Halló! The Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — has landed in Reykjavík. We are ready to go for a soak in the Blue Lagoon, but first we just have to listen to “Paper” — Iceland’s Eurovision 2017 song from Svala. Is it as good as it sounds on paper or is it destined for the recycling bin?
Svala – “Paper”
Forty-year-old Svala Björgvinsdóttir is a successful singer and songwriter, who has won fans at home and in the United States, where, along with her band Steed Lord, she’s had music featured on shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Svala won Iceland’s national final Söngvakeppnin 2017 in a landslide. “Paper” was the unanimous favourite with both the show’s jury and the Icelandic public.
Steinunn: By far the best entry Iceland has sent in years, “Paper” lives up to the hype that has surrounded it at home for months. Svala is a solid performer with the experience — and the artistic leanings — to make this work on the big stage in Kyiv. Even though her performance at Söngvakeppnin lacked a bit of oomph, I truly believe that Svala will blow us all away in a grander setting. Iceland is back in the grand final, people.
Deban: Iceland’s “Paper” cuts right through me stirring a wave of emotions in its wake. Svala’s powerful delivery glides through the Nordic beats, making this one of Iceland’s finest offerings to date. This “Paper” has weight, and should cut through to the final with ease.
Robyn: After a couple of not-quite-right entries, Iceland is back on track and all going well, Svala will get her country back in the grand final. But what fills me with unease is the staging. The Söngvakeppnin show — with Svala dressed like an ’80s businesswoman, lurking in the dark and mostly ignoring the cameras — is not good enough for Eurovision and will hurt the song. In a year full of good quality electropop, Iceland needs to make more of an effort with the staging. Until that happens, I cannot give this a higher score.
Bogdan: The first name that comes to mind is Robyn, the Swedish superstar. Not only does Svala have a similar voice, but the song is reminiscent of Robyn, circa 2010 — which makes “Paper” just a bit dated. However, the fact that Svala sounds almost better live than on the studio version is its saving grace. The Icelandic version would have been a better choice though. At least then most of us didn’t understand the clumsy paper metaphor in the lyrics.
Chris: Anyone willing to film their video in a fish factory gets props. “Paper” may play on the arts-and-crafts theme a little too much in its lyrics, but it’s not really that detrimental. Even if it is, Svala makes it all work. She’s the star here and everything about the song and performance makes that clear. Iceland is back in the game with this one.
William: If Björk had a daughter with Jay Z and invited Gwen Stefani over to dress her, the tot might grow into Svala. She’s at once other-worldly and electro with the faintest hint of hip-hop in her soulful vocals (and her decidedly urban styling). She’s great. But the live performance was bland and monotonous. Like paper, the song is flat and one-dimensional. But thankfully it can also be folded and recast, giving me hope this stunning ice queen will salvage it by the time Kyiv rolls around.
Edd: Svala is beautiful, as is her voice, and “Paper” is not a bad song. For me the production is a bit too monotonous, and the song fails to progress. I adore it when the 80s synths kick in, but why not add some more elements throughout the song to give it more personality and make it a bit less heavy. The performance is going to have to be very retro and very colourful if this is going to stand out.
Kristin: Way to go, Iceland! This is by far the best Icelandic entry in years. Svala is both appealing and edgy, combining the fire and ice elements like never before. “Paper” is a song that would definitely make it worldwide, given the chance. And the girl knows her stuff. She will bring Iceland to the finals again, and regardless of results from there on, Svala is a major force to be reckoned with.
In our Wiwi Jury, we have 38 jurors but only room for eight reviews. The rest of our scores can be found below:
Before calculating the average score, the highest and lowest scores are dropped. This is to remove outliers and reduce potential bias. We have removed a low of 3 and a high of 10.
Wiwi Jury verdict: 6.63/10
What do you think of this song? Share your own score and review below!