Reykjavik Excursions Blog
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Svala sings for Iceland

9/5/2017 Blog


We take Eurovision very seriously here, even though we do not always like to admit it to ourselves. 99% of those who watch TV say they watch Eurovision, but many people still like to complain about it. They talk about who annoying the music is and then, of course, they complain about Eastern Europe giving Eastern European countries more points than us. Then they complain if the Scandinavian countries do not give us enough points. They secretly love it; they are just in denial.

Except when we are in second place, which has happened twice (1999 and 2009). We are very proud of our Eurovision victories, even though they are small.

Páll Óskar was the first openly gay contestant. The year after Dana International won, which we take a little bit credit for – would she have won or even participated if Páll Óskar had not competed the year before? We like to believe not.

As stated before, in 1999 we were in second place after Sweden. It came as a complete surprise to us because we usually hover around the 16th place (apart from in 1990 when we were in 4th place which also came as a surprise to us). However, while country after country gave us more points than we had expected, we became competitive and were really miffed Sweden won.

We learnt it the hard way not to get our hopes too high since we started competing in 1986. We were convinced we would take the competition by a storm and win it by a landslide. We did not. We ended in 16th place. We were so offended we did not win, we contemplated not to compete the next year in protest, but thankfully we reconsidered. Since then it has become one of the biggest party nights of the year – everyone watches Eurovision. Even the ones who say they hate it.

In 2009 we were in second place again. If Alexander Rybak had not competed with his infuriatingly catchy song, we definitely would have won with our 218 points. No one had before or has since gotten as many votes as he did that year or 15,89% of all points.

Moreover, this year, Svala has made history because she and her father are the only father and daughter to have competed in Eurovision. Her father participated in 1995.

Since we are so few (340.000 or so), we have had to send the same people more than once.

Sigga Beinteins went three times, in 1990, 1992 and 1994. Eiríkur Hauks has gone twice, in 1986 and 2007. Gréta Salóme has also gone twice, in 2012 and 2016. Selma Björnsdóttir competed for us in 1999 and 2005. Jónsi went twice as well, in 2004 and 2012 (with Gréta Salóme).

However, sometimes we like to make fun of things, Silvía Nótt, who competed in 2006 wasn‘t popular at all. Ágústa Eva, who played Silvía Nótt was in character the whole time she was there, and Silvía truly was a horrible person. People do not seem to have gotten the joke, and she was booed when she came on stage. Not unsurprisingly, she did not get through to the finals. However, Ukraine arrived with a similar act the year after and ended in second place.

If Svala does not get through to the finals on Saturday (which is, of course, an impossibility), it would not be the first time. We were not allowed to compete in 1998 because Páll Óskar landed in the 20th place of 24 the year before. We did not participate in 2002, for the same reason: we were in 22nd place (last place) with Norway the year before. We had been in the last place once before, in 1989.

We failed to qualify for the finals in 2005, 2006 and 2007, 2015 and last year.

Last year marked the 30 years since we began competing and Páll Óskar wrote a song called “We win in advance”. Icelanders really do love Eurovision, even though we pretend we do not. And we're always convinced we'll win, or at least be in second place.

We recommend you turn on your TV tonight at 20:00 (ECT (19:00 in Iceland)) and cheer on Svala; she will be the 13th on stage, after Moldova, who are sending the same band they sent in 2010.

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