Last Saturday, the Icelandic National FinalSöngvakeppnin took place at Laugardalshöllin, the national indoor arena. The final consisted of seven entries that, via 50/50 public televoting and jury voting, were shortened to a top 2, and then the winning entry was determined by the super-final in which the top two entries in the final battled it out for the title of Iceland's 2017 Eurovision entry, decided by public tele-voting.
1. Aron Hannes - Tonight
Dressed smartly in black leather trousers and white jacket, Aron fixes the camera with a smile and moves assuredly around on the stage. He is far more engaging in his performance than the semi, but seems to be a bit breathless at times and his vocals are a little weak.
2. Arnar Jónsson & Rakel Pálsdóttir - Again
Rakel's light as air voice begins this breathy ballad and then Arnar joins in, to the sound of piano chords. Dark stage adds to the atmosphere, and their voices mingled are simply beautiful. A real quality performance, and the audience waving their phone lights in the hall seem to think so too.
3. Aron Brink - "Hypnotised"
The backdrop is lighter and more colourful than in the semi, and Aron and his backing dancers, all dressed in white and grey, move well on stage. It's a fun and lively tune but Aron's vocals are rather weak and undistinguished. With a more powerful vocalist, this song would be great - however Aron has a lot of boyish charm and his performance goes down well in the hall.
4. Hildur Kristín Stefánsdóttir - "Bammbaramm"
This is the wildcard. A nice rhythm to this song, and Hildur's vocals are a lot better than in the semi, but somehow I still finds it lacks energy, and she makes her performance seem like it's hard work. The giant heart is still there but used to better effect.
5. Rúnar Eff - Make You Way Back Home
Runar stands at the mike with his backing singers sillihetted agains the blue and black backdrop, and then fog creeping onto the stage adds to the atmosphere. Runar's spot-on with his vocals, but I'm finding the song a little slow to get into. However, once it hits its stride, it's great.
6. Svala - Paper
Vertical lines of bluefeature on the backdropand cut through the gloom stage as Svala, dressed in white suit and clumpy wedge shoes, begins. Right from the start her performance and vocals are self-assured and spot-on. She strides around the stage as though she owns it, A blue lazer light show cuts through the dark before the final chorus,and the backing singers who seem to be hidden away somewhere, do a really good good job of backing her. Great applause at the end.
7. Daði Freyr - Is This Love?
Daði is onstage with 2 backing singers standing at mikes, and 3 faux guitar players with their "toy" light up guitars. He and the backing are dressed in the same green jerseys with their cartoon faces on the front, and a cartoon backdrop of themselves synchronizes with their movements. Daði gives a good performance, and the song sounds better in English. It seems to have improved from the semi and certainly they've thought more about their presentation of the song.
After the interval where Greta Salome and Alexander Rybak performed, the two super-finalists were announced and they were:
Svala - Paper
Daði Freyr - Is This Love?
The phone lines opened again for another vote to decide the winner, and after another interval, during which Mans performed to a very appreciative audience, the winner was announced, and it was.....Svala!
Good luck, Svala and Iceland, see you in Kyiv!