Last night, Icelandic broadcaster RUV unveiled the ten artists who will be competing to represent Iceland at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in May – and the ten songs that they’ll be singing!
Amongst the line-up, the big names are the two returning veterans (Hera Björk and Friðrik Ómar) and two artists who have been doing their own thing quite successfully for quite a few years outside of the realms of the contest (Hatari and Daniel Oliver). But as always with these national selections for Eurovision, there are a few interesting new names to discover, who have delivered the goods for us as a nice surprise. And the best surprise of all, is that this year’s line-up is SO much better than last year’s. Iceland have stepped things up ten-fold in 2019.
Below, we’ve dissected each of the songs, and why not – we’ve ranked them in order from best to worst. Because we’re all busy people and we all need to know where the good stuff is.
All songs have been released in both English and Icelandic (aside from two, which have just been recorded in Icelandic) and you can listen to each version on the album.
As for the process of actually selecting the winner, ten songs will be split into two heats (taking place on Feb 9th and Feb 16th), with the two highest scoring songs from each heat heading straight to the final on March 2nd. RUV will then choose a wildcard from the eliminated songs, to make it a five-song final, and Iceland’s Eurovision entry will be chosen.
Simple, right? Now let’s see what’s in the running;
Daníel Óliver – Samt Ekki/Licky Licky
(Daníel Óliver Sveinsson, Linus Josefsson and Peter von Arbin)
Last year, Iceland recorded their worst result at Eurovision to date. So it makes a lot of sense to switch things up this year. Namely, by notching the tempo up quite considerably and abandoning all notions of a mic stand. Forget the icky icky sentiments and add the licky licky sauce. Daniel’s having a lot of fun with this song, and it shows. If he can translate that into a cheeky and engaging performance, then that’ll be quite the package for Tel Aviv. A super-catchy pop song with a talking-point title, delivered with devilish smile to the camera.
Heiðrún Anna Björnsdóttir – Helgi/Sunday Boy
(Heiðrún Anna Björnsdóttir & Sævar Sigurgeirsson)
Everything about this song is adorable – not least the Icelandic accent of the singer. So cute, it almost sounds affected. Oh well, it worked for Björk. This song brings to mind an altogether different international success story from the Nordics though – it sounds like The Cardigans entering a song into Eurovision. And we love it!
Tara Mobee – Betri án þín/Fighting For Love
(Andri Þór Jónsson and Eyþór Úlfar Þórisson / Tara Mobee English)
A very close third. And in fact, our top three are quite some way ahead of the rest of the line-up. ‘Fighting For Love’ isn’t going out of its way to be anything other than a great pop song that can be enjoyed by a broad spectrum of people and tastes. Kind of what makes a really good Eurovision song, when you think about it.
Ívar Daníels – Þú Bætir Mig/Make Me Whole
(Stefán Þór Steindórsson & Richard Micallef/Nikos Sofis)
A joyful, mid-tempo guitar romp. Not the kind of thing that normally gets us excited, admittedly. But the soaring chorus on this one is undeniably infectious – both in how catchy it is and how smile-inducing it is too.
Hatari – Hatrið Mun Sigra
Well this is different. Known for outrageous live shows and screaming loudly about social discontent, Hatari have been a massive hit on the indie and alternative scene over the last few years. Their appearance in this line-up is surprising, and it’s also fucking huge. And as for the song? Well the fact that even we, Scandipop, are ranking it so high, means that they’re probably onto something. A growling, industrial synthpop clash that is here to shake things up a bit. Iceland would be immensely proud to send this to represent them at Eurovision. So don’t be surprised if they do!
Kristina Skoubo Bærendsen – Ég á Mig Sjálf/Mama Said
(Sveinn Rúnar Sigurðsson & Valgeir Magnússon)
A classic pop number with a retro gloss painted over the top of it. Perfectly pleasant and enjoyable. But while the vocal stands out as something pretty special, the chorus that it’s singing feels like it’s lacking what would be needed to attract the votes in Tel Aviv.
Friðrik Ómar – Hvað Ef ég Get Ekki Elskað?/What If I Can’t Have Love?
(Friðrik Ómar Hjörleifsson & Sveinbjörn I. Baldvinsson)
The man from Euroband is back on his own. This time with a soulful ballad. It’s a step up from what Iceland sent to Eurovision last year. But – for all intents and purposes – it’s what Iceland sent to Eurovision last year.
Hera Björk – Eitt Andartak/Moving On
(Örlygur Smári, Hera Björk Þórhallsdóttir & Valgeir Magnússon)
The self-proclaimed ‘Queen of Fucking Everything’. And normally we’d agree. In fact, had she entered ‘Moving On’ into last year’s Icelandic selection, it may well have been the best song in the line-up. In this line-up though, it doesn’t quite cut it. And we can well see both her hoards of fans and the Icelandic public, well, Moving On. We have full faith that she’ll be back with a banger another time though.
Þórdís Imsland – Nú Og Hér/What Are You Waiting For?
(Svala Björgvinsdóttir, Bjarki Ómarsson / Stefán Hilmarsson)
Co-written by THE Svala. Unfortunately though, THE Svala probably wouldn’t touch this with a bargepole – which is perhaps why it’s ended up in the hands of poor Þórdís. ‘What Are You Waiting For’ leaves us waiting for anything remotely remarkable to jump out. Readers, we’re still waiting.
Elli Grill, Skaði and Glymur – Jeijó, Keyrum Alla Leið
Jesus Christ, guys. We’re all for a bit of musical diversity, but vomiting out whatever tripe is in your head for the sake of ‘eclecticism’ does not make you as special as you think it does. This probably seemed like a good idea to these three before they were told that Hatari would also be competing this year. And quite how they’re going to brave that stage in Heat 2 after Hatari have done the same thing but approximately a trillion times better in Heat 1, is unimaginable. We’re already devastatingly mortified for them.