I’ve got some catching up to do if I ever want to get through these national finals, however do people keep up? I suppose the easy answer is that they start earlier, but whatever.
Anyway my attention turns now to one of the smaller nations in Eurovision, remote Iceland with barely 300,000 citizens to its name. They pack a punch though, and while they haven’t won a Eurovision yet, they have produced some of my favourite entries in recent years.
One of them came close to winning in Moscow’s 2009 contest, with Yohanna’s “Is it true?” making it to 2nd place. She entered Iceland’s Söngvakeppnin selection show, but was eliminated in the semi-finals. Another former Icelandic representative, Birgitta Haukdal from 2003’s contest, had more success, making this year’s national final. We’ll get to her as I look at Iceland’s finalists.
Magni Ásgeirsson – Ekki Líta Undan
I do love some Nordic strings! Oh hang on, whats going on? Guitars! This sounds a bit 80s, cheesy hair-rock. I like his voice, it’s got a nice coarse tone to it. For a rocky song it’s quite immediate. I won’t get too put off by not knowing Icelandic, they usually send an English version of the winner.
Nice glory notes, it’s very tuneful really, not what I was expecting at the start. I rather enjoyed that!
Svavar Knútur Kristinsson & Hreindís Ylva Garðarsdóttir Hólm – Lífið Snýst
Wow, those names are a mouthful! I like having no idea what the song’s going to sound like. I certainly didn’t see this one coming… is that Abigail Breslin and her slightly backward but oversized older brother? She’s sweet and possibly underage, he’s a bit creepy with his crazy hair, manic facial expression and tiny guitar.
The song itself is really lovely, it’s just a country duet isn’t it? Not too keen on the “ooooh” breakdown, but the rest of it flows quite nicely. It’s infectious, I want to sway from side to side in bland enjoyment of it. Doesn’t really hit any heights but it’s still very nice.
Birgitta Haukdal – Meðal Andanna
10 years on, Birgitta is back after representing Iceland in Riga. Was it worth the wait? I don’t know her previous entry, I’m still working on 2003’s contest, but she’s going for the classy but frosty ballad.
Some camera filters at play here but she looks lovely. The ballad is a pretty standard affair, like some 90s Eurovision ballad digitally remastered by some light electro production tweaks. Where the hell did those hooded monks come from?
I really like it, it builds really well, and the choreo is simple but effective. The key change and glory note was a bit shaky but it’s a good song. I just don’t think it’s quite in keeping with a flashy modern Eurovision – unless Iceland can’t afford to host it just yet…
Jógvan Hansen & Stefanía Svavarsdóttir – Til þín
A fresh-faced young man kicks it off, and is quickly joined by… is that Yohanna? No, maybe not. I’m not entirely sure… but anyway they are hitting the big chorus without messing around, aren’t they?
The verses a bit fillery, but their harmonies are good and the chorus doesn’t hold back. It’s like another country duet with a Coldplay-style big arena chorus. It’s energetic and pleasant, their voices are good. I’m struggling to get too excited, but it’s a good effort.
Haraldur Reynisson – Vinátta
Hmm well we had to run out of luck eventually, this doesn’t look like my cup of tea at all, laid-back acoustic guitar track. It’s quite chilled out but sounds like something old my dad would listen to.
I’m sure this appeals to the older voters since it made the final, but it’s just a bit of a nondescript track to my ears.
Unnur Eggertsdóttir – Ég Syng!
Time for the top two who made it into the superfinal. She’s very pretty – is she dancing to a different song? Oh there’s the beat finally! She’s a bit erratic, she’s throwing her arms and head all over the place! It’s a little distracting isn’t it?
The song is quite sunny and fun, quite unusual. The verses are a little dated, but those choruses have a lovely big beat and a nice contemporary feel. It’s just a bit baffling really, quite sweet but the melody doesn’t seem to decide what it’s supposed to be. A “Do-do-do-do” chorus really is a bit lazy though!
Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson – Ég á Líf
And here’s the winner. Not exactly a vintage year, but you can’t win them all. Not sure about the elf hair, he looks like Lucius Malfoy. So Iceland are sending a ballad this year. Hopefully they’ll translate that one.
I’m not keen on him as a performer, such bad posture too, UNCLENCH! This really reminds me of something, I can’t work it out. That echo effect really ruins the big not before the key-change.
Afraid I’m not really on board with this one yet, but it’s still early days. Repetition is the bedrock of a memorable song, and he certainly doesn’t shy away from that! Good luck, however you pronounce your name…
Out of interest, I did listen to Yohanna’s track “Þú”. It’s not bad, she’s a bit of a frowny performer isn’t she? It’s a got a bit of a country tinge, but her voice is still in great form. I wouldn’t get too indignant about her not qualifying, I don’t think there were really any amazing songs this year, Yohanna included. I think Iceland might be sitting out the 2013 final…