Tonight in a special broadcast RÚV will reveal the composers and performers who will compete in the 2019 edition of Söngvakeppni. As always it will be a mixture of veterans along with some newcomers, and during the next month we will get to know them and their songs. The format for Söngvakeppni hasn’t changed as we will have two semi finals leading to a grand final on March 2nd, where we’ll learn who is going to be Ari Ólafsson’s successor and fly the Icelandic flag in Tel Aviv come spring.
Although the performance format is unchanged, RÚV did change the submission process this time by allowing only two songs per songwriter. Before there were no limits to how many songs one person could submit and RÚV is hoping that this will have the composers up their game a little, be more selective and send what they consider to be their very best entries as opposed to just giving every single song they have in their possession. A quality over quantity if you like.
As reported before, there was a heated discussion in Iceland after Israel’s victory in Lisbon, whether to confirm participation in Tel Aviv due to the conflicts surrounding the Israeli government. Stars such as Paul Oscar and 2017 Söngvakeppni runner up Daði Freyr were adamant that Iceland should sit this one out as a sign of protest, and many more supported their opinion by signing a petition regarding the matter. However, despite their protest, RÚV officially confirmed Iceland’s participation late last summer.
The 2019 participants
Daníel Oliver – “Samt ekki” (IS) – “Licky Licky” (ENG)
Daníel Oliver is no stranger to Söngvakeppnin. He entered in 2015 with his song “Fyrir Alla” alongside two of his friends. Together they made up the trio CADEM, and were somewhat popular among Eurovision fans prior to the contest. Now Daníel is going solo with another solid dance number, and who knows. This could be his year.
Elli Grill, Skaði & Glymur – “Jeijó, keyrum alla leið” (IS only)
Elli Grill is a rapper known to be a member of the hip-hop group Shades of Reykjavík. He released his first solo album – “Þykk fitan vol. 5” in 2017. His style is a blend of old school rap and trap and he is known for his recognisable voice. Skaði is a fairly new name in the Icelandic music scene as she released her first album in 2018. She is a multimedia artist, musician and performer, and is known for her rather provocative performances. Skaði is transgender and has been very active in the queer community in Reykjavík, both as a musician and a performer with the drag group Dragsúgur. Glymur is the pseudo name of Sigga Soffía, a singer, choreographer and a dancer.
Friðrik Ómar – “Hvað ef ég get ekki elskað?” (IS) – “What if I cant love?” (ENG)
Friðrik is back…and without Regína this time. He’s all in with a gospel-like Motown ballad written by himself along with Sveinbjörn I Baldvinsson. We might not be able to dance like it’s 2008 but we are definitely along for the ride with Friðrik, who is on the Söngvakeppni stage for a respectable fourth time since his debut in 2006.
Hatari – “Hatrið mun sigra” (IS only)
Hatari is not a band that many expected to see enter Söngvakeppnin. The trio is mainly known for their heavy and rough synthapop and critical, yet satirical lyrics, aimed at all kinds of injustice in modern society, as well as for raunchy performances, that might be deemed a bit too dirty for ESC. Söngvakeppni is a whole new different platform for these guys and they are bound to ruffle some feathers, for they honestly don’t give a toss what people think! Maybe “Hatrið mun sigra” is exactly what we need right now?
Heiðrún Anna Björnsdóttir – “Helgi” (IS) – “Sunday boy” (ENG)
Heiðrún gained her popularity in Iceland all the way back in the 90’s with her band Cigarette, and she also delved into acting, having starred opposite Inga (Iceland 1993) in the movie “Nei er ekkert svar”. For the past 20 years, she has lived and worked in London, but has finally decided to return back home and grace Söngvakeppni with her long overdue presence. Her song “Sunday boy” is a delightful pop number and gives us a taste of what she’s been up to since moving to London.
Hera Björk – “Eitt andartak” (IS) – “Moving On” (ENG)
There is not much to say about Hera, that we already don’t know. She is one of Iceland’s most popular solo artists and is considered a goddess in the Eurovision world too. “Eitt andartak” is a strong ballad written by Örlygur Smári, the very same man as “Je ne sais quoi” and is a long way from the epic dancepop that made Hera the Eurovision queen she is.
Ívar Daníels – “Þú bætir mig” (IS) – “Make me whole” (ENG)
A country pop worthy of Firelight, and no wonder, as its co-written by none other than Richard Micallef himself, as well as Stefán Þór Steindórsson and Nikos Sofis. Ívar might not be one of the most famous names in Söngvakeppni, but he has nonetheless established himself as a popular singer on various occasions, along with his friend Magnús Hafdal, with their troubadour performances and cozy covers of well known songs. However, Ívar is now sans Magnús and its his time to shine.
Kristina Bærendsen – “Ég á mig sjálf” (IS) – “Mama said” (ENG)
Kristina Bærendsen hails from the Faroe Islands, and this is her second stint in Söngvakeppni, the first one being in 2017, when she did a duet with Páll Rósenkrans with the low key country number “You and I”, which failed to make it out of the semi finals. But thankfully, Kristina is nowhere near of being done with Söngvakeppni and makes her second attempt, and hopefully a more successful one with this Duffy-esque song, written by Sveinn Rúnar Sigurðsson, the man behind “Heaven” and “Valentines Lost”.
Tara Mobee – “Betri án þín” (IS) – “Fighting for love” (ENG)
Tara Mobee released her debut single in 2017 and has since then released three more singles. We are still waiting for a debut album but she has performed at Icelandic Airwaves, one of the biggest music festivals in Iceland. Although being very young, only 19 years old, she has already made a huge name for herself and now we just have to wait and see if she will get the chance to give Europe a taste of her talents, performing a solid popsong written by Andri Þór Jónsson and Eyþór Úlfar Þórisson.
Þórdís Imsland – “Nú og hér” (IS) – “What are you waiting for?” (ENG)
A former contestant of The Voice: Ísland where she made it all the way to the finale as a member of Team Svala, Þórdís Imsland is ready to make an attempt for Eurovision. The song is written by Svala herself along with Bjarki Ólafsson and Stefán Hilmarsson (Iceland 1988 and 1991) and has that undeniable Svala touch, heavy flow and a bouncy rythm which is practically begging us to enter the dancefloor and just go crazy.
Pop, gospel and country. As you can see, the variety is more than sufficient and its a nice combination of experience versus fresh approach. Are you happy with Söngvakeppni 2019 line up? Who is your favorite here? Who do you want to see making it all the way to Israel?