They’re the “Yes” singers who won the right to represent Denmark at Eurovision 2020. And now, Ben & Tan are ready to take the world by storm with their newest single “Iron Heart” — the same track that was rejected from Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2021 by the Danish broadcaster. We sat down with the former DMGP champions for an exclusive interview about “Iron Heart” and the DMGP 2021 drama.
Interview: Ben & Tan on “Iron Heart” and Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2021
Welcome Ben & Tan! Thank you for talking to us today, and congratulations on the release of your new song “Iron Heart”. It’s a very uplifting and inspiring track, similar in genre to your Eurovision hit “Yes”. What’s the message of the song?
Thank you so much for having us. We are super excited about “Iron Heart”. The message with our new song is to rise up when life gets you down, and that we can conquer any obstacles that may come our way.
How do you feel you have evolved as musicians since “Yes”?
We would definitely say that we have improved on recognising each others’ work processes. It takes a lot out of you to sit in a studio from 10:00-18:00 and deliver a good vocal and guitar track over and over again. Now we’ve matured to be able to look past a bad vocal take every now and again and are more in tune with each other when creating music.
Can you talk about the songwriting process behind “Iron Heart”?
We could’ve written a lot of different sad songs about the challenges we’ve faced in the last year. Instead, we wanted to show our fans that we want to overcome our hardships and always rise up when you get pushed to the ground. The song is very fitting to our own personal experience and situation and is very dear to us.
You initially said that you would not compete in Dansk Melodi Grand Prix this year. But fans still held out hope that you might return, and fly the flag for Denmark at Eurovision 2021. What made you change your mind and submit an entry?
Our reason for our answer the first time around, was that DR announced in April of 2020 that they would not invite us back for DMGP 2021. We always wanted to participate in DMGP 2021 but our interpretation was that we were not invited back, regardless of which song we presented. “Iron Heart” was not presented to DR before November 2020, so we feel it’s a no to Ben & Tan as artists, and not to the song per se.
A lot of fans were unhappy when they learned that DR rejected “Iron Heart” from Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2021. Some of them have even campaigned for DR to give you a wildcard pass to competition. What are your feelings about this situation?
The first two times we spoke to DR about our return to DMGP, “Iron Heart” did not exist. DR rejected having us return to DMGP 2021 back in April of 2020, before we had a song to present to them. As we mentioned, “Iron Heart” was written in November of 2020. So the third and final time we talked to them we sent “Iron Heart”, but we were told once again that they did not want us back. We are delighted to hear that our fans are supporting us as much as they are. It means a lot and we see all the lovely comments and words sent our way. We are hoping they will keep following and supporting us on our journey and that they will like our future projects.
Have you listened to this year’s Dansk Melodi Grand Prix entires? If so, what are your thoughts, and who are your favourites?
As we have relations to three of the songs in DMGP 2021 we are of course rooting for our friends. We wish all the contestants good luck going forward.
Would you consider returning to Dansk Melodi Grand Prix again in the future?
As of right now, we would have to say no. But who knows what the future brings. Right now our main focus is promoting and releasing “Iron Heart”, of which we are feeling very proud and positive.
Finally, “Iron Heart” marks your first release of 2021. Can we expect more new music soon?
We are working hard to present new music to our fans and everyone who supports us, and we are very excited about what 2021 will bring.
The music video shows Ben & Tan side-lit by regal blue and gold lighting. Lyrically, “Iron Heart” is an ode to perseverance and the power to get back up when life knocks you down — it speaks to the difficult year the duo faced in 2020.
In an empty Royal Arena in Copenhagen, Ben & Tan won Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2020, but unfortunately their song “Yes” never made it to the Eurovision stage after the contest was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite that, they’ve enjoyed chart success across Europe. Their winning DMGP track “Yes” and the later “Summer Nights” have been big radio hits. Since release, “Yes” has amassed a whopping 18 million streams on music services. And in Sweden, “Yes” charted in the airplay top 20 for more than 6 months. With “Iron Heart”, the duo are hoping for an equally big success.
“Iron Heart” rejected by Dansk Melodi Grand Prix organisers
The duo’s song was the subject of drama within in the Eurovision community when fans learnt that Danish broadcaster DR rejected “Iron Heart” from Denmark’s selection show, Dansk Melodi Grand Prix. With the downscaling of DMGP this year to include just eight finalists rather than the traditional ten, fans expressed disappointment that DR had failed to give Ben & Tan a space in the final. Responding to the backlash, DR issued a statement to reiterate that they judged all the DMGP 2021 entries impartially on equal footing.
But just because they’re not appearing in DMGP this year doesn’t mean the end of the line for Ben & Tan. The duo plan to release more music in very near future, so watch this space!
What do you think of “Iron Heart”? Are you excited for more music from Ben & Tan? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo credit: Michael Thygesen / Good Evening Europe