have been axed :(

After a wee trip to Malmö for host Erik it's time for the voting results.

There's a nice touch to the way the votes are announced this year.  The 'general' of each hosting town - who got the job in the individual heats thanks to answering the 'golden telephone' deliver the jury votes.

Steinkjer gives top marks to Margaret.
Floro "feeds" Margaret their top marks with Sirkus 2nd.
Larvik also gives top marks to Margaret.  At this point the three other finalists are joint 2nd.
Carina Dahl delivers the Midt-Norge vote.  Margaret top - Adelen 2nd..
Anina gives the votes from Nord-Norge.  Top marks go to...Sirkus Eliassen - this is the only area where Margaret didn't top the voting.
Martin Blomvik, (who is dressed in a nice jacket and jeans and looked a lot nicer than he did in his Primark-gangsta garb in his heat) delivers the Vest-Norge top marks to Margaret.

By this stage Margaret is so far ahead in the vote that the realisation is beginning to sink in for the hosts and contestants alike.  But there are still more votes to come.

Shackles deliver the Sor-Norge vote and with top marks, this officially seals Margaret's victory.
Last but not least, Julie Bergan delivers the Ost-Norge vote...

Margaret Berger is the winner of Melodi Grand Prix 2013.  And what a resounding winner too, as between juries and televoting she polled almost 40,000 votes more than the runner-up "Bombo", with "I Love You Te Quiero"  3rd and "I'm With You" in 4th place.

So it's good luck to Margaret in Malmö and I've got a feeling she's going to do rather well.  No last place or nil points this time round!  (But then I said the same about Tooji, so.....)

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