Icelandic Language Blog

Eurovision – Iceland loves it! Posted by on May 21, 2015 in Icelandic culture


I am what I am by Helgi Halldórsson at Flickr. Pictured the ever so great Páll Óskar, one of the greatest artists Iceland ever sent to Eurovision!

It’s that time of the year again. People are slowly migrating towards the magic box in the living room, beers are cooling and grills are almost hot enough for the first course. There may be flags of each person’s favourite country, if the viewers are young there may well be a drinking game as well. You can’t say that spirits were rising: they’re already somewhere near the ceiling and aren’t coming down anytime soon –

– that is, if Iceland doesn’t fall from the semifinals. Yes, we’re not even at the grand final yet but looking at the locals you wouldn’t believe it although rest assured that Icelanders can always party harder. When it’s finally time for the big show the anticipation would make you think that something on world championship level was going on.

(EDIT: Nooooooooooooooo Iceland didn’t place for the grand final! First time since 2007 that Iceland’s not competing all the way to the end… it’s a bad year for the Nordics in general but at least Sweden and Norway are still in the game. Fight fight fight!)

I’m not even properly kidding here. The days around Eurovision are a constant buzz, expectations, hopes, eternal optimism (because Iceland is, in the Icelandic opinion, best in the world in everything it’s only a matter of time before they win the Eurovision). Advertisement time on the tv is more expensive than usual, yet every business that can will try to get theirs in. While the show is on very little happens elsewhere on the telly and why should it, no one would be watching that anyway.

The Icelandic dream of Eurovision victory isn’t entirely far-fetched either, going by the statistics. It’s placed second twice so far and been among the 15 best total 13 times, and let’s just say that the last time Iceland placed second the victory was close, so very close… 218 points for Is It True? performed by Yohanna (link) is quite impressive a score too. Alas, that year Norway sent in Alexander Rybak with Fairytale and he not only won, he made a record of most points ever given to a country. Icelanders still speak of that as an unfair defeat although I haven’t exactly found out what the unfairness was, just that Norway “stole” the victory from Iceland.


(132/365) Eurovision win by Sarah at Flickr.

What are we sending in this year? María Ólafsdóttir singing the song Unbroken (link). I quite like the tune, it’s very Iceland-typical in my opinion, a song that makes you smile despite yourself. My only gripe is that the lyrics are in English. Iceland has a regrettable habit of singing in English, even when the song itself was originally in Icelandic and had cleared the Icelandic semifinals in the mother tongue. I was especially unhappy about Sjónni’s Friends song Aftur heim being translated into Coming Home, although I admit it’s a very sweet song in both languages… here it is again, in memory of Sjónni himself who sadly passed away before ever seeing his song in the Eurovision competition.

To be honest though I’m not sure Iceland winning would necessarily be a good thing. Iceland is tiny and for the life of me I cannot think of a large enough a stage that could take on something of Eurovision scale. Building something that size would be quite useless too because what would happen after the competition was over, how would you find purpose for a building far too big, the population considered?


Hera Björk, Island by Aktiv I at Flickr. Another unforgettable Icelandic Eurovision star.

Oh well, it’s not like that’s ever going to stop anyone. If Iceland is known for anything it’s clearing unthinkable hurdles, and even when it places second everyone agrees Iceland is the best of the world anyway. Happy Eurovision to those of you who watch it – good luck Australia, first time in Eurovision this year (yes, Australia, no there’s no typo, I do mean the huge country below the continent of Asia) – and everyone, have a great time! Gangi ykkur vel!

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Sometimes great Eurovision performances are forgotten, which is a shame and must be righted immediately. Here you are, some of Iceland’s best from different decades.

Þú og þeir (Sókrates) by Beathoven in 1988 (link). Awesome hair- and mustache styles! XD

Sjúbídu by Anna Mjöll in 1996 (link). Very danceable!

Congratulations by Silvia Knight in 2006 (link). Her jokes went somewhat misunderstood and she became disliked – I’m afraid that really is booing at the beginning of her performance. But hey, it’s the loudest booing in the history of Eurovision, the kind Russia can only dream about. Iceland’s still the top of the world!

Ég á Líf by Eyþór Ingi in 2013 (link). Linking to the official video because it’s so beautiful.

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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!