All opinions expressed in this article are those of the person quoted and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the other team members or ESC United as a whole.

Another year, another edition of Söngvakeppnin, the traditional national selection for Iceland at the Eurovision Song Contest. Eurovision is a big deal in the country, but that hasn’t translated to a win yet. Iceland has qualified since 2019, can they qualify for a fourth consecutive time? This year, Iceland will compete in the first half of the second semi-final on 11 May.

Söngvakeppnin consists of two semi-finals and one final. All songs competing in the semi-finals are sung in Icelandic, and if songs qualify to the final, then the songs are performed in the language the artist intends to sing in Liverpool. The first semi-final takes place on Saturday, 18 February, where at least two songs will advance to the final. The second semi-final takes place on Saturday, 25 February, where at least two more songs will qualify. Ríkisútvarpið (RÚV) may include an additional song as a wildcard entry. The final will take place on Saturday, 4 March.

Three ESC United writers have listened to the songs that will be competing this Saturday. With a tight competition, which songs do we think will rise to the top? Tyler Griffith from Alaska, James Maude from California, and David Popescu from Denmark will be the judges, juries, and executioners for this panel. Songs were judged on a 10-point scale.

The order of the songs presented was based on the current running order for the Söngvakeppnin semi-final one as provided by RÚV.

1. Bragi – “Stundum snýst heimurinn gegn þér” / “Sometimes the World’s Against Us”

David – 5Honestly not a bad composition, but I’m not feeling it in Icelandic. It might be a hunch, but I feel like this was written, to be performed in English, so hopefully that opportunity arises. The song is composed the way I enjoy it, with a tense build-up, getting more powerful and remains there. Again, I want the English version, I just need to point that out.

James – 3This sounds like a Melodifestivalen reject. Bragi’s back story as a singing footballer is a lot more interesting than this song, and it’s a shame to see a character such as Bragi resorting to this canned Swedish junk. Especially at a national selection like Songvakeppnin that can reward individuality. Maybe he’ll return some day with the fist-pumping sports anthem we actually want from him.

Tyler – 6.5 – I don’t mind this Melodifestivalen AC song! This entry does remind me of the sort of Icelandic brand of mental wellness, of which Selma is a pioneer. But the song is pleasant, the music itself is fine, and Bragi has singing competition experience, so I’m not worried necessarily about the performance. It’ll just be a question if the live will blow me away, and right now, the song is simply whelming.

Total points: 14.50 points (Average = 4.83)

2. Móa – “Glötuð ást” / “Lose This Dream”

James – 8Whatever happens to Moa at Songvakeppnin, her story is an inspiration to us all, a reminder that no matter how old you are or what hardships befall you, your dream can still be within reach. Her voice is unusual, in that she sounds like an Icelandic Bonnie Tyler trying to recreate jazz standards, but her voice is powerful and sounds uniquely Icelandic. She sounds like a ghost who has been haunting the barren landscape for decades, but we would do well to heed her calls.

Tyler – 5.5 – I like the sort of chanson vibe I get from this song, but along the same vein, it just feels quite outdated at the same time. I like the imagery in the lyrics and the vocals aren’t bad at all. It’s just that the song itself feels of a different time that I’m not sure the televote will respond to in the semifinal. Might be a different question in the final with the jury, but it doesn’t matter if they can’t get there in the first place.

David – 1This is just flat-out depressing and pointless. I feel I was left with nothing.

Total points: 14.50 points (Average = 4.83)

3. Benedikt – “Þora” / “Brave Face”

Tyler – 6.5 – I find the Icelandic version stronger than the English version, because I think the English lyrics read as pretty basic. “Þora” just sounds nicer, and while I know the music in both versions are the same, I feel happier and vibrant with the Icelandic version over the English one? “Brave Face” just feels weaker to me, but that has more of an opportunity to be understood by a wider audience, ughhh. I do mildly like the song though, so I guess this score is appropriate to split the difference.

David – 5I did not know that an Icelandic dance song, could be this catchy and calm. The song has these great vibes to it, with this catchy beat, but it’s not like it goes all out crazy, cause it’s a dance song. It remains by its own limits, and avoid going unnecessarily overboard. It has it’s own unique charm this way.

James – 5.5A generic synthpop self-empowerment anthem that is a little flat. Considering this song about a young lad trying to put on his “brave face,” it doesn’t end on a note of triumph over adversity that you would expect or hope it to. This all comes off as Ned Flanders hoping that his trip to Whole Foods is relatively uneventful.

Total points: 17.00 points (Average = 5.67)

4. Celebs – “Dómsdags dans” / “Doomsday Dancing”

David – 1 – Definitely not what I expected from a song, that is called “Doomsday Dance” in English. Then again, just overall not what I expected, very old-school, very pop-ish, just very kitsch. There’s nothing that really captures me at all. I think I’m just overly left disappointed.

Tyler – 7 – I love this entry so much, but I can also say that it sounds like something The B52s would do. And that isn’t a bad thing! But it does sort of date the song in a way that reminds me of the feeling of 80s annihilation from nuclear war, with the feeling of current annihilation from climate change. Fun! But don’t worry, just dance during Doomsday! I know I will be to this song, but will Europe? That I’m not sure about.

James – 6An unusual hodgepodge of new wave influences here from the Talking Heads, the Cure and the B-52s. This song is a little too preachy and obvious, and may also suffer from being a little too old-fashioned and hipster for the Eurovision audience. This is probably the entry that will benefit most from a surprise element in the live staging, so perhaps if they have a “doomsday dance” they have that wow factor to carry them over the finish line.

Total points: 14.00 points (Average = 4.67)

5. Diljá – “Lifandi inni í mér” / “Power”

Tyler – 5.5 – The music is pretty good, as it feels like a rocking 80s throwback that gets you pumped, but the lyrics are kinda meh to me? The beat is too powerful to make me notice the singing, perhaps too POWER-ful? (sighs) I get what the lyrics are trying to say, but it just didn’t hit to me at all, and I don’t think the song would get many votes at all.

James – 6.5Another self-empowerment anthem here, though this one has a bit more heft and purpose and you suspect Dilja means it. The brown note synthline helps sell the lyrics, perhaps inadvertently. This will have its fans, and this song is too earnest for anyone to dismiss them.

David – 3Not bad, it is quite a catchy techno-pop song, but it grows boring just as fast. It has a nice tune to it, but I’m just not captivated enough to care about it, cause it remains the same throughout the song. Instead of having me interested, I just drop off, due to the lack of tunes. I appreciate the song, but for a very short time.

Total points: 15.00 points (Average = 5.00)

So who did ESC United collectively endorse to go through to the Final?

In a close race, our endorsement for the two for-sure qualifiers are Benedikt and Diljá, with the remaining three songs falling below the dashed line and out of our contention for the final. The second half of songs for Iceland will be reviewed next week.

01) Benedikt – “Þora” / “Brave Face” – 17.00 points (Average = 5.67)

02) Diljá – “Lifandi inni í mér” / “Power” – 15.00 points (Average = 5.00)


03) Móa – “Glötuð ást” / “Lose This Dream” – 14.50 points (Average = 4.83, Highest Individual Score of 8)

04) Bragi – “Stundum snýst heimurinn gegn þér” / “Sometimes the World’s Against Us” – 14.50 points (Average = 4.83, Highest Individual Score of 6.5)

05) Celebs – “Dómsdags dans” / “Doomsday Dancing” – 14.00 points (Average = 4.67)

Who do #YOU think will qualify for the Söngvakeppnin final? Do you agree with our thoughts? Who do you think will win it all for Iceland? Let us know on social media @ESCUnited, on our Discord, or on our forum page!

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