This week’s New Music Friday is gonna be a special one. With all of us deprived of an actual Eurovision Song Contest this year, the much-anticipated Eurovision film could not have come along at a better point in time than the early summer of 2020. Produced and co-written by Will Ferrell, who also stars in the lead role, the film is distributed by Netflix, and lands on their streaming platform this Friday.
The film is largely set in Iceland, and revolves around the story of two Icelandic musicians (Fire Saga – Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams) who finally get to live out their dream of representing their country at the Eurovision Song Contest, hoping to bring Iceland its first win. And it’s perhaps this Nordic pop connection that got us sent a preview stream of the film last week, for review. We’ll take it!
The film is a whole lot of fun and serves up two hours of enjoyment around what’s, let’s face it, the best subject matter there is when it comes to light entertainment. The Eurovision Song Contest itself is awarded pretty much the same reverence it is in the real world, and some impressive attention has been given to a lot of the contest’s intricacies that the hardcore fans amongst us will appreciate. In fact, the main fear that Eurovision fans had about this film – that it would be Americans making fun of silly Europeans and their ridiculous contest – is actually addressed and turned right around in a couple of small parts of the film, where we have the silly Europeans making fun of the Americans. So there we are, on that front.
On top of that, we get the added bonus that comes with any production that was filmed in Iceland – the picturesque beauty of the country itself. Always a sight to behold, in whatever context you can get to see a piece of it.
But we’re a music website, not a film website. So let’s flip this review into what most of you visit these pages for – the POP. Of which there is plenty. And for which the filmmakers have wisely decided to stay in the Nordic lands to make. From Molly Sandén to Thomas G:son, from Alexander Rybak to Andreas Carlsson, and from John Lundvik to Jörgen Elofsson, plenty of our faves have contributed to the best music moments of this film. And we’ve rounded up our top-ten of those moments in the film – in which the music takes centre stage.
Our Top 10 Moments from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga
10. Is that Lordi?!
When a group of monster men take to the stage to open the Eurovision semi final, performing a hard-rock interpretation of what’s for all intents and purposes a schlager song, you would be forgiven for thinking that actual real-life Eurovision winners – Finnish band Lordi – had made a cameo and were just wearing different masks. But it’s actually Swedish artist Adam Grahn, the frontman for rock band Royal Republic, featuring Courtney Jeané. ‘Running With The Wolves’ by Moon Fang (representing Belarus) is clearly a respectful and well-done nod to the Finnish greats, however. And we love to see it.
09. Baby! I can’t wait toooo knoooow….
…what do you think about the final scene in the movie? In which a lank-haired Icelandic musician who has been given the chance to represent his native Iceland at Eurovision, shares the stage with his girlfriend and their newborn baby. A coincidence? Or a last-minute addition to the film in order to pay homage to that other Icelandic break-out Eurovision star from this year, Daði Freyr?
08. Fire Saga – ‘Jaja Ding Dong’
Fire Saga’s (local) crowd-pleasing take on the Nordic dansband genre. “Jaja! Ding Dong! My love for you is growing wide and long.” And that’s not even the filthiest lyric to clutch your pearls to.
07. The history book on the shelf – is *always* repeating itself.
Props are given, respect is paid and credit is placed firmly where it is due – as it is revealed that our Eurovision hero’s dreams were inspired by ABBA’s iconic Eurovision win with ‘Waterloo’. Netflix didn’t really need to devote any screen time to a performance from almost 50 years ago – but we’re super chuffed that they did.
06. Fire Saga – ‘Volcano Man’
You will all be familiar with this beauty by now. Close your eyes and it could almost be KEiiNO. Open your eyes and you’re treated to a music video filmed in the great Icelandic outdoors. Our only disappointment involving ‘Volvano Man’ was finding that neither the film nor the soundtrack featured an extended version. One minute and 20 seconds just ain’t enough!
Yes, the film features an actual Söngvakeppnin – the Icelandic national final to choose its Eurovision entry. The stage is impressively similar to the one used for Söngvakeppnin 2019, too, so kudos to all involved for that noted attention to detail. Acts range from a gent clearly inspired by Rasmussen, to actual Demi Lovato belting out an actual Jörgen Elofsson song (‘In The Mirror’ by Katiana)!!! But at RÚV, there are some concerns over sending something *too* good to Eurovision, over fears that hosting the contest the following year might bankrupt them…
04. Fire Saga – ‘Double Trouble’
The Icelandic Eurovision entry. And do you know what? It might even be one of Iceland’s better ones of the past decade! The film features the most disastrous performance of the song – the sort you might have always wondered could happen had one of the more ludicrous Eurovision stagings over the years gone badly wrong in front of hundreds of millions of viewers.
03. The Eurovision-star song-off!
A big highlight of the film for fans will be this moment – in which a plethora of actual Eurovision stars come together to treat viewers to a spot-the-cameo performance that’s not dissimilar to one of those well-produced medleys from the Pitch Perfect films. Even Queen Loreen shows up with a smile on her face!
02. The Eurovision Song Contest
Naturally, the most important bit of the film to get right. And they do – from the spectacle of the staging, to the exciting randomness of the voting, as well as the strict adherence to the process (do not exceed your alloted time for your tech rehearsal) and the rules (this film might be centred around you, but you’re not above potential disqualification). And then there is the music. One high point is the highly swoonsome Russian entry (‘Lion Of Love’ by Alexander Lemtov) who enters the contest as the clear favourite but is carrying the cross of having to remain in the closet because of the country from which he comes – a character possibly based on [REDACTED]. Plus, there’s the fabulous Greek entry (‘Come and Play (Masquerade)’ by Mita), penned by Thomas G:son no less, and vocalled by famed ‘Tango Tango’ chanteuse Petra Nielsen. And finally, perhaps the least believable plot point in the film – Sweden sends a rap song to represent them at Eurovision (vocalled by none other than superstar writer and producer Savan Kotecha) – ‘Coolin With Da Homies’ by Johnny John John.
01. Fire Saga – ‘Húsavík’
Ok yes, so the film largely focuses on the sillier side of Eurovision songs and performances. But in the end, the big music moment in the Eurovision movie is something that every Eurovision fan has dreamed of at some point in the last decade or so – Molly Sandén belting out a Savan Kotecha-composed schlager ballad that sounds somewhere between ‘Never Enough’ from The Greatest Showman, and a timeless Sonja Aldén classic. No, that’s not something in your eye – you’re full-on weeping, just let it all out.