Söngvakeppnin: First semi-final reviewed

The first semi-final of Söngvakeppni 2016 went down last Saturday, and after a 100 percent televoting, the nation brought Greta Salóme’s “Raddirnar”, Erna & Hjörtur with “Hugur minn er” and Karlotta Sigurðardóttir with “Óstöðvandi”, one step closer to Stockholm. Ingó’s “Fátækur námsmaður”, EVA’s “Ég sé þig” and Sigga Eyrún’s “Kreisí” were left in the semis. We went back to our panel of experts to find out what their thoughts on Saturday’s results are, and whether or not they think that the public voted for the “right” songs.

“Kreisí” is even better in English than in Icelandic.”
“Kreisí” is even better in English than in Icelandic.”

Reynir: “Yes I do. Personally I thought that “Kreisí” would go through without trouble, but I’m perfectly satisfied with the three songs that made it to the grand final.”

Laufey: “Yes! The first heat for Söngvakeppni was particularly tough. “Hugur minn er”, “Raddirnar” and “Óstöðvandi” are all prominent songs with good artists that deserved to qualify.”

Flosi: “I believe that a lot of the songs were a potential top three, including the three that made it all the way.”

“The right songs went through…in Icelandic.”

Sigrún: “I’m not sure. These are the three songs that the Icelandic public preferred, so my answer would have to be yes. The right songs went through…in Icelandic. But most of these songs have already been released in English too, as intended for Eurovision, so I’m convinced that the results would have been different had the public heard them sung in English on Saturday. But my personal favorite “Óstöðvandi” with Karlotta went through though!”

Would you have voted differently?

Reynir: “No, not particularly. There were four good songs there, in my opinion, and one of them had to stay behind.”

Laufey: “I have to say, that I expected “Kreisí” with Sigga Eyrún to qualify. The song is different from the other songs, and Sigga put on a great show on stage. Also “Ég sé þig”, because of its important messages and because Vala and Sigga are so funny and nice!”

Flosi: “I’m always happy when there’s variety in the grand final. That’s why I was hoping that the songs with the faster beat would go through.”

Sigrún: “Yes! I was very disappointed that The band EVA didn’t qualify. However, I don’t like to dwell on feelings. My favorites never go through anyway (besides “Óstöðvandi”) so I ought to be used to it by now. The public has voted and now we move on.”

Do any songs sound better live, and in English?

Reynir: “I always find it better to judge the songs, based on the live performances. For example, last year, “Lítil skref” did NOTHING for me what so ever, until I heard María perform live in Háskólabíó.

“Ingó's act was so lively and entertaining.”
“Ingó’s act was so lively and entertaining.”

I think “Kreisí” is even better in English than in Icelandic. Same with “Óstöðvandi”. I also think that “Augnablik” is good in English, but painfully boring in Icelandic. “Ótöluð orð” comes to life in English, but “Spring yfir heiminn” is much better in Icelandic.”

Laufey: “Yes definitely. RÚV has clearly stepped up their game and they put on a great show with the artists.”

“RÚV has clearly stepped up their game and they put on a great show…”

Flosi: “As a matter of fact, I did. Songs like “Fátækur námsmaður”, “Óstöðvandi” and “Ég sé þig” were songs that I thought were even better when performed live.”

Sigrún: “Nope! I thought all the songs sounded worse in fact. They lacked energy and the performers were off-key, some more than others. Something must have been wrong with the monitors. And to me, the mic mixing was dubious. Some of the singers didn’t seem to harmonize.”

Change your mind about a song after seeing it live?

Reynir: “Not yet, not yet…”

Laufey: “Yes I did. Ingó’s act was so lively and entertaining. Such a nice surprise.”

Flosi: “I had my three favorites before the show, and they are still my favorites after the live performance.”

Sigrún: “Yes, I fell in love with EVA. I think the song sounds better in the studio version, but their live performance was so heartwarming and I love the lyrics and the message that they brought. They just charmed me to bits with their sincerity. I would have been proud to have them represent us in Stockholm.”

Should the contest’s set up be changed?

Reynir: “I think there should be more songs in each semi final and a bigger grand final.”

“Ég sé þig” is a potential wild card, based on Sigga's and Vala's sincerity and the beautiful messages of their song.”
“Ég sé þig” is a potential wild card, based on Sigga’s and Vala’s sincerity and the beautiful messages of their song.”

Laufey: “Absolutely. First of all, the songwriters should be able to choose in what language their songs are performed in Söngvakeppnin. Many of the songs from this year’s contest have also been released in English and some of them are totally different from the Icelandic version. But I’m rather sceptical that RÚV will change the rules.”

Flosi: “I think that RÚV has done a great job for the 30th birthday show! But I would like a bigger grand final where maybe 10-12 songs compete, and have more songs in the semi finals, so people would have more to choose from.”

“I think there should be more songs in each semi finals and a bigger grand final.”

Sigrún: “Yeah, I find it very old-fashioned and odd that the songs have to be performed in Icelandic in the semi finals. I think that all the songs should be released and performed in the language intended for Eurovision. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not against Icelandic in Eurovision. I love it when the nations send songs in their native tongue. I just think that the songwriters should be able to choose in what language their song are performed, so the public can vote based on an enlightened decision. And RÚV should seriously change the selection committee. 260 songs were submitted and I do not for one second believe that THESE were the best of the best. There must have been more variety!”

Any potential wild card from last Saturday?

Reynir: “Kreisí”, no doubt about it.”

Laufey: “Before the show, I was convinced that “Kreisí” would go straight to the finals and “Óstöðvandi” would be the potential wildcard. Now I’m BEGGING RÚV to choose “Kreisí” as the wildcard!”

Flosi: “RÚV should choose one more song that is vastly different from the others that made it to the finals. And in my opinion that song is “Kreisí.”

Sigrún: “I think “Ég sé þig” is a potential wild card, based on Sigga’s and Vala’s sincerity and the beautiful messages of their song. However, I think that the wild card will be in the second semi final 2. It’s just a feeling I have.”

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 lawyer 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.

See also: Söngvakeppnin – What do the experts think?

Photos of contestants/Courtesy of RÚV.

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