Review: “Melodi Grand Prix 2023” – Semi-Final 1 (Review)

On Saturday, the 14th of January 2023, Norway will hold the first semi-final of “Melodi Grand Prix 2023”. 7 artists will perform their songs for the first time. 3 of them will qualify for the final, based on 100% public vote.
In this article, I will give a personal review of the songs.

#1. Ulrikke — Honestly

It’s a mid-tempo symphonic ballad.
The song starts with piano playing, and shortly after Ulrikke starts singing accurately with a mid-low tone of voice. The atmosphere is a Disney-magical one.
Her voice is crystal clear. As the second verse begins, we can hear orchestral string elements (probably cello).
In the chorus, she sings with a higher tone of voice and much more powerfully. She puts some manners in her interpretation and uses vibrato. The melody is based on cello playing, as well as a drum beat. At the peak of the chorus, we can hear the combination of string elements, like violion and cello. After the chorus, she sings 3 words in Norwegian language: “Til evig tid” (Eng: For eternity).
The keyboards playing guide us to the 3rd verse, which is a little bit more rhythmic. The end of this verse is faster. Then again, we get a powerful and memorable chorus.
The bridge comes right after the second chorus, where she sings in an almost falsetto tone. The melody is almost gone, until she gives her all on a long note with backing vocalists.
The end of the song gives a more hymn character.
The song closes with an instrumental part of string elements.
In my opinion, this is a very remarkable effort. Ulrikke proves she is a great singer, with ther ability to touch the listener’s soul. A very strong contender!
This is material for a very high place at Eurovision!

#2. Erik Næss — Wave

It is a country pop song.
The song starts with guitar stringing and humming.
Erik has a low tone of voice that’s very pleasant.
The first verse has a mid rate and a monotonous melody.
Towards the chorus, the melody changes a bit, the emphasis is on his voice with the addition of some backing vocals.
A short instrumental part leads us to the third verse, which is slightly faster, with keyboards playing. In addition, we can hear more string elements.
Towards the end, the backing vocals play an intergral part
The song reminded me of Victor Crone‘s songs.
It is radio-friendly, but maybe too radio-friendly. No surprises here, very conservative music wisely. I can’t say I dislike it, but it feels similar to too many things I’ve heard in the past.

#3. Kate Gulbrandsen — Tårer I Paradis (Eng: Tears in Paradise)

It is a Norwegian emotional ballad.
The song was written to tell the story of Kate Gulbrandsen‘s loss of her husband.
Kjetil Mørland (who represented Norway at Eurovision 2015, as part of a duo), is one of the song’s creators.
The song starts immediately with Kate singing. The melody is based on piano playing, it is simple and yet captivating. The first verse sounds like a soundtrack of a romantic slow dance.
The chorus is the powerful part of this song. The melody is magical, still based on piano playing, but with additional production components like string elements. Her voice builds an atmosphere of a fairytale.
Towards the end of the chorus, we can hear some backing vocals.
The second verse is shorter, but has a similar structure to the first one. However, she sings a long note as the second chorus becomes closer.
The second chorus relies on drum beats, piano playing and violin.
The bridge starts with an instrumental part with some backing vocals. Thereafter, she sings with a soft voice until the exploding of the last chorus. The song comes to an end with a drum beat.
The song succeeds in delivering emotions, being personal but yet bombastic.
Kate is an experienced singer who represented Norway at Eurovision 1987.
Her voice is still a diamond. Such a heart-warmer on these cold days.
I am not sure whether the Norwegian audience will stand behind her, due to the native language and other reasons.

#4. Rasmus Thall — TRESKO (Eng: Clog shoes)

It is an electro-synth pop song.
The song starts with a dance beat that’s a mixture of electric guitar and digital keyboards.
After the instrumental part, Rasmus starts singing. The breaths can be heard between the lines. The song has a very specific beat and rhythm. After the first verse, the synth string and keyboards compose an instrumental part. The chorus is full of effects, as well as vocal process effects. We can hear the chior of backing vocals. The arcade-house soundtrack cuts the melody all along.
The bridge starts with a notable low voice, that sometimes sounds like a childish act.
The verse that comes after is less melodic, thereafter we can hear the horn/siren sound to tell us the chorus is closer. The song ends and it is quite short.
It is a very modern, fresh and unique song, but it approaches a very specific audience.
I would like to get some more natural singing from Rasmus.
Sometimes the effects “defeated” its existence as song (and not just a track).

#5. Alessandra Mele — Queen of Kings

It is a Scandinavian mid tempo pop song.
The song starts with its chorus, with piano playing and high tone of voice.
It starts like a ballad, but soon later, you can observe it won’t continue the same way.
The first verse is based on piano playing and drum beat. Her voice is powerful, but still tends to be of a high tone. The pre-chorus builds up with a beat that’s getting stronger and stronger until exploding.
The chorus is faster, and relies on a dance beat, with backing vocalists supporting her.
Thereafter, we get another chorus with a greater presence of the beat and guitar playing.
The bridge begins with violin playing and ends with a very high whistle note.
The song is catchy and contemporary. Even though the main “player” is the chorus, I still think the build-up in the pre-chorus upgraded the song a lot.
I hope Alessandra will deliver in her live performance as well.

#6. Jowst & Byron Williams Jr — Freaky for the Weekend 

The song starts with a guitar beat and JOWST’s pre-recorded vocals.
Byron has a low and warm voice. The first verse relies on guitar playing and dance beat. In the pre-chorus, the electric guitar can be heard better and the beat is much faster.
The chorus has very thin lyrics, just 2 phrases that repeat each other.
Melodically, I expected something bigger to happen, but it was the opposite.
The second verse is upbeat and relies on a clap beat mixed with guitar playing.
Byron uses some improvisations, the third verse has a flavour of the 1980’s music.
As it gets stronger, the effects take over the singing.
The song closes with the trumpet playing.
I feel like this is a great track, but not necessarily with this kind of singing.
On the other hand, Byron has a great voice that just doesn’t fit the upbeat cycles.

#7. Umami Tsunami — Geronimo

It is a hip-hop dance pop song.
The song starts with digital keyboards and a catchy beat.
The first verse relies on a very fast rap singing. There are 2 vocalists that combine efforts together.
Pre-chorus is more melodic with better singing abilities, however I think that having the spelling of the word “Geronimo” as an integral part of the per-chorus is too effortless.
The chorus is catchy, and this is where the beat standouts. We can hear guitars and keyboards in the background.
The next verse is based on a different melody which permits a very fast singing.
They perform this part as a mixture of rap and hip-hop. Once again, the pre-chorus is slower and there we can hear the singer with the higher tone of voice.
The chorus doesn’t come immediately after, but another spoken word-rap part.
The chorus is upbeat and memorable. Towards the end, it wears the clothes of a dance club song.
It is a nice effort, but it feels to me like an “upgraded” song for Junior Eurovision.
The production is worthy of praise, but still it can’t cover my “half” disappointment of the song.

My Personal Ranking

  1. Ulrikke — Honestly
  2. Alessandra Mele — Queen of Kings
  3. Kate Gulbrandsen — Tårer I Paradis
  4. Rasmus Thall — TRESKO (Eng: Clog shoes)
  5. Umami Tsunami — Geronimo
  6. Erik Næss — Wave
  7. Jowst & Byron Williams Jr — Freaky for the Weekend

My Prediction

I see 2 solid qualifiers among the 7 participants:

  1. Ulrikke — Honestly
  2. Alessandra Mele — Queen of Kings

As for the 3rd spot, I believe it will rely on live performances, I believe the tight competition will be between 2 acts (for the 3rd place):

  • Jowst & Byron Williams Jr — Freaky for the Weekend
  • Rasmus Thall — TRESKO

Which song is your favorite in the first semi-final?
Who will qualify for the final?
Is Norway’s song for Eurovision 2023 included in this semi-final?

Doron Lahav is 30-year-old, who lives in Israel. Doron has been watching the Eurovision Song Contest since early 2000s. Doron works as a Data Scientist and shows interest in singing and writing.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.