KEiiNO with Spirit In The Sky win Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix 2019

03 March 2019

In one of the highest quality national finals I can remember, KEiiNO got the numbers to win a place at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv in May. MGP’s unique formula of a “gold final” for the top four of the 10 entries, which are split into duels with the winners matched in a final duel, made for a dramatic finale. The only disappointment was D’Sound were matched against KEiiNO in the first duel, meaning one of the two big popular dance songs would be out early. Not sure how these duels are decided, whether it’s 1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3 or it’s random, either way, I’m not a fan of them as a concept and would prefer they compete as a group and the top two go to a final duel.

KEiiNO win NRK Melodi Grand Prix with Spirit In The Sky - Review - Norway Eurovision Song Contest 2019

KEiiNO win NRK Melodi Grand Prix with Spirit In The Sky. Image: nrk.no

Those annoying international juries nearly upset matters for the obvious people’s favourite when KEiiNO struggled behind D’Sound and Adrian Jørgensen during the jury voting. Obviously the televote propelled KEiiNO into a certain top 4, and then onto victory. Full results are not yet known.

NRK Melodi Grand Prix

01 Chris Medina – We Try
02 D’Sound – Mr. Unicorn
03 Mørland – En Livredd Mann
04 Anna-Lisa Kumoji – Holla
05 Erlend Bratland – Sing For You
06 Ingrid Berg Mehus – Feel
07 Hank von Hell – Fake It
08 Carina Dahl – Hold Me Down
09 Adrian Jørgensen – The Bubble
10 KEiiNO – Spirit In The Sky

In previewing the songs, my favourites were Feel, Spirit In The Sky, Hold Me Down, En Livredd Mann and Mr Unicorn. The only song I didn’t like was Anna-Lisa Kumoji with Holla. This sort of rap or hip-hop, whatever it is, it’s not my thing. In real life I call it “crap with a silent C”. That feeling continued at MGP, and it was with some dismay to see Holla in the gold final. Ignoring my contempt for it and adding my regard for the other nine, it’s fair to say all 10 entries were worthy of a place at Eurovision – at least for this year.

Sing For You by Erland Bratland was the next weakest as, while it was performed well, it was all a bit generic, and it seems to have been composed using bits of other songs, notably the first line of the chorus sounding so much like Angels by Robbie Williams. Interesting name, Bratland, as in Australia it’s known as a “school”. Chris Medina, who appeared on American Idol in 2010, brought a performance of We Try that had me glued for two minutes, before the final minute spluttered to completion. Hank von Hell was great for novelty value and not much else. Fake It proved the apt title because he was faking this being high octane enough for rock to do well at Eurovision. Carina Dahl with Hold Me Down dropped down only because it seemed a failed to pop on stage and others impressed further.

Note: No official videos from NRK are online so using unofficial for the moment. Holla couldn’t be found at all.

The Fab Five

5 Mørland – En Livredd Mann

Rare to see a song in Norwegian at MGP, especially one so good and possibly a chance to win. Mørland presented it brilliantly, and provided meaning to it for those not able to understand the lyrics. Alas, it wasn’t to be for Norwegian this year, leaving the superb Alvedansen by Christine Guldbrandsen in 2006 as last Eurovision entry in that language.

4 Ingrid Berg Mehus – Feel

This was a song I liked instantly, and it was great to see it realised on stage. Any girl that can play the fiddle gets extra ticks in my book too. Again, nothing against Feel or the performance, it’s just that others proved better on the night that sees Feel dropping from first position from the song previews. If there was one feeling I had, it ended quite abruptly, and that’s due to the two solo violin sections eating away the time. According to the NRK MGP website, Ingrid is the girl who was the inspiration behind Alexander Rybak’s Eurovision 2009 winner, Fairytale. Listening and watching her, instant thoughts were of a female version of Rybak. That dissipated once the song got going. This was her first MGP, so let’s hope we see her again.

3 KEiiNO – Spirit In The Sky

The people’s favourite is the winner for a reason. Catchy song, great energy, and some indigenous (Sami) elements thrown in. Personally, if you toss the indigenous bits out, especially the bridge section, the song would lose much appeal. Of course, it is there, so we can’t judge it on hypothetical situations, unless there’s a Sami rights protest movement demanding the indigenous elements be stripped from it. Also the staging, there’s not really much to it other than people standing around (a common problem when groups perform dance songs), with some fog and lighting added to represent the northern lights. A final peeve, must I continue to right the group’s name as KEiiNO? It’s already driving me crazy. I generally have a rule NOT to go all capitals when artists present their names that way, so not sure about mixed case. Does Keiino work?

2 Adrian Jørgensen – The Bubble

This was one I originally earmarked as a top 3, and then a top 5, and then it just dropped after I became more attached to others. Then at MGP, that initially feeling I had for it returned again. This is such an uplifting, infectious and, dare I say, bubbly song. The female vocalist coming in after 2.5 minutes is pure genius, and class. I loved this element so much and it confirms that brilliant staging doesn’t need lights and fireworks, only awareness. Upon reading the title I immediately thought of the Bubble Boy episode in Seinfeld. I was so pleased to see The Bubble excel, and even in second place, Adrian Jørgensen, you’ll always be my bubble boy.

1 D’Sound – Mr Unicorn

This is how you present a song! We had the simple genius of The Bubble, and now the complex ingenuity of Mr Unicorn. Hey, what do you get if you put a unicorn in a bubble? Once we got past someone in a welder’s mask at the start (come on, masks are so 2017), we get to a stylish blonde with stylish dance moves in a stylish cube. I was hooked already. Then the other two members of D’Sound are in cubes either side and we got an entrancing display right to the end. Even if much of the best bits is television trickery, it’s done so well, and elevated a song initially I had as fifth to my favourite. Curiously, Mirjam Omdal is only a recent addition to a band that’s been around since 1993, having replaced the previous lead vocalist, Kim Ofstad, in 2018. Mirjam emerged from The Voice (where else) in 2017 and has seamlessly integrated herself. Credit to her for bringing the song alive, and possibly D’Sound to MGP at all. In 1996, Kim Ofstad said it would never happen, later calling herself young and stupid for her comments. Can we send D’Sound to Eurovision for another country? Heck, KEiiNO, D’Sound, Adrian Jørgensen, Mørland and Ingrid Berg Mehus, can we send them all please? Takk Norge for a great Melodi Grand Prix.

Eurovision.tv: KEiiNO is Norway’s choice for Tel Aviv

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