Throwback Thursday: When Iceland…wasn’t All Out of Luck

On Sunday, Iceland will celebrate 74 years of independence, and on Saturday they will play their first ever World Cup match…undoubtedly, the whole country will be completely wasted for most of the weekend. What better way (other than booze) to celebrate than with a throwback to one of our favourite Icelandic Eurovision entries of all time, Selma Björnsdóttir’s All Out Of Luck! It also rather conveniently turns out that her birthday is this week, so she’ll be having an extra shot of brennivín.
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Selma is Iceland’s lucky charm!

Iceland debuted in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1986 with ICY’s Gleðibankinn. They finished 16th out of 20 songs – a pretty disappointing start. Following this, Iceland had a string of similarly low placings, only reaching the top 10 twice in their first 12 participations. These poor finishes resulted in Iceland not participating in the 1998 contest.
The next year, Iceland came back with a bang – RÚV internally selected Selma Björnsdóttir to represent the island nation with the song All Out of Luck. An appropriately titled song for the country’s current situation in Eurovision! Selma proved to be a fan favourite and managed to break the curse for Iceland, storming ahead to second place in the contest with 146 points. In fact, she was only 17 points away from beating Sweden’s Charlotte Nilsson!

This was Iceland’s best result in the contest and remained so until 2009, when Yohanna also came second but with 218 points. Selma actually even returned to Eurovision in 2005, with If I Had Your Love – but this turned out to be a mistake when she failed to qualify from the semifinal with only 52 points, giving Iceland one of their worst results of the noughties.
For me, All Out of Luck was one of my favourite childhood songs. I don’t especially remember hearing it at Eurovision or seeing the performance, I just remember it being one of the first songs that I ever really loved. It holds a special little place in my heart! It’s also worth noting that her amazing result was in Israel and after a string of bad results…next year’s contest is in Israel again and Iceland is going through another string of bad results. Could next year be Iceland’s year?
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What the others had to say…


One of my favourite entries from Iceland. I must admit, I did not know this song even existed until a couple of years ago when I was researching some ‘older’ Eurovision entries. ‘All out of luck’ is a typical Eurovision song in many respects but it’s fun and feel-good. I think Selma would have been a more deserving winner than Sweden.


Iceland is a country that is dear to me at Eurovision and despite being a relatively new Eurovision fan I have listened to all of their entries at the contest. I have to say that while I do enjoy this song very much, it’s not among my favourite Icelandic entries. Selma is a brilliant and charismatic singer and the song is catchy from the first word and I want to sing along but as it goes on I start to lose interest. I can totally see why Iceland got one of their best results with this and hope they can replicate (or even top?) that soon. 1999, 2009, 2019?


In a pretty strong year, it seems correct that ‘All Out of Luck’ did very well, but not quite win. To me, the instrumentation and beat feel quintessential of the 90s. A strong upbeat and cheery pop song with the slightest essence of experimentation woven in. There’s the slightest ‘Björk-ian’ influence, (which is much more apparent in the music video!) that was sensibly toned down enough to appeal to a mass televoting audience. Selma’s live performance really came alive as a competent package with probably the most engaging stage show of the year. That said, the chorus is SO much stronger than the verses. Perhaps it’s the consistent reference to days of the week in the lyrics that I find a touch off-putting? Still, ‘All Out of Luck’ is in my personal top 3 Icelandic entries and deserved to do so well!


I cannot believe that this was only second place!!!, we should’ve ended the 90’s with a banger (as much as I love ‘Take Me To Your Heaven’), she was very energetic on stage and it was something that was current at that time. Ever since I heard All Out of Luck, it is a must on a party playlist and it will never be skipped regardless.
What are your thoughts on Selma’s All Out of Luck? Is it one of your favourite Eurovision entries? Did it deserve to win the contest?
Give us your opinion in the comments below and on social media @ESCXTRA

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