It’s already half a year since Netflix’s Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga hit the on-demand service. And if there was one song that is still on our minds, then it’s “Jaja Ding Dong”. However, this development came as a surprise for many of the film’s creators.
Since its release, the song has been covered by Icelandic Eurovision 2020 and 2021 contestant Daði Freyr and by Lithuanian national selection participants Twosome.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Eurovision movie songwriter Savan Kotecha said that he initially didn’t think that the Húsavik bar tune would become the hit single of the soundtrack.
Behind the success of “Jaja Ding Dong”
In the behind-the-scenes interview, Kotecha notes that during early screen tests for the film “Jaja Ding Dong” was always ranked as people’s favourite tune alongside “Húsavik”. For Kotecha, it was not until he saw the end product that he could understand why. He said:
“With a bar song, when you’re hearing it in a studio or a car you’re not really getting the full effect, but when you see people singing and drinking along, you’re like, ‘That’s it!'”
For a long time, the songwriters found it hard to find the right tone when recording “Jaja Ding Dong”. It took Kotecha a while before he found the right version of the song. Reflecting back on the demos, Kotecha explained:
“They were good, but it didn’t feel like it was one of those singalong drinking songs that’s been around from the beginning of time.”
The Story of Fire Saga director David Dobkin held on to the same memory. He told Entertainment Weekly a similar story:
“There were all kinds of interpretations. Some of them were just crazy. Like, they were aggressive. Some people went super German with it. Some were really aggressive. There was one that was very loud. It was more like a Pogue song than what we ended up with.”
The bar scenes in which the song became a legendary meme sensation were also partially improvised. After all, Dobkin had not yet decided how much of “Jaja Ding Dong” to include in the film.
Dobkin remembers how the scene with Hannes Óli Ágústsson, who portrayed the “Jaja Ding Dong” shouting bar patron Olaf, running after Lars and Sigrit was not in the script originally. Dobkin recalled it as “a bit of improv” between Will Ferell, Rachel McAdams and Hannes Óli Ágústsson.
Fire Saga’s cancelled marketing stunts
Next to detailing the success of the film, Savan Kotecha and David Dobkin also described some of the crazy marketing ideas that they had initially laid out.
Before hitting the streaming service, the film would run in physical theatres for a few weeks. Due to the global pandemic, Netflix postponed the film’s release by a month as well.
However, Fire Saga’s promotion campaign was planned to stretch way beyond the theatres. Record producer Scooter Braun would publicly sign Fire Saga as a new Icelandic act under his record label in the run up to the release. Meanwhile, Ferell and McAdams were scheduled to appear as Lars and Sigrit on Saturday Nigth Live, one of largest late-night television shows in the United States.
With the promotion, Dobkin wanted to see whether their first single “Volcano Man” would make it to the American Billboard charts. As a cherry on the cake, Fire Saga would eventually perform as an interval act in the Grand Final of Eurovision 2020.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and the protests in the United States, the team behind Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga did not feel it was the right time to undergo these plans.
Were you surprised by the success of “Jaja Ding Dong”? What had you expected from Fire Saga’s marketing efforts? Let us know in the comments below!