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XTRA Preview & Review: Iceland – Söngvakeppnin

The national final season is in full swing. On Saturday, February 10th, the first semi-final of Söngvakeppnin 2018 is going to take place. We’ve taken a look at the entries and the procedure below, so here is the XTRA Preview & Review!

XTRA Preview: Söngvakeppnin

As so many times before, Söngvakeppnin is the selection method chosen by RÚV to find Iceland’s 2018 Eurovision Song Contest entry. The first time Söngvakeppnin, then called Söngvakeppni Sjónvarpsins, was used to select the Icelandic Eurovision entry, was all the way back in 1986, in the country’s debut year. The format and rules have varied a bit over the years; semis or just one big final, language rule or not, number of entries, but on the whole, RÚV is very happy with Söngvakeppnin as their selection process.

2018 will be Iceland’s 31st participation, and the entire nation is hoping for their first victory. With Portugal finally getting their win last year, Iceland is now number two, alongside Malta, on the list of countries with most participations without winning; they both have 30. Cyprus is in first place with 34. Iceland’s best result at Eurovision is 2nd place, a result they have achieved twice; with “All Out of Luck” in 1999 and with “Is It True” in 2009.

Söngvakeppnin 2018 consists of two semifinals, the first of which will take place this Saturday, 10 February, and the second next weekend on the 17th. The final is on 3 March. Six songs will compete in each semi, with the top three songs from both nights moving on to the final. A special jury might pick a wildcard from the six non-qualifiers, so we might get a seven act final.

XTRA Review: Söngvakeppnin 2018, semi 1

Ari Ólafsson – “Heim”

Hlynur: I think this might go through to the final, because he has a good voice and vocals. However I am not the biggest fan of ballads, and I’m not sure I completely grasp the lyrics.
Score: 6.5/10
Wivian: Ari has possibly got the best voice in the contest this year, which, since this is Iceland we’re talking about, says a lot. The lyrics are wonderful, as everything Thorunn writes. As for the melody, it’s moving and fits the message of the song.
Score: 7/10
Luke: I really like this! It feels sort of like a cross between Ég á líf and You Raise Me Up, and it’s beautiful. I just really hope he can hit that high note on the night!
Score: 8/10
Miki: “Heim” is a textbook definition of a Nordic ballad. Somehow this type of songs always manage to find a way to the Eurovision stage despite sounding kind of… cliche. I probably wouldn’t mind this in a lineup of songs but as a musical entity I don’t find it particularly unique or special.
Score: 5/10

Fókus – Aldrei gefast upp

Hlynur: If they deliver a good live performance of this song, I feel it might make it to the final. Good harmonies and the lyrics match the song. And could maybe be a theme song to a disney movie. However it is to cheesy for my liking.
Score: 4/10
Wiv: This is very much not my kind of song, which might actually be a good thing at Söngvakeppnin, since my favorites hardly ever win! Their voices are great, and the harmonies as well. The lyrics are positive and happy. And it’s all a bit too smooth for my taste.
Score: 4/10
Luke: Bloody hell that chorus just kind of comes out of nowhere doesn’t it…other than the artists staring intently and rather intimidatingly into my soul in their picture, I don’t feel any real want to vote for this. It’s perfectly fine, but just….not great.
Score: 4/10
Miki: Pleasant enough, has a nice flow and has a rather 2000’s sound without sounding too dated. I like the harmonies and certain parts of the song do possess a punch that give it a bit of an edge. With that being said, I don’t think this is the standout song we are hoping Iceland brings to the contest.
Score: 5.5/10

Þórunn Antonía – Ég Mun Skína

Hlynur: I was excited when I read that Þórunn Antonía was taking part in Söngvakeppnin. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. This has some similarity with Svala’s song last year, but it is not as grabbing and powerful.
Score: 5/10
Wiv: This is one of those songs that I should *really* like, and then I don’t. There’s nothing really wrong with it, it’s just sort of there. It starts out rather promising, and then…it doesn’t really go anywhere. Which is a shame, cuz the message is so very important.
Score: 5/10
Luke: I hate this modern trend for a lot of songs: start very promising, build up to something and then….completely shut down for the chorus. It’s like waiting for a beautiful, rich chocolate fudge cake but then being given a small slice of fruit cake. Who the hell wants that?
Score: 3/10
Miki: “Ég Mun Skína” starts of promising and delivers a very fresh sounding synth pop verses but then the chorus kicks in and it all falls flat. It’s neither fast, slow nor memorable and it needs a revamp. All the elements of a solid pop song are there but it just needs a bit of more personality.
Score: 6/10

Guðmundur Þórarinsson – Litir

Hlynur: I find it great that there are new artist  performing at Söngvakeppnin and it will be interesting to hear him sing live. The song is rather sweet but it does not do much for me.
Score: 5.5/10
Wiv: I really like Guðmundur’s voice, and the song is very cute and singalong friendly. Still, this is very far from being my kind of music. I find it to be very samey, it doesn’t really build at all.
Score: 5/10
Luke: The first thing I have to say is that his expression in his picture is as if somebody off camera showed him a picture of his parents having sex and that’s the MOMENT he saw it. Anyway, my thoughts on the song are similar to my thoughts on Brosa. It sounds like it’ll be adorable and great, but it goes nowhere.
Score: 5.5/10
Miki: “Litir” is a perfectly acceptable little indie pop tune that features whistling in the middle of song(cause why not). But despite being listenable, I cannot seem to remember the “hook” of the song. I’ve come to a realization that most of the entries featured in this years Söngvakeppnin suffer from the same issue.
Score: 6/10

Tómas & Sólborg – Ég Og Þú

Hlynur: A mellow song with this blue sad lyrics. I quite like it to be honest. Despite being sad it still has this glimpses of hope. I like their voices.
Score: 7/10
Wiv: And BAM! Here it is; my favorite in this year’s Söngvakeppnin. I’m not sure what I like the most in this song; the soothing, but at the same time haunting melody, the absolutely beautiful lyrics, their voices, that are gorgeous on their own but downright heavenly together… This is a very close to being a perfect 10 for me. Even in English. Score: 9.5/10
Luke: It’s rare that a song makes me tear up, especially when that song is in a language I don’t really speak. But this is just…..so stunning that I can’t help it. It’s unbelievably powerful and you can feel the pure emotion behind the song. Just wow.
Score: 10/10
Miki: “Ég Og Þú” is a competent and a rather forgettable songs. It does have some interesting aspects to it, but it is not something I would consider as a contender. Pleasant 3 minutes, good harmonies but that is where it all ends.
Score: 4.5/10

Heimilistónar – Kúst Og Fæjó

Hlynur: Kúst of Fæjó is an adorable and cute song. I have the feeling these actresses can bring this song to the final. Also people in Iceland give it credit for only having an Icelandic version.
Score: 6/10
Wiv: The best thing about this song is that it will stay in Icelandic if it wins. I guess I should like this, as I very often like this kind of sixties inspired music. Kúst og fæjó does however do exactly nothing for me. Which is kind of weird, cuz I like the story behind it too. But; nope.
Score: 4/10
Luke: This just isn’t my thing. I liked Čaroban from 2011, but this is like that without the catchy-ness, which makes it not good at all. I get bored halfway through. Sorry Iceland. Score: 3.5/10
Miki: Let’s twist again like we did last summer? No, It’s “Kúst og fæjó”. Despite its identity issue, this is one cheeky, fun and light tune. I would probably enjoy it more if the resemblance wasn’t that obvious.
Score: 4/10

Who do we want?

The XTRA Jury, this time consisting of Hlynur, Wiv, Luke and Miki has spoken. Below you can see the average each song achieved. Their favourite for tomorrow’s show is Tómas and Sólborg’s “Ég og þú”!

  1. Tómas & Sólborg – “Ég og þú”: 7.75
  2. Ari Ólafsson – “Heim”: 6.625
  3. Guðmundur Þórarinsson – “Litir”: 5.5
  4. Þórunn Antonía – “Ég mun skína”: 4.75
  5. Fókus – “Aldrei gefast upp”: 4.375
  6. Heimilistónar – “Kúst og fæjó”: 4.375

Which of these six do you like best? Make sure to let us know who you like by commenting!

 

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