Iceland 2016: first finalists of Söngvakeppnin revealed

Iceland’s national final kicked off tonight. Six artists fought for the three tickets for the final on the 20th of February, while, next Saturday, three more tickets will be given in the second semi-final of Söngvakeppnin 2016. The seventh finalist will be selected by the jury from the six remaining entries that failed to qualify from the semi-finals.

Six songs and eight artists competed tonight in the first semi-final to decide who would be the lucky ones to make it to the final of Söngvakeppnin 2016. You can listen to the studio version of all the competing songs in the official site of RÚV.

The songs

Greta Salóme – Raddirnar

We have one here that people will be watching closely due to Greta, who represented Iceland in 2012 in a duet with Jónsi. This time she comes with a country folk song. The trumpet hook after the chorus is very infectious. It’s certainly upbeat and catchy. Dressed all in black, Greta is interacting with the backdrop which looks great. There are hints of Loreen in her movements. The song is good overall.

Erna Hrönn Ólafsdóttir & Hjörtur Traustason – Hugur Minn Er

Here we have an emotional ballad that sounds like something from a movie or television soundtrack and it gradually builds as it should, but never goes overboard. It always keeps the delicate tone that it started off with. She has a lovely voice and is accompanied in this duet by Hjörtur, which works well. It is a very pleasant Eurovision ballad and could do well with a slight makeover.

Ingólfur Þórarinsson – Fátækur Námsmaður

A proper rock song here. It’s just straightforward uptempo rock that you can dance to. Despite rock songs not having been successful in the contest recently, this entry will sound familiar to many ears I think. Ingolfur is accompanied on stage by a bed and group of singers and musicians including a girl playing a guitar wearing sunglasses. I hope it will do well. A lot of support from the audience inside the hall.

EVA – Ég Sé Þig

This is the most different of the whole line up of Söngvakeppnin 2016. This is a very chilled acoustic folky number sung by two female voices. It’s very simple and a very pleasant song to listen to. Vocally not so stable though. The two singers are standing among a rock formation on stage and sing. I think the weakest entry of the night.

Karlotta Sigurðardóttir – Óstöðvandi

This song reminds us of Adele’s songs, which really have become a bit of a genre. It’s not the most outstanding song in the world but it’s very accessible with broad appeal and the song with the most ‘Eurovision sound’ in tonight’s semi-final so it should get a lot of votes just based on that. I like the final chorus kicking it up a gear. A lot of Karlotta’s fans encouraged her. The song is so Swedish it could be in tonight’s Melodifestivalen semi-final. It has Swedish songwriters, the Persson twins, who accompanied Karlotta on stage. Also, there are three female dancers. It could do well, not sure if it is a qualifier though.

Sigga Eyrún – Kreisí

One of the favourite songs, not only to quallify, but to win the entire Söngvakeppnin 2016 now. It’s very different and the production is very brave. The song itself is haunting in a way but with a very well put together pop melody.  The stage presentation includes crazy robotic dance moves! An unusual electronic, plinky-plonky sound to it. This really stands out and it could do so in Eurovision, too.

The show

Söngvakeppnin 2016 is the Icelandic national final format developed by RÚV in order to select their entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2016. This year, the competition celebrates Iceland’s 30th anniversary since their first participation in the Eurovision Song Contest. In addition to selecting the Icelandic entry for Eurovision, an additional monetary prize of 1 million Icelandic Króna will be awarded to the writers of the winning song.

The three shows of Söngvakeppnin 2016 will be hosted by Ragnhildur Steinunn Jónsdóttir and Guðrún Dís Emilsdóttir in Reykjavík. Tonight’s semi-final was held at the Háskólabíó venue.

The guest performances of tonight’s semi-final were Páll Óskar, who represented Iceland in 1997, and the popular Icelandic band 101 Boys. Óskar performed the song Vinnum Þetta Fyrirfram, which was written specifically to celebrate Iceland’s 30th anniversary competing in the Eurovision Song Contest, while 101 Boys covered the country’s debut entry in the contest, Gleðibankinn,(1986).

The show started with 101 Boys and, after them, we had a recap of all the Icelandic entries in the contest. The two hosts took to the stage after and the contest began! After the first three songs, some interviews from the green room and then a commercial break. After the break, we are back with the last three songs. A recap of the six songs with the voting telephone numbers followed immediately after the end of the song presentation. All the songs sound much better live than the studio versions. We have again a commercial break and back to a second recap of the songs.

Before the results, we have a small video of previous Söngvakeppnin, which, as we have already said, celebrates 30 years on the Icelandic TV. The show continued with Páll Óskar performing his song Vinnum Þetta Fyrirfram. After that  entertaining performance, we see again the two hosts and we go to a final recap before the announcement of the results.

The results

The three acts to proceed to the final were randomly announced. These were:

Greta Salóme – Raddirnar

Karlotta Sigurðardóttir – Óstöðvandi

Erna Hrönn Ólafsdóttir & Hjörtur Traustason – Hugur Minn Er

Iceland in the Eurovision Song Contest

Iceland entered Eurovision in 1986 and this year will thus mark the island’s 30th anniversary in the event. The country has missed participating in the contest twice, in 1998 and 2002, due to poor results in the previous years as, at the time, rules stipulated that a country got excluded for a year if it failed to rank high enough. Iceland’s best results to date remain two second placings: in 1999 with Selma and All Out Of Luck and 2009 with Yohanna and Is It True? Last year, the country was represented by María Ólafs, whose entry Unbroken managed to climb to number three in the Icelandic charts but failed to qualify for the 2015 Eurovision Grand Final from the semi-final stage in Vienna.

Below, you can watch a compilation of the last eight years of Iceland in the Eurovision Song Contest. We did our best to find our greatest footage and maybe you’ll see something you haven’t seen before.

Source: EuroVisionary, Wikipedia, RÚV
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