As we all know; Iceland has a population of less than 340 000. And at times it seems that approximately 300 000 of them can sing. And when I say “can sing”, I don’t mean karaoke or in the shower or around the piano in a piano bar. No, I mean flawless, world class singing. Which is a good thing for RÚV, as it gives them a lot to choose from for Söngvakeppnin.
Exceptional singers at Eurovision
We have seen this at Eurovision too, admittedly with a very few shaky exceptions. We can disagree on whether or not the Icelandic entries are good, but it’s very difficult to argue with the fact that most the Icelandic entrants are exceptionally good singers.
RÚV has now started involving some of the country’s very best voices in Söngvakeppnin. For the time being not as participants, but even so. And it might change. Fingers crossed and all that!
Where it all started…
For me, it really all started two years ago, when one of my favorite Icelandic singers, Högni, treated us to his version of “All Out of Luck”. As you might remember, this is Selma’s Eurovision entry from 1999. It also happens to be one of Iceland’s two second places in the contest.
As you will see when you watch the video, he was accompanied by a young, up and coming singer; Glowie. In this performance, though, I don’t see or hear anybody but Högni. Granted, that happens just about every time he’s on stage, though…
Time to rap!
Last year, one of Iceland’s best and most popular rappers, Emmsjé Gauti, performed his own version of the Páll Óskar classic, “Minn hinsti dans”. In case someone’s forgotten it; this was Iceland’s Eurovision entry in 1997.
Ágústa Eva’s first time as interval act
In the second semi, the amazing duo Sycamore Tree did a very Icelandic sounding version of “Save Your Kisses For Me”. Again, as you all know, this was Brotherhood of Man’s winning entry representing the United Kingdom in 1976. The members of Reykjavi based duo Sycamore Tree are Gunni Hilmarsson and Ágústa Eva Erlendsdóttir. In the Euroverse, she is better known as one of her characters; Silvia Night.
Amar pelois dois/Ást fyrir tvö
And that brings us to this year, and two fabulous performances. During the first semi-final, the ever amazing singers Sigriður Thorlacius and Valdimar performed last year’s Eurovision Song Contest winner, Amar pelois dois. They did not perform it in Portugese, however, rather in Icelandic, in Hallgrímur Helgason’s amazingly beautiful translation.
Sigriður and Valdimar
Sigriður is best known as member of Iceland’s (actually perhaps the world’s?) best band; Hjaltalín. Another of the band’s members is Högni (see above). They also did an utterly amazing cover, on live radio, of “Halo”, which is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard.
Valdimar has been one of the leading Icelandic musicians for years. His voice really is one of a kind, and I can listen to him for hours. Which I regularly do. He has had a host of hits in Iceland, and the rest of the world really deserves to get to know his voice and his music. My favorite of his is, and will very likely always be, “Yfir borgina“.
Calm After the Storm
And then, in the second semi; one of the most beautiful musical moments I have ever witnessed. Icelandic rock superstar Magni Ásgeirsson and Ágústa Eva (see above) performed the 2014 Eurovision runner up, the Netherlands’ “Calm After the Storm”. And again; not in the original version, rather in Sævar Sigurgeirsson’s Icelandic version.
RÚV has not released the video to Youtube yet, so for now you need to got to the broadcaster’s official site to watch the performance. I did however record a verse and a chorus during their performance on Saturday.
Magni has been active on the Icelandic music scene since…forever! He is the lead singer of Á móti sól, has participated in the American TV show Rock Star; Supernova, where he finished fourth. He has participated in Söngvakeppnin several times, I for one would very much welcome him back. My favorite of his entries, which to me is pure perfection, is “Hugarró” from 2012. My best memory of Magni performing however,was a Thursday night in Reykjavik a few years back. We were all out having a good time, when he grabbed a friend’s guitar and played “Starman”. #makeawish #myrequest
Oh, and I think I forgot to mention; the interval acts I’ve talked about here are only from the semi-finals! During the grand final interval acts, RÚV likes to invite international Eurovision stars, like Sandra Kim, Loreen, Alexander Rybak, Måns Zelmerlöv and the likes.
I can’t wait to see what they will come up with when the day comes when it’s their turn to host and organize the Eurovision Song Contest!