Like every year the Icelandic national pre decision Söngvakeppnin is made full of enthusiasm, even if the Icelandic entries did not reach the Grand Finals in the past three years anymore. Nevertheless, it’s going to be the 31st entry in the Eurovision Song Contest this year. The Icelandic broadcaster RÚV has put a lot of effort to make it a real Icelandic music festival with three live shows and also invited guest stars like Robin Bengtsson (Sweden 2017) and Emmelie de Forrest (Denmark 2013). Out of six finalists the Icelandic public and an international jury has voted in a tight race for Ari Ólafsson with “Our Choice” to represent Iceland in Lisbon at the ESC.
The 19-years-old singer Ari Ólafsson was born in Reykjavik in 1988. He is a classically trained singer who was spotted by ESC singer Selma Björnsdorttir (1999, 2005) when he was 11 years old. Selma brought him on stage offered him the lead role in the musical “Oliver”. Ari has also taken part in “The Voice” in Iceland, so the Icelanders know him already. In autumn he is going to continue his music career in London at the Royal Academy of music.
The composer is Thorunn Clausen, who is the wife of the deceased singer Sjonni Brink. Sjonni intended to represent Iceland in Düsseldorf 2011. His surprising death has initialized his friends to replace him as “Sjonni’s Friends” with “Coming Home” and made a 20th place.
Ari’s entry “Our Choice” is a decent ballad about supporting each other instead of being against others, so we all have a choice to make a better world. Starting at #2 in the Semi Final 1 is probably not the best position. Nevertheless, the very sympathetic singer will impress with his beautiful voice and charisma. Even if the song appears a bit conservative, which maybe could have better chances ten years ago. Considering all the competitors with medium fast songs and exchangeable melodies and lyrics this song might shine out all the others.
Top 10: 5
Chance for Top 10: 16%
Chances for Final: 53%
The Icelanders have always followed the ESC with great enthusiasm, it was broadcasted a long time ago in Iceland, but they had to wait until 1986 when the technical preconditions were ready for a live transmission. So Iceland made its debut with "Gleðibankinn" by the group Icy. This song has already become a cult entry and it's being sung on almost every Eurovision party, especially in Iceland.
Iceland could reach the final 24 times and reached the Top10 five times! The chances to reach one of the Top10 places are 16% and to reach the Grand Final is at 55% (since 2004). Two times Iceland has made the fabulous second place in 1999 and 2009. In recent years Iceland was able to qualify for the Grand Finals since 2008. Unfortunately they did not in the last three years.
The most fascinating fact is that the creativity in this small country with a little bit more than 320.000 inhabitants is so enormously high, that music from Iceland has become so popular. The most popular Icelandic singers in general are Björk, Sigur Rós, Mezzoforte and GusGus (Daníel Augúst Haraldsson, 1989 with “Það Sem Enginn Sér).