Monty’s Eurovision Countdown 2024 Part 17 – Iceland

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With domestic pressure to boycott Eurovision 2024, Iceland played us a game of will they, won’t they, keeping us hanging until the last minute before confirming their participation, despite running their selection process as planned. The shadow of the Israel-Gaza war at the opposite end of Europe remains a long one.

The shadow fell over the selection itself with the inclusion of Bashar Murad, a queer Palestinian artist from East Jerusalem. Although his song did not have a political message his nationality inevitably prompted debate. When it came to the final two songs in Iceland’s Super Final Bashar was poised against Eurovision alumnus Hera Bjork, who triumphed with a sizable swing of public votes coalescing behind her and against Bashar, who had comfortably led both the public and jury vote until then.

Hera’s a well-loved fan-favourite and as a performer you couldn’t ask for a safer pair of hands. Her song is the exact upbeat pop we’ve come to expect from her, though to my ear a rather more lightweight version of it that we’ve previously heard. Lyrically it’s a little awkward, contriving a tale of fear of heights as a metaphor for caution to fall in love and risk another heartbreak. Musically it’s in the vein of a dance-pop anthem by [insert female pop star’s name here] featuring [and DJ’s name here], only it’s quite a bit less anthemic.

Five PointsFrankly, I think Iceland’s missed a trick. Eurovision is never just about the song. Small p politics is never far away, and sending a Palestinian artist with a genuinely interesting song would have ensured the Icelandic entry garnered the rare mainstream press attention that catapults only a small handful of songs onto the front-pages during Contest week – every news outlet would have wanted to interview him, creating the audience awareness a Dana International, Jamala, or Kalush Orchestra can create. God love Hera Bjork – and I adore her – but Iceland has gone from a top 10 contender to a very likely non-qualification. Ditch that Super Final! Now!

 

Photo: Anna Maggy/EBU

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