With the first Norwegian Melodi Grand Prix heat rapidly approaching, suspense is mounting as to how the acts will perform on the night, how their stage shows will be and not to mention their styling. The line up in the first show is, to put it mildly, a very mixed bag.
To help give you the low down on the first seven participants, here is a little background information on each act.
Song number 1 : Carina Dahl – Guns & Boys (Written by: Carina Dahl/Nanna Martorell/Hanne Sørvaag)
Carina Dahl is the first act of the night. There’s no faulting her pedigree, as her father is the drummer of Norwegian rock band TNT. She has reputedly been in the business for some years now, although most Norwegians will draw a blank when asked her name. Carina has had some live experience, namely performing in front of 13,000 football fans at the tender age of 13 as well as a TV performance of her single Screw on Polish TV in 2010. Guns & Boys is written and composed by both Carina, Nanna Martorell and none other than Hanne Sørvaag. Carina describes her entry as a fun entry, telling how she is not phased so easily, about being independent and taking control – an ode to girl power, she wants us to believe. Not entirely convincing, the song comes across as a poppy tune with a text bordering on the banal and the whole thing seems somewhat calculated.
Song number 2 : Use Me – Daisy (Written by: Jim André Bergsted)
Use Me are the next act to take to the stage, and the five members will perform their own brand of punchy, punk pop. With a look reminiscent of Green Day and Blink 182, they bring much welcomed variety to the contest. Formed in 2005, lead vocalist Bergsted is the sole remaining original member. Whether their lack of performing experience together will reflect in their stage show remains to be seen, but the initial impression is a positive one. Their song Daisy is, surprisingly enough, a ballad, reportedly with a broad appeal. They promise us a strong stage show, solid punk riffs and an energetic performance. Melodic, punchy this will have teens voting en masse. Deserves a place in the final.
Song number 3 : Sichelle – Trenger Mer (I Need More) (Written by: Christine Dancke)
Many a raised eyebrow was the reaction when Sichelle announced her participation in MGP 2 years ago. In 2007 she had a major breakthrough on the Norwegian music scene with her massive hit Fuck Deg. Sichelle does however have a much broader repertoire, having already tread the boards since the age of 12. Speaking of her first appearance at MGP, things didn’t turn out as she’d anticipated. Sichelle is back and hungry for more after having hooked up with Christine Dancke, who has previously dabbled in the hip hop genre. Trenger Mer was apparently composed following the break up of Christine and her boyfriend, but judging by the duos comments, it’s a song with a happy vibe and is very danceable. Techno light, the song is definitely catchy, but in places the rhyme sounds forced and makes the song disjointed. Much stronger than her previous effort.
Song number 4 : Sie Gubba – Alt Du Vil Ha (Everything You Want) (Written by: Magne Almås/Petter Øien)
Sie Gubba started as a band back in 1995, and have only relatively recently enjoyed a breakthrough, when their 5th studio album, the self titled Sie Gubba hit the charts and remained there for 20 weeks. Over the years they’ve gained considerable experience performing live and their music can best be described as folksy dance band. Their number Alt Du Vil Ha is about women and has what they call a singalong chorus with more than a hint of country. Hummable, with a tune that quickly gets into your head. Hardly challenging, though. Suspect this will go to the Last Chance heat.
Song number 5 : Åste & Rikke – Not That Easy (Ah-Åh Ah-Åh) (Written by: Rikke Normann)
Åste & Rikke are two headstrong ladies who know what they want. Both have done backing vocals for Mira Craig, have Whitney Houston as their role model and both love soul music. Rikke is an unknown chapter to the most of us, but has actually participated in a number of music contests already, with various TV performances under her belt. Åste became a familiar face after competing in Norwegian Idol and blew many away with her strong voice and convincing vocals. She has also continued to work at her craft with various TV appearances along the way. Rikke cites Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu and Marvin Gaye as her sources for inspiration when she wrote the song, so a soulful number is on the cards. The song Not That Easy (Ah-Åh Ah-Åh) is about doing something with the best intentions but merely making matters worse. Pleasantly surprised by this one, I have to admit – white soul of a high calibre with an R&B edge to make it contemporary. Should go onto the Last Chance heat, although it will be interestingf to see their chemistry on stage and see if they try to outdo one another in the diva stakes.
Song number 6 : Helene Bøksle – Vardlokk (Written by: Cecilie Larsen/Helene Bøksle/Sindre Hotvedt/Knut Avenstroup Haugen)
When Helene Bøksle takes to the stage with Vardlokk, be prepared for something uniquely Norwegian! Helene has already made quite a name for herself in Norway with her first 4 albums, singing her own particular brand of rock and folk music fusion. She has a number of award nominations to her name and considerable live experience as well, having performed with major Norwegian bands such as Vamp and Secret Garden. Her song Vardlokk, composed by Cecilie Larsen tells of a time when Christianity fought against the pagan Åsatro in Norway, and she sings of the power and energy that music can offer. Perhaps the dark horse of the first heat. Majestic, oozing drama and definitely different, this could be one to watch out for perhaps? But when will NRK learn that the rest of Europe doesn’t fall for this particular type of music? Just see where it got Christine Gulbrandsen in 2006.
Song number 7 : Gatas Parlament – Jobber Litt Mindre, Tjene Litt Mer (Work A Little Less, Earn A Little More) (Written by: Jester (Alex Molkom))
The last act out for the first heat, Gatas Parlament are no strangers on the Norwegian music scene. The hip hop group made many speechless when they announced their participation in this year’s MGP and their reasons for competing are to bring credibility to the contest, to make it cooler and more fun (if that was ever needed!). They often have political texts and their entry Jobbe Litt Mindre og Tjene Litt Mer is no exception. They despise capitalism and claim to "want to save the world". The band have a considerable follwing in Norway following countless appearances at the most respected music festivals. The trio describe their entry as an accordion based rap number, with the potential to change the world. We wait with breath that is baited. Messy, is the word that first comes to mind. Nothing charming whatsoever, even though the accordion lends the song an Eastern European air. What on earth were they thinking?
In keeping in line with last year’s format, the two acts who receive the most votes will qualify directly to the final to be held at Oslo Spektrum on the 12th February. The third and fourth placed acts will then have another chance in the Last Chance round, which is to take place in Sarpsborg on the 5th February.