Iceland has spoken clearly! Svala will represent the island nation at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest with the song Paper. Twelve acts battled for the ticket to Kyiv, eventually a jury and viewers at home decided upon the winner of what may just have been the biggest national final Iceland has ever seen.
Iceland's road to Kyiv
For the contestants of Söngvakeppnin 2017, the journey started earlier this year. During two semi-finals, seven acts qualified for tonight's final:
- Aron Hannes - Tonight
- Arnar Jónsson & Rakel Pálsdóttir
- Aron Brink - Hypnotised
- Hildur - Bammbaramm
- Rúnar Eff - Make Your Way Back Home
- Svala - Paper
- Daði Freyr Pétursson - Is This Love?
In the semi-finals all songs were performed in Icelandic, for tonight's final it was up to the contestants themselves to decide in which language they wanted to sing. As such, Paper was originally performed as Ég veit það. Curious? The Icelandic and English versions of all the songs are available online at Söngvakeppnin website.
After all acts performed, viewers and seven jury members were asked to vote. Before the votes were presented, 2015 Eurovision Song Contest winner Måns Zelmerlöw performed, clearly letting many Icelandic hearts beat just a little faster. Alexander Rybak, Norway's charming 2009 Eurovision Song Contest winner, also made an appearance, playing a short violin duet with Grata Salóme before playing his signature winning song Fairytale.
After jury votes and televotes were added up, the top-two performed again to let viewers at home vote again. Svala's Paper enjoyed a significant lead with 70,017 votes, while Daði Freyr Pétursson had to try win Iceland's hearts by performing Is This Love? for the second time with just 47,414 votes.
After Måns Zelmerlöw performed his 2015 winning song Heroes, it was time to reveal Iceland's hero for Kyiv...
Not entirely unexpected, Svala managed to uphold her lead, beating Daði Freyr Pétursson, and thereby taking the Iceland ticket to Kyiv.
Svala Björgvinsdóttir (1977), who lives in Los Angeles, already scored her first number one hit at the age of 9, performing a Christmas song with her father, singer and former Eurovision participant Bo Halldórs, who represented Iceland at the 1995 contest.
In 2006, Svala started the electronic music band Steed Lord with her brother and Einar Egilsson, who would later become Svala's husband. In 2008, the band had a traffic accident while on route to Reykjavik's airport. While all band members, including Svala, were seriously injured, no lives were lost.
In 2012, Svala launched her own clothing line. In 2015, she appeared as one of the four judges on the Icelandic version of The Voice.
Paper was written and composed by Svala herself, Einar Egilsson, Lester Mendez and Lily.
Iceland at the Eurovision Song Contest
Iceland first entered the Eurovision Song Contest in 1986, and this year marks the 31st time Iceland takes part in the contest. Iceland finished second in 1999 and 2009, but is yet to win and host the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time.
Last year Greta Salóme represented her country for the second time, with Hear Them Calling. She finished 14th in the first Semi-Final, not enough to make it to the Grand Final. Tonight, she had the honour of opening the show.
Should you ever be quizzed about Eurovision ratings: In 2016, Iceland delivered the largest viewing share of all 42 participating countries; a whopping 95.3%.