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Iceland: 12 Söngvakeppnin Semi-Finalists

Icelandic broadcaster, RUV, has released this year’s hopefuls vying to represent the nation in Kiev and hopefully make a return to the Grand Final for the first time since 2014.

The songs can be listened to here and all of them have both Icelandic and English versions.

Semi 1

  1. Hildur – Bammbaramm
  2. Erna Mist Pétursdóttir – I’ll be gone
  3. Arnar Jónsson & Rakel Pálsdóttir – Again
  4. Júlí Heiðar Halldórsson & Þórdís Birna Borgarsdóttir –  Get Back Home
  5. Rúnar Eff – Make your way back home
  6. Aron Hannes – Tonight

Semi 2

  1. Aron Brink – Hypnotised
  2. Daði Freyr Pétursson – Is This Love?
  3. Svala Björgvinsdóttir – Paper
  4. Páll Rósinkranz & Kristina Bærendsen – You and I
  5. Linda Hartmanns – Ástfangin
  6. Sólveig Ásgeirsdóttir – Trust in me

First things first, I don’t think we’ll be heading to Reykjavik in 2018. Even so, there are some nicely produced songs in the lineup that show positive signs for Iceland going forward.

Hildur’s Bammbaramm and Svala’s Paper corner the sophisticated, down tempo, electronic vibe and both are perfectly good background tracks, rather than memorable Eurovision entries. Slightly higher in tempo, Aron Hannes delivers some authentic scandie pop. The verses are a little weak, but the pre-chorus and main refrain are strong – as is the middle eight and close. Aron’s profile doesn’t seem to match with this genre, so I’ll be keen to see how he delivers this live.

Júlí & Þórdís have a sort of Maria Olafs vibe going on, albeit with more song and less repetition. It’s the English version of Belarus’ song and if there’s good chemistry, this could be in the mix for Kiev.

Rúnar’s Make Your Way Back Home takes a bit too long to get going, but is credible, radio friendly and may also be in the mix.

I’ll Be Gone is one the stronger of the slowies, yet I feel Erna’s song would be at risk in a Eurovision semi-final up against stronger ballads. However, it does build to a strong finish and could be in contention. However, Arnar & Kristina’s You & I perhaps offers more of a moment than Erna’s solo.

Based on the studio versions, I’ll go for a top 3 of Júlí & Þórdís, Aron Hannes & Arnar & Kristina.

Who’s your favourite from the 12 semi-finalists?

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  1. I have to disagree with you on “Paper”, Gavin. It stands out a mile. Didn’t expect to hear what I did, but it’s an absolute cracker. Not background music at all. Sounds good in both languages as well.

    • We’re here to disagree, Stephen. It’s definitely the better of the two electro songs highlighted, I just find it a tad cold. A live performance might change that view. But I still don’t hear a song that takes Eurovision by storm, which is what I’m looking for at this time of year.

  2. While “Tonight” is the song stuck in my head, I think Iceland’s best shot here is with “Paper” and that it’s a two horse race between the two. Everything else is a long shot for Kyiv.

    “Tonight” is simple, very easy to listen to and catchy, but it’s the sort of thing you want from one of the continental Nordics, whereas Iceland calls for an entry with a bit more character. Ideology aside, they could easily get to 18th in the final or thereabouts with “Tonight” which would at least be a return to their usual form after the last 2 years. Only great staging could take it higher.

    With “Paper”, I also found it a bit cold and clunky too, but there’s hints of Sia and Jessie Ware current-ness in there and a fairly commercial-sounding chorus. Given the late date of the SVK final, I’d hope there’s a possibility for tweaks to the track. It needs to swell more, because right now it’s a bit stuck in third gear, much like Jenny Langlo’s “Next to You” from Norway’s MGP a couple years back. It could crack the top 10 if they do the right things with the song, and the artist is a coach on The Voice of Iceland so she must have a bit of clout in the industry.

    • I agree with you on Paper. It’s not an easy song to get into. I was reminded of Afterglow from last year’s MGP on first listen, although I don’t think this one builds nearly as well, as you say stuck in third gear. It’s the sort of song that if given to top Swedish/Norwegian producers, could go places at the contest. Right now, I’d have two songs from the lineup higher up than this.

  3. Júlí Heiðar Halldórsson & Þórdís Birna Borgarsdóttir are easily strongest for me and can deliver a song like this live.The melody has a lovely build and pace and a very well placed bridge that cools things down at the perfect time.Swapping the lead vocals around really works as the harmonies join in from the backing singers.The instrumentation is also very well used over the backbone of the song.Þórdís harmonising behind Júlí into the finale is lovely.Very well done.Il be backing this if i can get on.
    Svala Björgvinsdóttir has good connections as Ben mentioned,and the fan community are already all over it,but for me the song is indeed paper,Paper thin.Win or not i cant have that sorry.
    Erna Mist Pétursdóttir seems to have a lovely style of delivery.Probably the song doesnt have enough,but I like her and one to watch for the future.

  4. The two songs I like the most are Paper (as an unashamed Margaret Berger fangirl, of course I would) and the Icelandic version of You And I (English version is just fine too). The latter is such a soothing country song, it makes me smile.

    Otherwise, this lineup has served to remind me that I’m REAAALLLYYY sick of “tropical house”, it’s freaking EVERYWHERE, it all sounds the same, and I suppose we’re going to get at least 5 of these songs in every Western national final aren’t we? Sigh…

    • Try turning off the radio Kylie, this tropical house business is fairly new to me! xD
      Speaking of Margaret Berger, she seems to have walked off the edge of the earth since that godawful follow up single. What happened?

      • She’s on the current season of the Norwegian version of Så mycket bättre and is running her own indie record label now

  5. Funfact: Kristina is from the Faroe Islands.

  6. I really like “Paper” out of this selection and if it were Loreen of Sweden singing this the fanboys across Europe will be shouting from the rooftops that this is the Eurovision 2017 winner.

  7. There were four stand-outs for me, Paper, Tonight, Again and Get Back Home. The last of these is my personal favourite – but how will it fare against more modern first love songs like Little Weird (Latvia) and Have You Now (Estonia) – presuming these qualify for Ukraine, which in the latter case is unlikely? ‘Again’ is very dated traditional Eurovision but I can close my eyes and imagine it working on the Kiev stage.

    These are the only songs that I see giving Iceland a hope of getting out of the semis and its far from certain. Either of the duets would be my best bet for qualification.

  8. Top job by Svala.

    • The outfit notwithstanding. She’s dressed like basically any man from an uptempo 80’s music video.

    • There’s a bit of an Ellen DeGeneres thing going on with this look! The relief here is she can perform this song bloody well. The RÚV production clearly doesn’t really help Svala’s cause, but yeah I’d like to see given the opportunity, what she’d do with more production tools at her disposal in Kyiv.

    • Considering the semi that Iceland are in, it’s a pretty wise choice to not stage it like a ballad

  9. Final Lineup:
    Arnar Jónsson & Rakel Pálsdótir “Til mín”
    Rúnar Eff Rúnarsson “Mér við hlið”
    Aron Hannes Emilsson “Nótt”
    Daði Freyr Pétursson “Hvað með það?”
    Svala Björgvinsdóttir “Paper”
    Aron Brink “Hypnotised”

    Will get a preview article up as soon as we get running order.

  10. Final running order as published on this official FB video: https://www.facebook.com/songvakeppnin/videos/1322884004463463/

    Aron Hannes – Tonight
    Arnar Jónsson & Rakel Pálsdótir – Again
    Aron Brink – Hypnotised
    Hildur – Bammbaramm
    Rúnar Eff – Make Your Way Back Home
    Svala – Paper
    Daði Freyr – Is This Love

    Everyone singing in English

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