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Iceland made their choice: it's Ari Ólafsson!

03 March 2018 at 23:50 CET
Ari Olafsson will represent Iceland in Lisbon RUV
Ari Ólafsson has won the Icelandic national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest, 'Söngvakeppnin 2018', and will represent the country in Lisbon with the song 'Our Choice'.

Söngvakeppnin 2018, the Icelandic national selection for Eurovision was organised by Icelandic broadcaster RÚV. The show was held in Laugardalshöll in Reykjavík and was hosted by Ragnhildur Steinunn Jónsdóttir, who is also one of the producers of the contest, as she has been in recent years. Twelve artists participated in Söngvakeppnin 2018 with Ari Ólafsson emerging as the winner and will represent Iceland in the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest!

About the show

As in previous years, the entries were performed in Icelandic during the semi-finals. Each show featured six acts and the three songs with the most votes proceeded to the final. In the final the six acts had the choice to perform their song in the language of their choice. Dagur and Heimlistónar kept Icelandic while the other four chose English.

The top two were determined through a combination of both public and jury votes while the ultimate winner, Ari, was selected solely by the public.

The finalists

These are the six participants in the final. The superfinalists are in bold:

  • Fókus Hópurinn - Battleline 5th
  • Áttan (Sonja Valdin & Egill Ploder) - Here For You 6th
  • Ari Ólafsson - Our Choice (winner)
  • Heimilistónar - Kúst og fæjó 3rd 
  • Aron Hannes - Gold Digger 4th
  • Dagur Sigurðsson - Í stormi 2nd

During the the final of Söngvakeppnin 2018, the winner of the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest Emmelie de Forest performed as well as Robin Bengtsson who represented Sweden in 2017. Svala who performed the song Paper for Iceland last year in Kyiv also made an appearance in the final.

About the winner 

Ari Ólafsson is a 19 year old Icelandic singer who grew up in Reykjavík although he lived in Florida USA when he was young. He started singing at a very early age and his angelic voice and stage charm soon landed him the lead role in the musical Oliver! at the national theatre of Iceland. He was only 11 years old and the person to discover him was director and Eurovision star Selma.

From then on he has been singing and acting professionally on all of Icelands biggest stages, continuing to land roles at theatres in Iceland. In 2011 he got noticed by the Norwegian megastar singer Sissel Kyrkjebo who invited to sing in several occasions and he moved on to study classical singing and has already been noticed for his extraordinary talents in the genre.

Ari competed in The Voice of Iceland in 2015 and was a backing vocalist in Söngvakeppnin last year and has sung with bands and concerts with well known Icelandic singers. This fall he has been accepted into the Royal Academy of music in London on a full scholarship where he will continue his singing studies. Ari has always been a big fan of Eurovision and dreamt of representing Iceland in the competition from and early age. He sings all kinds of music from classical to pop, rock and funk, and one of his favorite artists is Stevie Wonder. Ari is also a prolific impersonator and known to be able to master different accents and languages and loves to improvise both in the theatre and music.

Our Choice is written by Thorunn Clausen who also wrote the Icelandic Eurovision entry in 2011 performed by Sjonni’s friends Coming Home. She sings backing vocals and plays the piano in Our Choice.

Iceland in the Eurovision Song Contest 

Iceland made its Eurovision debut in 1986 and is yet to win the contest. In 1999 Selma finished second with her song All Out Of Luck and ten years later 2009, Yohanna equalled this success with her ballad Is It True? Iceland boasts strong viewing figures for the Eurovision Song Contest. In 2016 the country delivered the largest viewing share of all 42 participating countries with 95.3% of those watching TV in the country watching the Grand Final.

Ari will perform Our Choice in the first half of the First Semi-Final of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest on Tuesday 8th May in Lisbon.