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.”

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.

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.

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”)

Norway, Sweden, Vote Daði Freyr as Eurovision 2020 “Winner”

Eurovision Iceland Daði og gagnamagnið

Eurovision fans in Norway and Sweden voted Iceland’s 2020 contest submission as their favourite of all 41 songs that were submitted this year, RÚV reports. Though the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest was cancelled this year, many countries held special television programs where they voted on a favourite song.

Had COVID-19 not intervened, Eurovision would have been held in Rotterdam last week, an event made all the more exciting because Iceland’s Daði Freyr and Gagnamagnið were strongly favoured to win. Eurovision producers instead organised a special live show titled Europe: Shine a Light, featuring sections of all 41 songs that would have competed this year. Daði Freyr sent in a special greeting to the program, charming his fans once again.

Icelandair followed along with Daði Freyr at Iceland’s national Söngvakeppnin competition earlier this year.

Australia Asks Iceland to Host Eurovision in Event of Win

Eurovision Söngvakeppnin 2020 Daði Freyr Dimma

If Australia ever wins the Eurovision Song Contest, they would prefer handing over hosting duties to Iceland, Viðskiptablaðið reports. Viewed by approximately 180 million people annually, the rules of Eurovision are such that the winning country hosts the contest the following year. Australia proposed that Iceland would host Eurovision in the event that Australia won.

Australia’s request, received in May 2018 or earlier, has been discussed with both municipal and state government officials, who were positive toward the idea. The arrangement would see Australia financially responsible for the event, although a contribution of €2 million (ISK 317 million/$2.2 million) would be expected from Iceland.

Iceland has competed in Eurovision 32 times, landing in second place twice, in 1999 and 2009. Many bookies believe it could have won for the first time this year if the contest hadn’t been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Iceland’s 2020 submission Think About Things, by Daði Freyr & gagnamagnið, was a favourite among bookies.

Iceland Review followed along with Daði Freyr & gagnamagnið at Iceland’s national Söngvakeppin competition earlier this year.

Daðis’s Eurovision is 20/20

Eurovision Söngvakeppnin 2020 Daði Freyr Dimma

The Eurovision Song Contest traces its origins to the end of the Second World War when the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) established a committee to unite the war-torn countries of Europe around a “light entertainment programme.” At a meeting in 1955, the journalist Sergio Pugliese suggested that the EBU host an international song contest in the vein of the Sanremo Music Festival in Italy, likewise established to revitalise the city’s economy and reputation in the wake of the war.

A year later, in 1956, the first Eurovision was held with seven participating countries. Today, it is the longest-running annual international television contest; one of the world’s most enduring television programmes period; and ranks among the most-watched non-sporting events in the world, with an estimated 100 to 600 million viewers annually.

Few people would oppose the noble ideal of peaceably uniting with one’s neighbours to forestall war, unless, of course, the very act of amicable assemblage could prove lethal. In Iceland, it would seem there could be no worse time to bring people together than on February 29, 2020 – the day after the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the country.

It is a testament to the inevitable and irrational joy of Eurovision that it, despite all caveats, must always go on.

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Daði Freyr Would Think About Eurovision 2021

Eurovision Iceland Daði og gagnamagnið

A faint ray of hopeful news coming from Iceland in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis: Daði Freyr, Iceland’s Eurovision 2020 entrant and widely considered one of the frontrunners in this year’s now-cancelled song contest, has confirmed that he would be happy to represent Iceland in 2021, Vísir reports. He does, however, have one proviso – he doesn’t want to go through Iceland’s Söngvakeppnin selection process again.

Daði Freyr set off a flurry of chatter in the Eurovision-sphere yesterday when he told Vísir that he was sad “to have missed the opportunity to…take part in the madness that is Eurovision,” but would nevertheless opt out of the Icelandic song competition next year. “We won the competition once and if I entered it again, I’d feel like people were just voting for me because we’d won once and didn’t go to [Eurovision],” he explained. Likewise, re-entering Söngvakeppnin and not winning didn’t seem like any better an outcome, Daði concluded, although he said that he might be willing to compose a song for another competitor to perform.

 

Dadi Freyr and Gagnamagnið’s Eurovision entry, “Think About Things,” was already a viral sensation, so popular that it inspired conspiracy theories that Netflix was secretly championing the song to win in order to boost the popularity of its forthcoming Eurovision movie, starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams as Icelandic singers. When organisers decided to cancel the song competition this year, petitions went around the internet to “Give the Eurovision 2020 Title to Iceland by Default.”

As such, Eurovision fans were understandably heartened by Daði’s tweet on Thursday, which clarified: “I would be honoured and proud to represent Iceland with a new Gagnamagnið song in Eurovision if @RUVohf wants to invite us. It would just feel weird to me to compete in #Söngvakeppnin again. Either way I will keep making more music, that’s not going to change. <3.” The tweet had over 2,100 likes at the time of writing.

No word yet if RÚV will decide to skip next year’s song contest and elect Daði Freyr and Gagnamagnið as Iceland’s de facto representatives. In the meantime, however, Daði Freyr is thinking positively. “This has been a great springboard for my career, so I can’t complain much.”