Gott kvöld, Ísland, good evening Reykjavík! Söngvakeppni Sjónvarpsins got underway tonight with the first of 3 heats leading up to the grand final on the 12th of February. Out of the 5 acts presented, Erna Hrönn and Haraldur Reynisson advanced to the final, their hopes still high that they will be the successor of Hera Björk.
Musically speaking, tonight’s show was a pot pourri of genres and styles. Expectations were high as to how Erna Hrönn would fare, if anything, she was perhaps one og the hotly tipped favourites, given that the other artists hadn’t previously taken part in the contest, whereas Erna Hrönn sang both in 2007 and 2009. Over the course of the next three weeks, a total of 15 songs will be presented spread over three shows, with 2 acts from each heat selected to go on to the final on the 12th of February. Hopefully the eventual winner will improve on Hera Björk’s dissappointing 19th position from Oslo last year.
The songs: More biograhical information regarding this evening’s contenders can be found here: presentation
Song number 1: Böddi og JJ Soul Band – Lagið Þitt /Your Song (Written by: Ingvi Þór Kormáksson)
Lilting reggae, Böddi and his band entered the stage, the singer wearing a black blazer with white trim, black trilby and jeans for the occasion. LED screens in the background changed colour, bathing the stage in yellow. The song didn’t exactly raise the roof off the studio, despite both Böddi and his backing singer gaving good solid performances. The one criticism is that the presentation was extremely static with very little use of the stage. Böddi flirted with his backing singer towards the end of the number. The song was oddly subdued, even though it was supposed to have a happy, funky reggae vibe. The aforementioned vibe failed to rub off on the audience.
Song number 2: Haraldur Reynisson – Ef Ég Hefði Vængi / If I Had Wings (Written by: Haraldur Reynisson)
A darkened stage with red screens set the scene as Haraldur began his entry. He was dressed ssberly for the show, all in black, complementing the outfit of his voluptuous backing singer. He accompanying himself on the guitar with said backing singer. This was yet another very stilted performance, but staying in character with the song, a simple, accoustic number, with a slight country twang. Ef Ég Hefði Vængi offered no vocal surprises, with Haraldur delivering a safe and competent performance. The stage flooring and backing screens changed colour to a striking blue halfway through. Very well received, with the audience clapping and cheering.
Song number 3: Pétur Örn Guðmundsson – Elísabet (Written by: Pétur Örn Guðmundsson)
Pétur Örn works doing cartoon voices, notably Mickey Mouse and Kermit, but luckily there were none of these voices tonight! The hosts were quick to point out that the Elísabet in the song was no lady in particular, Pétur Örn just found the name beautiful. The stage was in complete darkness as the haunting intro began, the LED screens changing colour between orange and yellow hues. Pétur entered the stage wearing a dark cardigan with turquoise t-shirt and leather pants – one of the more eccentric outfits of the evening. He accompanied himself on the keyboard to start off with, his 5 backing singers standing together on the other side of the stage. Made for a very strange presentation. From the opening bars of the song, it’s as if you’re immediately transported to some french film noir from the 60’s – a very understated and subdued number with very poignant lyrics speaking of longing and forgiveness. All in all an average song, with nothing special to lift it out of anonymity, not even the beatlesesque strings leading up to the key change. Quite a flat number although it gained a lot of support from the studio audience.
Song number 4: Hanna Guðný Hitchon – Huldumey / Elf Maiden (Written by: Ragnar Hermannsson)
Poor Hanna Guðný – she was plagued by feedback problems both at the beginning and during her performance, but depsite this delivered sterling vocals, clearly unnerved by the technical hitches. The stage seeting this time was cool blue hues, setting off her sparkly black knee length dress to a tee, and making Hanna Guðný look like someting in between a toned down Amy Winehouse and Jill Johnson! Huldumey was a mid tempo number, starting off quite slowly, but by the first chorus, Hanna’s voice broke free and she delivered a gutsy performance with clear hints of white soul in there. The song built nicely, definitely most powerful performance of the night. She was also much better at using the stage space than previous artists in her dramatic presentation.
Song number 5: Erna Hrönn – Ástin Mín Eina / My Only Love (Written by: Arnar Ástráðsson)
Musically, this was the classiest number of the evening. Erna Hrönn entered the stage wearing a sea green slik gown, mathcing the turquoise shades projected on to the stage. The audience gave her a huge reception, even before she’d started singing! The song started off with a familiar piano intro but thereafter built nicely as the song progressed. Strings combined to give the song a romantic, wistful feel adding to the extremely powerful and touching lyrics. They told of her prayer that the love she has finally found will stay by her side. The simplicity of the staging made for a stunning effect.The lonesome accompanying violin sounded quite haunting in a way. A flawless vocal performance with Kristján Gíslason on backing, maed Ástin Mín Eina the one to watch.
The event opened with young girls aged about 8 dancing to Lena and Satellite on the stage, ending with them forming a Eurovision heart. It was a very simple stage with nice clean lines, plenty of floor space. Hosts Ragnhildur Steinunn Jónsdóttir and Guðmundur Gunnarsson scrubbed up very well in dinner wear, she wearing a black dinner dress and him in a contemporary charcoal dinner jacket. Lóvísa Árnardóttir had the task of follwing participants in the green room. It was an extremely small venue, with everyone seated. Short interviews were given with the composers before each entry while in their everyday working environment. Following the last act,
Ragnhildur Steinunn left the stage and interviewed a really shy little girl the final act. She certainly had her work cut out for her! She did however managed to get the little girl to sing while the audience clapped along, the girl got more applause than any of the artists! A short recap of the entries folowed as the voting lines were opened for 20 mins. Ordinary people were interviewed, asked if they normally watch Eurovision, and what their favourite Icelandic entries had been over the years. The interviewees, 3 macho mechanics were asked whether or not they thought it was embarrassing for big strong men to admit to watching Eurovision, to which they replied "yes" in unison! 2 Guests then entered the stage to a chat show setting. The two entertainers, Ómar Ragnarsson and Andri Freyr Viðarsson, spoke of their Eurovision memories, in a very entertaining way, which kept the audience most amused. Ómar was part of the stage act in 93 of one of the acts competing in Söngvakeppni Sjónvarpsins.
The audience joined the hosts in counting down the final 5 seconds of the voting. Views from the green room then appeared, with many expectant faces as the envelope arrived. Erna Hrönn was the first of the jubilant winners invited onto the stage!! Haraldur Reynisson was the second surprise finalist who then joined Erna Hrönn on stage to wild clapping and stamping from the audience.