Zach Kerr and Matt Friedrichs are two Chief Editors of ESCUNITED. This review are the opinions and do not reflect the view of ESCUNITED.
Despite following Eurovision since the 2003 edition in Riga, I have to admit that this is the first year that I’m actually familiarizing myself with the songs before they hit the Eurovision stage. Furthermore, this is the first time that I am investing time in watching the National Selections.
Although I missed the previous shows from countries like Belarus, Albania, and Switzerland, I made it a known fact to friends that I would be watching Söngvakeppnin 2013. Iceland has never disappointed from Birgitta’s “Open Your Heart” to Yohanna’s “Is it True?” So it’s even more exciting for me that this first semi final includes both of them!
But first, some thoughts of the show in general:
1) As much as I’d love for Iceland to host Eurovision, I’ve been told that it’d be a daunting task given the size of the country. The setting at Söngvakeppnin 2013 reiterates this sentiment exactly as everything, from the stage to the hosts, are basic but sufficient enough to get the job done.
2) Wish I knew Icelandic. The only word I actually understood was when someone said “Cappuccino”
3) It was fun to see the show highlight the road to Baku for Greta and Jonsi. We got to see clips of their win at the National Selection, their arrival in Baku, and their prep before hitting the stage.
4) Although this is indeed low budget, there is something sincere about the presentation. The show is really introducing us to the acts. I love how Svavar and Hreindis walked into the middle of Yohanna and Magni’s interview!
5) Is it just me or does the transition music between acts sound a bit like the chorus of Meðal Andanna?
6) Who was the interval act (the three guys harmonizing on stools)? At first, I thought BBMak came back from the dead!
And now, my thoughts of the actual songs!
Zach: Written by her husband, it explains the shift in the musical style we’ve seen Yohanna perform previously. Cute song and a grower. As usual, she performs very well live. This will make it through just because it’s Yohanna. If it wins, making it to the finals isn’t guaranteed. We saw what happened to Selma when she was given not as great of a song the second time around.
Matt: Yohanna is a gorgeous woman with the voice of an angel. The fact that she is dressed like the solid gold dancer with a song that is average at best certainly doesn’t increase her odds. She is very well liked by the Eurovision community but even that won’t be enough to make up for a rather weak effort.
Magni Asgeirsson: Ekki Lita Undan
Zach: A face possibly familiar to US audiences as he finished fourth on ROCK STAR: SUPERNOVA back in 2006. This reminds me of “Never Forget” as it’s got a bit of the dark moody atmosphere.
Matt: Magni is singing some Soft Rock…..and I already forgot about it. His previous effort was way stronger so I hope he’ll try again in the future with something that is a bit more memorable.
Svavar Knútur Kristinsson & Hreindís Ylva Garðarsdóttir Hólm: Lífið Snýst
Zach: Svavar’s holding an ukulele in the interview. I’m glad I’m not the only one that plays one! It’s typically associated with Hawai’i but it actually has Portuguese origins. This was one of my three early favs! Svavar’s quite the odd and eccentric fella isn’t he? Eurovision would eat this up. It’s got an accordion, ukulele, and big drum. Just throw in a violin for good measure and you’re set! Doubtful it’ll make it past through the finals though.
Matt: Vocally it wasn’t the most convincing performance but these two have a lot of charisma and they’re incredibly likeable. The song is sweet, catchy and melodic and the ukulele wins it for me. Great song!
Edda Viðarsdóttir: Sá sem Lætur Hjartað Ráða För
Zach: When Matt and I went to Disneyland a few weeks ago, we watched a really bad live show that regularly occurs near the entrance of the California Adventure. I told him the only saving grace was the sign language interpreter. She was getting into it! Unfortunately, the interpreter doesn’t save this song. Edda sounds a bit flat, just like the verses. Pretty chorus though.
Matt: A song needs to have something that would appeal to the viewers. Melody, catchiness, choreography, a good voice however none of these would apply to this performance. It gets the “worst effort of the night” award from me.
Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson: Ég á Líf
Zach: By looks, I’d expect the singer to sing something more rockish. The song reminds me of something Ireland would present at a National Selection. It didn’t put a toot in my horn. Texting with Matt, he was worried this one would make the final possibly over our favorite, Birgitta. Or at least cancel out Birgitta’s votes. I’m still optimistic.
Matt: A beautiful melody with an Irish feel to it. I knew immediately that this one would be a contender. Looking at the guy, I was expecting a raspy rock voice but it was a soft pop vocal and great control.
Birgitta Haukdal: Meðal Andanna
Zach: I’m biased. I won’t lie. This is my favorite song of the first semi final and possibly overall. Erna’s song is a very close second, followed by Svavar and Hreindis. I have high hopes for Birgitta. Here we go! As expected, this isn’t no “Open Your Heart.” On the big Eurovision stage, this would be epic. Again, I’m biased I admit. As of now, a bit anti-climatic.
Matt: Birgitta is back and is vocally still on top of things. I’m happy that the wind machine is still relevant, Eurovision wouldn’t be the same without it. A strong ballad that felt a little flat for some reason but the chorus is incredibly strong so qualification was a no brainer.
And now, the results!
First announced is Birgitta, as expected!
Second is Svavar and Hreindis! This is a nice outcome! I actually thought this would be the one of my favs that would be the least likely to make it to the finals.
Oh crap. Yohanna didn’t make it! Eyþór did! Matt’s top 3 made it. I selected Yohanna just because I thought she was a shoe-in.
Well that’s the show until tomorrow’s second semi final. The jury can come back after the second semi final and bring Yohanna back. But we’ll see…