Iceland - Nikke Allen

Songvakeppnin 2017 Semi 1

Last Saturday, Iceland held their first semi where 6 of the 12 competing acts presented their songs to the public. The top 3 entries decided solely by televoting would advance to the finalon March 11th.   I followed the broadcast on the web, and this is what I thought of the 6 songs:

1. Hildur   "Bammbaramm"

As the beat kicked in on this song, you saw that Hildur was posed inside a large red heart on the somewhat dark and gloomy stage.  Then she started moving around the stage with her 3 female backing dancers/singers.  Dressed in a white top and silver shorts, she had a sweet voice and the song itself is very catchy - however, curiously, she and the whole presentation seemed to lack energy, and I felt that only the rhythm of the song saved it.  

2.  Erna Mist Pétursdóttir - "Skuggamynd"

A tinkly piano heralded Erna's somewhat hesitant beginning to her song.   Wearing a long white dress, she stood alone on the dark stage, until the lights lifted a little and then you saw she had 4 male backing singers behind her.  They moved to stand around her as the song progressed.  She had an ethereal voice (the studio version of this reminded me of Kate Bush) but I felt this was another song that lacked "oomph" until the second chorus kicked in, and then the song gathered strength.   Lovely song, lovely singer, but a very static performance.

3.  Arnar Jónsson & Rakel Pálsdóttir ·  "Til Min"

The song started off with some ponderous piano chords and singing alone, captured in black and white on our tv screens, which then changed to colour.   Rakel was wearing a somewhat drab grey/green dress (difficult to see in the gloom of the stage) and Arnar a dark suit.  They had great voices that mingled well, and towards the end of their performance they stood back to back, ala "A Monster Like Me" performance, but sadly it lacked that frisson of tension "Monster" managed to capture both in song and performance.  I found it a dull plodding ballad, and was really in need of a bright cheery uptempo number after these first 3 songs!

After a break, where the presenters talked to the first 3 performing artists in the Green Room (actually, it was blue and silver and was as gloomily lit as the stage) we continued with the final 3 songs of the evening:

4. Júlí Heiðar Halldórsson & Þórdís Birna Borgarsdóttir - "Heim til þín"

Oh dear.   This feel-good, toe-tapping song, so reminiscent of Firelight's "Coming Home" in style and which promised so much in studio version, was sadly let down by a dreadful presentation, in which the duo were separated by a split screen for most of the song, andÞórdís seemed to be singing in some dodgy IKEA style living room!   They were reunited for the final chorus, but by then it was really hard to bond with them as a duet or to invest in the song.  The whole song I felt lacked cohesiveness as a result of this staging, however, it was a welcome relief to hear an uptempo song at last!

5.  Rúnar Eff Rúnarsson - "Mér við hlið"

To the melodic opening chords of a guitar, Runar stood alone at his mike, dressed casually in open-necked white shirt and dark suit.   It was a drab visual performance at first. and he had little charisma, but his vocals were good and once the rhythm got going, the song picked up and found its stride, becoming anthemic.   The final chorus was great and had the "oomph" that the whole song needed.  I felt this would be a worthy qualifier and indeed, the audience were very appreciative.

6.   Aron HannesEmilsson - "Nótt"

Last song of the evening, and this was by far the most modern one.   Hurray, another uptempo!  The song kicked in with a bouncy intro and a red stage.  Dressed in a casual white t-shirt, dark trousers and a baseball cap, Aron moved around well on stage with his male backing dancers/singers.   His vocals were good and he gave a self-assured performance and the audience loved it.   Yes, I can see this song at ESC - the only song of the evening that I can say that about!

After more interviews in the Blue/Silver Room and ad breaks, the 3 qualifiers were announced, and in no particular order they were:

Rúnar Eff Rúnarsson - "Mér við hlið"
Aron Hannes -  "Nótt"
Arnar Jónsson · Rakel Pálsdóttir · "Til mín"

6 more songs will be presented next Saturday.   Will there be an ESC winner amongst them?   Who knows!   Stay tuned to find out!