Iceland is one of the countries I’m usually rooting for in the Eurovision Song Contest. Though the country has been a part of the competition for almost 30 years, it has yet to win, coming closest in 2009 and 1999 as runner-up both years. Although Iceland has been on a good streak recently, qualifying for the final each year from 2008 onward. Will this year’s entry “Unbroken” by María Ólafsdóttir continue that trend? Let’s take a listen:
There are a lot of elements to this song that can work. Although lyrically simple, “Unbroken” doesn’t fall into the Eurovision trap of a simple title such as “Shine”, “Smile”, or “Warrior”. There is a modern pop sensibility about the track, picking a thesis of sorts and meandering around the topic without diving too deeply. This song could appear on the radio and not seem completely out of the place, although not necessarily standing out in the audio landscape.
All hope is not lost for Iceland. This entry is a solid first draft and the country has not shied away from tinkering with entries between selection and the semi-finals. First, Ólafsdóttir will need a different outfit and shoes—she is reading too similarly to Eurovision’s 2013 winner Emmelie de Forest. The lyrics could use another pass, as the wordiness is making some of the sections come off marble-mouthed. Ólafsdóttir’s vocals are pretty solid, and should get stronger once the song takes its final shape.
As it is at the moment, I don’t think Iceland will win the Contest, but the country has one of the stronger entries in the field so far. Here’s hoping they make the right choices between now and May to improve their chances and keep their qualifying streak unbroken.