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.