Iceland Places Last in Eurovision Song Contest

A screenshot from RÚV. Hera Björk during the Söngvakeppnin final, March 2, 2024

The final result of the Eurovision Song Contest revealed that Iceland’s entry received the fewest points of all participating songs. Singer Hera Björk performed the song Scared of Heights at the first semi-final on 7 May and did not advance, as she received only three points, RÚV reports.

This was Hera Björk’s second time competing for Iceland. In 2010, she finished 19th with her song Je ne sais quoi.

Controversy in Iceland and abroad

Switzerland won the contest last night with Nemo’s entry The Code. Croatia placed second and Ukraine third. The event took place in Sweden this year.

The contest was mired in controversy, both within Iceland and abroad. In the Iceland preliminary competition, Söngvakeppnin, glitches in the voting app triggered an inquiry into the results.

Hera Björk’s songwriter, Ásdís María Viðarsdóttir, withdrew from the competition, citing uncertainty about the results and Israel’s ongoing military action in Gaza. The Icelandic Association of Composers and Lyricists asked its members not to participate in the show unless Israel was banned.

Protests at the contest

Israel’s participation was criticised by multiple performers in the finals and by protestors outside the Malmö venue. Many have cited the precedent when Russia was excluded from the competition two years ago following their invasion of Ukraine.

The Dutch competitor, Joost Klein, was disqualified for alleged inappropriate behaviour towards a Eurovision staffer.

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Independent Inquiry into Eurovision Controversy

A screenshot from RÚV. Hera Björk during the Söngvakeppnin final, March 2, 2024

Ríkisútvarpið (RÚV), The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, has decided to launch an independent inquiry into the voting process of Söngvakeppnin, Iceland’s preliminary competition for the Eurovision Song Contest. A specialist will be tasked for the job, Vísir reports.

Glitches in voting app

The winner of last weekend’s contest was singer Hera Björk with her song Scared of Heights, beating out Palestinian contestant Bashar Murad in the final. Bashar was leading in both the public vote and jury vote after the first round of competition and several Söngvakeppnin voters reported glitches in National Broadcaster RÚV’s voting app. Some who attempted to vote for Bashar shared screenshots of error messages or indications that their vote had gone to Hera instead. The songwriter for Bashar’s song, Wild West, submitted a written request for an independent inquiry into the error.

Stefán Eiríksson, Director General of RÚV, would not give more details about the inquiry at this point. “We have had discussions with a specialist in this field to provide an independent inquiry,” he said. “Nothing else has been announced.”

Winning songwriter pulls out

Meanwhile, the songwriter for Hera’s song has announced that she will not accompany Hera and her team to the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö. Ásdís María Viðarsdóttir, the singer-songwriter known professionally as Ásdís, said that she wanted Bashar to represent Iceland and that her conscience didn’t allow her to participate further. “I’ve been very clear about my views that the results are in question,” she told RÚV. “There have been legitimate concerns raised about the voting process and I don’t think RÚV has given clear answers.

She added that she’d been encouraged to participate as a songwriter and that she’d submitted her music to the competition before Israel’s recent military action in Gaza. Iceland’s participation in Eurovision has been criticised in light of Israel’s ongoing participation. For instance, the Icelandic Association of Composers and Lyricists asked its members not to participate in the show unless Israel was banned.

Hera Björk Wins Amid Eurovision Controversy

A screenshot from RÚV. Hera Björk during the Söngvakeppnin final, March 2, 2024

Hera Björk has won Iceland’s Söngvakeppnin, but it is still unclear whether she will represent Iceland in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Hera won Iceland’s pre-Eurovision competition with her song Scared of Heights last Saturday, beating out Palestinian contestant Bashar Murad in the final. Some have called for an independent investigation into the voting process after reports of glitches in national broadcaster RÚV’s voting app.

Iceland falls on bookmakers’ lists

Five acts performed in the televised Söngvakeppnin finals last Saturday evening, with Hera Björk and Bashar Murad voted as the two finalists. Prior to the final, Eurovision bookmakers had considered Bashar as most likely to become Iceland’s Eurovision representative and had placed Iceland in third place on their Eurovision betting odds lists. Since Hera’s win was announced, Iceland has fallen to eleventh place.

Glitches in voting app

Several Söngvakeppnin voters reported glitches in National Broadcaster RÚV’s voting app on Saturday. Some who attempted to vote for Bashar shared screenshots of error messages or indications that their vote had gone to Hera instead. Vodafone Iceland stated that any glitches were not due to a systemic issue on their end. RÚV is looking into the matter, but director of Söngvakeppnin Rúnar Freyr Gíslason has stated that the total number of votes affected by potential glitches were not so great as to influence the final outcome. The composer of Wild West, the song Bashar performed, has called for an independent investigation into the matter.

Icelandic musicians call on RÚV to not participate

There have been calls to boycott Eurovision among the Iceland public this year due to Israel’s participation in the contest. These calls have been echoed within the Icelandic music community as well. Over 550 musicians in Iceland signed a petition calling on RÚV to boycott the competition if Israel is permitted to participate. The signees include a plethora of well-known artists such as Emilíana Torrini, Bríet, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Páll Óskar, and Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir (Of Monsters and Men). The Icelandic Association of Composers and Lyricists also released a statement urging RÚV not to participate in the contest.

RÚV Director Stefán Eiríksson has previously stated that the broadcaster would leave it up to the winning musician of Söngvakeppnin to decide whether or not to participate in Eurovision in Malmö, Sweden this year.