ESC 2017 Review: Norway – Grab The Disco Mask

I have a lot of questions about this song but I actually have more questions about how other people seem to feel about this song. If anyone is going to pick a fight with me, it’s probably over this song I think.

These are my own PERSONAL rankings of what I think of 2017’s Eurovision songs but I’m also going to make some bold predictions about the eventual fate of the song. These will probably be very wrong for a variety of reasons including I have no idea what almost half the artists sound like live or what type of staging and song changes could be made. There’s plenty of songs that have been let down by their staging (2016 Spain for example) so in the end they’re just guesses in the dark.

Country: Norway
Artist: JOWST
Song Title: Grab The Moment
My Ranking: 31st (out of 43)
Semi Final: 2nd Semi Final
Final placement prediction: NQ

I consider Norway to be one of the strongest countries in terms of making music that translates well for Eurovision. Norway even touches Sweden, the leaders in modern Eurotrash…I mean schlager…I mean whatever we call it now. I think Melodi Grand Prix is probably one of the consistently best national finals, both in terms of songs and variety and also in staging. Norway doesn’t quite pull out the same stops as Sweden but I think that makes it more accessible in a way and since there’s no heats or lead up it feels much more solid once the entry has picked, though technically Norway is the most losing nation (11th last place finishes at ESC), it’s had three wins under its belt and a fair amount of success. Norway’s last win in 2009 with “Fairytale” by Alexander Rybak won so hard it caused the entire voting system to be changed. So to count Norway out just because they NQ’d last year is a mistake.

That being said this years entry is at least something new and different. JWOST’s “Grab The Moment” is the song. It actually features Aleksander Walmann but he doesn’t seem to be listed on the official pages as of now, I’m not sure if this is on purpose or not. Either way JWOST is the stage name of Joakim With Steen a 27 year old who does production and behind the scenes as well as DJing and song writing, in the video he’s the one behind the DJ stand with the disco mask. Aleksander Walmann is the man center stage, a 31 year old EDM singer/song writer. He has a few singles to his name but actually neither of them is much in the public eye. They haven’t “grabbed the moment” until now. They weren’t my favorites in MGP but in a year of ballads anything besides a ballad is a welcome turn of events I suppose.

I have an immediate question about this song, how is this supposed to be preformed? At Eurovision you can only have live vocals. You cannot have any per-recorded vocals, you can’t have echoes, you can’t have distortions except in very specific ways. Last year Bulgaria had to change part of their backing track because of this but JWOST’s entire chorus is not live vocals and JWOST is a DJ so this is a part of the major performance component of the song as well. Minds more clever than mine are thinking up ways around this but it’s all I could think about for several days after this won MGP.

I don’t like this song. I’m going to tell you that because I know about how much other people like it and how catchy and modern it is. I’m aware of what other people may like about this song without actually enjoying it. The song to me starts okay but gets somewhat grating after the echoed chorus. The lyrics are fine, nothing to really get excited about which is fine for this contest. I found it repetitive in a way that bored me and I hear “coffee” instead of “coffin” every time which is neither here nor there.

There’s a couple things that stand out about the song though. One is that Aleksander is not really got a lot of stage presence. He actually wanders around the stage somewhat aimlessly during the DJ chorus. In addition he does two moves with his hands and looks like a guy who is not often on stage – at one point he even turns him back on the camera (!) a surefire way to lose connection with your audience. The second thing is that the vocals in this song, despite being auto-tuned/adjusted are not stellar. This song is very easy to sing, I assumed he was going to pull out a coy high note or low note at some point but he never does. The two times I thought he was going for it he stands dead still on stage and the recorded chorus plays.

The last thing about this song that bugs me is that “Love Love Peace Peace” just made fun of the fact that having a DJ on your stage makes you look “modern”. What does Norway do with the knowledge that this makes them look ridiculous and hokey? Have three! If the staging is anything like it is at MGP, I think Norway is in for a bad time. Removing the chorus takes away any reason for the DJ(s) to be on stage, the song doesn’t really do much and is surprisingly low energy due to Aleksander himself who looks more like a stand in than the singer, and the fact that I have a hard time imagining this song playing on the radio more than once or twice ever (while several songs this year would get ridiculous amounts of play) makes this song a bit of a hard sell for the jury and televoters. When you add in that’s it’s in the 2nd Semi Final, I think the moment might not get grabbed after all…

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