Last month, Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2020 winners Ben & Tan revealed a snippet of “Iron Heart”, the song they had unsuccessfully submitted to Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2021. Fan reaction was swift, with many wondering why it had not been included in the line-up for the 2021 edition. Now Danish broadcaster DR has released an official statement detailing the reasons behind Ben & Tan’s exclusion.

Dansk Melodi Grand Prix organisers respond to backlash

The DMGP organisers claim to have judged “Iron Heart” impartially, with no special considerations for Ben & Tan as previous champions. In essence, this means DR believed Ben & Tan’s song to not be strong enough for a place in Denmark’s Eurovision selection. The official statement from DR spokesperson Gustav Lützhøft reads:

“As we have previously announced, our basic position is that DMGP must be a fair competition on equal terms between all participants, where the Danes are presented with new Danish music. Based on that logic, we have chosen not to give an automatic participation to Ben & Tan, but that they like everyone else have been able to submit their song and be judged on an equal footing with the other songs in terms of musical quality. We understand very well that it is annoying for them that they did not go to the Eurovision Song Contest last year. Many of us are really annoyed about this, but it was due to circumstances that no one could control or predict.

“We have on several occasions been in dialogue about how Ben and Tan could be included in this year’s show in a good way without being direct participants, but we have unfortunately not been able to agree on a good way to integrate them.”

This also appears to suggest tension between Ben & Tan and the Danish broadcaster.

Listen to Ben & Tan’s “Iron Heart”

“Iron Heart” is a folk-pop track, similar in style to their 2020 song “Yes”. It’s a reflection of the emotional rollercoaster Ben & Tan experienced after winning DMGP 2020. “We could have written a lot of sad songs about our strange year with corona”, Tan says. “But instead, we have made a song that is about every time we are beaten down, we get up again. We fight for our dream, so we keep going, no matter what life has to offer”.

“Iron Heart” officially hits streaming services this Friday, 5 March, but already you can listen to the track at DR.

Ben & Tan’s “Iron Heart” rejected from Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2021

Ben & Tan toppled the competition in Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2020 and won the right to represent Denmark at Eurovision with their song “Yes”. But their Eurovision dreams were soon snatched away when the contest was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked whether they would return in 2021, the pair initially said they wouldn’t compete in DMGP again at the risk of disappointing fans if they lost. However, the duo did submit an entry for consideration, but it didn’t make the cut with the DMGP producers. Ben & Tan also reportedly submitted “Iron Heart” to Sweden’s Melodifestivalen, but it was rejected there as well.

The decision immediately raised eyebrows. With the downscaling of DMGP to include only eight acts rather than the traditional ten, fans suggested there was enough room for Ben & Tan to be included. This would also align with what’s happened in Sweden, Finland and Estonia, where the Eurovision 2020 artists returned to compete in the 2021 selection season. However, the duo remains nowhere to be seen in the DMGP lineup.

Ben & Tan also expressed their disappointment. “We will not hide that we wanted to go again and had hoped that we got the chance to be on the Grand Prix stage again this year”, Ben says. “It is a pity that we do not get the chance, but it is not our decision to make”.

Meanwhile, Tan feels that DR judged “Iron Heart” unfairly. She suggests DR rejected Ben & Tan as artists, without giving their song a true chance. “It is a little difficult for us to understand that we are not allowed to participate. We won last year’s competition with 61% of the votes from viewers — which we are insanely happy and proud of — so I do not understand why DR will not give us another chance”, she says. “We think in a way that both we and those who voted for us deserved a new opportunity to show what we can do”.

What do you make of this? What do you think of “Iron Heart”? Should it have been given a spot in Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2021? Sound off in the comments below. 

Read more Denmark Eurovision 2021 news here

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Cléa
Cléa
1 month ago

I haven’t listened to the song yet, but if it wasn’t selected to compete in DMGP nor Melfest it must be for a reason (especially given how many people who already won Melfest come back several years later

Héctor
Héctor
1 month ago

Not a big fan of the new song (definitely not a fan of “Yes”) but, I mean, you can’t deny it is objectivily better than most of the entries competing this year. So I get why they are upset.

Joe
Joe
1 month ago

Fair enough with what they’re saying about everyone being on an equal footing, but have they taken into account all the people that actually voted for them last year? Is that just all null and void now and they wasted their money while DR pocket it? It would have been just as fair to give them a slot in the final to compensate for the public’s lost votes last year and allow Ben & Tan to try and step up to the challenge and present an effort that they thinks worthy of the votes again this year

Victor
Victor
1 month ago

Clearly Ben and Tan are milking this for free PR for their new single… but their new song most be bad since it couldnt qualify this year, since the bar for our national selection this year is fairly low?

Anita Mann
Anita Mann
1 month ago
Reply to  Victor

Before you assume Iron Heart “must be bad”, why not listen to the song first. They have supplied a link in this article.

Musimak
Musimak
1 month ago

Clearly iron heart is not as strong as say yes( that was one of my favourites last year .).But still, it’s still way better than some of the selections we’ve heard so far.

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
1 month ago

I found people at DR have been quite okay to get along with over the years, so I doubt there there is much of an actual story here. It’s probably just that DR genuinely didn’t like the song (sorry) and instead, the artists were asked to play for the interval and said “no” because their only interest in a DR appearance was in getting the actual song to Eurovision. It’s sad, but that’s life. At least we all get to hear the song and support Ben & Tam if we want to – that’s more than I can say for… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Purple Mask
voix
voix
1 month ago

What is interesting is that their song is best out of the other mediocre entries they chose. DR needs to reconsider its strategy. Or basically fire the team because they are not good for the job.

Zelenovi
Zelenovi
1 month ago

Shocking treatment. Ok so DR didn’t cause the pandemic, whatever, it was still an awful thing to happen to these singer-songwriters – it’s not *their* fault either that their chance to present themselves to a huge European TV audience got taken away! So unless the song is truly dreadful (haven’t listened to it but it doesn’t seem to be), god just include it as an extra participant. There’s nothing unfair about having another competitor in the mix – let the jury and public decide which song is best. If I was a Danish artist thinking of entering next year’s DMGP,… Read more »

Leendert Jan
Leendert Jan
1 month ago

Well, I would seriously suggest to DR that they have some changes in their selection panel. I mean, I don’t think “Iron Heart’ is a masterpiece, but DMGP is absolutely terrible this year and Ben & Tan would definitely stand a chance there imho.

Una
Una
1 month ago

They said that they would not participate in 2021. I understand that people do change their mind but I believe these two have a certain sense of entitlement. In comparison – Finland did pretty much the same – they said that Aksel would be welcome if his song was competitive enough. It was thus he was part of UMK this year. If the broadcaster say that Ben and Tan’s song was not good enough for the line up and that they wanted the participants to have a fair competition – what is wrong about that? That *is* perfectly reasonable. The… Read more »

Kalla
Kalla
1 month ago
Reply to  Una

Ummm, going to disagree Una. I think an audio of chalk running down a chalkboard would have been a more ‘competitive’ song in DMGP this song than some of those selected. So I am not buying at all that it is a reasonable decision for Denmark has made. Also, if I had won the selection last year and didn’t get the opportunity to represent my country due to cancellation , I think I would have a certain feeling of ‘entitlement’ to be included in the selection show the following year. Especially seeing every other national final doing this, or at… Read more »

Una
Una
1 month ago
Reply to  Kalla

“Everything Is Alright” as per the title of the fab Danish song of Mike Tramp 🙂

West
West
1 month ago

Riiiiiiiight.
Excuses, excuses.

Biqer
Biqer
1 month ago

Quickly add them in line up for national final and people will forgot this strange response by DR maybe. They deserve it and their song is the best from DMGP 2021. Only they can save your bad result in Rotterdam this year.

Mors
Mors
1 month ago
Reply to  Biqer

I also don’t understand why can’t they just add them as a wildcard just like Germany did with S!sters in 2019. Also, they truly deserve it after not representing Denmark in 2020 and presenting such a great song as “Iron Heart” (why DR declined it is beyond me). Maybe DR just doesn’t like Ben & Tan or they have some problem with them.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mors
Stian F
Stian F
1 month ago

So DR is the only broadcaster to show no actual empathy or consideration for their 2020 artists then… What a low. Also i am sure the Danish will choose the worst song of all in DMGP so prepare for a non-qualification and a massive backlash from from the fans. DMGP2021 is an extremely weak competition and usually Danes never vote for the one obvious song.

Leo
Leo
1 month ago
Reply to  Stian F

And BTRC. But yes, any broadcasters who treat their own 2020 acts with disrespect is my pet peeve of this ESC period.

yom
yom
1 month ago
Reply to  Stian F

I mean cyprus also straight up ditched sandro, so its mot just them

Stephanie
Stephanie
1 month ago

What a lame excuse!

Roo
Roo
1 month ago

DR done a dog act on Ben and Tan. Grrr.

Nya
Nya
1 month ago

Gosh, they were done so dirty.. 🙁

Pancake
Pancake
1 month ago

Iron Heart is better than most of the DMGP songs, TBH.
Ben and Tan deserved better

Craig
Craig
1 month ago

I got the impression that DR didn’t want them to win DMGP last year. They gave them number 2 in the running order and were very quick to wash their hands of Ben & Tan when the event was cancelled. No shock that they weren’t invited back this year.

Naomi
Naomi
1 month ago

This song is really cute! Far better than the garbage in the DMGP lineup.

Jai
Jai
1 month ago

Some people at DR including Mr. Lutzhoft should be fired…

Badwoolfgirl
Badwoolfgirl
1 month ago

What a load of bullshtick.

Ana
Ana
1 month ago

I hope every potential future participant will re-consider their efforts in this national final as the treatment of the artists seems pretty awful.

Nikos
Nikos
1 month ago

“Yes” was in my Top 5 last year and I am so angry about this unfolding drama… And what’s especially sad, as many have pointed out, is just how POOR the selection for Dansk MGP has been!

It’s like they took the 80s throwback trend very literally and gave us all these dated entries that are very similar. I’m getting D-Moll from Montenegro vibes. The only one that stands above for me is “Står lige her”.

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
1 month ago

I hated their song last year but there’s no way DR are being honest about this. Their submission this year is definitely of the standard to have made the cut in this selection. Even if it was slightly weaker, they didn’t need to reduce the number of participants knowing that they had had a publicly-selected act from last year wanting to take part again.
This has definitely been the PR own goal of the NF season so far and it was all just so unnecessary.

Ohi
Ohi
1 month ago

I like it better than all of the finalists. I think overall it would have been classier to let the public decide

Jake
Jake
1 month ago

The exclusion might be legitimate but this comment from the broadcaster is too cruel for words. They should’ve just said “all songs were judged blindly and unfortunately their 2021 song did not score as high as the chosen songs by the committee”. This quote of not being good enough is just tacky and no way to treat your reigning DMGP winners. Seems like the broadcaster is trying to save face from what has turned into a very negative reaction to the 8 songs chosen.

Polegend Godgarina
Polegend Godgarina
1 month ago

no excuse honestly, ben & tan’s song is good + they always had 10 songs competing, this year they cut them down to 8 for no reason. dr just shot themselves in the foot, “iron heart” is better than anything in that selection.

ArveprinsKnud
ArveprinsKnud
1 month ago

1957-1978: 6 songs
1979: 17 songs
1980: 12 songs
1981, 1996, 1999: 5 songs
1995: 11 songs
2007, 2008: 16 songs
2020: 14 songs

So not always 10 songs, but often.

Elias
Elias
1 month ago

Seems like not every winner of last year will be able to represent their country this year. Aksel of Finland and The Mamas from Sweden.

Kosey
Kosey
1 month ago

Seems like we have lots of queens of cruelty in this thread, lol!

Dida
Dida
1 month ago

Denmark won’t pass the semifinal, their only choice was Ben & Tan. See you next year, maybe!

John Welsh
John Welsh
1 month ago

Yes unbelievable treatment they should definitely been given a slot in the final. Give the public and juries the decision whether they are good enough or not.

Aeria
Aeria
1 month ago

I haven’t heard the song yet, but I can already tell that it would’ve been better than at least 6/8 songs in DMGP 2021. Seriously, whatever Denmark sends to Eurovision now, they’re likely not gonna qualify with anything.

Jonas
Jonas
1 month ago

It seems especially unfair because they weren’t just the winning performers last year, they were also the winning songwriters – which almost never happens.

BeepBoop
BeepBoop
1 month ago

It’s so unfair …

Erasmus
Erasmus
1 month ago

This is literally the worst treatment of any broadcaster. How can you reject a GOOD (basically the best) song, not to mention that they should’ve gotten a free pass no matter the song. Like I get it hold a national final, but don’t go treating people like that. Ben and Tan are one of faves – I love their music and always seem so nice.

Ashton Schier
Ashton Schier
1 month ago

Denmark and Belarus can simply stop this year. I dont rly wanna see either of them at eurovision this year tbh, not with how they have treated their artists. and imagine being so delusional that u think half the danish songs are better than iron heart

Ashton Schier
Ashton Schier
1 month ago
Reply to  Ashton Schier

iron heart maybe could have qualified. the other songs will stay in the semi with ease, even the best one (star lige her).

esc1234
esc1234
1 month ago

In the unique conditions that the whole planet is living, not showing empathy and understanding for 2 young singers who saw a chance taken away from them due to a pandemic, is shamefull. It’s easier to stage a mediocre national final than being a responsible and thoughtful public broadcaster.

bartosz
bartosz
1 month ago

Well, with such a mediocre (at best) national final I’m shocked that they’re saying that Ben & Tan were not good enough…

Alo
Alo
1 month ago

Their song is so much better than all the 8 competing songs…

Elca
Elca
1 month ago

Just listened to the whole song… This would’ve been top of the leaderboard out of the songs so far at Eurovision for me… I suppose I’ve always been a sucker for this kind of sound but surely this is objectively better or at least equal in terms of quality to songs in DMGP this year? Must be more going on there I think? Ah well. I’m sure whoever represents Denmark will be great (just Ben&Tan would have been top 10!) (:

JeyDelRey
JeyDelRey
1 month ago

I might be biased because of my love for their entry last year, but after listening to ‘Iron Heart’, I can’t understand why they were not given a chance to compete this year. Yes, it’s in the same vain as last year’s entry but it’s their style. And it’s above anything else in the selection (no shade towards the artists this year). And the ‘let’s give everyone a fair chance’ argument makes no sense. The Mamas are back in Sweden and they are not a given winner because they won last year. Ben & Tan deserved a chance to compete… Read more »

ella
ella
1 month ago

so you’re telling me they listened to all the songs that made the cut and thought..ah yeah this would be a great choice for the show! Are they ok????!!?!?

Kosey
Kosey
1 month ago

Seems like it might be bash Denmark time. Which is a shame as they have some nice entries this year. I liked Ben and Tan last year and it would have been nice to have them back, but I don’t think it is fair to bash the current year contestants for this decision – I think we should give them a chance.

Lebanese esc fan
Lebanese esc fan
1 month ago
Reply to  Kosey

I agree with you. For me, this selection is pretty good, and is actually representative of Denmark’s music scene. I mean you’ve got the contemporary synth pop with “Står lige her”, delicate balladry in “Abracadabra”, Fyr og Flamme who bring the name recognition factor and so on. Honestly, as much as I liked Ben and Tan last year, I don’t think “Iron Heart” is particularly better than any dmgp song this year. Having said that, they still should have been included and what DR did was definately inexcusable.

Kosey
Kosey
1 month ago

You’re right, I see no reason why they couldn’t have been given a 9th slot in the final – that would have been reasonable.

But I think what is unreasonable are the negative comments saying that this year’s entries are essentially rubbish. That is not true nor fair, there are some very good songs in DMGP this year and dare I say songs that I think will easily get through to the final if selected.

canada_piano
canada_piano
1 month ago

this is literally such a low quality dmgp…i havent heard the snippet, but i really liked yes so based off of that, it definitely should have made the final

Mircs
Mircs
1 month ago

Listend to the full song. Perhaps I’m biased but I find their song better than every other song in DMGP. It’s not world-moving or extremly innovative – it’s that kind of song you would expect from Ben&Tan. Still it’s good and I think it’s similar to ‘Yes’ – it could have been elevated with a great staging. Such a shame.

Olivia Mac Arthur
Olivia Mac Arthur
1 month ago

I am fully of the opinion that it is only fair to allow the artists who were denied the opportunity last year to go to Eurovision to have a shot this year. Whether this by internally selecting them or giving them a spot in the nf, and if they say no, then at least they had the offer and that’s all you need to give. I am very happy the vast majority of countries appear to have done this. I am very disappointed in Denmark and their producers here and am very sorry for Ben and Tan. From the part… Read more »

Romania12Points
Romania12Points
1 month ago

Omg.. what a shame… them was robbed. F0ck off Denmark television..

Mr Vanilla Bean
Mr Vanilla Bean
1 month ago

Makes me wonder if they are actually receiving good stuff and deliberately selecting worse stuff.

Mr Vanilla Bean
Mr Vanilla Bean
1 month ago

Are the people in DR completely nuts? “In terms of musical quality”, ‘I don’t feel hate’ could have made the cut. That’s how bad the quality of the songs they selected is. I agree that nobody is owed anything but if you’re gonna argue musical quality and can’t scrape together two quality songs, you’re just embarrassing yourself.