Will This Be Iceland’s Year? Ten Songs Chosen as 2023’s Eurovision Contenders

Daði Freyr og gagnamagnið Eurovision 2021

Ten songs have been selected to take part in this year’s Söngvakeppnin, the three-part competition that will decide the act that will represent Iceland in the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool in May, RÚV reports. The ten songs, along with their songwriters and the musicians who will perform them, will be announced during a TV special on RÚV on Saturday, January 28.

Of the 137 songs were submitted for consideration, six were chosen by a selection committee comprised of representatives from the Association of Icelandic Musicians (FÍH), the Icelandic Society of Composers and Lyricists (FTT), and RÚV. The remaining four slots were filled by performers who the selection committee specifically invited to take part.

Will 2023 finally be Iceland’s year?

Since its debut in 1986, Iceland has achieved seven Top 10 placements in Eurovision, including, most recently, Hatari’s 10th place in 2019 with their art-industro anthem “Hatrið mun sigra,” (“Hate Will Prevail“) and Daði og Gagnamagnið’s much-beloved “10 Years,” which placed fourth. Iceland has come this close to winning twice, placing second in 1999 and 2009.

1999:

https://youtu.be/iEkppX_R6tA

2009:

National song contest to begin in February; winning song selected in March

The first semi-final will take place on February 18; the second will take place on February 25. Five songs compete for two spots in the final. The selection committee also has the ability to advance a fifth song. So the national final will include either or four or five songs, depending on whether the committee sees fit to nominate a wild card. Either way, the final will be held on March 4. The festivities will be hosted by actress, presenter, and assistant director of RÚV, Ragnhildur Steinunn Jónsdóttir, alongside musician Unnstein Manuel Stefánsson, and radio station Rás 2’s Director of Music, Sigurður Þorri Gunnarsson.

Following the TV special on January 28th, the songs will be available to listen to alongside their lyrics on the website songvakeppnin.is. They will also be published on Spotify the same night.

Iceland’s First Eurovision Semi-Final Today

Iceland’s Eurovision adventure starts today, Saturday, February 26, with the first Söngvakeppnin semi-final. The show will be broadcast live on RÚV at 7:45 pm local time.

As in previous years, there are two semi-finals with five songs competing in each round. The public will vote on their favorite songs in each semi-final and the top two songs from each round will advance to the grand final on March 12. The event organizers also have the option of sending a fifth ‘wildcard’ song to compete in the final.

The competition will take place in ‘Söngvakeppnin Hall’ at Trapped director Baltasar Kórmakur’s RVK Studios and be hosted by Björg Magnúsdóttir, Jón Jónsson, and Ragnhildur Steinunn Jónsdóttir.

Is this Iceland’s Year?

Last year, Iceland sent Daði og gangmagnið with their song “10 Years” to Eurovision. The song quickly became a fan favourite and many speculated that it was finally Iceland’s year to win. The band had already achieved widespread popularity the previous year with their song “Think About Things,” which was Iceland’s submission to the 2020 Eurovision contest. That event was, of course, cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, despite a promising outlook for Iceland’s long-awaited Eurovision triumph, 2021 had other plans in store. A COVID outbreak among band members meant that Daði og gagnamagnið couldn’t compete in either the semi-final or final. A recording of their second rehearsal in Rotterdam was used instead of a live performance and they placed fourth overall.

Iceland’s 2022 Eurovision Song Contest Playlist

All of the songs will be performed in Icelandic during the semi-finals; grand finalists have the option of singing in either Icelandic or English. (Links below include videos of the songs in both languages, as available.)

Semi-Final One (February 26)

Amarosis: “Don’t You Know

Haffi Haf: “Gía” (English title: “Volcano”)

Sigga, Beta, & Elín: “Með hækkandi sól

Stefanía Svavarsdóttir: “Hjartað mitt” (English title: “Heart of Mine”)

Stefán Óli: “Ljósið” (English title: “All I Know”)

Semi-Final Two (March 5)

Hanna Mia and the Astrotourists: “Séns með þér” (English title: “Gemini”)

Katla: “Þaðan af” (English title: “Then Again”)

Markéta Irglová: “Mögulegt” (English title: “Possible”)

Reykjavíkurdætur: “Tökum af stað” (English title: “Turn This Around”)

Sun City & Sanna: “Hækkum í botn” (English title: “Keep it Cool”)

Iceland Lands Fourth in 2021 Eurovision Song Contest

Daði Freyr og gagnamagnið Eurovision 2021

Iceland’s representatives in the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest, Daði og gagnamagnið, landed in fourth place at the competition despite a COVID-19 infection in the band that prevented its members from performing live. A second member of the band tested positive for COVID-19 upon arriving home in Iceland: Árný Fjóla Ásmundsdóttir.

Iceland has only twice done better in the Eurovision Song Contest: the country won second place in 1999 with the song All Out of Luck performed by Selma Björns, and also in 2009 with the song Is It True, performed by Jóhanna Guðrún. Iceland also reached fourth place on one previous occasion: in 1990 with the song Eitt lag enn, performed by Stjórnin.

After a COVID-19 infection came up in the Icelandic delegation early last week, the entire group was put into quarantine. The first infection was diagnosed in a crew member, but a band member later tested positive that week. Daði og gagnamagnið decided to use the recording from their dress rehearsal as their submission in the semi-finals of the competition last Thursday, and qualified for the finals, held on Saturday night. Iceland landed in fourth place, with 378 points: 198 from the jury and 180 from the public.

Most of the Icelandic delegation arrived home in Iceland on Sunday, when a second member of the band tested positive for COVID-19: Árný Fjóla, frontman Daði Freyr’s wife. Daði and Árný are now in isolation together and have announced they plan to use the time to make a music video. Fans can vote on which song they’d like to see realised on Daði’s Twitter page.

Daði Freyr Qualifies for Eurovision Grand Final

Eurovision Iceland Daði og gagnamagnið

Daði Freyr and Gagnamagnið qualified for the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 yesterday, despite being unable to attend due to two members of the Icelandic crew and Gagnamagnið testing positive for COVID-19. Daði Freyr and non-COVID-infected members of Gagnamagnið were hoping to make it to the Rotterdam Ahoy arena as spectators for Eurovision’s Grand Final tomorrow, but the leader of the Icelandic delegation Felix Bergsson has stated that that is highly unlikely. After one of the band members was diagnosed with COVID-19, Daði og Gagnamagnið did not perform on stage yesterday during the Semi-Finals, a recording from the performance’s on-stage rehearsal was aired instead.

A long and winding road

After it was confirmed that Jóhann Sigurður Jóhannsson had tested positive for COVID-19, Daði og gagnamagnið – Iceland’s representatives in the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest – the band announced that it would not perform in the Semi-Finals and that a recording from their second rehearsal would be used as their entry. Despite being the first act in the history of the contest to participate without performing on stage, the band qualified for the Grand Final yesterday, celebrating the news from a makeshift “green room” at their hotel room in Rotterdam.

Daði og Gagnamagnið will be the 12th act on stage at the Finals tomorrow, following Switzerland and preceding Spain. According to Eurovision World, bookmakers predict that Daði Freyr og Gagnamagnið will place sixth in the competition, with Italy and France being the favourites.

When asked about the Finals Night in an interview with RÚV, Daði Freyr stated that he hoped that he and the non-infected members of Gagnamagnið can make it to the Ahoy arena: “We’ve made it to the Finals, which was our goal. I had previously decided that I would draw up a new plan in the event that we qualified. But there’s not much that we can do as we’re not allowed to stand on stage.”

The COVID-19 infection is another development in what some have come to see an almost tragic turn of events in the Daði Freyr Eurovision saga. Daði Freyr og Gagnamagnið lost to singer Svala in Iceland’s 2017 Television Song Contest (which determines Iceland’s representative at the Eurovision Song Contest). The band returned to the Television Song Contest in 2019, winning the competition with the song Think About Things, which many believed was a strong entry. After the cancellation of the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest due to the COVID pandemic, Daði Freyr og Gagnamagnið were invited to represent Iceland in the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest, without having to qualify by traditional means. Just as it appeared as if Daði and his band would finally be given the opportunity to perform on the big stage at Eurovision, their hopes were dashed by an unexpected COVID infection.

This article has been updated.

Second COVID-19 Infection in Iceland’s Eurovision Delegation

Daði Freyr og gagnamagnið Eurovision 2021

Update May 19, 12:54: The EBU has released a statement confirming that Daði og gagnamagnið will neither perform at the Thursday semi-finals nor the Saturday finals of the 2021 Eurovision Songcontest. A recording of their second rehearsal in Rotterdam will be used as their entry.

One of the members of Daði og gagnamagnið, Iceland’s representatives in the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest, has tested positive for COVID-19. Daði himself announced the development this morning on Twitter. The band will consequently not perform in the Eurovision semi-finals tomorrow night and a recording from their second rehearsal will instead be used as their entry.

In a tearful video posted in Gagnamagnið’s Instagram stories, band member Jóhann Sigurður Jóhannsson came forward to tell fans he is the member who tested positive. “I’m really shocked and disappointed and generally just really sad about the whole situation,” Jóhann stated, adding that he did everything he could to stay safe. The Icelandic delegation entered quarantine and underwent testing earlier this week after an infection arose in the Polish Eurovision team. Jóhann is the second member of the Icelandic group to test positive – the first is a crew member and not a performer. Jóhann assured supporters that he was healthy but disappointed as the group had worked so hard and the performance had been “so long in the making.”

In a Twitter thread from this morning announcing the development, Daði Freyr stated that the band was “very happy” with the taped performance that will be used on Thursday night and “super excited” for supporters to watch it.

The Eurovision finals take place on Saturday. It is unclear whether Iceland will be able to perform live at the event.

Daði to Compete Despite Eurovision COVID-19 Outbreak

Eurovision Iceland Daði og gagnamagnið

Daði og gagnamagnið, Iceland’s representatives in the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest, will compete in the competition’s semi-finals in Rotterdam this Thursday despite a COVID-19 outbreak in which members of the Polish and Icelandic teams have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, RÚV reports. One member of the Icelandic crew tested positive for COVID-19 and the others are quarantining as they await their test results. If the band is unable to perform live, a recording from their dress rehearsal will be used as their semi-final entry.

Band Vaccinated Before Departure

The competition is taking place in the Netherlands, currently a high-risk area for COVID-19 according to the European Centre for Disease Control. Vísir reports that Icelandic national broadcaster RÚV, who sponsors Iceland’s participation in the competition, requested that the crew be vaccinated before departure to the Netherlands. “And we granted that,” Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason told the outlet. “People are being sent out there on behalf of the Icelandic state where [the virus is widespread]. We have been reluctant to grant such requests but we did so in this instance.”

Just under 40% of Icelandic residents have received one or both shots of COVID-19 vaccine, and authorities are still administering the jab to priority groups including school staff and people with underlying illnesses. Þórólfur admitted that some might consider it unfair to let the group jump the line due to the Eurovision trip.

The Icelandic Eurovision crew received the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) single-dose vaccine around ten days ago, shortly before departing for Rotterdam. One member of the crew has now tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which does not surprise Þórólfur. “It’s only been ten days since the vaccination. We know it takes two to three weeks for the vaccine to reach full efficacy.” The infected individual is not part of the on-stage group but has been in contact with them. Their identity has not been revealed for privacy reasons.

Daði Rises on Eurovision Charts After First Rotterdam Rehearsal

Eurovision Söngvakeppnin 2020 Daði Freyr Dimma

Iceland’s representatives at the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest, Daði og gagnamagnið, rose two spots in bookies’ charts after their first rehearsal in the Netherlands, RÚV reports. Daði and gagnamagnið’s song 10 Years was in sixth place before the group took the stage at Rotterdam’s Ahoy Convention Centre but had risen to fourth only a few hours later. Daði Freyr and his band won fans across the world in 2020 with their song Think About Things, Iceland’s submission to the 2020 Eurovision contest, which was eventually cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the rehearsal, the band premiered new costumes, graphics, and instruments – the latter designed by band member Árný Fjóla (also Daði’s wife and the subject of the song), and constructed by Árný, Daði, and Daði’s father. The band’s graphics reference previous Eurovision performances, including that of Icelander Jóhanna Guðrún, who represented the country at the 2009 contest, and Ukrainian artist Ruslana’s 2004 contest-winning song Wild Dances.

Read More: Daði’s Eurovision is 20/20

The group’s next rehearsal takes place this Thursday and their official performance will be next Thursday, May 20 in the Eurovision semi-finals in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Three Wins for Pop Star Bríet at Icelandic Music Awards

Bríet - Icelandic pop singer wins the Icelandic Music Awards in 2021

The annual Icelandic Music Awards were held in Reykjavík last Saturday. Pop musician Bríet, who received seven nominations, took home three awards in the categories Pop Album of the Year, Lyricist of the Year, and Female Singer of the Year. Female artists won in six out of the nine Best Album genre categories.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nominees were invited to attend the presentation of the awards in small groups. The presentations were pre-recorded shortly before the ceremony was broadcast on Saturday evening. The broadcast did feature five live performances by nominees, however, including Best Jazz Album winner Ingibjörg Turchi and crowd favourite GusGus.

Read More: Bríet at the 2018 Iceland Airwaves Festival

Sigur Rós received this year’s Honourary Award for their contribution to Icelandic music over the past 17 years (the band was established in 1994). Unsurprisingly, Iceland’s Eurovision representative Daði Freyr won Best Pop Song for last year’s viral hit Think About Things.

A playlist featuring all of this year’s nominees is available on Spotify. The full list of winners is below.

2021 Icelandic Music Awards Winners

Pop, Rock, Rap, Hip Hop, and Electronic Music 

POP – BEST ALBUM
Kveðja, Bríet  – BRÍET

ROCK – BEST ALBUM
Endless Twilight of Codependent Love  – Sólstafir

RAP & HIP HOP – BEST ALBUM
VACATION  – CYBER

ELECTRONIC MUSIC – BEST ALBUM
Visions of Ultraflex  – Ultraflex

POP – BEST SONG
Think About Things – Daði Freyr

ROCK – BEST SONG
Haf trú – HAM

RAP & HIP HOP – BEST SONG
Geimvera  – JóiPé x Króli

ELECTRONIC MUSIC – BEST SONG
Think Too Fast  – JFDR

BEST MUSICAL EVENT
Heima með Helga

BEST LYRICIST
Bríet Ísis Elfar

BEST SONGWRITER
Hjaltalín

BEST MALE SINGER
Högni Egilsson

BEST FEMALE SINGER
Bríet Ísis Elfar

BEST PERFORMER
Bubbi Morthens

BEST MUSIC VIDEO (awarded in collaboration with albumm.is)
Sumarið sem aldrei kom – Jónsi. Leikstjórn: Frosti Jón Runólfsson

BRIGHTEST HOPE (emerging artist awarded in collaboration with Rás 2)
Gugusar

 

CLASSICAL AND CONTEMPORARY MUSIC 

BEST ALBUM
John Speight, Solo Piano Works  – Peter Máté

BEST COMPOSITION
Accordion Concerto – Finnur Karlsson

BEST FESTIVAL
Sönghátíð í Hafnarborg

BEST CONCERT
Brák og Bach

BEST FEMALE SINGER
Álfheiður Erla Guðmundsdóttir

BEST MALE SINGER
Stuart Skelton

BEST SOLO PERFORMER
Víkingur Heiðar Ólafsson

BEST GROUP PERFORMER
Icelandic Symphony Orchestra

EMERGING CLASSICAL ARTIST
Steiney Sigurðardóttir (cellist)

 

JAZZ AND BLUES

BEST ALBUM
Meliae – Ingibjörg Turchi

BEST ORIGINAL COMPOSITION
Four Elements – Haukur Gröndal

BEST SONGWRITER
Sigurður Flosason

BEST SOLO PERFORMER
Haukur Gröndal

BEST GROUP PERFORMER
Frelsissveit Íslands

BEST MUSICAL EVENT
Reykjavík Jazz Festival

BRIGHTEST HOPE (emerging artist award)
Laufey Lín Jónsdóttir


OTHER MUSIC: OPEN CATEGORY, FOLK AND WORLD MUSIC, MUSIC FOR FILM AND THEATRE

BEST ALBUM – MUSIC FOR FILM AND THEATRE
Defending Jacob – Atli Örvarsson & Ólafur Arnalds

BEST ALBUM – FOLK AND WORLD MUSIC
Shelters one  – Jelena Ciric

BEST ALBUM – OPEN CATEGORY
EPICYCLE II – Gyða Valtýsdóttir

BEST SONG/COMPOSITION – OPEN CATEGORY
Astronaut  – Red Barnett

BEST ALBUM ARTWORK
PLASTPRINSESSAN  – K.óla:
Kata Jóhanness, Katrín Helga Ólafsdóttir, Ása Bríet Brattaberg, Arína Vala Þórðardóttir, Ída Arínudóttir, Elvar S. Júlíusson

BEST PRODUCTION
Meliae – Ingibjörg Turchi:
Sound engineer: Birgir Jón Birgisson, mixing and mastering: Ívar Ragnarsson

Daði and Gagnamagnið Release Music Video for Eurovision Song

Daði Freyr og Gagnamagnið eurovision 2021

A giant monster, Iceland’s ongoing eruption, and Trapped star Ólafur Darri Ólafsson are just a few of the features of Icelandic musician Daði Freyr’s music video for his 2021 Eurovision song 10 Years, which has just been released. In the video, the “Mayor of Iceland” (Ólafur Darri) implores Daði and his band Gagnamagnið to fight a giant monster that has emerged from Eyjafjallajökull with their “sweet, sweet dance moves.” The whimsical result can be watched below.

The video was co-produced by Guðný Rós Þórhallsdóttir (who also directed it) and Birta Rán Björgvinsdóttir (who also did the cinematography), the same team that created the video for Daði’s hit Think About Things. Daði Freyr is credited as the story writer. Daði created some of the costumes with his partner (and Gagnamagnið member) Árný Fjóla Ásmundsdóttir, who is the subject of the song.

Read More: Daði’s Eurovision is 20/20

Daði’s song Thing About Things was the favourite in the 2020 Eurovision song contest before it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The song catapulted him to stardom and Iceland decided to send him as their representative in 2021 without holding the usual local Söngvakeppnin competition.

Daði Freyr’s 2021 Eurovision Song Leaked Online

Mere days before its scheduled premiere on Icelandic national broadcast network RÚV, Daði Freyr’s 2021 Eurovision submission 10 Years has been leaked. The leak occurred within a day of Daði and his team submitting the song to Eurovision officials, with the song been widely distributed online both in Iceland and abroad. Skarphéðinn Guðmundsson, RÚV’s programming director, says the leak is intolerable but Daði’s team is keeping calm and carrying on.

Theft Is Evidence of Public Anticipation

“What happened was we submitted the song on Tuesday, when we were required to submit it to the Eurovision Song Contest. And less than 24 hours later, it’s been leaked, or has leaked to the internet,” Skarphéðinn stated. He adds that the incident was clearly intentional theft and not an accidental leak. “This shows how much anticipation there is when it comes to people wanting to hear these songs. It’s something we can look at positively, there is a lot of anticipation to hear Daði og gagnamagnið’s contribution this year.”

Eurovision Betting May Be a Factor

Skarphéðinn says the leak is impossible to trace, but could have something to do with the extensive gambling that surrounds Eurovision outcomes. “But as I say, it is impossible to trace it and the only thing we can do is keep on keep calm and carry on and Daði is calm, we are calm.” Skarphéðinn says that RÚV is in contact with Eurovision representatives, who have been informed of the leak.

In the meantime, RÚV’s Saturday premiere of the song and accompanying choreography will go ahead as planned, and that is where Skarphéðinn will direct his energy. “We are primarily focusing on offering a show on Saturday where the song and the routine will be revealed in all their glory and we are very excited to be able to do so on this new TV show, Straumur.”

Read more about Daði og gagnamagnið.