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. 

Coming off of a strong 4th place finish in Rotterdam, based solely off of a recorded dress rehearsal run-through no less, Iceland is coming into the Eurovision 2022 season with a lot of momentum.

This weekend, the country’s national final kicks off with the first of two semi-finals. Five songs will face off on Saturday, fighting for two slots in the Söngvakeppnin final on March 12. But which of the songs from the first semi-final deserve that honor? Weighing in, and giving each entry a score out of 10, are six members of the ESC United team. They are:

(Note: Because acts are required to perform in Icelandic during the semi-finals and are then given the option of performing in the language of their choice during the final, many of the songs have two versions. Our panelists took both into consideration when determining their scores.)

Amarosis- “Don’t you know/íslenska útgáfan”

William: “Love the classic Hollywood-y opening notes. This doesn’t sound Eurovision competitive to me, really at all. But I don’t know … I’m into it! It’s bubbly. It’s catchy. It’s a throwback. It’s an all-around feel good time. Their voices intertwine beautifully, too. Harmonies on point. Maybe gets a little repetitive? Could maybe do with one less reprise of the chorus. Feels a bit overlong. Very interested to see how staging comes together on this one.” 8.5/10

James: “There’s an awkward energy emanating from the vocalists which is intriguing, and I am curious to see how that would play out live. Like we’re going to be watching a couple who’s been together for a few years and caught off guard by a passive aggressive comment one of them made about the other forgetting to wash the dishes. Otherwise, this is a light, breezy, jazzy duet. There’s a slightness to it that may make it easy to brush aside as a competitor in an international song contest … unless the staging is special, but you can’t fault it as a light, fun composition.” 7/10

David: “A classical love song… if you’re one of those people who listen to this in 2022, then, congratulations, I’m not going to question your decisions in life. The amount of creativity that’s left out, even the singing sounds uninspired, I’ll just stop here.” 1/10

Tyler: “This is good to me with the style it’s going for, like a late ’60s/early ’70s vibe. I like it, and think that’s fine! I don’t like the lyrics, though, and that’s not fine! The chorus is really what I don’t like about the song, as the lyrics feel lazy and phoned in. Like the singing style is supposed to be interesting and make up to me for the lackluster lyrics? It makes it seem repetitive, and the hook just isn’t that good. I wish I liked it better, I don’t know … ☹️” 5.5/10

Boris: “The name ‘Amarosis’ kinda sounds like it might be a venereal disease or a giant killer shrimp, but it turns out to be a double act not unlike that lovely ‘Only Goth In Vejle song from Dansk MGP a few years back. ‘Don’t you know’ certainly has a similarly cute, retro-pop bop appeal built in, and that is not without its charms. It is, however, very repetitive, as if Amarosis themselves ran out of ideas after the second minute mark. Would that it had been a duet between two giant killer shrimp because that would have been a sight to behold.” 7/10

Roy: “A nice little song that swings quite nicely. Very inoffensive and quite pleasant to listen to. I just don’t think that this song is very competitive, and, if you were to throw it into a bigger batch of songs, it wouldn’t stand out enough..” 5/10

Total: 34

Stefanía Svavarsdóttir- “Heart of Mine/Hjartað mitt”

William: “There’s something here, but it’s buried underneath 17 unnecessary levels of production that totally swallow it whole. She has a BIG voice, and the song starts out promising enough, but it gets more confused as it goes along. Is this a sweet, acoustic little country pop song? Not when the entire vocal choir from The Prince of Egypt has been inexplicably piped in. Expecting to hear a great vocal from Stefanía on the night, but I’m not a fan of a lot of the creative decisions made here. This is a sweet little song, blown up 17x bigger than it has any weight to sustain.” 3.5/10

James: “Coming soon to Lifetime! Stefanía stars as an Icelandic singer who returns home from London to raise her late uncle’s Icelandic horses. Instead of singing in dingy pubs with dreams of performing on the West End, she is involved in constant meet-cutes with widower vet Bjorn and plays lullabies on a banjo for his sickly niece Agnes. But just as she settles down into rural life and finds a new pub to sing in, she hears a talent scout for the hit TV show Iceland’s Got Cod! is in town, and it is her one shot to make it big. Anyway, this is the vibe I get from this song.” 6/10

David: “I feel like we get these kinds of songs constantly. It’s sweet, but just very boring and uninteresting. The song could’ve had some potential, but it just doesn’t hit me. I’m honestly out of words right now. I feel like I’m repeating myself. Let’s just say, it’s easily skippable.” 2/10

Tyler: “Okay, the elephant in the room. This is “Húsavík”, but not nearly as catchy. It’s still good and I like that ‘Heart of Mine’ is also bilingual. I liked Stefanía’s entry back in 2018 with ‘Svaka stuð’, but this doesn’t seem nearly as fun. It could be impressive, though, in the live, as it feels sweeping and could tug on heartstrings. But to me, there’s too much of a similarity for me to really get behind this entry. I hope the live performances differentiate it enough for me.” 7/10

Boris: “Tyler informed me that this song sounds like ‘Husavik’? I guess? Lol. I love Eurovision, so I have of course avoided the Will Ferrell movie AND ‘Husavik’ at every possible opportunity. Either way, Iceland have a couple of decent low-tempo choices in this Söngvakeppnin. This cloying ballad is not one of them.” 2/10

Roy: “Stefania has a wonderfully clear voice, and the verses fit that decently well. The biggest issue with this song for me is that the chorus just leaves too small of an impact on me. I see what she’s were going for, but it might not have been fully achieved. I feel like the voice gets ever so slightly overshadowed by the instrumentals. I hope she can fix this before the live performance.” 6/10

Total: 26.5 

Haffi Haff- “Gía/Volcano”

William: “Ya know what? I appreciate this. Every NF should have a song like this. Something incredibly bizarre, off-the-wall and localized. It will NEVER win (nor should it), but I’m glad it’s here. It really is … weird. But it’s charming! It has a nice groove. No idea how this will come across live. Could be a fun slice of kitsch, think ‘Baila el chiki chiki’ or ‘Dancing Lasha tumbai’. Could be incredibly obnoxious. Could be both. I would keep this fully in Icelandic. His vocal in the English version brings to mind Andy Samberg and The Lonely Island in one of those Saturday Night Live digital shorts. I’m specifically thinking of ‘Jizz in My Pants‘, which this bears more than a little similarity to in melody and vocal delivery.” 5.5/10

James: “Look at me! I am making hummus! And a volcano dance! OMG, how random you guys! In a year full of wretched novelty acts, ‘Volcano’ would still be one of the better ones. Better than wolves with bananas and Latvian Dads and their salads. That’s not saying much, though, as ‘Volcano’ is a localized comedy act that is rarely funny, with lines flogged to death and also a meme dance that will never catch on organically. On the plus side for Haffi Haff, he has a catchy dance track a la ‘The Wiggle Wiggle Song’, beneath and I am sure Roy will enjoy this and bore Twitter to tears over the coming months with the details he chuckles at.” 2/10

David: “What… the… heck…? Screw it! ‘Let’s do the Volcano’ … maybe for a minute, at least. Alright, so this is very all over the place and in your face, and I do enjoy that, but it just gets old and boring very fast. You have my attention, but then I’m lost, because the beat just remains the same throughout the song, making it drag.” 4/10

Tyler: “Minutes I will not get back. I don’t care if the song is a novelty. That won’t make me dislike a song or not. It’s more that this song sounds annoying and feels forced to try to go viral. Quite similar to Subwoolfer I would say. This doesn’t have the same charm as “The Wiggle Wiggle Song” to me, as the backing track is ‘Shifting Sand Land’ from Super Mario 64. I do think going bilingual is better, I guess, for flavor, but this doesn’t taste good going down. Really didn’t like listening to this at all.” 3.5/10

Boris: “What a cacophonous pile of novelty dreck. Question is: Do I Stan?Volcano’ sounds like a song that dips a wee bit too much into the forced ‘FUNNY [citation needed] MEME ACT’ as a selling point with their ‘Let’s Do The Volcano’ hook, like it’s a demented form of Black Lace’s ‘Do The Conga(And you thought only James made tired pop culture refs nobody gets? I need to ensure he doesn’t get bored when he reads this.) This approach is always hit or miss, and, let’s face it, usually a miss. At best, ‘Volcano’ will be like a fun Baltic joke act; imagine Haffi rapping about his drip in a pair of yellow-blue vans, a brand-new jacket and some blue-ass pants or shrieking about Estonian wooden towns with a drag queen dancing the volcano dance with her polystyrene tits on fire … but that seems like a glass half-full perspective. More likely is that Haffi Haff will prove himself as cringe as that terminally unfunny ‘PLAY JA JA DING DONG’ spokesperson from last year, but since I’m a glass is Haffi-Haff full type of guy, I’ll give a cautious 5/10 for now.”

Roy: “Silly, over the top, bonkers, wild, ridiculous, in a way amateurish. But boy do I love this!! I desperately had been waiting for an entry like this. We didn’t get any in Estonia this year and, overall, the joke-y songs were a different flavour than the ones that I usually love. This is just sheer perfection in what it is trying to do. I really hope the song stays in Icelandic, too! Would it do well at Eurovision? Probably not, but I will put this straight to my playlist next to ‘Tartu’ from Estonia’s selection last year and have an absolutely amazing time with it!” 9/10

Total: 29

Stefán Óli- “All I Know/”Ljósið”

William: “This is just nice. His vocal is rich and controlled. The music track has just the right amount of production. He’s not being swallowed up by the soundscape. In a year that already has ‘Brividi’ and ‘River’, I don’t think this is really gonna cut it, but it’s a perfectly solid, radio-friendly pop ballad. If I had to predict which of the 10 acts will get the jury wildcard, my money would be on Stefán. It has all the ingredients for a jury favorite, and, if he delivers vocally on the night, it would be hard to argue it isn’t deserved.” 6/10

James: “I don’t normally care if Eurovision entrants sing in their native language or not, but I find Stefan’s English version to be painful to listen to, whereas his vocal style I don’t find as irritating in Icelandic. And the lyrics … I have no idea what generic situation he is singing about and whether or not he deserves the triumphant lift the instrumentation gives him at the end. Overall, this is the sort of easy listening guff I’d expect at Eesti Laul, not Söngvakeppnin. And as with that easy listening guff, I expect it to go nowhere should it land in Turin.” 5.5/10

David: “I was so ready to denounce this song immediately, but at least the tempo catches up. The guy has a great voice. I actually enjoy the composition, and it has its charm. Lyrically, it quite simple and boring, but at least I’m aboard this ballad train… which is RARE.” 5/10

Tyler: “K well, Stefán Óli sounds good, if that’s your thing! I don’t particularly care for the sound of his singing voice when in English, though, so if this does make it to the final, I’d prefer the Icelandic version. That said, I think this song is only okay at best … whoops! Not really that memorable to me, not really that moving or powerful, it’s fine! There might be some cool moments in the performance to like, but until then, meh!” 5/10

Boris: “This ballad is serviceable, sure, but I’m not A Ballad Guy. The Icelandic version has a Christian-y undertone that reminds me of ‘Ég á lif‘. (Which I do mildly like, but why settle for that level of quality?) The English version is reminiscent of generic, radio-friendly boy band ballads. Although its lyrics claim otherwise, ‘All I Know’ comes across as an easy composition, a song that coasts on the road of least resistance and, as a result, manages to be both trope-y and anonymous.” 5/10

Roy: “If all else fails, just go with a pretty piano ballad. Stefan’s voice sounds wonderful, and there is definitely some staging potential here. It faintly reminds me a little bit of the piano version of Nothing but Thieves’ ‘Impossible’, but in Icelandic and probably less impactful. I perhaps need a bit more time to 100% fall in love with this, but this would definitely be a great pick for Eurovision!” 7.5/10

Total: 34

Sigga, Beta and Elín- “Með hækkandi sól”

William: “This bring me back to the folk festivals my parents dragged me to when I was a kid, before I was old enough to appreciate what I was hearing. It is incredibly transporting. I’m right back on the festival grounds, the smell of pulled pork and weed wafting in the air. This kind of dream-y, indie folk pop is right up my alley. Love it.” 9.5/10

James: “I believe it’s because of the frontier feel of non-Reykjavik Iceland that this country is the one European country that can get away with playing country music. This trio dabbles with enough folk and incorporates some rock composition and production to give it a unique feel that is not beholden to Scandipop (looking at Norway, Latvia and Estonia for bombing in that department). This song also has a more memorable melody than others in this selection, and probably could stand out on its own and qualify for the Grand Final, even if the staging is simply these three sitting on stools with acoustic guitars and some rising sun motif behind them.” 9/10

David: “Well, I feel like I can say I’ve now heard Icelandic country… Just the idea of that sounds unimaginable, but here we are. Hopefully, I don’t hear it again. The song just went nowhere and remained at the same tempo. It got to the point I just wanted it to end already.” 2/10

Tyler: “I love the ethereal nature of ‘Með hækkandi sól’, even if it doesn’t take me to the new heights I would have liked it to. Sigga, Beta, and Elín sing quite well here, too, and, while this song seems like a good road trip movie (especially with the guitar twang in the instrumentation), it isn’t enough for me to really back as a favorite. I think this is nice and lovely. But that’s it!” 7/10

Boris: “This HAIM trio provide a lovely interpretation of the American-inspired country songs we’ve heard so far. ‘Með haekkandi sól’ doesn’t have an English version, meaning that it doesn’t pander to yank culture. (Looking at YOU, Steffen Jacobsen.) You’re cruising along the desolate dulcet tones like it’s route 66 as their harmony envelops you. I’m not sure how competitive this song is, but it makes for a nice little number in this quirky selection.” 8/10

Roy: “The staging basically writes itself with this one. A very smooth and enjoyable piece delivered by these three women. Really nice to listen to. I am a tad concerned with it potentially getting lost in the shuffle if you put it in a bigger batch of songs, though.” 6.5/10

Total: 42

And there you have it. If our incredibly scientific panel of six reactors had their way, Sigga, Beta and Elín would easily sail through to the Söngvakeppnin final. In 2nd place, we have a tie between the entries from Stefán Óli and Amarosis. And because four of our six panelists prefer it in a head-to-head battle between the two, Amarosis is the act we would select to qualify.

So, making it offical, Team ESC United’s choice for the two advancing songs on Saturday are:

  • Sigga, Beta and Elín– “Með hækkandi sól”
  • Amarosis– “Don’t you know/íslenska útgáfan”

Worth noting, the final of Söngvakeppnin will include five songs. Though the two songs advancing out of each semi-final will be 100% decided by public vote, the jury will select a wildcard out of the six remaining songs to compete. So far, the song we think deserves that wildcard slot is … Stefán Óli with “All I Know/”Ljósið”, but we’ll have to wait and see how he stacks up against OUR 3rd place finisher in semi 2. 

Come back next Friday for our reactions and rankings of the five other songs competing in semi 2 to represent Iceland at Eurovision this year. Will any of them outscore our top vote-getters this week? And which song will be our official recommendation for that jury wildcard slot? You’ll have to read and find out.

Which song are #YOU rooting for at ‘Söngvakeppnin’ this year? Are #YOU ready to say goodbye to Daði Freyr as a Eurovision competitor after two amazing years? Or is it too soon? What’s up with David? Is he OK? Sound off in the comments below, in our forum, or on social media @ESCUnited.

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  1. […] Óli advanced to the finals of Söngvakeppnin, Iceland’s Eurovision national final. In our personal rankings, we had the former advancing, with the latter coming up just short in 3rd. All in all, we pretty […]

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