Eurovision 2012: Best of Norsk Melodi Grand Prix

I know it’s a bit late in the day to talk about 2012’s Eurovision pre-selections, but we must remember that some great songs are put forward for Eurovision every year, and only a handful make it to the show. Even the briefest glance at what the Swedes dispose of during the course of Melodifestivalen confirms that.

So, better late than never, I turned my attention to their neighbour Norway’s pre-selection, or Melodi Grand Prix as it’s called. Norway are sleeping tigers in Eurovision. Sure they have the dubious honour of having the most “nul points” entries, but they’ve won three times – most recently when Alexander Rybak’s “Fairytale” swept the board in Moscow’s 2009 contest.

Tooji had a struggle in Baku, qualifying by the narrowest of margins, winning a tie-break with Bulgaria for 10th place. His fortunes didn’t improve in the Final, and he ended up bottom of the table. Is that the best they could have done? Who knows, but here are my top 10 favourites from MGP 2012.

1. Reidun Sæther – High on love

Well my pick of the Norwegian pops is this high-Schlager from wonderful Reidun. That Thomas G:son gets around, penning several amazing Eurovision and pre-selection hits for several countries, including two in this year’s Eurovision final: Spain’s Quedate Conmigo and Sweden’s winning Euphoria. Adding to this vast catalogue of hot pop pieces is this astonishingly catchy track.

It made it to the final, and she really brought the house down with some hot vocals. It’s a little old-fashioned, it probably wouldn’t have sounded particularly out of place in a Nordic pre-selection 10 years ago, but it’s a magic formula that works. Amazing.

2. Minnie-Oh – You and I (video)

You might spot a lot of female-vocalled electronic picks in this top 10, but I guess that just fits my tastes. This is a wonderfully fresh-sounding electropop track that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Robyn’s amazing Body Talk album. The production really does make this one, but her vocals are more than a match (even if it’s not the toughest song to sing in the first place).

3. Tooji – Stay (video)

Not much more I can say about Tooji’s entry that I haven’t said before. It seemed like it couldn’t fail, but I don’t think his vocals quite hit the spot on the night sadly. He’s a good performer though, but he didn’t get the Saade magic that this song choice seemed to be geared towards capturing. But let’s put this in perspective, last place in the final is still something beyond 16 other entries that didn’t make it out of the semi-finals.

It’s another hot electro-pop track with some crowd-pleasing ethnic flourishes, and a great dance breakdown. All good clean fun, and certainly a great part of Baku’s final picks.

4. Rikke Normann – Shapeshifter (video)

Hold onto your hats, it’s another electropop female track. Of course I liked it, what’s not to like? This does what I wish all pre-selection sngs would do, i.e. be a song that people might like in the “real world” if Eurovision didn’t exist. I think that must be the key to winning, surely? Just ask Loreen. Rikke sings a femme-fatale track with some light cannibalism, but it’s uplifting and fresh so we can overlook those crimes of nature.

5. The Canoes – Seemed like a good idea (video)

Never a truer word spoken. I preferred this when I only heard the song, it doesn’t seem to make sense to see a rather dapper quartet of guys in suits singing this. It’s a cringingly endearing drinking song, it almost has an oompah band in the background. It’s got that infectious swaying melody to it, along with some dopey lyrics about getting pissed, naked and eventually regretful about it. Still makes me smile.

6. Silya Nymoen – Euphoria (video)

No, not THAT Euphoria. Just as well this didn’t qualify in the end I guess. Love the crazy beat to this, a really great rhythm, and a wonderful manic energy to it. Silya was dressed like some sort of glamorous M Bison with spiky shoulder pads, and brought the fun to the semi-final she was eventually ditched in.

7. Lise Karlsnes – Sailors (video)

Finally another finalist. I’m not very good at picking these winners am I? Tempo slows a bit, but it’s another electro-lite pop song with a wonderful airy backing track that I only seem to hear in nordic pop songs. Loved her vocals on the live performance I watched. Not a ground-breaking effort, but I just love the whole feel to this.

8. Irresistible ft Carl Pritt – Elevator (video)

Girlband time, with a Norwegian answer to The Saturdays singing a dance-thumper. It’s got an infectious electronic riff to it, sort of reminds me of Britney’s Femme Fatale album, which is certainly not a bad thing. Could do with the featured rap artist but it does break up the song a bit. Not that it helped them out of the semi-finals, but it was worth a shot.

9. Nora Foss al-Jabri – Somewhere beautiful (video)

A Eurovision staple is the so-called “Disney ballad” that you would instantly identify with if you heard one. This is probably one of the most obvious examples of this sub-genre I’ve heard in a while, and it played well in Norway, eventually coming 2nd in the final behind Tooji. Nora’s got a rather vacant expression, though her voice is sweet as sugar, I can almost imagine some Disney princess singing it.

10. Rikke Lie – Another heartache (video)

Rounding off my top 10 is another ballad, not quite as Disneyfied as Nora’s song, but it’s not a million miles away. Perhaps more like something Delta Goodrem might have done, piano and all. Doesn’t quite have the hook of Nora’s song either, that chorus doesn’t quite hit the heights, but it’s an adorable little song all the same.

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Filed under Baku 2012, Eurovision, Music, Reviews

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