Tonight, Norway will select their entry for Belgrade, and there are all possibilites for a very happy ending as well as a complete flop and failure. What would life be without excitement?
Eight happy finalists complete the line-up in Oslo Spektrum, and here is the review and opinions of Mr Becks...
1. CRASH! - Get up 1/5
This is a good opener for the show, but not at all what I would recommend for Norway or anyone. The lead singer is good and charming enough, but rock is so 2006 by now. On top of that, this is nowhere near as strong as "In My Dreams" from 2005. This chorus lacks all kinds of finesse and elegance and keep stomping in the same place throughout its three minutes. Nice for them to reach the final, but let the fun end here.
2. ANN-MARI ANDERSEN - Ándagassii 4/5
This is the first of my two top favourites to win this final. I find this piece of contemporary pop almost breathtakingly good and captivating. The use of Sámi language is only one of many spices in the mix, this would sound good in any old language. Ann-Mari is an adorable stage presence and the backing singers contribute a lot to the overall impression. Maybe slightly too difficult to hit home with the big masses, but a very proud choice.
3. TINKERBELLS "Hold On" 1/5
Flash forward 40 years into the future: Shania Twain and Wilson Phillips chant together at the old country singers' home and the result would sound very much like this. Country with no bite, neither in the performance nor in the melody. The girls are still pretty and ever-smiling, but this would sink like a rock internationally.
4. VERONICA AKSELSEN - Am I Supposed To Love Again 4/5
A wonderful, wonderful little song that will remind more than one listener of that wonderful, wonderful little song Silje Vige sang back in Millstreet in 1993. However, one would have wished for a little bit more attack in the performance - some more conviction and more confidence. Now it all becomes a tiny bit too lean and forgettable - if Veronica could crack her own shell and come better through the screen, then she would be a real contender.
5. KING OF TROLLS - Far Away 1/5
No, no, no. In a year when far too few countries take this contest seriously and send in un-funny comedy songs instead of real choruses, a troll is not what anyone needs. This troll also stole a musical hook that Chips used for "Having A Party" already back in 1982. And - hint, hint - the world still remembers Lordi. Nobody likes a copycat. Let this delight the kindergarten kids in Norway, but spare the rest of us.
6. OLE IVARS - Som i himmelen 2/5
Sorry, miss Posh, I still quite like this. I find it pleasant and cute, and a welcome break in the middle of everybody who keeps trying too hard. But there is a lack of climax in this song, it would be a disastrous choice for Belgrade and this kind of music is maybe not what Norway wants to promote themselves with. Cute all the same, for as long as it doesn't win.
7. TORSTEIN SØDAL - Eastern Wind 1/5
No, no, no. This is almost even more no, no, no than the trolls. This kind of big, bombastic pseudo-Irish ballads polluted Eurovision for many years, and we all had more than enough of them by now. Thanks for trying, but no. Didn't Norway learn anything from the 2001 fiasco?
8. MARIA HAUKAAS STORENG - Hold On, Be Strong 5/5
At once it feels a bit better, to have my own big favourite coming after the dansband and the pointless ballad: if this felt like a winner beforehand it feels even more so now. I would hope for a more organic performance, with some interaction between Maria and her band, some more presence and maybe a hint of sin or anything slightly dangerous, just to spice things up. But that can all be fixed still. And this song is the best of the eight.
I choose to have faith in our Norweigan brothers and sisters, so I think they will vote Maria Haukaas Storeng to Serbia, where she is sure to make them real proud. If not, Ann-Mari Andersen would do more than nicely too. If they go for trolls or Irish ballads, I won't believe my eyes. Please, don't let us down. We need good songs now.