Christmas has come early in Iceland! On December 11 state broadcaster RUV announced the 12 semi-finalists who will compete in Söngvakeppni Sjónvarpsins 2016 — Iceland’s national selection for Eurovision. The roster, which was announced on the Vikan með Gísla Marteini programme, includes some familiar names for Eurofans. Greta Salome Stefánsdóttir, who sang with Jonsi at Eurovision 2012, has composed two of the competing songs and will perform one of them (“Raddirnar”, which means “The Voices”) herself. Erna Hrönn, who served as a backing vocalist for Yohanna in 2009, will sing the duet “Hugur minn er” (My mind is) with Hjörtur Traustason. And Pálmi Gunnarsson, who sang with ICY on Iceland’s debut at Eurovision in 1986, has another go with Ég leiði þig heim (I lead you home).
Another familiar name is Alda Dís Arnardóttir, who won the second series of Iceland’s Got Talent earlier this year.
RUV received a total of 260 songs, which were whittled down by a special selection committee. Here are the dirty dozen…
Söngvakeppni Sjónvarpsins 2016: Semi-finalists
Song: Karl Olgeirsson
Lyrics: Karl Olgeirsson and Sigríður Eyrún Friðriksdóttir
Artist: Sigga Eyrún
Song and lyrics: Karl Olgeirsson
Artist: Helgi Valur Ásgeirsson
Ótöluð orð (Unspoken words)
Song and lyrics: Erna Mist and Magnús Thorlacius
Artists: Erna Mist and Magnús Thorlacius
Hugur minn er (My mind is)
Song and lyrics: Þórunn Erna Clausen
Artists: Erna Hrönn Ólafsdóttir and Hjörtur Traustason
Spring yfir heiminn (All over the world)
Song: Júlí Heiðar Halldórsson
Lyrics: Júlí Heiðar Halldórsson and Guðmundur Snorri Sigurðarson
Artists: Þórdís Birna Borgarsdóttir and Guðmundur Snorri Sigurðarson
Augnablik (One Moment)
Song: Alma Guðmundsdóttir and James Wong
Lyrics: Alma Guðmundsdóttir, James Wong and Alda Dís Arnardóttir
Artist: Alda Dís Arnardóttir
Song: Kristinn Sigurpáll Sturluson, Ylva Persson and Linda Persson
Lyrics: Alma Rut Kristjánsdóttir, Ylva Persson and Linda Persson
Artist: Karlotta Sigurðardóttir
Fátækur námsmaður (A broke student)
Song and lyrics: Ingólfur Þórarinsson
Artist: Ingólfur Þórarinsson
Á ný (Again)
Song and lyrics: Greta Salome Stefánsdóttir
Artist: Elísabet Ormslev
Raddirnar (The Voices)
Song and lyrics: Greta Salome Stefánsdóttir
Artist: Greta Salome Stefánsdóttir
Ég sé þig (I see you)
Song and lyrics: Sigríður Eir Zophoniasardóttir and Jóhanna Vala Höskuldsdóttir Artists: Sigríður Eir Zophoniasardóttir and Jóhanna Vala Höskuldsdóttir
Ég leiði þig heim (I lead you home)
Song and lyricsi: Þórir Úlfarsson
Artist: Pálmi Gunnarsson
Celebrating 30 years of Iceland at Eurovision
This year’s participation marks the 30th anniversary of Iceland’s first participation in 1986, when ICY (which included Pálmi Gunnarsson) sang the song “Gleðibankinn”, finishing in 16th place. During that time Iceland has only missed two contests — in 1998 and 2002. They were relegated out of those contests because they finished outside the qualification threshold in the preceding years.
The broadcaster had previously teased us with the possibility of a big selection. Just look at this advertisement calling for song submissions from the fall. It includes images of some of the country’s most beloved Eurostars, including Selma, Hera Björk and Yohanna. We suspect there will be plenty of special performances this year…
To mark the anniversary, RUV has produced a special box set of four DVDs to mark their participation.
The semi-finals will be held on 6 and 13 February 2016, and the grand final will be held on 20 February. Three songs from each semi will progress to the final. There will also be a wildcard pick from the remaining semi-finalists, making a total of seven songs in the final.
In the final, the seven songs will be narrowed down to two superfinalists via a 50/50 jury and televote. The overall winner will then be selected by 100% televote.
RUV’s rules also state that technically it is only the song that wins Söngvakeppnin, not the performer(s). After the winning song has been chosen, RUV then internally selects the performers who’ll be going to Stockholm. It is safe to assume that RUV will go with the existing lead singer(s) of the winning song, but as we saw earlier this year when María Ólafs’ dancers from Söngvakeppnin didn’t make it to Vienna, the supporting performers won’t be guaranteed a ticket to Stockholm. Sorry ’bout it.