Another small country that keeps getting stronger in ESC is tiny Iceland. After a rough period at the beginning of the current era of ESC semifinals (where it didn’t qualify from 2005 to 2007) Iceland has become one of the dependably strong entries to make it to the finals. This year’s competitors in Söngvakeppni sjónvarpsins (click to listen to all their entries), their national finals selection, are uniformly good, with several excellent possibilities.
Birgitta Haukdal represented Iceland in 2003, and is back in the game 10 years later with a song she co-wrote with Jonas Gladnikoff, Swedish composer who had Eurovision entries for Ireland in 2009 and 2010. “Meðal andanna” is a very strong schlagerish ballad, complete with keychange in the last 30 seconds. We could easily see this in a Eurovision final, and placing in the upper half of the scoreboard with a good presentation.
Magni Ásgeirsson may be familiar to Americans for his participation in “Rockstar: Supernova” reality competition in 2006, where he was fondly known as “Ice Man”. Since then, he has placed highly in the last two Ielandic selections, and many feel that this is his year to break through and win. “Ekki Lita Undan” is a powerfully-sung soft rock ballad, the kind that Eurovision televoters may or may not warm up to.
Yohanna brought Iceland a strong second-place finish in Eurovision 2009 with “Is it True?”, tying the highest position the small country has achieved so far. Her entry for 2013, “Þú”, is more upbeat and rhythmic, and would also be a good fit for Eurovision.
Besides these three obvious top contenders, there are several other potential winners in the bunch. Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson is the lead singer for a local rock band, and his “Ég á líf” is a simple, beautifully-sung ballad in the style of recent Eurovision hits like “Me and My Guitar”.
Last year, Iceland went for a strong duet with shades of a Nordic traditional sound, and it may be too soon for them to enter with another. But Jógvan Hansen and Stefanía Svavarsdóttir‘s “Til þín” is certainly a strong contender, and wouldn’t surprise anyone if it won the national finals.
(You’ll notice that all of these songs are performed in their native Icelandic. This is a choice by RUV, the national broadcaster, though generally the final entry chosen decides to perform an English translation when the song is presented at Eurovision.)