It’s safe to say that Iceland have been in a Eurovision slump lately, with the most recent qualification back in 2014. The nation have had a strong few years, with the highlights being two second place finishes in their history at the contest, but never a win. Could this year be the year? The nation selected the group Hatari with the song Hatrið mun sigra which has become one of the most talked about entries of this year’s competition. Is this the shake-up Iceland needed?
Song + Vocals
I’m not too sure where to start with this one. If you have read my reviews before, you will know that I like to keep things quite balanced, for every bad critique there is one good, and for this song, there are both positives and negatives.
When I first heard this entry, I truly could not understand why so many Eurofans (ie, the generally pop loving fiends) were backing this, and even calling it a Eurovision winner. Realistically, the vocal style isn’t the most popular at Eurovision, and is divisive to say the least. This song will not be for everyone and that is clear. That being said, the song has grown on me since then, although I still haven’t reached that same level of hype.
Let’s take away the vocals for a minute, and we’re left with a very industrial, synthpop beat which is both edgy and risky, and not like anything we’ve heard at Eurovision or at least that I can remember. It’s an intense beat, but the intensity of the song goes up a level with the vocals which is bound to be the part that puts some viewers off. If the whole song was in the screamo style, surely this would not have been as hyped as it has been, but I think there is an interesting contrast of vocals from verse to chorus, and this balance has been what has slowly won me over.
The verses are quite harsh, short and sharp but they are contrasted with such a light and airy chorus, and even though it’s still backed by the same industrial beat, it changes the atmosphere of the song completely.
In terms of their live performance, I think that this song does allow for some vocal flaws and yes, it’s not exactly like the studio version, but really it doesn’t have to be as this song arguably relies just as much on stage performance, and I would even say that novelty factor takes the focus away from vocals. An unplanned note live on stage wouldn’t affect this performance.
Act + Performance
What an interesting act Iceland have selected. Really, Hatari were the act that Iceland needed, as it was getting all a bit too safe and despite having decent songs over the last few years, decent wasn’t enough to get them into the final. If they don’t make it into the final this year, at least the nation has put themselves out there with something that no other nation is doing.
Visually, I suspect we will get something that is reminiscent of the national final staging, likely with props and we can absolutely expect the BDSM style outfits which have become a distinguishing feature for Hatari. I think the use of lighting can really enhance this performance, with lots of contrast between light and dark to match the two vocal tones we hear through the song.
This is the risk that Iceland needed to take, and at first I wasn’t sure it would pay off, but I’ve reached the ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ stage with the Eurovision community to agree that yes, we will probably be seeing Hatari in the final. I would have made the assumption that this type of song wouldn’t fare well in the jury vote, but let’s remember it also won the jury vote in Iceland, and with that said I think generally it will appeal to some, and not to others.