Jógvan Hansen & Stefanía Svavarsdóttir, Magni, Unnur Eggertsdóttir and Halli Reynis to the Söngvakeppnin 2013 final

Finalists Second Heat Iceland ©  www.ruv.is

Following the changes made by RÚV to the Söngvakeppnin format, tonight saw the second heat of the national selection take place. Last night's preliminary heats saw some major upsets, with both Magni and Jóhanna failing to bag one of the three spots in the final.

Last night's preliminary heats saw some major upsets, with both Magni and Jóhanna failing to bag one of the three spots in the final. With seven spots in the line up for next Saturday's final, it comes as a surprise that there is a wild card up for grabs - at the moment, it's the only hope fans have of seeing either Magni or Jóhanna in the final.

As was mentioned here on Eurovisionary last night, being an established name is not necessarily synonymous with success, as we saw demonstrated last night. Will we see a repeat of the result with this evening's contenders? There are established names such as Erna Hrönn and Jógvan Hansen in the fray, but will the general public forego these names, instead awarding a place in the final to bubbly Unnur Eggertsdóttir and the joyful Ég Syng! or to the young starlet Klara Ósk Elíasdóttir with her contemporary r'n'b number Skuggamynd?

The songs (You can read more about these participants in our Get To Know article)

Song number 1: Klara Ósk ElíasdóttirSkuggamynd (Silhouette)  (Music: Hallgrímur Óskarsson & Ashley Hicklin / Lyrics: Bragi Valdimar Skúlason)

The second heat opens with the young Klara Ósk Elíasdóttir singing her melancholy power ballad Skuggamynd. The number has a very international sound over it. Tight, slick rhythms and a stripped arrangement combined with lush strings, you could easily imagine this being picked up and played to death on the radio with its killer hook. She is a well enough known face to the younger audience, so this tale of blind love and using the darkness to lick ones wounds may just strike a chord with viewers. A predominantly purple stage with a lilac backdrop provides the setting for Klara Ósk. She was wearing a beige and gold dress with a black train that we've not seen the likes of since Linda Wagenmakers in 2000! The train rippling in the wind machine distracted something from the performance. There were four backing singers at the side of the stage and no choreography to speak of. What had started off as one of the most appealing songs of the night came a real cropper, with screeched vocals, clearly strained for much of the song. This was not the best opening at all and so much potential fell flat on its face. Such a dissappointment.

Song number 2: Jógvan Hansen & Stefanía Svavarsdóttir - Til Þín (For You) (Music: Sveinn Rúnar Sigurðsson / Lyrics: Sveinn Rúnar Sigurðsson & Ágúst Ibsen)

Next to thankfully take to the stage are veteran Jógvan Hansen and newcomer Stefanía Svavarsdóttir performing the second of Sveinn Rúnar Sigurðsson's entries in this year's selection. The theme of love continues with the uptempo song Til Þín. Will the duo manage to replicate the success of last year's winners, Greta Salóme and Jónsi? The public chose a male/female duet last night, so you never know. Explosive rhythms, dramatic vocals and two voices that go very well together with a tried and tested formula seem to be a surefire recipe for a spot in the final. Magnetic waves on a black background and a dim stage with a single spot shine on Jógvan for the introduction. He is sporting a black suit and shirt for the occasion, with Stefanía coming in in time for the first chorus wearing turquoise pantaloons and a strapless black sleeveless top. Both stand at either end of the stage, walking towards one another. They seem to have little chemistry up until the middle of the song when they get closer to one another and the mood heightens. Nothing at all in the way of their vocals tonight, fortunately they manage to rectify the disastrous start in the show. A well arranged number that went down very well in the studio.

Song number 3: Sylvía Erla SchevingStund Með Þér (A Moment With You) (Music & Lyrics: María Björk Sverrisdóttir)

The third act to take to the stage tonight is youngster Sylvía Erla, who has been taken under the wing of songwriter María Björk Sverrisdóttir. She has previously written both Nótt and Hjartað Brennur, giving her a place in the final. Four ladies and one male backing singer accompany Sylvía Erla on stage, which is splattered with a marble/paint effect as a backdrop, a piercing blue floor and red hot beams lighting the way for a sultry performance. A striking creation in choice of outfit for the evening - a baggy red blouse with long sleeves that almost touch the floor paired with black pants. The perfomance itself wasn't bad, if a little static - not outstanding vocals, but by no means anything to be ashamed of. The five backing singers walked up and took their positions directly behind Sylvía Erla towards the end of the song. A competent number, which the crowd reacted ecstatically to. Stund Með Þér is yet another love song, with a modern, fresh sound and a simple enough melody, but the chorus might just not be catchy enough as María Björk's previous efforts to make an impression on those watching.

Song number 4: Halli ReynisVinátta (Friendship) (Music & Lyrics: Halli Reynis) 

Halli Reynis has done it before, so he could well do it again. Last seen in the final in 2011, he surprised everyone back then by making it through with an equally understated acoustic number. The same could be said about his entry this year, Vinátta, a country song which chugs along at a pleasant enough pace. Halli is backed by two female singers, the three of them dressed in black sitting on the stage on high bar stools. Huge thick candles are spred around the stage which once again is bathed in purple for the fourth song of the evening. What initially sounded uninspiring in its recorded form actually came across very well on stage. Vinátta was refreshingly free from pretentions, no gimmicks, no effects, just three voices that suited one another perfectly, singing a gently meandering tune. It didn't exactly set the stage alight and may be a bit too bland to stick out and for the majority to go for tonight, but was by far one of the most accomplished performances. Not outstanding by any means, but will no doubt find its share of fans.

Song number 5: Unnur Eggertsdóttir  - Ég Syng! (I'm Singing!) (Music : Elíza Newman, Gísli Kristjánsson & Ken Rose / Lyrics: Eliza Newman, Gísli Kristjánsson & Hulda G. Geirsdóttir)

The penultimate song on offer tonight is the bouncy Ég Syng! performed by the bubbly Unnur Eggertsdóttir. On paper, this number has everything going for it - a playful, almost childishly simple tune that is lethal and will stick like glue, a flirtatious, soulful sound, much in the same vein as Regina Ósk's Hjartað Brennur last year. Underpinned by a heavy synth riff, this also has a slightly retro eighties sound in some respects and you'll be hard pressed not to succumb to the feelgood vibe. A raised arch stood in the middle of the stage, a platform which Unnur was perched atop in her orange flowing knee high dress. The backdrop complimented the colour of her outfit with yellow and orange hues. Flanked by three black clad backing singers, she quickly made her way down th the front of the stage, and delivered a spirited performance. Not the most spectacularly difficult song to sing, she nevertheless pulled it off with ease, really coming across as though she was enjoying herself on stage. Unnur made great use of the stage, and so did two female dancers that joined her, giving their own performance that left you breathless. The whole package just came together and worked perfectly. This was a pleasure to listen to and to watch and must be in the running for a spot in the final.

Song number 6: Erna Hrönn Ólafsdóttir - Augnablik (A Moment) (Music: Sveinn Rúnar Sigurðsson / Lyrics: Ingibjörg Gunnarsdóttir)

Last but not least to end the second heat of Söngvakeppnin is Erna Hrönn, last seen in the final with Ástin Mín Eina back in 2011. Now she returns for another attempt at getting to the final with the almost Meditteranean sounding ethnic ballad Augnablik. Blue was the signature colour for the last song of the night, with five male backing singers dressed in black. Erna Hrönn was perfectly suited to them, wearing a black, floor length overcoat in a slightly ethnic style over a floor length red dress. Augnablik is an elegant, delicate melody paired with driving, dramatic rhythms and mournful lyrics which tell of how she misses her love with every passing moment make for a great combination and should ensure that Erna Hrönn is up there tonight, fighting for a place in the final. As always, she delivered, and really knew how to work the camera. Fantastic vocals, and it as to be said, the best backing vocals of the night which were almost goosebump inducing as they heightened towards the climax of the song as they circled her. An awesome finish to the second heat, and it was easy to hear just why Erna Hrönn is in such demand both as a backing singer and now as a singer in her own right. Sheer delight.

The show: Þórhallur Gunnarsson and Guðrún Dís Emilsdóttir welcomed us back for the second of to Icelandic heats in the run up to the grand final next Saturday in the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík. As with yesterdays sho, viewers were treated to brief interviews backstage with all of the participants as they entered the green room to much applause and many showing signs of both joy and relief. While the voting was going on, we were treated to more footage and filming from rehearsals, lifting the lid on the preparations for tonight's show in a wacky, fun-filled stunt section of the show.

We returned to the studio, where the two hosts interviewed in familiar chat show style two of Iceland's premier female vocalists, none other than Selma, who brought Iceland  their first silver medal back in 1999 with All Out Of Luck, as well as representing Iceland in 2005 with If I Had Your Love. She was joined on stage by Regina Ósk, otherwise known as the other half of Eurobandið who became a firm fan favourite in the 2008 contest with the disco stomper This Is My Life. As was the case with yesterday's guests, the two spoke of their experiences with Eurovisio. Both told of fans coming to see them from such far flung paces as Israel and Australia and were obviously touched by such grand gestures. Regína Ósk also told of how she and Friðrik Ómar got to know one another and formed Eurobandið, the only Eurovision tribute group in the world acoording to herself, in 2006. The upcoming Eurovision party to be held on the 1st of February featuring Eurobandið, Hera Björk, Sigga Beinteinsdóttir and Páll Óskar, warming up for the grand final the following evening.

While waiting for the votes to be collated, we were treated to an alternative version of Selma's 1999 classic entry from a girl group called White Signal. A different, slightly toned down and ever so lacklustre performance that at least made the few tense minutes pass until the results were announced.

The voting/result :

Lines were opened as soon as the final tones of Augnablik had faded. Viewers had roughly 40 minutesto cast their votes, after which lines were closed and the same procedure as yesterday's semi were followed. There were shots backstage from the green room with the performers counting down the final two minutes of the voting, singing along to the tune of Gleðibankinn. The atmopshere was palpable, with all contestants awaiting the delivery of the verdict. Three envelopes were brought on stage with the hosts revealig one by one, which three artists had been succesfull in their bid for a spot in the final and just who had managed to make an impression tonight. 

The three qualifiers from this first heat are:

- Jógvan Hansen & Stefanía Svavarsdóttir

- Unnur Eggertsdóttir

- Halli Reynis

Magni and his entry Ekki Líta Undan was revealed as the wildcard to snag the final seventh spot in the final!

Iceland at the Eurovision Song Contest:  

One of the smallest countries in Europe, Iceland, has been a part of the Eurovision family since their debut back in 1986 with Icy and Gleðibankinn. Since then, broadcaster RÚV has sent many entries to Eurovision that, although failing to make an impact have become firm fan favourites, such as Páll Óskar and Minn Hinsti Dans with his daring presentation and choreography from 1997 or the little lady with the huge voice Sigga and her entry Nætur from 1994. We only have to go as far back as to 2009 to find the best Icelandic placing, which Jóhanna was responsible for, coming second with the melancholic ballad Is It True? Prior to that, Iceland have another silver medal as a result of Selma's joyous stage performance with All Out Of Luck in 1999. Other than that, Iceland have three top ten placings to their name and have qualified to the final for the last five years. 

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Source(s): 
EuroVisionary.com


 

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