Hera to Represent Iceland in Eurovision

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

Ríkisútvarpið (RÚV), The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, has decided that singer Hera Björk will represent Iceland with her song Scared of Heights at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö in Sweden this May. According to an announcement from RÚV, Hera was the undisputed winner of Söngvakeppnin, Iceland’s preliminary competition.

Only two days ago, RÚV launched an independent inquiry into the voting process of Söngvakeppnin. Several voters reported glitches in RÚV’s voting app. Some who attempted to vote for Hera’s main competitor, Palestinian Bashar Murad, 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.

Few votes in question

RÚV says that both songs were affected by the voting app glitch and that Hera’s victory was dominant as she received some 3,500 more votes than Bashar. According to the voting app’s developers, only 748 votes were in question. “The votes possibly affected due to this glitch were even fewer than originally thought and it’s clear that this had no impact on the final results,” RÚV’s announcement read. “Hera Björk is the undisputed winner of Söngvakeppnin 2024.”

Saddened by the discourse

Iceland’s participation in Eurovision has been criticised in light of Israel’s ongoing participation in the competition during its military action in Gaza. Bashar’s participation was seen by many as a statement to oppose the war, but he was also subjected to racist comments during the process. Hera’s songwriter, Ásdís María Viðarsdóttir, known professionally as Ásdís, said that she wanted Bashar to represent Iceland and that her conscience didn’t allow her to participate further.

Hera said that she was saddened by the discourse. “Both in terms of how people talked about me and my supposed viewpoints, but even more so about how Bashar was treated,” she said.

Program Director Skarphéðinn Guðmundsson said that RÚV was aware of the discourse surrounding the competition. “We encourage everyone to support Hera and her team,” he said. “She will be a fantastic representative for us.”

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.

Murad Unveils “Wild West” Video Ahead of Song Contest Finals

A screenshot from Bashar Murad's video to Wild West

The Palestinian musician Bashar Murad premiered his music video for “Wild West” earlier this week. The song is Murad’s entry for Iceland’s Song Contest, and he will be performing at the Song Contest finals this Saturday.

A “journey from Palestine to Iceland”

The Palestinian singer-songwriter Bashar Murad premiered the music video for his song Wild West at Kex Hostel in downtown Reyjavík on Monday. The video, which took four weeks to make, was also released on YouTube yesterday. The video was directed by Baldvin Vernharðsson and produced by Fannar Ingi Friðþjófsson.

Wild West is Bashar’s entry in Iceland’s Song Contest — Söngvakeppnin, an annual music competition determining the country’s representative for Eurovision — and he will be among the contestants vying for a spot at this year’s Eurovision in the Song Contest finals this Saturday.

In addition to releasing the video, Bashar also published a brief statement about the song, the music video, and his hope of winning Eurovision for Iceland: “Wild West is about the desire to escape and experience everything the world has to offer. The song is about my journey from Palestine to Iceland, which started as a small idea but became a reality thanks to my collaboration with my Icelandic family,” Bashar was quoted as saying.

“Growing up, it would have meant a lot to me to see a Palestinian standing on the Eurovision stage,” Bashar continued, “but we haven’t had the opportunity to showcase our culture, beauty, history, and community. Therefore, I am grateful to Iceland for giving me this opportunity now, and I hope to bring Eurovision to Reykjavík in 2025.”

The 2024 Song Contest finals will be broadcast live from the Laugardalshöll Arena this Saturday, March 2.

Iceland News Review: Help For Grindavík, AI, Eurovision And More!

INR

In this episode of Iceland News Review, we go in-depth on what assistance Grindavík residence will get, the valiant efforts being made to make the town safer and livable again, as well as how the financial recovery package has affected recent collective bargaining negotiations.

Also, a bill that could greatly restrict the use of AI in Iceland, a controversial new twist in Iceland’s possible participation in Eurovision, along with weather, road conditions, and much more!

Iceland News Review brings you all of Iceland’s top stories, every week, with the context and background you need. Be sure to like, follow and subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode!

Iceland Delays Eurovision Decision Amid Gaza Concerns

Eurovision Söngvakeppnin 2020 Daði Freyr Dimma

RÚV has decided to postpone its decision on Iceland’s participation in Eurovision until after the national Song Contest concludes and in consultation with its winner. The decision follows protests related to Israel’s participation in Eurovision amid the Gaza conflict.

Decision deferred

RÚV has decided to sever ties between the Song Contest — an annual music competition determining the country’s representative for Eurovision — and Iceland’s participation in Eurovision. The Song Contest will go ahead as usual, but the final decision on Iceland’s participation in Eurovision will not be made until after its conclusion and in consultation with the winner. The reason for this decision is criticism that has arisen over Israel’s participation in the contest, despite the conflict in Gaza.

Concern among contestants

In an interview with Síðdegisútvarpið on Rás 2, Stefán Eiríksson, director of the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RÚV), stated that those contestants entering the Song Contest are understandably concerned about calls to boycott Eurovision in light of the conflict in Gaza. These concerns have been communicated to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). In light of this, RÚV has decided to defer its final decision on participation in Eurovision — held in Malmö, Sweden, this spring — until a winner has been announced.

Read More: Daði’s Eurovision is 2020

“Under this new arrangement, contestants will still apply with the goal of participating in Eurovision on behalf of Iceland,” Stefán remarked. The decision on whether or not Iceland will participate in Eurovision will then be made in consultation with the winner, which means that whether or not Iceland will participate in Eurovision will not become clear until mid-March.

“The contestants, like us, are concerned about the situation that has arisen. The Song Contest has been our way to prepare for Eurovision, and we have previously announced our intentions to participate in Eurovision like before. We do not, however, know what the future holds,” Stefán stated.

A completely new approach

“Deciding on RÚV’s participation in Eurovision after the Song Contest concludes is completely new,” Rúnar Freyr Gíslason, executive director of the Song Contest, remarked. He stated that contestants who have been selected for the competition, and who will be revealed on Saturday, have accepted this compromise. Criticism of participation in Eurovision certainly has not gone unnoticed by them.

Rúnar and Stefán also noted that, following conversations with their colleagues abroad, the demand for boycotting Eurovision due to Israel’s participation does not seem to be widespread, with the exception of Iceland and Norway. Like Iceland, Finland is also planning on hosting its national Song Contest before deciding whether or not to participate in Eurovision.

When asked whether this wouldn’t place undue pressure on the winner of the Song Contest, i.e. to decide on Eurovision participation on behalf of the nation, Rúnar replied that there was “pressure on everyone.” However, he added, it was important to emphasise that RÚV did not shape foreign policy — and much less so a potential Icelandic contestant in Eurovision.

“A huge decision to make.”

Reacting to the news, Bragi Valdimar Skúlason, chairperson of the Icelandic Association of Composers and Lyricists (FTT), observed that it was good that the Song Contest would go ahead as usual; it is an important platform.

“Perhaps it’s time to remember that the Song Contest is one thing and Eurovision is another, even though they are obviously interconnected.”

When asked about the pressure placed on the winner of the competition, given that Iceland’s participation in Eurovision is a matter close to many hearts, Bragi stated that he hoped RÚV would provide ample support to the person in question:

“One does worry a bit about what that pressure will be like and what the situation will be then. It’s a huge decision to make and hopefully, RÚV will support the winner well, whoever it may be, and assist them in making a decision. This is an extremely complex issue.”

As previously noted, it will be revealed on Saturday which songs and performers will participate in this year’s Song Contest.

This article was updated at 10:06 AM.

FTT Urges RÚV to Boycott Eurovision if Israel Competes

Eurovision Söngvakeppnin 2020 Daði Freyr Dimma

The Icelandic Association of Composers and Lyricists (FTT) has urged RÚV not to participate in the 2024 Eurovision unless Israel is excluded. Director of RÚV Stefán Eiríksson has previously stated that RÚV does not plan on withdrawing from the contest.

Shifting the responsibility to RÚV

The board of the Icelandic Association of Composers and Lyricists (FTT) has issued a statement addressed to Stefán Eiríksson, Director of the Icelandic National Broadcaster (RÚV). In its statement, the FTT urges RÚV to withdraw from the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest – unless Israel is denied participation on the same grounds that barred Russia, after its invasion of Ukraine, from competing last year.

“The members of our association are urging us to make our voices heard,” Bragi Valdimar Skúlason, Chairman of the FTT, told RÚV yesterday. Bragi pointed out that the association speaks for songwriters and not for musicians in general.

“According to our reading of the room, people will be very unhappy and may even withdraw personally,” Bragi Valdimar observed. With its statement, the association wants to put the decision into the hands of RÚV as opposed to the artists themselves. “We wanted to shift the responsibility to RÚV, as there is a board meeting today,” Bragi explained yesterday.

Director Stefán Eiríksson has previously confirmed that RÚV would participate in Eurovision, as it has done since 1986.

The statement from the FTT in full:

“The Board of FTT, the Association of Composers and Lyricists, urges RÚV not to participate in the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest unless Israel is denied participation in the contest on the same grounds as Russia in the last competition.

It is our collective duty to take a stand against war and the murder of innocent civilians, including children. We always have a choice not to associate our names with such actions, whether we are individuals or state institutions.

We owe nothing to those nations that exercise excessive force through military power and should not share the stage with them in events that are typically characterised by joy and optimism.

Board of FTT:
Bragi Valdimar Skúlason, Chair
Védís Hervör Árnadóttir, Vice-Chair
Sóley Stefánsdóttir
Ragnheiður Gröndal
Andri Ólafsson
Hallur Ingólfsson
Hildur Kristín Stefánsdóttir”

Power Outage: Diljá Not Among Finalists at 2023 Eurovision

Diljá Pétursdóttir iceland eurovision

The second qualifying round of the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest took place in Liverpool yesterday. Diljá Pétursdóttir, Iceland’s representative at this year’s song contest, did not advance to this year’s finals.

“It’s been an absolute blast”

The second semi-final night of the Eurovision Song Contest took place in Liverpool last night. Ten entries advanced to the final. Diljá’s performance received favourable reviews from Icelanders, although she did not advance to the finals, which will take place on Saturday night.

Diljá spoke to Eurovision commentator Sigurður Gunnarsson for the National Broadcaster (RÚV) following her performance. Despite failing to qualify, she was pleased with her performance: “It went amazingly well.”

Diljá characterised the past two days as memorable, adding that she had made “plenty of friends.” Diljá also noted that she was “going to sleep for eighteen hours,” after which, she planned on going to the gym – as she was looking forward to returning to her routine.

“We’ll be in the audience on Saturday to support our friends.” She concluded the interview by extending special thanks to her supporters in Iceland. “It’s been an absolute blast.”

Power Player

Diljá Pétursdóttir iceland eurovision

One of Diljá’s favourite Eurovision Song Contest performances ever is fellow-Icelander Yohanna’s song, Is It True, from 2009. Yohanna’s performance, the furthest Iceland has ever made it in Eurovision alongside Selma’s 1999 performance, is still a major moment for Diljá. “I thought it was just so catchy,” Diljá says. “She was so pretty and she was wearing this blue dress with a blue dolphin in the background. I just loved the song and she sang so beautifully.” Ever since, Diljá’s dreamt of representing Iceland in the contest. This May, that dream is coming true as Iceland will be represented in the 67th annual Eurovision Song Contest by Diljá performing her energetic ballad, aptly named Power (co-written by Pálmi Ragnar Ásgeirsson). 

diljá pétursdóttir iceland eurovision
Mummi Lú

Since those early days of watching Yohanna perform, Diljá has already participated in several major song competitions, including Ísland Got Talent and Idol in Sweden. “It was fun and I’m really happy that I did it, but it really didn’t go anywhere,” she says about her time in Sweden. “But I think I overdosed on anxiety in Sweden because I haven’t felt any since then!” 

“I’ve got an athlete’s mindset.”

For someone who’s spent most of her life performing, Diljá has had her share of struggles with anxiety. “I always had huge anxiety problems related to school and competing in singing,” she explains. “I couldn’t handle taking tests. And it was the same with performing. I got so anxious. But I did it because I knew I have to be able to do something like this.” It may not come as a surprise, then, that Diljá’s Eurovision song concerns overcoming feelings like these. “You hold no p-p-p-power over me,” she belts in the chorus.

diljá pétursdóttir iceland eurovision
Mummi Lú

“I think before Idol I took everything a little too seriously,” Diljá says. “Like, I thought it was going to be the end of the world if I missed a single note! If I did something embarrassing, I thought it was just going to end me. But after Idol, it wouldn’t have mattered at all. It’s just supposed to be fun!” 

These days, instead of worrying about her performance, Diljá likes to have some healthy rituals before she goes on stage. A former physiotherapy student at the University of Iceland and a self-professed crossfit addict, health is the guiding light in her life. Before singing, she likes to do some push-ups and stretches to warm up. As she puts it: “I’ve got an athlete’s mindset.” Viewers of this year’s song competition even got to see Diljá do some callisthenics on-air, and her stage presence is nothing if not athletic.

“We’re going to use the opportunity to make it a lot bigger than we ever could in Iceland.”

diljá pétursdóttir iceland eurovision
Golli

Diljá also says there are big things in store for her at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, which will be held in Liverpool. According to her, the expectations have gotten a lot higher since she watched Yohanna perform many years ago. In March, fans of Eurovision in Iceland tuned in to watch Söngvakeppnin, Iceland’s competition to select its Eurovision representative. It’s a sizeable TV event but decidedly more humble than in, say, Sweden.

“There’s such a huge gap,” Diljá says. “Some countries’ selection contests are almost as big as Eurovision itself, like Melody Festival in Sweden. Söngvakeppnin is always getting better and better, but still, some countries have a big advantage.” Icelanders should, however, rest assured. The details of Diljá’s Liverpool performance are still under wraps, but as she says, “We’ll all be on the same field once we’re in Liverpool. We’re going to use the opportunity to make the performance a lot bigger than we ever could in Iceland.”

“At the end of the day, it’s the one week a year where everything is just supposed to be about music and it’s just supposed to be fun.”

diljá pétursdóttir iceland eurovision
Mummi Lú

Although Diljá’s got big plans for Liverpool, there’s a part of her that will miss experiencing Eurovision at home in Iceland. “I always watch it with my family,” Diljá tells me. “It’s a sacred holiday for me and my mom.” And Diljá is quite dedicated to this family tradition. “Two years ago, I was acting in a play, but it was going to be performed during Eurovision. And I just said, I’m sorry, I can’t do it! I have to watch Eurovision with my mom.” For Diljá, the ideal Eurovision experience includes getting cozy with her mom, some sparkling wine, and take-out pizza. “I never like going to these big Eurovision watch parties some people have,” she explains. “I’m here to listen to the songs! The show is on, we can always hang out after.”

Diljá isn’t going to jinx herself with any predictions, but she’s confident she’ll go far. “I know I’m not ranked super high internationally right now,” she admits. “But it’s all going to change when they see me in Liverpool. I think my chances are good. I know I’m headed to the finals, and that I’m going to shine there.” 

diljá pétursdóttir iceland eurovision
Mummi Lú

And if Diljá does become the first-ever Icelander to win Eurovision?

“I would go for a very long walk,” she laughs. “I’d probably need to be alone and ground myself because it would just be too much. I think there’s a good chance I’d just lose my mind if that would happen!”

Icelanders are famous – perhaps infamous – for taking Eurovision rather seriously. What, ultimately, does Diljá think that Eurovision is really about? “At the end of the day, it’s the one week a year where everything is just supposed to be about music and it’s just supposed to be fun,” Diljá says. “It’s so excessive. And I love it!”

Diljá Chosen to Represent Iceland in Eurovision

diljá iceland eurovision

Diljá will be the next representative of Iceland in Eurovision 2023.

She was selected in the song contest Söngvakeppnin on Saturday. A total some 250,000 votes were cast on the final night of the contest.

Read more: Eurovision Finalists Selected

Diljá, and her winning song “Power,” finished in a strong first place, with nearly 70,000 votes separating her and second place, Langi Seli og Skuggarnir performing their song “OK.”

In total, ten artists competed in the selection process. Semi-finals were held on February 18 and 25, where the Icelandic public could vote by phone, text, or online. During the semi-finals, the artists are required to perform in Icelandic.

However, in the finals, the artists have the choice to perform the song in its intended form for Eurovision, either Icelandic or English. A panel of judges also has a say during finals, with the popular vote being split 50/50.

Her award-winning song was co-authored by Pálmi Ragnar Ásgeirsson. Pálmi has written Eurovision hits before, including the 2015 Icelandic Eurovision entry, “Unbroken.”

Hosting the song contest this year were popular media figures Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson, Ragnhildur Steinunn Jónsdóttir, and Sigurður Þorri Gunnarsson.

Diljá will represent Iceland at the Eurovision Song Contest 2023, which takes place this year in Liverpool, England.

 

Iceland’s 2023 Eurovision Contenders Revealed

The ten songs that will compete to become Iceland’s 2023 Eurovision submission have been released by Iceland’s National Broadcaster RÚV. The songs will compete for the privilege to represent Iceland in Liverpool this May in the 67th edition of the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest. The songs will first have to make it through one of two Icelandic semi-finals, on February 18 or February 25, and the final held on March 4.

See also: Will this be Iceland’s Year?

The submissions are diverse as usual, ranging from powerful ballads to catchy electro-dance tunes and even a rock and roll-inspired number. All of the songs can be heard on a Spotify playlist featuring both the Icelandic- and English-language versions of each song. Söngvakeppnin, the Icelandic Eurovision pre-competition, requires all submissions to be sung in Icelandic, but many of the artists write an English version as well, intended for the international audience and potential Eurovision performance.