Image credit: RÚV – Baldur Kristjánsson
Söngvakeppnin returns to our screens again on Saturday 18th February, with a fresh crop of artists hoping to represent Iceland at Eurovision 2023.
Last year saw Systur perform ‘Með hækkandi sól’ and progress to the Grand Final of the 2022 contest. Could this year see Iceland obtain their best result since Yoanna‘s ‘Is It True’ in 2009?
All semi finalists must perform their songs in Icelandic. Two of the five competing artists in each semi will be chosen by televote to progress to the final, with broadcaster RÚV reserving the right to choose a wildcard act if they wish. The finalists will then have the option to perform their songs in either English or Icelandic.
Read on to find out all you need to know about the artists and songs competing in Semi Final 1 of Söngvakeppnin.
Bragi – ‘Stundum snýst heimurinn gegn þér’
Bragi (Arnar Bragi Bergsson) is a 29-year-old Swedish-Icelandic singer who is perhaps more known for his work on the football pitch than onstage! Since 2013, he has played for football clubs in both Sweden and Iceland and has been playing as a midfielder for Gothenburg-based football team Västra Frölunda for just over a year. Despite his busy schedule as a footballer, Bragi has enjoyed success in song contests before, placing third in the fourteenth season of Swedish Idol in 2018.
‘Stundum snýst heimurinn gegn þér’ (‘Sometimes the World’s Against You’) is a mid-tempo ballad that wouldn’t seem out of place at Melodifestivalen. This is perhaps unsurprising since the song was penned alongside Swedish songwriters Rasmus Palmgren, Aniela Eklund and – of course – Joy Deb, who helped compose ‘You’ by Robin Stjernberg and ‘Heroes’ by Måns Zelmerlöw. Its lyrics deal with persevering through difficult times with the person you love. With such a team behind him, could Bragi take to the stage at Liverpool? You can listen to his song below:
Móa – ‘Glötuð ást’
Móa (Móeiður Júníusdóttir) is a singer who originally found her roots in jazz and lounge music in the early 90s. However, she soon moved into electronica music, signing with the American hip-hop label Tommy Boy Records and releasing the album ‘Universal’ in 1999, which garnered moderate success in the European club scenes. Her striking resemblance to the actress Uma Thurman also resulted in her modelling for Calvin Klein Jeans at the time. Following the release of the album ‘Zeitgeist’ with the band Lace (consisting of Móa and her brothers), she abruptly disappeared from the music scene, taking a long break to focus on her studies in theology and education at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik.
With her song ‘Glötuð ást’ (‘Lose This Dream’), Móa is ready to make her mark on the Icelandic music scene once again. A ballad with an almost chanson feel to it, its lyrics deal with a relationship that is falling apart and the realisation that – although both parties will be hurt – moving on is for the best. You can listen to her song below:
Benedikt – ‘Þora’
Benedikt (Benedikt Gylfason) is a 20-year-old singer-songwriter, dancer and producer whose music career has just started taking off. He graduated from Menntaskóli í Tónlist in 2021, where he performed one of his own songs during the graduation ceremony and is currently studying singing and jazz piano, having played the piano since he was just 6.
‘Þora’ (‘Brave Face’) is a catchy synthpop number all about picking yourself up and putting on your “brave face” when you’re ready to give up. It was written alongside Hildur Kristín Stefánsdóttir who is best known as a member of the Icelandic music group Rökkurró. You can listen to Benedikt’s song below:
Celebs – ‘Dómsdags dans’
Celebs are a band consisting of Hrafnkell Hugi Vernharðsson (Keli), Katla Vigdís Vernharðsdóttir, and Valgeir Skorri Vernharðss. They released their album ‘Tálvon hinna efnilegu’ in 2020.
‘Dómsdags dans’ (‘Doomsday Dancing’) was written specifically for Söngvakeppnin and was produced by Árni Árnason who is best known as the bass player for British band The Vaccines. An upbeat, indie electropop number, it is about letting loose and dancing even when the world feels as if it’s about to end. Although they will perform in Icelandic in the semi final, Celebs have been open about wanting to perform the song in English should they be lucky enough to make it to Liverpool. You can hear their song as it will sound in Semi Final 1 below:
Diljá – ‘Lifandi inni í mér’
Diljá (Diljá Pétursdóttir) first became known to Icelandic audiences at the tender age of 12, when she performed in Iceland’s Got Talent in 2015. Now, still only 19-years-old, she is making her Söngvakeppnin debut.
‘Lifandi inni í mér’ (‘Power’) is a song that starts slowly but builds up into a techno beat with an anthemic chorus. Its lyrics are about letting go of someone who once held power over you and empowering yourself. Will Diljá capitivate viewers once again in her semi final? You can listen to her song below:
So now we’ve met the five artists taking part in Semi Final 1 of Söngvakeppnin, which two artists will qualify for the final and who will be heading home? You can watch the semi on the RÚV website from 19:45 GMT/20:45 CET.