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.

Last weekend, Sigga, Beta and Elín and Stefán 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 much got what we wanted. But will that trend continue? Weighing in again are our self esteemed panel from the ESC United team:

(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.)

Hanna Mia and The Astrotourists- “Gemini/Séns með þér”

William: “I’m a little thrown off by the visual. It doesn’t really seem to match the sound and vibe the song is giving off. Regardless, this is a really lovely soundscape. It’s throwback-y, but modern. It’s chill, but not dull. Ordinarily, I might question how well this would do at Eurovision, but I think Iceland has conditioned fans to expect and embrace the quirky and unusual. Maybe it’s a little … small and aimless for the occasion, but the live performance could do a lot to sell me.” 6.5/10

James: “Another light, breezy, and jazzy indie act, though this one could verge on the forgettable as a composition. There’s talent involved here, as this is slickly put together and produced, and Hanna Mia herself has a soft, mesmeric voice that lulls you into sync with the spacey track. (See Portugal 2021 for the instruction manual on how to make staging waves with a song like this.) They’ll need quirky staging like that to turn heads with this intricate, slightly quirky track.” 7/10

David: “I’m getting a classic style, but very boring as well. I don’t feel the music and vocals harmonize together. The music comes out as more like uplifting and with some energy, while the vocals come out as someone who’s not bothered, gloomy, or even not trying. It just doesn’t go well together at all for me.” 1/10

Tyler: “The light and breezy vibes from Hanna Mia and the Astrotourists (LOVE the name BTW) should be a deterrent, but it works quite well for this song. Not to sound like a crazy Eurofan, but I do prefer the Icelandic version, as the English lyrics in ‘Gemini’ feel buried sometimes in the music and the vocals from other members of the group. I like the vibe from this; I think it’s quite original would not be that mad if Markéta or Reykjavíkurdætur lost to them.” 8/10

Boris: “Like Amarosis, Hanna Pia Maria or whomever manages to pull off an enjoyable retropop vibe with her indie song. However, while Amarosis are running in circles like a pair of excitable hamsters in a happy-go-lucky wheel, ‘Gemini’ is more mature and introverted. It centers more around reminiscing about the good memories of days present and past. Also, while I prefer the Icelandic version of Amarosis (which  I forgot to mention in their review somehow), I think ‘Gemini’ is markedly better in English. There’s a story here, and it works better if you can understand what she’s singing.” 7/10

Roy: “In the end, this song is just way too simple instrumentally. You can easily make a distinction between all the instruments used and all of the tracks used at production. It just feels a bit unfinished and a tad amateurish because of this. Just not really my thing.” 3/10

Total: 32.5

Katla- “Then Again/Þaðan af”

William: “It’s tripping me up that the first two to three seconds of this song sound EXACTLY like the opening notes of ’10 Years’. (Once you hear it, you can never unhear it.) Anyway, this doesn’t sound like a Söngvakeppnin winner to me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not into it. The song has barrels of attitude. It’s percussive. It’s moody. It’s got big vocal moments. It doesn’t totally stand out from the field of songs we already have at Eurovision this year, so I probably wouldn’t send this. Either way, though, this is undeniably a quality track.” 6.5/10

James: “Competent electropop. The percussive elements are brought in and out well, and it’s a minimalist composition and production without being too bare. We could do with more less is more tracks, especially after recent years of synthesized ghost vocals used to fill in the silence. I am getting the sense Iceland is trying to steer us towards one of these minimalist, female-led indie pop acts, in which case they should have just had a showcase with ten of these types of acts in it.” 7/10

David: “I hear the potential. I enjoy the vocals. I enjoy the music… yet, there’s something that just doesn’t make me care for the overall package. I don’t feel the music goes to the length that I expect; it stays very down to the ground, vocally good, but also very uninspiring lyrically. I’m just not really into it after all.” 3/10

Tyler: “This song seems to have potential, but doesn’t quite reach it. Katla’s style feels quite different from the others in the selection, so if she nails the vocals and stands out even more in the field, she could do well. But the song itself? I don’t care for how early the fade out feels, and the songs feel too short. It’s angsty and lamenting, but not enough. Rock, but not too much. I do enjoy listening to it, but I wish there was that push.” 7.5/10

Boris: “Katla provides one of many Indie Girl Finds Empowerment After A Break-Up ballads in this season, and I’m thinking ‘ho dear, this again.’ I only just went through this crap with Norway … thrice. However, Katla’s pretty good. I particularly appreciate the strength of the instrumentation. You really *pick up* on the vibe that she’s growing stronger and more menacing, a realization that I’m sure leaves Farida DEAD in a motherf’cking DITCH. Having said that, the lyrics are a bit on the generic side, so I like the Icelandic version more. The music already carries the story by itself, and the Icelandic adds a layer of mystique that gets lost in translation.” 7.5/10

Roy: “Her voice sounds amazing. The hype builds towards the chorus. The electric guitars are preparing to roar so we can all rock the F*** out. And then the chorus just doesn’t do anything that I had anticipated. The edgy, rocky sound to her voice disappears a bit. The guitars fade away too much, and it transforms into more of a safe, Scandinavian pop song. Such a massively missed opportunity. Going full out rock in the chorus here was definitely the way to go, Right now, a potential 9/10 song only stays at a 6.5/10.”

Total: 38

Markéta Irglová- “Possible/Mögulegt”

William: “It’s impossible for me to be objective here. Once was a really important movie for me when it was released. I listened to the soundtrack on repeat. I saw her and Glen Hansard in concert twice, and it was transcendent both times. I could quote you moments from her Academy Award acceptance speech. This song is gorgeous. Love the instrumentation. It somehow sounds both epic and delicate. Love that this song is almost like a sequel to ‘Think About Things’. Daði Freyr couldn’t wait to watch his kid grow up. Markéta is reflecting on how quickly her children are maturing, wishing she could go back to a time when she was their whole world.” 9.5/10

James: “Iceland has a potential Eurovision winner for adults here with ‘Possible’, written and performed by the Academy Award-winning star and songwriter from the 2007 movie Once. This song is beautiful and intricate, featuring a subtle build from a simple piano track to gorgeous orchestra and choral vocals. Dare I say that the one-word summary of this song is ‘lovely’? Yes, I would dare say it. For those who have been hankering for a New Age-Scandinavian track to champion at Eurovision, this is it.” 9/10

David: “NEXT! (It went nowhere!)” 1/10

Tyler: “This was VERY close to a 10, but I think what will really do it for me is the performance. I’m trying very hard to be objective here, as I remember Markéta Irglová from winning an Oscar for Best Song in one of my favorite musicals Once, and this song reminds me of that movie so much. And I love it. It is structured quite differently from other Eurovision songs, and I think it works well! It’s like a journey leading to its destination, and no chorus as far as I can tell. Love the instrumentation. Love the lyrics. I think if Markéta nails the performances, she can be the winner. As for the winner of Eurovision? I wouldn’t mind it. Anything is possible. 😊” 9.5/10

Boris: “I was informed that Markéta won an Oscar for Best Original Song? I never saw the film in question (I am just NOT a movie person I guess!) but, um… what on Earth is she doing in a Eurovision National Final? Either way, ‘Possible’ is the rare low-tempo ballad that I’ve loved on impact. Touching emotionally intelligent lyrics, simple strings, and a warm melody … it just works. The greatest hurdle Markéta faces is the first round of Söngvakeppnin. While ‘Possible’ sounds great in English, its Icelandic counterpart is significantly less impactful. If she can overcome that, her potential is sky high.” 9/10

Roy: “The start of this song really has me wandering in some sort of fairy tale forest. Lots of beautiful lights flickering around, and just this song playing. The issue is that it really needed more of a growth after the first minute. Perhaps they could think of a bit of a revamp to achieve that and keep the magic of the first minute through the entire song. I lose a bit of something with the way the song is currently.” 6/10

Total: 44

Reykjavíkurdætur- “Turn This Around/Tökum af stað”

William: “I dunno … I’m not totally in the right head space for this, but, objectively, I appreciate that they are GOING for it. This is committed, if nothing else. And this is definitely in line with the eccentric outsider artist-vibes Iceland has been going with at Eurovision lately. I have a hard time picturing this staging being anything but pure chaos? So it’s hard for me to totally weigh in without seeing how this comes together live. The song has definitely been growing on me. Could be a lot of fun. Could be a train wreck. It’s guaranteed not to be boring.” 7/10

James: “This has that corny production feel that activist hip hop and Christian rap typically possess. Its stop and start nature and the tempo shift and bass drop take you out of the song. As a hip hop song it flops.  You get dragged out of it the moment they hit a groove, and you get passed around for segments with different performers. For a selection chock full of subtle, intricate performers (and the ‘Volcano’ doofus), this jarring, performative piece will stand out. Whether it stands out for good reasons or bad remains to be seen in the staging and whether or not they can iron out a lot of the wrinkles the studio track has.” 4/10

David: “What a pile of trash… sheesh! All these random beats and lyrics… wut ze frak!?” 1/10

Tyler: “Reykjavíkurdætur brought us a banger, and for that, I’m grateful. Their sound isn’t very common in Eurovision, and I get K-Pop vibes … except it’s just the rap part the entire time, and I’m living for this. Coming off of the high, I just have so many questions for what the performance could even be. The thumbnail has eight members of the group. Which two get cut? How could the staging capture the insanity in the music? Even though … I don’t think it goes crazy enough, and I want them to go even harder. I quite like this. Wouldn’t be mad if it robbed Markéta for the win.” 8.5/10

Boris: “After the Iva situation, the name ‘Daughters of Reykjavik’ is a bit… suspect, but I’ve embraced this iconic trashfest unironically. ♥ ‘Turn This Around’ is less a song than it is a whiplash. It swivels back and forth between vocalists, languages, hell even whole music styles, while providing hilarious, quotable lyrics? ‘FUCKBOYS KEEP ME DRY LIKE A FREAKING UMBRELLA’ is f’cking inspired, and I almost want them to win so they get to interact with the Latvian pick-up artists and the grandma-violating Space Muppets already present in their semi-final. I cannot imagine a universe where ‘Turn This Around’ would be an amusing train wreck, so I’m willing to back them. Until they prove themselves to be TERFs, of course.” 8/10

Roy: “Rap is such a tough genre to pull of well for Eurovision or its national selections. It often falls flat and struggles to sound crisp and clean. I do really enjoy this song. Sure, it won’t be for everyone, but give me some craziness. The beat is well produced, and you can’t say that this is 1 of a million songs, either. Good stuff, just a bit afraid for the live performance” 7.5/10

Total: 36

Suncity and Sanna- “Keep It Cool/Hækkum í botn”

William: “Ooooh. This is just a bit of fun. I don’t know if Suncity and Sanna are totally selling what Eurovision fans are looking for out of Iceland. It might make more sense at Dansk Melodi Gran Prix or Eesti Laul, a national final where more typical pop fare thrives. There’s nothing … remarkable here, I don’t think, but it’s rock solid. The track is very produced, so it’s hard to predict what this will sound like live. The bass line is killer. I’m feeling it.” 7/10

James: “Boomers will be tempted to shout ‘I don’t want to play Suncity!’ when they hear this song. But this is nothing for Steven Van Zandt and Artists United Against Apartheid to complain about. Unless they don’t like generic club bangers. This is a harmless bit of fun for the gin ‘n tonic crowd. I am sure Boris will hate this because it’s not an ‘ironic’ novelty act, and because it’s not at all trashy. I am not sure if Roy will like it, because he won’t have come across the power lesbians who’d love blaring this in their old Range Rovers, bragging that their new girlfriend replaced the temperamental air ride suspension with a coil spring.” 6.5/10

David: “Alright, so we got a song and a title that does go well together … cool beat, cool text. Very radio friendly song as well, but I find that problematic. Sure… play this in the background or on radio station or whatever, and the song will just be there. Wouldn’t really go out of my way to think ‘I need to know what song that was’. Wouldn’t add it to my playlist.” 3/10

Tyler: “Both versions from Suncity and Sanna are pretty competent songs! They’re fine, nothing too special or crazy, and I suppose I do like them well enough. But nothing to the point of going crazy over them. I like the outfits in their official videos … maybe more than the songs. The staging will need to be good for me to like these songs further. I dunno, just keeping it cool and giving them a middling score feels right? The songs were fine, nothing that memorable to me, and the hook is okay for me. That’s it though!” 6/10

Boris: “A fresh perky pop song by two lovely ladies that the Philistine contingent of the fanbase will happy label as ‘SLT pop‘ because they sing about vaguely erotic stuff in hushed voices. *sigh* Pay them no heed. ‘Keep it Cool is loads of fun and dynamic enough to be a potential hit at the song contest and beyond, and I can’t wait to see it slay live.” 8/10

Roy: “This is definitely a decent pick for Iceland. I just think that there are a few that are a bit more unique and interesting. It is a rather safe pop song, perhaps a tad repetitive, but well executed nonetheless. I hope they can deliver this live!” 7/10

Total: 37.5

Based on our collective scores, the two songs we would qualify to the final are:

  • Markéta Irglová– “Possible/Mögulegt”
  • Katla– “Then Again/Þaðan af”

Suncity and Sanna come in only 0.5 points below Katla. And because their score of 37.5 is higher than all but one of the scores we gave to the songs in semi 1, “Keep It Cool/Hækkum í botn” is the song that would get our vote for jury wildcard … provided both Markéta and Katla make it to the final.

Lining all 10 songs up next to each other, our ranking is as follows:

  1. Markéta Irglová– “Possible/Mögulegt”: 44 points
  2. Sigga, Beta and Elín– “Með hækkandi sól”: 42 points
  3. Katla– “Then Again/Þaðan af”: 38 points
  4. Suncity and Sanna– “Keep It Cool/Hækkum í botn”: 37.5
  5. Reykjavíkurdætur– “Turn This Around/Tökum af stað”: 36 points
  6. Amarosis– “Don’t you know/íslenska útgáfan”& Stefán Óli– “All I Know/”Ljósið”: 34 points
  7. Hanna Mia and The Astrotourists– “Gemini/Séns með þér”: 32.5 points
  8. Haffi Haff– “Gía/Volcano”: 29 points
  9. Stefanía Svavarsdóttir– “Heart of Mine/Hjartað mitt”: 26.5 points

But will the Icelandic public agree? Tune in to semi 2 of Söngvakeppnin at 20:45 CET here 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? Which of the Daughters of Reykjavík do #YOU think is getting the boot? Sound off in the comments below, in our forum, or on social media @ESCUnited.

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