132 songs were entered into Söngvakeppnin 2019, but on 2 March just five songs were left standing, vying for the chance to represent Iceland in Tel Aviv. The line up in the final was as follows:
Friðrik Ómar – Hvað ef ég get ekki elskað
Hatari – Hatrið mun sigra
Hera Björk – Moving On
Tara Mobee – Fighting For Love
Kristina Bærendsen – Mama Said
Four of the songs were drawn from the two semi finals, with the fifth (Kristina Skoubo Bærendsen) being a wildcard chosen by the judges.
Contestants were asked to choose in which language they wanted to present their song at Eurovision and were required to perform that version in the final. Two acts chose to stick with Icelandic (Hatari and Friðrik Ómar), whilst the other three acts performed in English.
The voting for the grand final consisted of 50% televote and 50% jury vote, which resulted in a two-song ‘super-final’. That was between Hatari and Friðrik Ómar – the two acts that chose to stay true to performing in Icelandic. In a change from previous years, each act did not have their score reduced to zero in the super-final, but instead got to keep the televoting points they had earned in the first round. This put Hatari at a distinct advantage – their first round televote score was almost double that of Friðrik Ómar.
Following an interval act that featured everything from a reprise of Ari Ólafsson’s 2018 Eurovision entry to an Icelandic version of “Shallow” from A Star is Born to a little bit of Fuego from Eleni Foureira, Hatari were crowned the winner with a convincing margin.
Hatari (which translates to Haters) were formed in 2015, but announced in late 2018 that they planned to dissolve the band as they “had failed to topple capitalism”. They scrapped those plans just weeks later when they were announced as one of the acts competing in Söngvakeppnin. Their selection has not been without controversy, an Israeli activist called on the Israeli government to ban Hatari from performing at Eurovision due to their public stance on Palestine. In addition, the band were just one of a number Icelandic musical acts who signed a petition in mid 2018 asking Iceland to boycott Eurovision in Israel and have indicated they may use their 3 minutes of Eurovision fame to make a political statement.
The bookies are suggesting that Hatari have a chance to make it to the top 10 in Tel Aviv. Whilst we will need to wait until mid-May to see if they are right, there is no doubt the band’s distinctive style and outspoken nature will certainly generate a lot of attention between now and then.