16 February 2020
After an exciting Gold Duel against Kristin Husøy, Ulrikke Brandstorp won Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix final of 2020 in Trondheim with 200,345 (50.72%) votes to 194,667 (49.28%) to secure her place at the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam in May. The votes were read by region, and Kristin led into the final region when the Central region, from where she won her semi final, overwhelmingly endorsed her with 30,000 more votes than Ulrikke. That lead remained steady until the nation’s largest voting region, the Eastern region, was read last, and that’s when Ulrikke jumped back into the lead with 102,663 (59.56%) to 69,696 (40.44%) and snatch victory.
It was a somewhat controversial MGP when the online voting system crashed before the four-song Gold Final could be determined, so a 30-person backup jury representing all demographic types was used to decide the finalists. As much as there was significant consternation online about the failure (which was announced during the broadcast), it was wise to purge the international juries seen in recent years and go for a 100% public vote. National finals should be decided by locals, not for interlopers that have little respect for local culture or tradition. Technical problems can happen, and a backup jury of 30 people is about as good and as representative as you get. In the end, the right song won. Ulrikke was the clear stand out of the field and always the favourite to win.
This year’s Melodi Grand Prix was expanded to celebrate Norway’s 60 years in Eurovision. Five semi finals were announced representing each of the five regions and featuring five songs in each. One of the songs in each was pre-qualified for the final and only there to present their song live. The other four would compete for a spot in the final.
The pre-qualified songs:
Sondrey – Take My Time
Didrik & Emil – Out of Air
Akuvi – Som du er
Ulrikke Brandstorp – Attention
Tone Damli – Hurts Sometimes
The regional semi final winners:
Raylee – Wild (South)
Rein Alexander – One Last Time (East)
Kristin Husøy – Pray For Me (Central)
Magnus Bokn – Over the Sea (West)
Liza Vassilieva – I Am Gay (North)
NRK Melodi Grand Prix Review
01 Raylee – Wild
Presented a bit better than her semi final appearance, largely due to the bigger stage, and would be pleased to make the Gold Final. While I enjoyed it, it’s still a rather cheap song. 6/10
02 Didrik & Emil – Out Of Air
My heart is broken. Why were the leapfrogging boys and the blossom tree removed from the stage for my favourite song from the semi final stage? Didrik & Emil downgraded their presentation to something quite bland and boring for the final. It made their song oh so 2010, and even back then it would have been outdated. 7/10
03 Magnus Bokn – Over The Sea
Nothing changed my view of this from from the preview. Ho-hum Titanic-movie folk dancing stuff. 5/10
04 Akuvi – Som du er
No improvement from the quite dull and repetitive vibe I already felt with this. 4/10
05 Kristin Husøy – Pray For Me
A great effort to run Ulrikke so close. I always liked it, especially the rock-vibe with a jazz twist, and the harmonies at the end. It was really missing some soaring vocal moments to match it with Ulrikke. 8/10
06 Rein Alexander – One Last Time
One of the “people’s favourites” if you believe the hype. I always found its novelty value wear off quickly to become quite simplistic and uninteresting. 5/10
07 Tone Damli – Hurts Sometimes
My ultra favourite song of MGP – the one I could listen to over and over. It’s so beautiful and uplifting, and Tone has a lovely voice. She presented it just as lovely as well, and she got some serious applause. That gave me hope she could reach the Gold Final. I understand that it didn’t because it is a bit understated. 8/10
08 Sondrey – Take My Time
This is that modern funky/dance kind of music that doesn’t appeal to me. Credit to Sondrey for presenting it well. 3/10
09 Ulrikke – Attention
This was all action at the end, punctuated by dramatic drops in intensity to keep it interesting throughout. While Ulrikke can hit the big notes, I wouldn’t call her voice a spectacular one at that level. Kjetil Mørland (of A Monster Like Me fame in 2015 with Debrah Scarlett) co-wrote it, so it always had the pedigree to do well. 9/10
10 Liza Vassilieva – I Am Gay
Lucky last got a spot in the Gold Final. All rather pleasant and fun, and probably aided by performing last and the song’s message. 6/10
The Gold Final
01 Raylee – Wild (South)
05 Kristin Husøy – Pray For Me (Central)
09 Ulrikke Brandstorp – Attention
10 Liza Vassilieva – I Am Gay (North)
Ulrikke was the only pre-qualified song to make the Gold Final. The rest had won their regional semi finals so it shows how building momentum from a win can build a fan base and help you in the end. No doubt Kristin Husøy ran the Gold Duel so close because she carried the fan support she received in winning the Central region semi final.
The Gold Duel
Wasn’t it special seeing the likes of Margaret Berger (2013), Agnete (2016) and Wig Wam’s Åge Sten Nilsen (2005) read out the votes for each region? Come on, come on, come on. Love is all over me.
05 Kristin Husøy – Pray For Me – 194,667 votes (49.28%)
09 Ulrikke Brandstorp – Attention – 200,345 votes (50.72%)
For me, there were only three in it: Kristin Husøy, Tone Damli and Ulrikke Brandstorp. While I really loved Tone’s Hurts Sometimes, common sense said Ulrikke had to win. She’ll do well in Rotterdam, especially as she’ll stand out against the many solo men already selected, and she and her song are an impressive combination. Enjoy!