Söngvakeppnin: What do the experts think?

In February twelve songs will compete for the chance to represent Iceland in The Eurovision Song Contest. We spoke to a panel of experts and asked what they think about the finalists. Our first question was: Which songs will do well in this year’s Söngvakeppni?

Eurovision season is kicking off, along with Iceland's 30 year anniversary in the contest. Iceland debuted in 1986 and sent the ICY trio to Norway, with their song “Gleðibankinn”, which reached a mere 16th place. Despite bad results, the nation was hooked and the Eurovision Song Contest has been a big part of the nation ever since. All though the victory is yet to come, the interest remains, and almost everybody gathers around their TV's to determine which song will represent the country in Stockholm in May.
Eurovision season is kicking off, along with Iceland’s 30 year anniversary in the contest. Iceland debuted in 1986 and sent the ICY trio (Eiríkur Hauksson, Helga Möller and Pálmi Gunnarsson, pictured) to Norway, with their song “Gleðibankinn”, which reached a mere 16th place. Despite bad results, the nation was hooked and the Eurovision Song Contest has been a big part of the nation ever since. All though the victory is yet to come, the interest remains, and almost everybody gathers around their TV’s to determine which song will represent the country in Stockholm in May.

Reynir: “That’s a rather tricky question, since I have a hard time choosing between the songs that I myself support, and the ones I think the Icelandic nation will vote for. I think its safe to say that Pálmi (Gunnarsson) and his song “Ég leiði þig heim” will be a top three material, especially since it’s been 30 years since the song “Gleðibankinn” competed in Bergen (Pálmi was a member of the ICY trio, Iceland’s first ESC participants, who performed it).
There is also a possibility that Elísabet Ormslev will do well with Greta Salóme’s song “Á ný”, which in my opinion is a much better song. The ICY nostalgia might give her an extra push, since she is the daughter of Helga Möller (who was also a member of ICY).
Greta’s other song, “Raddirnar” could also do very well, and Sigga Eyrún’s “Kreisí”. And its impossible to exclude Ingó and “Fátækur námsmaður”.”

Laufey: “I think both of Greta’s songs will do well. “Raddirnar” has an ethnic sound and the lyric is haunting. Plus, her staging will without a doubt be perfect. And the song reminds me of “Only Teardrops”, which is a huge asset. Greta’s other song, “Á Ný” has an Adele sound to it and has some serious violin in it, which is always a good gimmick. Plus the singer Elísabet Ormslev is widely popular after her participation in some talent show (The Voice-Ísland).

Elísabet Ormslev.
Elísabet Ormslev, with “Á ný”.

There is also something crazy about Sigga Eyrún’s “Kreisí”. After first listening to it, I got the feeling that it might actually win. This is a feeling that every Eurovision fanatic gets at some point, and should not be ignored! But it sort of reminds me of an insanely annoying Facebook song from San Marino, but whatever. Sigga Eyrún is nothing but a great performer and the staging will be top-notch!
Ingó, the former weather-god, will definitely make it to the finals and his song about a poor student will be what Iceland’s kindergarten children will chant religiously till summer. “Spring yfir heiminn” might gain some popularity amongst the young adults, if the staging is good. Also “Augnablik” could do well. Apparently the singer Alda Dís is also quite popular and if I’m not mistaken, is the winner of some other talent show (Ísland got talent).”

“I’m looking forward to see live performances, because that could alter my view big time.”

Flosi: “If Icelanders don’t want any major changes, then they’ll go for “Augnablik” or “Raddirnar”. It’s a “play it safe” move. However, I desperately want “Kreisí” to do some serious damage. It’s different and Sigga Eyrún will definitely have a powerful act and stage presence, and I can see good things happening, should that song be given a chance.”

Ingó (often referred to as Ingó "weather god" because he was frontman of the band Ingó and the weather gods.)
Ingó (often referred to as Ingó “weather god” because he was frontman of the band Ingó and the weather gods.)

Sigrún: “I’m imagining how the songs will sound and look like on the big stage, but there’s really no way of knowing what happens live. Some are born to perform live, others sound better in a studio.
With that said, I believe that Ingó and “Fátækur námsmaður” will fly straight into the finals. The song might not be my cup of tea, but there’s always a devoted group that loves that “country dance” atmosphere that Ingó has going on. He also has a top-notch stage presence, is ridiculously charming and will definitely “own” the audience.
Elísabet Ormslev will slay with “Á ný”. She’s a charming singer with “a juicy chocolatey” sound to her voice. In the studio-version the song is a little weak, but it has that “goosebump” element nonetheless. I’m hoping that Elísabet’s power will reach Icelanders and totally bitch slap them! Plus, Greta Salóme is no amateur when it comes to staging and delivering the song. She has THEATER written all over her, and if she goes full force with the wind machine, we have contact!
Sigga Eyrún is a professional and she will deliver “Kreisí” like it “aint no thang”. This computer game song is vastly different from the other songs, and I have no doubt that the staging will be entertaining, with dancers, out of this world costumes and freaky moves to go with it. Sigga also has a solid fan base since her appearance in Söngvakeppnin two years ago, where she was the runner-up.”

Which songs “turn you on”?

Sigga Eyrún.
Sigga Eyrún, with “Kreisí”.

Reynir: “The songs that completely “baked” me are “Spring yfir heiminn”, “Óstöðvandi”, “Kreisí”, and “Raddirnar”. They are just all such a delight to listen to!”

Laufey: “At this point, there isn’t a song that turns me on, so to speak. But that might change based on staging and live performance. But like I said, that song “Kreisí” is stalking me!”

Flosi: “Kreisí” makes me wanna dance, and I’m dying to use it in my Zumba classes. I was also a big fan of the 2013 winner of ESC, “Only Teardrops” and “Augnablik” is a very similar song, and I think it’s beautiful. I am a sucker for diva like voices, so I can’t wait to see how it will turn out live.“

Sigrún: “Now” is turning me on! Which is sort of tricky, because the Icelandic version of the song “Augnablik” doesn’t do anything for me at all.
“Kreisí” is also a huge turn on, because I’m such a computer geek and I just love the sound. Plus it reminds me of Pís of keik (an Icelandic dance band from the 90’s). I was and still am a huge fan of them and “Kreisí” is right there, nostalgic wise. And I just love the scream that comes before the chorus!
“Á ný” also turns me on, and its all because of Elísabet’s voice which is simply a feast for the ears. I’m hoping for a lot more power live, than in the studio version.”

From left: Pálmi (with “Ég leiði þig heim”), Þórdís & Guðmundur (“Spring yfir heiminn”), and Karlotta (“Óstöðvandi”).

Which songs “turn you off”?

Reynir:Pálmi’s song and Ingó’s song. They’re beautifully written and produced, but they just don’t “do it” for me.”

Laufey: “I had such high hopes for Pálmi returning “home” to Söngvakeppnin. After all, it’s been 30 years since he and ICY competed in Bergen. Unfortunately his song “Ég leiði þig heim” is a tad too much “Söngvakeppni 1993”. However I will enjoy watching him on stage, and there has to be something for everybody, right? I’m also struggling to make myself like Eva and their song “Ég sé þig”. I enjoyed their performance in “Gullna Hliðið” (a play), and the lyrics are beautiful. They will definitely shine on stage but the song itself is weak. I’m sorry.”

Flosi: “I just……wow, sorry! I snoozed when I listened to Pálmi’s song. Says all there is about that one.”

Sigrún: “I’m sorry, but this year, so many of the songs are completely flat. They start off well, but then nothing happens. I feel like I’ve heard them all before, like they’re clones of countless other songs in Söngvakeppnin and Eurovision in general. I wish that this selection committee would take some chances. Just once! That would add some needed variety in the contest. But I’m looking forward to see live performances, because that could alter my view big time.”

This year’s possible “dark horse”?

Sigríður Eir and Vala, a.k.a. the band Eva.
Sigríður Eir and Vala, a.k.a. the band Eva, with the song “Ég sé þig”.

Reynir: “I would be very surprised if Pálmi doesn’t sail straight to the finals, because of the nostalgia that is sweeping across Iceland this year.”

Laufey: “I think that “Óstöðvandi” is the dark horse this year. It’s clearly performed with some real emotions and it catches your attention from the beginning with an unknown singer like Karlotta. Maybe this is the jury wildcard?!”

Flosi: “I think “Kreisí” is the ultimate dark horse. But then again, Elísabet Ormslev might just come and blow us all away with her diva voice.”

Sigrún: “My money is on the band Eva. First of all because the lyrics of their song are so simple and uplifting. It’s such a sweet song containing such a beautiful message. Its peace-loving mood and coziness will affect everybody. Second of all because the Icelandic public is not that familiar with band members Vala and Sigríður Eir. The studio version is leaving me a little blank. Vala and Sigríður shine better when performing live and will without a doubt sing their way straight into the hearts of viewers, with their honesty and simplicity.”

Which song will stand the best chance in Stockholm?

Reynir: “Now I’m imagining the songs performed in English, and thinking that “Kreisí”, “Óstöðvandi” and both of Greta’s songs will stand the best chance, because of their modern sounds.”

Alda Dís.
Alda Dís, singer of “Augnablik”.

Laufey: “Unfortunately I don’t think that any of the 12 songs will stand a good chance in Stockholm. But a gun to my head, I would bet on Greta Salóme. However I’m not ready to write off “Kreisí”. That song haunts me for some reason.”

Flosi: “I would say “Augnablik”, “Kreisí” and “Raddirnar”. Alda Dís is a beautiful girl with a great deal of charm, and if she handles the pressure, she will sweep Europe off its feet! Sigga is simply amazing and the song is wonderfully quirky. Greta’s “Raddirnar” could become the ultimate power ballad and with the right backup vocals, it could in fact win the whole thing!”

Sigrún: “Augnablik” is my obvious choice. After I heard the English lyrics I was hooked. Everything simply works better in English; The rhythm of the song, Alda’s voice and the lyrics are light years better than in the Icelandic version! It has the perfect flow in English, but when sung in Icelandic it sort of flatlines. The song’s build up is amazing and Alda’s voice syncs perfectly with the backing vocals and that deep drum sound. There’s also a subtle Of Monsters and Men sound to it, which doesn’t ruin anything on my part. This song would sound fresh and upbeat in Stockholm and probably charm everybody.”

The Experts

Reynir Þór Eggertsson is Iceland’s best known Eurovision fanatic. He is a walking Encyclopedia when it comes to Eurovision and has been seen in practically every Eurovision related program there is in Iceland. He’s a steady on the show “Alla Leið” which is hosted by Iceland’s present commentator, Felix Bergsson, where they along with group of selected individuals, judge the songs that compete in the Eurovision Song Contest each year.

Laufey Helga Guðmundsdóttir is a solicitor by day, but a true Eurocraze by night (and pretty much always). She handles the event and promotions category for FÁSES, the Icelandic Eurovision fanclub, and knows a thing or two about the contest.

Flosi Jón Ófeigsson is also a member of FÁSES and has attended more than one and more than two Eurovision contests in his lifetime. He has also raised his voice on numerous occasions and along with his friend Eiríkur Þór Hafdal, is the reigning king of OGAE International Cover Contest, which was held in Vienna last spring alongside the big contest itself. Who said Iceland never wins Eurovision?

Sigrún Huld might be a name that is not familiar to a lot of people, but in the Icelandic Eurovision-world, she is well-known.
Sigrún is the ultimate Euro-nerd, and is relentless during Eurovision season. She watches practically every single national finals there is, and is the administrator for the ever so popular Facebook page: Júróvisjón 2016. She has stuff to say and is not afraid to say it!

You can listen to the Icelandic songs here.

Photos of contestants/Courtesy of RÚV.

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