Iceland’s perennial selection Söngvakeppnin kicks off once again this evening as five acts will take to the stage to fight for a slot at Eurovision 2019. With an interesting array of styles in this year’s show, which act will prevail? Here’s what myself and James thought of the first batch…

Hatari – Hatrið mun sigra

James – 5 – “The national finalist everyone has been talking about. Music wise, this is ‘90s derived industrial techno, inspired by the likes of Fudge Tunnel and Ministry with the bondage visuals of Marilyn Manson thrown in. Sure, their political hijinks are humorous, but anyone older than 30 will have seen better variations on this act before. The lyrics are a nothing burger as well (Europa will fail, etc. etc.). This is 2019’s “Emperor’s New Clothes” entrant (though does that analogy work if the clothes are bondage wear?)”

Sean – 10 – “Okay, so I’ve had a little bit of time to process this one, and honestly – this is incredible. Industrial music is not my thing really, and there’s only a few rare instances (such as 2 Times Terror) where I can enjoy it. Hatari bring an interesting blend between the harsh industrial vibes that resonate with the desolate winters of Iceland and the serenity and calming nature of the lullaby-like vocals that Sigur Rós became world famous for. And it works. Oh lord, it works. Their aesthetic is unique, the song is catchy and it even has a key change. This would massively stand out in Tel Aviv, and could be a major dark horse to go all the way.”

Total – 15

Hera Björk – Moving On

James – 7 – “This is a very old school ballad. Her “Je Ne Sais Quoi” from Eurovision 2010 is much better. Sure, we wouldn’t want to Hera to rehash her past, but “Eitt andartak” brings to mind the ballads of the 1970s. Not in the best way. It’s beautiful, Hera is of course a fantastic vocalist, it progresses nicely if slowly, and Hera handles the requisite key change well and her voice soars. Unless it’s 2005 again and everything around is a hot mess, I don’t see a song like this doing much at Eurovision 2019, as precise and intricate as it is.”

Sean – 5 – “I was excited to see Hera back in the selection after she served one of the all-time great Eurovision anthems in Oslo 2010, but I’m disappointed with this entry. Now, I understand that artists grow and develop, but a ballad (and not a particularly strong one at that) is a backwards step in my mind. She has a fantastic voice and a likeable personality but this is only vaguely interesting by virtue of having a big old Eurovisiony key change.”

Total – 12

Kristina Skoubo Bærendsen – Mama Said

James – 8 – “If Hera’s bringing a ‘70s ballad, Kristina’s diving into the ‘60s. Soul with pop vibes from Iceland? If Motown is Detroit, could music like this from Reykjavik be henceforth known as Codtown? Either way, this is fun and retro, and unlike Hera’s song does not require the song to be entirely lifted by Hera. I am not hearing anything like this in the other national selections, and this one can stand out on its own.”

Sean – 6 – “This is an interesting 50s diner doo-wop style entry from Kristina, and could lend itself to a really interesting and eye-catching, colourful performance. Listening to this in studio it’s nothing incredible, so this will probably be a song that transforms in a live setting, but her tone is well-suited to this type of song and this is a decent track, all said.”

Total – 14

Þórdís Imsland – What Are You Waiting For?

James – 4 – “Imsland’s vocals are slight and are being overpowered by the track. The cliched dance track with modern production trickery does her no favors as she is entirely drowned out. Imsland’s a singer who could do with an acoustic guitar backing track to stand out. The title means “Now and then,” but there exists an English variant called “What Are You Waiting For?” Maybe she’s asking the person waiting around because that person couldn’t hear her ask?”

Sean – 6 – “Well, it’s an atmospheric electropop song, but it’s a little weak. There’s not enough power in the chorus to really stand out, although it’s a nice time-passer of a track and I could imagine this growing on me a little with repeat listens. This certainly doesn’t leave enough of an impression from the first listen.”

Total – 10

Daníel Óliver – Licky Licky

James – 3 – “This one has an English variant called “Licky Licky”. I hope he sticks to the Icelandic version as the lyrics in English are cringeworthy. It’s a generic pop banger as done by the Scandinavians from 2014 – 2018. Icelanders rightly complain that they get confused with Scandinavians, in which case they should not send something that sounds like their offcasts.”

Sean – 7 – “Ooh, this is interesting! This is quite repetitive but it works in this instance, as Daníel Óliver brings a simplistically fun power pop song to Songvakeppnins. The lyrics are pretty terrible, let’s be honest, but sometimes you just have to let this go and embrace the party. Whisper it, but I’m having a little dance to this one!”

Total – 10

Let’s see what our little mini-table looks like…

  1. Hatari – Hatrið mun sigra – 15
  2. Kristina Skoubo Bærendsen – Mama Said – 14
  3. Hera Björk – Moving On – 12
  4. Þórdís Imsland – What Are You Waiting For? – 10
  5. Daníel Óliver – Licky Licky – 10

Hatari have just edged it out over Kristina Skoubo Bærendsen with “Hatrið mun sigra”, and so we would select these two entries to qualify for the next round. Will Iceland’s jury and televote agree? We’ll find out later this evening!

Who do #YOU want to represent Iceland in Tel Aviv? Share your thoughts with us on our forum HERE or join the discussion below and on social media!

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