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Puddle punks for Eurovision. Posted by on Feb 20, 2014 in Icelandic culture, Icelandic customs, Uncategorized

pp005Eurovision is drawing near again. I admit I’m a fan so of course I’ve been eagerly following the Icelandic finals, especially since Icelanders are quite unpredictable in what they’ll want to send. Most countries have some kind of a pattern – you know that certain ones will send a girl in a miniskirt/supposedly sexy guy singing a lovesong, some trust their ethnic appeal, some will have a group of completely unnecessary dancers/acrobats or any combination of the above. Well, Iceland may send one of those, or they may send a diva with a squeaky voice who dials God onstage (link). If anything Iceland is always one of the wild cards of the Eurovision Song Contest.

This year is therefore a surprise, which is no surprise because a surprise is what’s to be expected: Pollapönk (= puddle punk)  (= my bad – I mixed the words polli and pollur: the correct translation is “Punk for Little Kids”, please see the comments section for an explanation) and their song Enga fordóma (= no prejudice). They actually have a reputation of being a children’s band: the the reason they decided to start playing together was to make music for both grown-ups and small ones and at least two of the band members are kindergarten teachers. They began in 2006 and have so far given out three albums. Another interesting move by them was to include a MP, Óttarr Proppé from Björt framtíð (= bright future*) as one of their backing vocalists, but only time will tell whether or not they can actually send him to represent Iceland in this year’s competition. If the rules allow for it he’ll be the first MP ever to represent their country in the Eurovision.

The song itself is really happy and cute and there’s a good chance they’ll perform in Icelandic at the main competition, so let’s look at what Pollapönk is actually singing. You can listen to the song here.

Hey! Lífið er of stutt fyrir skammsýni / Úr vegi skal nú rutt allri þröngsýni
Hlustið undireins / Inn við bebebebebebe… beinið erum við eins
Og það bobobobobo-borgar sig að brosa

Hey! Life’s too short for short-sightedness / Out of the way shall be removed all narrow-mindedness
Listen immediately / In the bobobobobobo… bones we’re all the same
And it papapapapa-pays to smile

Burtu með fordóma / Og annan eins ósóma
Verum öll samtaka / Þið verðið að meðtaka
Þótt ég hafi talgalla þá á ekki að uppnefna
Þetta er engin algebra / Öll erum við eins

Away with prejudice / And other such shame
Let’s all agree / You’ll have to accept
Though I have a speech impediment I shouldn’t be nicknamed
It’s no algebra / All of us are the same

Hey! Hvort sem þú ert stór eða smávaxin
Hvort sem þú ert mjór eða feitlaginn
Hlustið undireins
Inn við bebebebebebe… beinið erum við eins
Og það bobobobobo-borgar sig að brosa

Hey! Whether you’re big or short
Whether you’re slim or fat
Listen immediately
In the bobobobobobo… bones we’re all the same
And it papapapapa… pays to smile

*Iceland indeed has a political party called Bright Future (link).

pp007

Not everyone is 100% behind this year’s song though: “According to what’s heard in the community and because children vote the most, I’m a bit afraid that Pollapönk shall win though I’m not that taken by the song. Then again Pollapönk has a beautiful message and are kindergarten teachers which is a low income job in Iceland. They’ve got beautiful outfits so everything’s on their side.”

I’m really looking forward to the competition, as always! This time it’ll be held in a country that’s so near us – well, as near as any country can possibly be to a small island in the middle of the Atlantic – that I’m seriously considering visiting during the Eurovision celebration weeks. I still remember how it was like when the competition was held in my previous hometown Helsinki, how the streets were crowded with Eurovision visitors, music and art and an unusual, light, joyful mood. I would not mind feeling that again.

How about you, any Eurovision fans reading this blog? Any favourites so far? Shall I perhaps meet you in Copenhagen? 😀

 

hulda078This time Hulda won’t recommend a band as such, rather a Eurovision act that never actually made it to the competition itself. And what a waste that was.

Eldgos (= volcano eruption)(link), performed by Matti Matt and Erla Björg Káradóttir has everything in it to make it an amazing Eurovision song: faux-metal madness complete by national dress inspired outfits, smoke, light show in the style of Ragnarök and a dramatic soprano representing a volcano (I’m not kidding, every time she comes on I roll around in hysterics and I assure you I’ve seen this video so many times I should be used to it by now)… correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t that the perfect recipe for a winning song?

Well, I admit Sjonni’s Friends and their song Aftur heim (= back home) did deserve to win. It’s a beautiful song and the only thing that I was disappointed for was their decision to translate the song to English for the actual competition. Translations rarely do honour to the original, and this one was no exception to that. Therefore dear readers, the original song shall be another piece of Eurovision music that Hulda recommends today! It can be found here, and lyrics to it, complete with actual English translation, here.

 

All photos in this entry belong to me.

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About the Author: hulda

Hi, I'm Hulda, originally Finnish but now living in the suburbs of Reykjavík. I'm here to help you in any way I can if you're considering learning Icelandic. Nice to meet you!


Comments:

  1. corin:

    I confess Eurovision fare (the songs rather than the festival aspect)is generally not my thing, a bit like a lot civic sculpture. I did enjoy ‘Mundu eftir mér’ in the original icelandic, wasn’t so fussed with the way it sounded in “Never forget”.

    I watched a woman, (Norwegien by default because she didn’t sound Swedish and nothing like Danish to my untrained ear) on Frettir talking about how icelandic entries to Eurovision were “uneven” (how did that go down!) – with a quick qualification that the artists themselves were all of a good calliber

    And that the icelandic (like the finnish?) entries were too nationalistic, in the sense of being parochial (? maybe translation faliure) and that the comparitive success of the other Scandanavian countries was because they had a “continental” feel to them. Sounds pretty wretched if the blander and more homogenised your product,

    Is this the state of affairs and/or is it all block-voting scandanavian politics?

    • hulda:

      @corin I would say that the answer is a bit of both: to do well in the Eurovision the song has to cater to as large an audience as possible, therefore continental style poppy love songs are often clear winners (there are exceptions to this, of course, such as Lordi :D).

      I can’t deny the existence of an obvious Nordic block though, even statistics prove that the Nordic countries vote for each other a LOT. Whether this is just helping out the favourite neighbours or similar taste in music is unclear but it does indeed happen.

      I’m almost certain Icelanders don’t mind someone pointing out that their entries to the contest are uneven – they are, on many scales. Firstly style-wise and secondly by contest popularity, Iceland typically sends a hit or a miss, nothing in between.

  2. Icy:

    Hi, this is a great article, but I would like to correct something: The “polla” in in Pollapönk is not derived from “pollur” (puddle), but from “pollar” (from “polli”, little boy, although in the plural it is often extended to a mixed group of kids). I’d translate the name as “Punk for Little Ones”.

    You hear the difference in the pronunciation of the double ll between “pollur”, where it comes out like a “dl” sound with the tongue pressed against the back of the upper teeth and the tip protruding slightly between the upper and lower teeth, and “polli” in which the rolled ll is made with the tongue curled slightly back and touching the alveolar ridge, is more drawn out and the preceding O-sound is as well.

    • hulda:

      @Icy Oh my, you’re right and this is mildly embarrassing for me… 😀 I’ll go edit a correction to the text. Thank you for the tip, and a huge big thank you for the explanation because knowing what can go wrong in translation and why is a massive help to a language learner.