Iceland’s quest to find a representative for Eurovision 2023 has officially started. A special tv-program on RÚV revealed the ten finalists and songs competing in Söngvakeppnin 2023 and aiming for the golden ticket to Liverpool in May.
The line-up consists primarily of newcomers who have not entered the selection before. But there are a few veterans as well amongst the songwriters.
The two semifinals of Söngvakeppnin 2023 will be held on February 18 and 25 and the grand final will be on March 4. Five songs compete in each semi-final. Two songs will qualify from each semi to compete in the final. The executive committee reserves the right to send one more song to the final, on top of the existing four qualifiers. In this case, there will be five songs in the final.
So without further ado, let us meet our ten hopefuls who will battle for the love and admiration of Iceland.
Söngvakeppnin 2023: Artists and songs
Benedikt – “Þora / Brave Face”
Benedikt is a 20-year-old singer, songwriter, producer, and classical ballet dancer who is relatively new in the Icelandic music scene. In 2021, Benedikt made it to the final of Músíktilraunir, an Icelandic competition for young musicians, where he was the only solo project in the final. He released his debut EP album the same year and now he is Söngvakeppnin.
The song is written Benedikt, Hildur Kristín Stefánsdóttir and Una Torfadóttir. Hildur Kristín has two appearances in Söngvakeppnin under her belt, in 2015 with the song “Fjaðrir“, and in 2017 with the song “Bammbaramm“.
Bragi – “Stundum snýst heimurinn gegn þér / Sometimes the World´s Against You”
Bragi Bergsson is a 29-year-old professional footballer who merged onto the music scene in the Swedish Idol back in 2018. He is born in Iceland but has lived most of his life in Sweden, playing football in both countries.
Along with Bragi himself, the song was written by Joy Deb, Rasmus Palmgren, and Aniela Eklund. No doubt that Bragi’s Idol presence in Sweden joined these artists together.
Celebs – “Dómsdagsdans / Doomsday Dancing”
Celebs is a trio consisting of three siblings, Hrafnkell Hugi Vernharðsson, Katla Vigdís Vernharðsdóttir, and Valgeir Skorri Vernharðsson, who grew up in the Westfjords in Iceland. All of them won Músíktilraunir, competition for young musicians, at some point. Katla Vigdís in 2017, as a member of the duo Between Mountains, and Hrafnkell and Valgeir in 2015, as members of the band Rythmatik.
They released their debut album in 2020, followed by two singles in 2022. Their music has a the nostalgic flair of the 80’s and their most played song in Iceland is “Kannski hann“.
Diljá – “Lifandi inni í mér / Power”
Diljá Pétursdóttir was first seen on the stage at the young age of 12 when she competed in Iceland Got Talent back in 2015. Now eight years later she debuts in Söngvakeppnin.
The song is written by Diljá and Pálmi Ragnar Ásgeirsson. Pálmi was one of the writers of “Unbroken“, Iceland’s Eurovision act in 2015.
Kristín Sesselja – “Óbyggðir / Terrified”
Kristín Sesselja is a 22-year-old singer/songwriter who merged into the Icelandic music scene in 2020 with her single “Fuckboys”. She is mostly a self-taught artist, playing the guitar along with her singing.
The song is written by Kristín Sesselja, Tiril Beisland, and Vetle Sigmundstad.
Langi Seli og Skuggarnir – “OK”
Langi Seli og Skuggarnir (Long Seli and the Shadows) is an Icelandic rock band formed in 1988. Their inspiration is rockabilly with a hint of surf music.
The song is written by the band members themselves,
Móa – “Glötuð ást / Loose this dream”
Móeiður Júníusdóttir was prominent within the Icelandic music scene in the 90s. She was among other things a member of a jazz band and a rave-duo with her husband at the time. She signed a record deal with Manhattan-based record company Tommy Boy with whom she released the album “Universal”.
However, she went on a hiatus in the new millennium, where she studied theology and pedagogy. Now she’s back to the music scene with her self-written song.
Sigga Ózk – “Gleyma þér og dansa / Dancing Lonely”
Sigga Ózk is a 22-year-old singer who took her first official step onto the music stage on Swedish Idol a few years ago. Since then she has worked as a singer and a teacher.
The song is written by Klara Elías, Alma Goodman, David Mørup, and James Gladius Wong. Klara Elías competed in Söngvakeppnin 2013 with her song “Skuggamynd“.
Silja Rós & Kjalar – “Ég styð þína braut / Together we grow”
Silja Rós is a singer, actress, and screenwriter. Currently, she’s working on a script for a TV show where productions will start coming spring. Silja Rós competed in The Voice Iceland in 2017 and released her debut album the same year.
Kjalar is a singer who’s fairly new to the Icelandic music scene. Currently, he is a contestant in the Icelandic Idol and when this is written he has advanced to the top 4 of the contest.
The song is written by Silja Rós and Rasmus Olsen.
Úlfar – “Betri maður / Impossible”
Úlfar Viktor Björnsson is making his music scene debut but is better known for his make-up skills, as he has been working as a professional make-up artist. This won’t be his first time singing though, as he graduated from Complete Vocal Institute in Denmark.
The song is written by Rob Price and Úlfar himself. The lyrics are written by Elín Sif Hall, who competed in Söngvakeppnin in 2015 with the song “Í kvöld“.
Here you can listen to both English and Icelandic of all the songs
Last year’s winners of Söngvakeppnin 2022, the sister trio Systur, placed 23rd in the final in Turin with their breezy, folk-leaning song about the sunrise.
Who is your favourite act? Who do you think will win Söngvakeppnin 2023? Tell us in the comments below.
It’s a pretty weak selection with a lot of uninteresting and mediocre songs. Based on that, I don’t think Iceland will qualify this year. But then again, Systur also had a very unremarkable and dull song yet they somehow managed to qualify.
I think whoever wins should sing the Icelandic version of their song, and a lot of upscaling for any song can be done with a good performance! Good selection all in all 🙂
The majority of the songs are quite standard and safe fare, but I think that Silja Rós & Kjalar, Celebs, Móa and Kristín have interesting songs. Not necessarily strong enough to make Iceland a safe qualifier, but not dead on arrival either. By the way: is it just me and my language-nerdiness or do all of these songs really sound way better in Icelandic?
They do sound better in Icelandic language, adds more original feeling and even clunky lyrics will sound more interesting.
Nothing mindblowing – not that the songs are bad, but I don’t think I will listen to them outside Eurovision. Best for me is Together We Grow, but I think Doomsday Dancing is a performance song and with right staging would do super well not only in this nf, but also in the Eurovision itself.
I think its a good selection for Iceland !
My favorites with good potential on the Eurovision’s stage so far :
. Kristin Sesselja
. Silja Ros & Kjalar
. Sigga Ozk
The rest is not my cup of tea.
But my top 3 are Dilja, Kristin and Silja/Kjalar with Celebs (outsider).
There sure are a lot of really young people here who haven’t developed enough musical identity. But there are a couple of songs I like in “Doomsday Dance” and “Eg Styd Thina Braut.” I’m not a linguistic purist, but choose the Icelandic version please.
I’ve decided I like Dilja too, in Icelandic
While I think most of the 2022 selection was very low-par, Iceland’s NF last year was great so I was looking forward to this bunch… only to find out it’s kinda on par with 2018, in which there was also nothing particularly interesting. Iceland’s been killing it since 2020 so it’s kind of a shame to see them go back to that level of mediocrity from whence they came, kinda like Lithuania as well
it’s no different from usual songvakeppnin: lots of midtempos and clunky english translations. the best bet for iceland is probably doomsday dance, it has potential for some good staging. eg styd thina braut is also very good, i get zalagasper vibes, but the english version is devoid of any charm – and no one wants to listen to a song titled “together we’ll grow”, it’s giving junior eurovision slogan. someone convince them to keep it in icelandic. my personal favorite was móa.
I gave the entries a second listen and I liked Celebs’ song the most, it’s a fun entry without being a joke, which is always appreciated 🙂
As for the show’s format, I’ll hold what I said previously: it’s unnecessarily long.
Given the fact that Iceland has gone too middle-of-the-road again, I’d choose the most different to the bunch. That is Celebs.
If celebs is chosen, do you think they would be strong enough to qualify?
Love this selection of songs 🙂
A “safe” selection, let’s just say that. “Doomsday dancing” is the one that stands out the most, very David Bowie-esque. I wish it would pack a stronger punch though.
I hope they only have one show this year. A semifinal of 5 acts is not a good thing.
Silja Rós & Kjalar – 9/10The most authentic lyrics and original tune out of all. I need some chemistry between them on the stage. MOA – 9/10 Captivating from the first note. interesting vocals. Sympathetic chord progression. Not very suitable for Eurovision. Dilja – 8/10 Good dynamics, powerful vocals, catchy chorus, a bit reprtitive. Bragi – 7.5/10 Melodifestivalenish in a good way. Prechorus is the same sample as in Mohombi’s “Hello”. The chorus is similar to Thuse’s “Million voises” Benedikt – 7/10 Good beat and instrumental arrangement. Unfortunately, verses are better than the chorus, not catchy enough. Ulfar – 7/10… Read more »
i am in the team Silja Rós & Kjalar.🙂
Bragi should win this easily, but I think it’s better to keep the song in Icelandic since the lyrics in english don’t make it any better.
I am so sad that ESC fans become very harsh when they don’t hear an ESC winning song in the national selection. Yes, I myself would love to see Iceland win ESC one year. It is definitely not going to be this year, But let’s not get salty about it. These 10 songs Are very nice And the Winner will be a part of a Competition we all love. Not all 40 countries can win at once.
I’m trying to get away from expecting a winner in a selection, and just listen and judge the songs on their merits, and figure out which one could be the strongest one to represent at the contest, regardless of how they’ll do at Eurovision. It’s just frustrating when you don’t connect with any of the songs and it’s a struggle to figure out which one would be the best option.
I think fans expect every song to be a potential winner. And I understand that, the contest is always more fun to watch when every song is that great.
But realistically speaking that is unlikely to happen. Not every country wants to win every year, or can afford to. Some just wants to be there, to show they exist.
Iceland will win one year. But not this year. And that is all fine
Yeah, not every country is going to have a strong song at Eurovision. Somebody has to stay behind in the semi finals. That’s the way it is and you either take that non-qualification and strive to do better next year or you just gonna get stuck in a rut for years and years. Like I wrote above, I’m not going into national finals and expecting to find the winner of Eurovision from the onset. I just listen and see which songs I like and which ones could be the best option for the country, sometimes they are the one and… Read more »
And on top of it, Iceland doesn’t have a large population.
Absolutely Together We Grow or Doomsday Dancing
“Hall Of Fame” & “Dusk Till Dawn” = BRAGI
It’s nice song to listen, not winner or anything but it is good for eurovision.
I don’t find any of the songs particularly strong but I do enjoy Doomsday dancing and Together we grow so im hoping for them!
What a nice selection!
I especially like Power, Brave Face, Doomsday Dancing and Together we grow.
Very weak songs in Iceland, but Celebs could be interesting at stage
I have to say that this year the men are handsome! Every country has at least 1-2 really hot ones! A real pleasure! Bragi looks like a model, too bad their songs are bad or boring.
Very vain and offensive comment.
Hmm.. Bragi…But in any case, there is no way that Iceland will reach the finals with these songs.. boring and unoriginal! Sorry!
Off topic, the song title for Joker Outs song was revealed to be “Carpe diem”.
I´m already looking forward for these guys from Slovenia.
Nice. I can’t wait to hear what they bring.
Nothing blows my mind unfortunately.. Doomsday and maybe Together we grow
Wow, Ulfar has got a song with some potential. There I was thinking my defences were water tight, then as he moved through the bridge into the final chorus, the defences peeled away and the tears freely flowed. That’s the first song to do that to me this year.
I also enjoyed Together We Grow, Lose this Dream and Brave Face.
The others are ok apart from OK which isn’t for me but I’m sure others will like it.
Disappointing selection. Celebs has the best song. The rest is just super boring.
My fav in this selection is Bragi and I like Kristin, Celebs, Ulfar and Dilja songs, special mention for Moa’s voice.
Nothing here that rips my nips. Good luck though.
I’m tipping my hat for Doomsday Dancing. It’s piqued my curiosity and I would love to see some cool staging
I don’t like Iceland’s format, it’s unnecessarily long. Something like UMK would suffice for them :/
As for the songs, I didn’t feel drawn to anyone this time, might give it another chance later.
And the show can go on for a ridiculous length. Seriously, two and a half hours for five songs?!
I can’t really give my opinion on the songs themselves because I haven’t listened to them in full (I plan to listen to the English versions first and then the Icelandic versions). But from what I got from the Misja Eurovizja recap videos, I’m not connecting with them right now.
It’s a tiny nation, gotta fill that TV broadcast with something…
Isnt it supposed to be “Lose This Dream” instead of “Loose..”?
Unless the dream is not very secure?
Iceland, why do you send wannabe pop starts? You are the land of Björk, Sígur Ros, Of Monsters and Men; also the land of AMAZING minimalistic and ambient composers like Ólafur Arnalds.
Please, let’s that Arnalds compose a song for Eurovision. I can guarantee that it’s gonna make proud you guys!!!!
I know. They’ve punched ridiculously far above their weight in the alternative realm for years and years.
It seems I’ll be part of a minority here, but I really enjoyed at least 3 of the entries. My main highlight would be the Icelandic version of Silja Rós and Kjalar’s song. Everything sounds very tasteful and well crafted on their track, if they have chemistry on the stage, I believe this could be quite effective. It loses a bit of mystery when translated to English though. “Doomsday Dancing” would be a close second. If well staged, this can do pretty well, because sets a mood right away. And I can guarantee nobody will send anything remotely similar to… Read more »
I completely agree, these are the three songs that caught my attention as well. Kristín is also my third, these high notes will need a very clean live performance, though, or it could get rather unpleasant.
Silja Rós & Kjalar and Celebs are my joint winner’s for now, one’s a little more mysterious, the other’s a little more lively and chaotic.
All three would be more than respectable entries for Iceland.
I actually quite like “Lifandi inni í mér”, but mostly the Icelandic version of it. I could see this being a surprise hit if it has some good staging/lighting paired with it. Maybe it is because I like this style of production, but I think there is potential here
I only watched a pair of recaps for the selection, but to be honest, nothing from Iceland is gripping. Maybe if I listen to the songs in full, I might like something, but I’m just not feeling it.
I’d recommend Doomsday Dancing. I keep listening to it. I like it but I wanna see it live to know how I’d feel about it at ESC.
But then again Iceland won’t pick it so I guess it doesn’t matter.
«Together we grow» is the best and could do very well in Liverpool. What’s interesting is that «OK» is the one who stands out the most. Could Iceland actually vote this to victory?
I can see it doing well, they’ve been at it for a long time and might strike a chord with the older audience. Same with Móa, whose name and voice I remember from my teen years
The Icelandic version of Silja Ros and Kjalar seems like the most interesting one, but honestly nothing here that captured my attention quite like the Systur did last year. Looks like Iceland’s great run of 2019-22 is finally over, unfortunately…
I’m hoping the Celebs song will grow on me. It reminds me of Talking Heads/David Byrne, which is a good thing.
I can see that when it comes to the guy’s vocal, a bit unhinged a la David Byrne, but Talking Heads also had tons of insane instrumentals so this one sounds quite tame in comparison.
We all have to fall down sometime, but if this is Iceland’s turn, let’s hope it’s contained to this year and they do better next year.
Well, it was good while it lasted and they’re also one of the smallest countries so I guess that was to be expected at some point.
Every country has their ups and downs at Eurovision year after year. I guess Iceland is down this year unless there’s an extremely weak Eurovision field. It happens.
“Lose” this dream, Móa…
I’m from Iceland and honestly, I think we’re gonna be struggling in the next few years like we did in 2015-2018, this selection is just horrible, nothing stands out and if this is the best out of all songs that were sent in, we got a long road ahead of us…
Sometimes you can’t always make it. If Iceland happens to not qualify this year, let’s hope it’s a one off slip.
I agree with you. Very disappointed. Nothing stands out like originals the last 3 or 4 years. Who is choosing these songs now and last years? I am curious ?
Doomsday dancing is a tune
I kinda like Doomsday but not a lot and nothing else here sticks out to me personally.