Last night, RÚV revealed the 10 Söngvakeppnin 2019 acts, who will compete in for the right to represent Iceland on the Eurovision stage in Tel Aviv come May. Two former Icelandic representatives and two returning Söngvakeppnin singers are among the artists, alongside a whole lot of newcomers. There are also quite a few familiar names among the songwriters. We are EXCITED!!
This former Eurovision participant (Euroband, 2008) is one of Iceland’s most active and popular live singers. In addition to representing Iceland in 2008, he also did backing vocals for Jóhanna in Moscow the year after. He has also taken part in Söngvakeppnin before, for instance in 2007, when he finished second behind Eirikur Hauksson, with the beautiful “Eldur” (Fire). His entry this year, “Hvað ef ég get ekki elskað?/What If I Can’t Have Love?” is a love ballad, quite different from Euroband’s “This Is My Life”. It is also very much *his* song, as he is both composer and lyricist. The first seed of the song came to him early last year, and has grown into the beautiful song we heard for the first time tonight. His voice is larger than life, so if Iceland decides to send a ballad again, this might be it.
Another returning Eurovision participant is Hera Björk. She represented Iceland in Oslo back in 2010 with “Je ne sais quoi“. In addition to this, she has done backing vocals several times; most recently for María Ólafs in Vienna 2015. Hera Björk also finished second in DMGP2009 with “Someday“, which later went on to win the OGAE Second Chance Contest that year. In 2013 she won the Viña del Mar International Song Festival in Chile, representing Iceland with the song “Because You Can“. Just like Friðrik Ómar, she switches from an uptempo banger to a big ballad, “Eitt andatak/Moving On“. Also, just like Friðrik Ómar, Hera has a voice that can do just about anything, so I guess the question might be; do the Icelandic televoters want a male or a female ballad?
Or do they perhaps want a dancefloor filler? If so; Daníel Óliver and his “Samt ekki/Licky Licky” might be the song for them! Daníel Óliver took part in Söngvakeppnin 2015 as part of the trio Cadem, making it all the way to the final with the song “Fyrir alla/Fly“. Since 2015 he’s split his time between Sweden and Iceland, making music (as we have reported on more than once) and starting a restaurant, The Soup Company, with his mom in the town of Vík in the very south of Iceland. (They serve *the best* soups!) His entry this year is very much a “Daníel Óliver” song; uptempo, cool and VERY danceable!
Or do they want to send bondage-synth-punk-metal trio Hatari (who prefer to call themselves a multimedia performance project)? Klemens Hannigan, Matthías Tryggvi Haraldson and Einar Stéfansson are the band’s three members. They first started gaining attention back in 2015. Their main breakthrough, however, came the year after, when they were one of the newcomers playing the Iceland Airwaves festival. They won the Reykjavik Grapevine “Live Band Of The Year” award both for 2016 and 2017. Well deserved! They hardly ever give interviews, instead offering some sort of written statement. Late last year they released a statement saying the band would “conclude its work at the end of the year”, and would play a farewell concert in the amazing concert venue Húrra in Reykjavík on December 28th. Read the full statement here. Apparently they changed their minds.
HATARI is an Icelandic multimedia performance project which aims to unveil the relentless scam that is everyday life. The project has been awarded “Best Live Band” by The Reykjavík Grapevine for two consecutive years, with the panel stating that “their brutality is matched only by their mystery”.eistnaflug.is
HATARI took the Icelandic scene by storm after Iceland Airwaves 2016, drawing attention not only to their music but also their explosive performances, where the likes of The Guardian stated: “You don’t know whether to laugh or alert the authorities”.
Consequence of Sound recently defined the project as “part David Lynch nightmare, part goth dress-up party and part industrial love letter, HATARI are a sight to behold.” HATARI deliver an unrivaled blast of bondage-pop, techno-punk and industrial-goth.
Their Söngvakeppnin 2019 entry is proper metal, with a slightly less rough chorus. Wouldn’t it be something if Iceland decided to send “Hatrið mun sigra” to Tel Aviv?
Tara has been singing ever since she can remember. She also plays, to some extent, various instruments, like the harp, the guitar, the piano, the ukulele and the digeridoo (?). Many of her previous releases have been described as similar to “inspirational soundtracks from teen movies”, and Tara herself has been called “innocent, idealistic, sweet”. She has always wanted to take part in Söngvakeppnin, and the first time she actually wanted to participate was at the tender age of 11. Her Söngvakeppnin 2019 entry is called “Betri án þín/Fighting For Love“.
Ívar’s music “career” started at home, singing along to his mom’s Whitney Huston/Toni Braxton/Celine Dion CD’s. He is classically trained, and classifies his voice as “the typical power voice”. The best way of describing his Söngvakeppnin 2019 entry, “Þú bætir mig/Make Me Whole” is “country pop”. The song tells the story of a guy telling his girl that she makes him a better man. Here you can hear him performing an “old” Icelandic Eurovision entry, in a duet with a former Söngvakeppnin participant. #cryptic Eurovision fans will also recognize the name of one of the composers; Richard Micallef. Back in 2015 he was both singer and songwriter of the Maltese entry, “Coming Home”.
Kristina is another returning artist. She made her Söngvakeppnin debut two years ago, when she performed the ballad “Þú og ég” with Páll Rósinkranz. Unfortunately, they didn’t qualify for the final. Kristina is from the Faroe Islands where she is best known as a country and gospel singer. Her entry this time, “Ég á mig sjálf/Mama Said” is a proper attitude song.
Songwriter Svein Rúnar Sigurðsson says that it is about a very current theme; strong women! His name is a familiar one to anyone who’s followed Söngvakeppnin at all. He is getting very close to having written 20 Söngvakeppnin entries (this is his 17th!), including two that went on to represent Iceland at Eurovision; “Heaven” (2004, internally selected) and “Valentine Lost” (2007).
Þórdís is one of the Söngvakeppnin 2019 debutants. As you might remember; last year’s contest was literally *flooded* by former The Voice Iceland participants. This year is quite different, but Þórdís carries on the tradition going from The Voice to Söngvakeppnin. She was Team Svala then and she is Team Svala now. She made it to the final in The Voice, being coached by Svala. Will she do the same in Söngvakeppnin?
Her song is composed by Bjarki Ómarsson and Svala, who also wrote the English lyrics. The Icelandic lyrics however are written by none other than Stefán Hilmarsson, who has represented Iceland at Eurovision twice; in 1988 and 1991. Svala says that Þórdís has the full package for Eurovision, and that she knew that Þórdís was the right person to perform this international sounding dancey techno-trance-pop number. Based on the song and what we know about Svala and her performances; “Nú og hér/What Are You Waiting For?” is very likely to be quite the performance!
Elli Grill, Skaði og Glymur
Elli Grill (Elvar Heimisson), Skaði Þórðardóttir and Glymur are all Söngvakeppnin debutants. He is best known as member of the band Shades of Reykjavík. Last year he released his first solo album. Skaði Þórðardóttir is the epitome of a multiartist. She works mainly in music and visual arts, and last year she both released an album and had a solo exhibition of her art. Meet her in this interview she did with The Reykjavík Grapevineer last summer. Glymur is a mysterious character. Behind the name we find Sigga Soffía, a wonderful Icelandic choreographer who choreoraphs both dancers, especially for theater, and fireworks.
Songwriter Barði Jóhannsson is no newcomer to Söngvakeppnin however. Back in 2008 he was the man behind that year’s runner-up; Mercedes Club’s “Ho Ho Ho We Say Hey Hey Hey“. Other than that, he is definitely best known as founder and front man or the band Bang Gang. Quite a few Icelanders would love it if he came back with an entry performed by Bang Gang. Perhaps in another 11 years?
Heiðrún Anna Björnsdóttir moved to Liverpool to study music 21 years ago. Intending to stay for a year, or max three, she ended up starting a couple of bands and just staying on to see where things would take her. Back in the mid-90s she released the album Double Talk with her band Cigarette. She is now half of the duo Lúlla. As well as being a singer Heiðrún Anna is also a songwriter. The song she is performing in Söngvakeppnin 2019, “Helgi/Sunday Boy“, is one of her own. She is sole composer and co-wrote the lyrics with Sævar Sigurgeirsson. Asked to describes her song she says it’s a happy radio tune and says it is about a guy who suffers from commitment phobia.
What do you think of the selection of songs that compete in Söngvakeppnin 2019? Do you have a favorite? And do you think there is a potential Eurovision winner in this line-up? Let us know in the comments and on social media @escxtra