Xtra Throwback Thursday: Intensely Icelandic

It’s finally Thursday again, which means it’s time for our next Xtra Throwback Thursday! In the next weeks and month, we’ll take you on a journey through Europe and beyond, a journey through the history of the contest. Each week fits in with a theme, and this week we’re taking you to Iceland. In just two days, on June 17th, Iceland celebrates its National Day, Þjóðhátiðardagurinn. Which is a perfect excuse for me to celebrate my favorite Icelandic Eurovision entry; Draumur um Nínu.

This week’s theme: Intensely Icelandic

It’s Þjódhátiðardagurinn, so it’s time for Iceland, as we said. And what is more natural then, than praising the song which many Icelanders call “Iceland’s second national anthem”? (Some even call it Icelands real national anthem, but that is taking it a bit far, I think.) A lot of Iceland’s Eurovision entries have been unmistakably Icelandic, but none as Intensely Icelandic as their 1991 entry; Draumur um Nínu.


The first time I spoke to an Icelander about this song was during my first ever Icelandic evening class. I mentioned to my teacher that this was my favorite Icelandic (Eurovision) song, and she said; You have an Icelandic soul. That I sure do!
This is the song that Icelanders sing at the end of the night, when someone’s taken out a guitar and everybody’s nice and drunk. It’s the song that everybody can sing along to, whether they’re in kindergarden or in an old people’s home, whether they love or hate Eurovision, whether they are rockers or opera fans, whether they are hipsters or farmers…if you’re Icelandic you know this song, and you sing along to it, whether you really want to or not. Simple as that.

So, why is it that this song has become so dear to the Icelandic people? I have a few theories.
First of all; the lyrics. The song tells a story of a guy who’s lost the love of his life, Nína. She is most likely dead, though some find that thought too horrible to bear, so they claim that she’s just left him. Icelanders love these kind of gloomy, yet romantic songs of love and loss. Just look at their 2004 entry, where Jónsi’s character in the song is dead but still serenading his sweetheart!
Second; the melody. It’s very singalong friendly, which is always a good thing for Icelanders. Because as we all know; all Icelanders are great singers! Well, at least all Icelanders sing.
The third reason I think is the performance. It’s rather no nonsense, like Icelanders prefer. At the same time, however, it is quite emotional, and performed with this quiet desperation the Stefán Hilmarsson does so well.
And the fourth reason is Stefán Hilmarsson. He was very popular already, and after “Nína” he became a national treasure. He still is. And one of his (and his band Sálin hans Jóns míns) biggest hits in recent years is a song about an old lady who has just become a widow and looks back on the life they shared. Try to watch this without tearing up

This is them in 2011. They still have it. “It” includes the outfits from 1991 Image; dv.is
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have a story to share about this song as well. It happened during my first ever visit to Iceland, in August 2011. It was in the evening, after my first ever half marathon. So basically; I was exhausted and I was in the place I had dreamed about since I was 8 years old. There was a huge concert in the main square in downtown Reykjavik. I had just gone there because a friend had told me there would be live music by loads of good Iclandic artists, so of course I went. What no one had prepared me for was Stefán and Eyfi showing up on stage, singing Draumur um Nínu! So there I was, in my own personal little paradise, surrounded by thousands of Icelanders, all of us singing along to my favorite Icelandic song…and you can imagine me, tears streaming down my face, singing…I must have been a sight! And this little old Icelander (he must have been at least 90!) who was standing next to me was patting my arm, telling me everything was gonne be fine. And people wonder why I love Iceland?! (After this concert I went to watch the fireworks, and then it was time for my first ever concert with Í svörtum fötum, Jónsi’s band. But I’ll save that story for another time…Hihihi!)

What the others had to say…

Great choice, Wiv!I think that it’s quite a nice and catchy song, considering that this is a song from 1991 (the yea r I was born;)). I definitely like that the song is in Icelandic. It adds national color to it. What a pity that I understand only one word though – ‘Nina’, as it’s a typical Russian name of a girl. I also like the way Stefán & Eyfi are dressed, especially that cute violet band on one of them. Overall, very solid and emotional performance. It’s a shame these guys ended up on the 15th place!

Fabulous choice. Funnily enough I watched the 1991 contest just a few weeks ago and this was comfortably in my top 5. Male duos are something we don’t see in Eurovision too often – possibly because they can be absolute car crashes on stage however this one worked incredibly well. The backing singers along with the double bass players also do a fabulous job! The song itself is also a joy to listen to, Eurovision power ballads at their best! Like Yassia, it also disappoints me that this couldn’t reach higher than 15th place!

You can tell Wivian has lived in Iceland. She gets the core and the spirit of the Icelandic Eurovison. People know this song. As an Icelander I can verify that “Draumur um Nínu” is one of dearest Eurovison entry to us. Most of us can sing it loudly and with confidence. The lyrics are touching and the performance is emotional. 15th place would be consider rather good; someone made these lyrics in Icelandic to the Eurovion hymn, Te Deum: “Í sextánda sæti stefnum um við, við skulum ekki missa af því. (We aim for the 16th place, we shall not miss it)”. This because 16th was our result the first 3 times we entered the competition.

Next week

Next week is midsummer, and what’s more natural than the theme for the Xtra Throwback Thursday being…well…midsummer? Alekas will share with you his pick of Eurovision summer songs!
But for now, let’s all listen to the wonderful Draumur um Nínu once more, and sing along as if we were all Icelanders! Do you agree that Nína is the best Icelandic Eurovision entry? And if not; which one do you prefer? Let us know below!

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