Next up on our list of previews is the land of geysers, air traffic-disrupting volcanoes and a really big mountain. It’s Iceland!!!
Iceland was the last Nordic country to debut in the Eurovision Song Contest, first taking part in 1986. They will make their 31st appearance this year. They are also the only Nordic country that has yet to win the contest. Their best result ever is second place, which they have achieved twice, in 1999 when Selma sang “All Out Of Luck” and in 2009 when Yohanna sang “Is It True?”. Last year, despite being a fan favourite, Greta Salóme failed to qualify for the final, finishing 14th in semi-final 1 with “Hear Them Calling” and leaving Iceland out of the final for the second year running.
The Icelandic broadcaster, Ríkisútvarpið (RÚV), organised the twelfth edition of Söngvakeppnin to select their Eurovision entry. Twelve songs competed over two semi-finals, in which all songs had to be performed in Icelandic. Televoting picked three entries from each semi-final to progress to the final. There was also a wildcard given to one of the songs that did not initially qualify from the semi-finals. In the final, all songs had to be performed in the language they would be performed in at the Eurovision itself. Voting took place over two rounds. In the first round, a jury and televoting picked two superfinalists. In the superfinal, televoting alone decided the winner. After winning both rounds by a landslide, Svala was awarded the Icelandic ticket to Kyiv.
Svala Björgvinsdóttir, commonly known as simply Svala, was born on February 8th 1977 in Reykjavík. Her father, Bo Halldórsson, represented Iceland in 1995 with the song Núna (Now). Svala released her first recodring at the age of 7, when she sang backup on one of her father’s songs. Her first number one came at the age of 9, when she sang a duet with her father called “Fyrir Jól” (For Christmas). In 1999, she signed with EMI Records in the US, which was one of the biggest record deals for an Icelandic artist at the time. Her first single from that deal, “The Real Me” was a top 30 hit in the US. In 2006, she formed the band Steed Lord and began to tour around the world. She also got to design a line of clothes for H&M in 2007. Last year, she formed the project Blissful with her husband Einar and released their first single “Elevate”. She is also one of the coaches on The Voice of Iceland. Svala’s entry for Kyiv, “Paper” (originally performed in Icelandic as Ég veit það), was written and composed by Einar Egilsson, Lester Mendez, Lily Elise and Svala herself.
What an amazing offering of electro poppy goodness Iceland has brought this year. Even though it contains a lot of synths that hark back to the 80’s, the song still sounds fresh and current. It’s worth mentioning that this song is about mental health problems and overcoming them. Svala lays her soul bare for all to see in this song but still comes across as someone ready to stand and fight. A strong staging in Kyiv could lift Iceland out of its semi-final misery. In my opinion, it is one of the strongest entries in semi-final 1.
What Could Have Been
Iceland loves the Eurovision (95% of population watched last year’s final!) and puts a lot of effort into selecting their song. One of the other standouts from this year was Arnar Jónsson and Rakel Pálsdóttir with “Again (Til mín)”. You would think a duet in Eurovision consists of a man and a woman shouting at each other from across the stage but this is the opposite. Their voices compliment each other perfectly and it suits the dark and magical ambience very well. Iceland would have also made a good choice with this song.
Gangi þér vel á Íslandi!
Will this paper beat the rock or be beaten by the scissors? Leave your comments below. Stay tuned tomorrow for another Eurovision preview!
(Sources: eurovision.tv, RÚV, YouTube)