Ah, Iceland. Things are going very well here. You’ve got a seven song final of which 5 are really rather good. Let’s reprise my preview posts and see who Listen Outside wants to go to Kyiv (it’s obviously Daði, let’s not kid ourselves)
Aron Hannes Emilsson – Tonight
The first of our two tropical post dancehall songs by young men called Aron. This is as poppy and current as you can imagine and doesn’t overegg the tropical pudding (should that be over-pineapple?). Aron’s official Songvakeppnin photo has him all done up in a turtleneck and jacket like Draco Malfoy going to the Christmas Ball, but I think that doesn’t seem to match with his song. Looking at his stuff on Youtube, I do not think that those are Aron’s normal clothes. Let him wear something he’s comfortable in, give him some cool looking dancers and this could be going to Kyiv. In English. [See, they followed my advice]
Arnar Jónsson & Rakel Pálsdóttir – Again
And if you were waiting for the slightly dark love duet, here we go. Iceland does not disappoint us on that front. There’s a violin break, during which I would be tempted to pop Greta on stage, maybe on a hoverboard. In the studio version, both Rakel and Arnar have really lovely voices with superb control over a wide range of dynamics – it’ll be interesting to see how that comes across in the selection shows. I think it won’t win, but if it does, it’ll be because Greta is doing the violin solo on a hoverboard and the lyrics will be in English. [Sadly no Greta on a hoverboard in the semi, but there’s still time]
Aron Brink – Hypnotised
The second tropical song by a chap called Aron. The songs are so similar that whichever one of them has the best delivery and stage presence ought to win. Theoretically, that would be this Aron (the slightly prettier one tbh), but the thing is: there’s a touch of Margaret’s affected patois delivery in the English version of this song, something that the other Aron manages to safely avoid. I don’t think I’m totally ok with that.
If we can have this Aron singing the other Aron’s song I could get behind that? Anyway, another strong contender regardless of what I think.
Hildur Kristin Sefánsdóttir – Bammbaramm
I’ve had one of HILDUR’s songs in the queue to go on Listen Outside for ages. Now she’s giving Songvakeppnin a shot, and following in the time honoured Eurovision tradition of using a cunningly international, untranslatable chorus. Well played Hildur! It might be a bit too gentle to force its way into voters’ memories, but I really like it – reminds me of Lykke Li’s first album in its delicate positivity. If this wins the selection, I would go for the English version. I’m at a bit of a loss as to how they’ll stage it? I’m assuming that there’ll be dancers, but I hope that they can avoid making it either too edgy or too cutesy. [I was wrong to worry about the staging, it’s both cutesy and edgy and perfect]
Rúnar Eff Rúnarsson – Make your way back home
Iceland are particularly good at powerful ballads where big men display their sensitive sides. This is one of those – it builds like 2016’s Sound of Silence and has just enough of both chiming guitars and stuttering synths to please both the Michał Szpak and Sanna Nielsen camps of balladry respectively. I am not as keen on it as I am on some of the other songs, and I would say that it doesn’t really matter if it is in English or Icelandic. It’s a nice listen.
Svala Björgvinsdóttir – Paper
Don’t let this put you off, but this is basically a 21st century Pat Benatar power ballad. If you want a bracing Nordic electro blast then this is it. If you have worn out your 3rd copy of Robyn’s Body Talk then this is for you. If you want to see a grown woman covered in sick tattoos sing the heck out of an ambivalent cybernetic love song then this is your jam. If you like syncopated vocal lines and big mountains made of synths and breathy backing vocals then step this way. Huge potential goosebumps whether it is in Icelandic or English. Top five in Kyiv. (Disclaimer: I also said that about Hear Them Calling) [I really like this, and Svala looks like she’d be fun]
Daði Freyr Pétursson – Is this love?
Another song aimed straight at my heart. This is an ADORABLE song about two introverts skirting the narrow line between failure and success when flirting. Dadi looks like a super sweet long haired nerd who knows his way around a Moog – check out this video from his other project Mixophrygian. Like I say, targeted straight at my heart. I’d hope to stage this with him doing a bit of stage interaction with the backing singer who is playing the part of the girl in the song, and have them both dressed as if they are wallflowers at indie discos. Cardigans, DMs, shy looks from under their respective fringes. If it wins, send it in English, But it won’t win Songvakeppnin. We can’t have nice things like this.
I have no idea if anyone else would like this, but part of the joy of National Final season is that there’s always something for everyone. Especially, there’s always something for me from Iceland.
[Obviously I’m overjoyed that it’s gone down well enough to merit both Eurofan love and that coveted closing spot in the Grand Final. And the staging is something else. Maybe we can have nice things like this?]