Norway is a country of great highs and horrible lows in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest. Lately, they seem to have picked up a good run of form. They revealed the entries for MGP 2016 a while ago, so we got three editors to review them: Our Norwegian Wivian (who, for the first time ever had Norway as her favourite in 2015) was obviously on board, as well as Katarina and Nick. Read what they thought below!

Agnete – Icebreaker

Wivian: Anyone who knows me will already know what I‘m gonna say about this song…at least the verse. That horribly annoying „canned drum“ drives me mad, and guarantees that I won‘t listen to Icebreaker more than I absolutely have to. Which is a shame, in a way, since the chorus is quite cool! It really sounds like they‘ve made a mistake in the studio and combined the wrong verse+chorus…

Katarina: This song clearly is one of the favourites, but it’s not ranked high on my list. The chorus is so different from the verses, it makes it sound as if it was two good songs mashed into one big mess. The tempo change really is annoying. One positive thing about this act, though, is that Agnete will probably stage it perfectly, and with a good starting position I can see this going to Stockholm…

Nick: This is allegedly a favourite to win MGP. I can see why, it’s a modern pop ballad/midtempo effort which is done quite well – for the verses. The dance beat in that verse is promising a dance chorus, but instead we get a tempo switch to a slower pace, which makes the verses feel completely disconnected from the chorus. She’ll have to be top notch on the 27th if she wants to pull this off live. And even if she does, she won’t leave much of an impression, I’d say.

Elouiz – History

Wivian: This is another song I really shouldn‘t like, since I‘m not much of a fan of this type of ballads. And then I actually do, a little. Elouiz‘s voice is really cool and if she can deliver live, that‘s gonna be one of the things making this song stand out, I think. The strings add class to an otherwise rather plain ballad. It builds up really nicely, I like the beat…I really wish I didn‘t understand the lyrics, though…

Katarina: History could be the perfect song for some Disney movie, but not for Eurovision. It is nice and relaxing, but not interesting enough to hold my attention for three whole minutes. Elouiz’s voice is the best thing about this song, and I hope next year she will come back with a better entry. Nonetheless,it’s in my top five for this year’s MGP.

Nick: Mention poetry and you’ve got me. Lyrics mentioning poetry often turn into favourites for me and this is no exception. This ballad has some Disney elements but manages to stay a quite modern ballad. It’s classic Eurovision and yet fits Elouiz like a glove. This is a clear stand-out for me. I’m a fan of this Swedish born singer and I really hope Norway give her the chance to fly their flag.

Freddy Kalas – Feel Da Rush

Wivian: I tried! I promise; I really tried! But there is just no way I can listen to this song. I just can‘t. I had to stop after 8 seconds…then after 29…and at 59 I realized it was making me suicidal. Or at least physically ill. Sorry.

Katarina: Listening to this for the first time, it just seemed weird, but as I listened to it more, it really grew on me. It’s catchy, totally radio friendly and a real summer hit. The lyrics are cliché, but the great music compensates it. One thing that is a concern to me, is whether his vocals will be good enough, but I expect it to finish high in MGP anyway.

Nick: Freddy had originally plagiarised himself as his first effort copied the chorus of a 2011 song he did. NRK told him to rewrite the chorus and we have ended up with a 2010 style summer effort. It’s rather dated in a bad way. It’s dated from a short while ago, which means that we can’t even call it retro. I’ve heard people comparing him to Staysman & Lazz from last year, but that’s a bit of an insult to those two. It feels as if Freddy takes himself way too serious. Next.

Laila Samuels – Afterglow

Wivian: And going straight from *that* to *this*! The contrast could hardly be greater. This is *my music* through and through, and I will be surprised if this isn‘t my number one at the end of this. Laila‘s haunting voice, the etherical, floating music, the „drumming“ piano, the strings, the choir, the lyrics…and when her voice „breaks“at 1.07; heavenly! There is nothing I don‘t like about this song. Apart from the fact that it only lasts 3 minutes.

Katarina: There it is, my favourite song this year! I had it on replay since it came out. I love everything about it, it really shows how great Norway is when it comes to ballads. The lyrics are deep and emotional and Laila’s voice fits the song perfectly. It is also easy to stage a song like this properly and I am sure the juries would love it. If this song wins MGP, I wouldn’t mind heading to Oslo in 2017.

Nick: The alternative pop sound is working in Europe after Loïc and Aminata last year. Laila is bringing us a pleasant, dreamy effort. The first two minutes lack a bit of punch – although lacking is not the good word. It doesn’t need the punch as it’s extremely nice without a punch. It’s nice enough and Laila’s voice is certainly heavenly. The final minute however is absolutely stunning with the drums kicking in and Laila going a bit louder. This is really good, the end is just a bit too abrupt.

Makeda – Stand Up

Wivian: And after 3 seconds I‘m up and dancing! Holy TimTam; this is one of the most fun songs I‘ve heard in ages!! It‘s impossible to sit still while this song is playing! And there‘s a saxophone!! I LOVE this!! I can‘t wait to see this live!!

Katarina: It’s a fun song,but I have the same problem as with ‘History’: it just can’t make me pay attention to it for three minutes.I saw people comparing it to Destiny’s Not My Soul, but while the JESC winner was catchy, Stand Up is easy to forget after listening to it once. Makeda will need a great performance if she wants a chance to win.

Nick: This The Voice contestant is channeling her inner Meghan Trainor for this. There’s just one difference: Meghan has the quirky looks and moves to pull this style off, if you get what I mean. Meghan gets away with it. The retro look just isn’t for Makeda. I think she’s a bit too average for this – she doesn’t stand out in any way, sort or form. She has to act ridiculous to pull this off and that’s when the picture works. Now it doesn’t and I doubt she ever will get it right. The song in itself is quite ok, but forgettable and follows the Trainor trend I’m not excited about.

Pegasus – Anyway

Wivian: There‘s really nothing wrong with this song, but then again, there‘s really nothing right about it either. It‘s all been heard before, and even though I probably liked it back in the 80s, it‘s just used up. There is something wrong when you know exactly where the melody is going to og next, and the rhymes are so expected you know the next line before having heard it even once. But as I said; nothing really *wrong*, and I would definitely slowdance to this.

Katarina: This song is usually called boring, but it’s one of my favourites! It is a beautiful ballad, it’s really relaxing and it reminds me of Norway’s 2003 entry, although it’s not as strong. I also love the singer’s voice. They don’t have any chances of winning on 27th February, but I am looking forward to their performance.

Nick: A dansband with rock influences doing a midtempo country song. If you know me just a little, you’d guess that this would be my runaway winner: country, midtempo, dansband and rock. It however isn’t. It’s nice enough, but it’s album filler material. It’s unconvincing and it most of all lacks a whole lot of inspiration. The concept is good, because the three aforementioned genres do blend well, but you need to show you care. It feels as if Pegasus just want three minutes on Norwegian TV and that’s all they’re after, they don’t actually care. A big sigh.

Stage Dolls – Into The Fire

Wivian: This is the song I‘ve been looking forward to the most. I grew up loving Stage Dolls, and I really don‘t know how many of their concerts I‘ve been to over the years. Their music, along with that of bands like TNT and The Kids, defined the 80s for me, and it is with equal parts excitement and terror I listen to his song for the first time. And it has the characteristic sound I remember so well, but it has been „popped up“ for MGP, or perhaps it‘s just my rock heroes who are going soft? Whichever reason, I don‘t really approve… But the formula still works, and I will totally go seet hem in concert again, and sing and dance til I can‘t dance no more!

Katarina: This is my least favourite out of all these songs. It’s not bad,but it just does nothing for me and becomes really boring after the first minute. To me,it sounds like I’ve heard it a million times already. It is a perfect song for playing in the background while studying, since I would ignore it completely. I don’t expect much from them, and they will probably end MGP in one of the lowest places.

Nick: 80s glory restored. There’s something really familiar about this entry. As if you’ve heard it before, but that’s mainly caused by the fact it just ticks all the boxes of an old rock group going for a steadier effort now. They had some good success in the 1980s and this is a nice return to the big stage. It’s nice, there’s not a whole lot screaming in favour of this entry, but I think it’s pretty difficult to hate on this. Danish, as you could say.

Stine Hole Ulla – Traces

Wivian: Disney. Very much not my cup of tea. Unless it‘s actually in a Disney movie. I also struggle with this type of sharp, cutting female voices. So, no thanks, not for me.

Katarina: Stine’s voice is amazing! Unfortunately,the song is nowhere near as good. The melody is forgettable, and I can’t recall it after the song is over. I feel like it will be overshadowed by Afterglow, the much stronger ballad performed by a female artist. As for the singer, I have the  same opinion as for Elouiz: I hope Stine will be back with a better song next year.

Nick: Let it go, let it go! It’s very Disney. It’s actually more Disney than Disney itself has ever created. It is so overly sweet, your teeth instantly fall out – yes, even for Walt Disney if the man would still be alive. Even Disney would think that this is overdoing it. Stine’s voice is leaning towards opera in some points and I have no idea what this song is supposed to do to me. It just scares the living hell out of me. Bring out that Disney princess longing for her prince and let Stine sing it, but for the love of God, don’t send this to Stockholm. I also would not allow kids to listen to this, unless they refuse to go to sleep, because this will definitely make them long for their pillow. Next, please, anything is better.

Suite 16 – Anna Lee

Wivian: From how people had described this song to me, I though I would like it a lot. And I don’t. I like their voices, and the way they work together, and I like the idea behind the song. But they are just trying way to hard to fit way too many elements into their three minutes, and it ends up being annoying, more than anything else.

Katarina: I honestly love this song. They might sound like One Direction, and the lyrics are in fact cheesy, but the melody is extremely catchy and addictive. I’ve been humming this song for the last few days, it just got stuck in my head after listening to it for the first time already. I really hope Suite 16 can perform it well, and who knows, maybe surprise us with a win? I certainly wouldn’t complain.

Nick: Ah, a boyband. And that immediately tells you all you need to know about this. It’s the classic boyband formula. Make it catchy, get a few guys on stage of which often the least appealing one can sing best, throw in a few lalalas or nananas in this case, let them sing about a girl they all like (that’ll be a fight, then) and that’s a wrap! Done, next formula please. It does the formula well, the formula just isn’t exciting.

The Hungry Hearts ft. Lisa Dillan – Laika

Wivian: What?! No, really; WHAT?! I don‘t know where to start with this song. It reminds me of „3 minutes to earth“, simply because they both sound like they consist of parts from three or four different songs that have been thrown into a pot and this comes out. And like „3 minutes to earth“, there are parts here that are pure genious, and parts that are…not. Can‘t wait to see this on stage, though. It *has to* be wonderfully mad!!

Katarina: Laika is fabulous,I don’t know how else to describe it. The music is amazing, the lyrics are hilarious, especially the ‘streets of Moscow,with my girlfriend’ part. It would definitely stand out among the other songs at Eurovision, which is important in a semi of nineteen countries.I expect a unique and interesting performance from them and I predict a top 4 finish in MGP.

Nick: Let’s march, everyone: The streets of Moscow. With my girlfriend.  This song has managed to take the Eurovision universe by storm. People are raving about this for the utter madness that it is. And yes, I have joined the madness: It’s so bonkers and it’s so different from anything we’re used to hearing that I can’t help but loving this. My first reaction was ‘What on earth is this?’, so I clicked ‘Repeat’ and ‘Repeat’… And so on. It is highly addictive and the biggest plus for this is that you know they’re going to make sure you will never (never, really) forget that you once saw what The Hungry Hearts and Lisa Dillan did with a song about a Russian dog that was sent to space. It’s madness, but I love it. I wouldn’t mind Norway sending this at all.

Our results

We decided to rank the songs from first to last and we had a little look at our top four songs, because Norway will have a superfinal of four. Here’s how our personal top fours look like. Our personal winners receive 4 points, the runner-up three, the third place will get two and finally, number four will receive one point.

Wivian:

  1. Laila Samuels – Afterglow
  2. Makeda – Stand Up
  3. Stage Dolls – Into The Fire
  4. Elouiz – History

Katarina:

  1. Laila Samuels – Afterglow
  2. Suite 16 – Anna Lee
  3. The Hungry Hearts ft. Lisa Dillan – Laika
  4. Pegasus – Anyway

Nick:

  1. Elouiz – History
  2. The Hungry Hearts ft. Lisa Dillan – Laika
  3. Laila Samuels – Afterglow
  4. Stage Dolls – Into The Fire

Total:

  1. Laila Samuels – Afterglow: 10
  2. The Hungry Hearts ft. Lisa Dillan: 5
  3. Elouiz – History: 5
  4. Stage Dolls – Into The Fire: 3
  5. Suite 16 – Anna Lee: 3
  6. Makeda – Stand Up: 3
  7. Pegasus – Anyway: 1
  8. Agnete – Icebreaker: 0
  9. Freddy Kalas – Feel Da Rush: 0
  10. Stine Hole Ulla – Traces: 0

So in short, our clear favourite is Laila Samuels, with both Wivian and Katarina making her the #1 choice for Stockholm. They’re followed by Laika, which came second for Nick and third for Katarina, as well as History, which is Nick’s winner and Wivian’s fourth place. It has to be noted that they’ve managed to get just half the points Laila did. The fourth superfinal spot would be between Makeda, Suite 16 and Stage Dolls, with Stage Dolls taking preference as it’s in both Nick’s and Wivian’s top five. Makeda (Wivian) and Stage Dolls (Katarina) only made one top four appearance.

Ultimately, LaikaHistory and Into The Fire are all filler material. The choice has so clearly gone to Laila Samuels that they don’t even need a superfinal. Or do they…?

Media Liaison: One of the founding members at escXtra. I'm the Dutchman who loves every little idiotic Eurovision fact there is. I usually listen to a lot of Eurovision music, but when I'm not, I listen to country music, schlager and pop, but mostly artists like Tina Turner, Emma, Ilse DeLange and Helene Fischer. On escXtra, you can find me doing pretty much anything that needs doing: Interviews, liveblogs or just your daily portion of news!

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