The road to Lisbon is getting shorter, and many of this year’s acts are on promotion tour around Europe, including Iceland’s sweetheart Ari Ólafsson, who has been busy introducing himself and “Our Choice” to Eurovision thirsty audience across the continent. But back in Iceland, attitudes to “Our Choice” have been a little frosty
Ari had a blast in London, sharing unforgettable moments with the audience at Café de Paris, news reporters and fellow contestants. He is now in Tel Aviv, and continues to wow people with his flawless vocals and approachable and friendly demeanour.
But although the preview parties are all fun and games, there are dark clouds piling up in Iceland. The trouble stems from Iceland’s Eurovision preview TV show, Alla Leið. Every episode, the show’s two main panellists and two guest panellists give their personal and honest opinion about this year’s entries. And they were pulling no punches when it came to critiquing Iceland’s entry.
The 2018 edition main experts are Friðrik Dór Jónsson (runner-up in Söngvakeppnin 2015 and one of María Ólaf’s backing vocalists) and Helga Möller (part of Iceland debut Eurovision trio ICY). The panellists were rather positive in their reviews of Albania, Azerbaijan, Estonia and Israel (which got the highest score), but when it was time for the home country Iceland, a different energy entered the room.
None of the panellists were particularly supportive towards Iceland’s entry “Our Choice”, deeming it old-fashioned, unmemorable, boring and declaring that it had no chance whatsoever to qualify from the semifinals on May 8. However, the show host was much more positive and supportive.
Helga Möller then turned it up a notch, saying that she, in fact, didn’t like any of the songs in Söngvakeppnin 2018 and that she was surprised at how uninteresting they were. But on the other hand, all the panellists praised Ari Ólafsson himself and thought he was a superb singer — charming, connecting beautifully with the audience and frankly just too good for the song.
Needless to say, the composer of the song, Þórunn Erna Clausen was less than impressed by the negative comments and expressed her anger and disappointment. “I find it odd when someone is judging another person’s art creation and hard work in such a negative way. Apparently its impossible to compose music that fits everyone’s taste” she said on Facebook.
She also took a subtle jab at RÚV, saying, “This is done differently in other countries. There, the national broadcaster stands behind the songs and tries to show them in a positive light, not like this.” This suggests that she feels RÚV doesn’t support her to the degree she would like.
Whatever the understanding might be, it is hard to blame RÚV specifically for individual opinions of the expert panel. They are there to express their honest opinion, which doesn’t necessarily express the opinion of the entire nation or the national broadcaster and does not affect the final outcome of Eurovision. But those were harsh words indeed, and maybe understandable that Þórunn is hurt.
What do you think? Were the panellists too ruthless in their reviews? Should they always support their local act? Share your thoughts below!