Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Melodi Grand Prix 2014: The Final - 15.03.2014

This year's MGP was scaled down from previous years.  No more big arena tour across Norway for the contest.  Unfortunately due to what felt like most of this year's national finals being crammed into a very limited amount of weeks, something had to give, and that happened to be this year's MGP heats :(

Ironically, for a show which in recent years had used the Melodifestivalen template, it now looks as if Sweden could learn a lot from their Norwegian counterparts.  Scaled-down heats and a showpiece final, presented by an attractive, classy and professional duo.  There's none of the 'baggage' which weighs Melfest down.  Although the show begins with a sketch (featuring WigWam) and an irritating child spoiling the opening, the contest quickly settles into a smooth, high quality show. 

Erik and Jenny are such lovely hosts.  And by the way, isn't Erik getting better looking, the older he gets?  Jenny has yet another of her lovely dresses on, this time it's all glitter and gold.  Now let's have some songs shall we?

"Ain't No Love In This City No More" - El Cuero
I always like a wee bit of rock in MGP.  It's not death metal this time, just a straightforward rock song.  It's nothing brilliant, but it's ok.  The singer reminds me, looks wise, of the lead singer of the Boo Radleys. 

"Soul Survivor" - Elisabeth Carew
I love, love, love her green dress.  This is a highly fancied, very contemporary soul/r'n'b number.  It's catchy and decent enough. 

Now we have some bloke with a big chain round his neck - he's like the Mayor of MGP! - talking about Knut. Which nicely leads us on to ....

"Taste of You" - Knut Kippersund Nesdal
Big big cheers in the Spektrum for a guy (with an amazing name!!) who, for me, is this year's Bjorn Johan Muri - he won't win but this is going to be a big hit.  Knut scored a record deal just before the final so I think we'll be hearing more from him.  There's a spectacular intro where Knut directs the laser lights.  This is just a great pop song which I'll take into off season.  The song ends with a golden firework finale a la Only Teardrops.  This deserves a spot in the superfinal.

"Needs" - Dina Misund
Even the songs I'm not personally fond of are still better than some national finals this year.  Dina gives a very nice performance.  Well done.

"Heal" - Mo
There's a big back story here: as Mo survived the Utoya massacre.  He performs the song well enough, although it's not a winner, but one thing's for sure already - this year's MGP final is ahead of the pack. 

"High Hopes" - Linnea Dale
Yet another dress which I love - Linnea's wearing a long satin dress in my favourite shade of green, which is the same as the curtains and cushions in my living room :)

This is contemporary, in a good way, and the song really draws you in.  By the way, I've been pronouncing her surname wrongly all these years: I thought it was pronounced 'Dale' the English way but it's actually like "Daa-le" so that's my Norwegian lesson for the week!

"Hit Me Up" - Charlie
Not really impressed by the title, and the song is probably the 'filler' of the night.  I never watched the heats but I'm sure this one must have beat off better songs.  It's one for those people who like the 'Disney girls'/Carly Rae Jepsen kind of sugary pop.

"Silent Storm" - Carl Espen.
From the ridiculous to the sublime.  He looks like an off-duty member of a death metal band.  This song's intensity is unmatched, and the fragility of his performance complements the song perfectly.  The buzz is already building for this one....

"Sing" - Oda and Wulff
So just when I'm enjoying the contemporary songs, along comes something which would have been at home in the Eurovision Song Contest of the 1970s.  National finals season has been littered with folky-acoustic numbers this year, but this is old fashioned.  Distressingly, disturbingly old-fashioned.  I think the Norwegian voters are too smart to let this win though.

The only down side is a 40 minute break between the first show and the gullfinal (superfinal): which gives us all a chance to take stock, and in my case do the washing up  :)

So 40 minutes later, the dishes are done, the wine is opened, the internet stream is faultless (see, SVT - this is how you do a live stream, watch and learn!) - Saturday nights just don't get any better than this. 

The wonderful Jenny has changed into a lovely navy blue glittery dress, and Erik is still looking good :)

But who are the gullfinalists?

Knut!!  With that hairdo he looks like Jedward's long lost brother.  He sounds good though, and he can be proud of his impressive debut this year. "Taste of You" is just a good pop song, we used to get lots of them in Melfest season...

Carl Espen is gullfinalist no.2.  Maybe it's just the way I've been feeling lately but the lyrics and sentiment of "Silent Storm" touch a very raw nerve.  He may be a little more nervous vocally, but this is an absolutely real experience which, if chosen to represent Norge this year, will completely slice through all the fakery. 

As my two favourite songs are through, I'm not too fussed about the 3rd and 4th songs but I'm sure they'll be ok...

Gullfinalist no.3 is Mo, with "Heal".  But firstly, is that really Stella Mwangi with her head shaved?  Yes it is!  Mo also has a distinctive look, but I'm not totally sure that this would be such a great choice.  It's a modern, slightly dubsteppy/drum n' bass style of song, but Hungary and Armenia have cornered that market this year.  Nevertheless this is a good performance.

And finally, gullfinalist no. 4 = Linnea Dale, with "High Hopes".  Glad that "sing sing sing sing sing like you mean it" dreck missed out.  Linnea brings effortless cool and lots of charm.  She has an interesting voice and this is another song for the off season.  There is background dancing, but it's not intrusive background dancing in a Melfest way.  This final is totally kicking Melfest's butt!

4 songs done, on with the voting so let's be having the interval act.  Firstly, Karin Park, the striking co-writer of "I Feed You My Love" with a song in a similar vein...

which leads us to the return of Margaret Berger, singing her latest song "Scream".

Finally it's time for "I Feed You My Love" which she performs in duet-version with Karin Park. 

There are some past MGP stars delivering the various regional voting totals, first up is Stella Mwangi, delivering the Østlandet votes.

1st - Mo
2nd - Carl
3rd - Linnea
4th - Knut

Jørn Hoel - from further back in the day at MGP - delivers the Nordnorge votes:

1st - Carl
2nd - Linnea
3rd - Mo
4th - Knut

Margaret Berger gives the Midtnorge totals:

1st - Carl
2nd - Linnea
3rd - Mo
4th - Knut

Helene Bøksle gives us the Sørlandet scores. 

1st - Linnea
2nd - Carl
3rd - Mo
4th - Knut

Christine Guldbrandsen - who doesn't look a day older than she did in 2006! - gives the Vestlandet scores:

1st - Carl
2nd - Linnea
3rd - Mo
4th - Knut

So Carl wins Vestlandet with a resounding majority, and takes home the MGP 2014 title ahead of Linnea in 2nd place, Mo 3rd and Knut 4th. 

"Silent Storm" may not be to everyone's taste, and I don't usually go for this minimalistic type of song - but it is an absolutely perfect choice for Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest.  Even my mum woke from her slumbers to declare "that sounds like a Eurovision winner to me" ("I don't know about you but that sounds like a Eurovision winner to meeeeee....."). 

The song was written by Carl's cousin, Josefin Winther, who was overcome with emotion after the final result. Carl's not even a professional singer - he's been a soldier, a glazer and a nightclub bouncer!  I'm sure this will be a springboard to a great career.  "Silent Storm" will stop the viewers of Europe in their tracks: whether that translates into votes is another matter.  It may be too "dark" and minimal for the 21st century Eurovision Song Contest, but it would be a unique winner.

1 comment:

Raquelita said...

MGP really was brilliant.And we know the Norwegians can put on a great show for the main event too,so I wouldn't be sad at all if Carl wins in May :D I love his story actually- I mean,it's nice to see big names at Eurovision,but seeing how the contest has come to be dominated by the same old songwriters,it's really nice that people like Carl and Josefin have got this chance. I'll be honest,I'm falling in love with him a little bit actually :) I know what you mean about the lyrics as well though- Silent Storm is way more than a Eurovision song for me.

Glad it wasn't just me who found the kid and the "sing,sing,sing" song annoying.And as for Knut- well,he needs to come back every year til he wins!