Eurovision 2017 Entry: Iceland — Svala — Paper

In an extremely crowded field, I’m not sure Svala can defend this thesis.

Country: Iceland
Song Title: “Paper”
Artist: Svala
First Semi-Final: Position #13
Last year’s entry:Hear Them Calling” — Greta Salóme (DNQ – 14th Place, SF1)

Despite bringing one of the most colorful entries in recent history — Pollapönk’s “No Prejudice” in 2014 — and coming in second place (behind Norway’s record-setting “Fairytale” win) in 2009, Iceland has had a pretty dismal run at Eurovision. They’ve DNQed five times since 2005, with an average placement of 15th in their seven Grand Final appearances. Can Svala get Iceland back to the Grand Final, or will she bring her country its third DNQ in a row?

We’re split on this entry; Ben loves it and has confidence it’ll qualify, but I’m not so sure. I like Svala’s voice, and enjoy the first half of this song. There’s just no respite from the chorus, though, which clocks in at 35 seconds, and is pretty much the exact same thing each of the three times we hear it. The metaphors also become unwieldy as they pile up; “You cut through through / I’m stuck like glue to you” is clever, but I cringe just about every time I hear “a thousand words for you.” Last but not least, I can’t get behind this tempo; it’s too slow to be a dance a song, but the second verse and beat prevent this from being classified as a ballad. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this live acoustic performance makes me wonder what this track would sound like as a country song.

There’s no respite for Iceland, either, in this first semi-final. Sweden, Australia, Azerbaijan, and Belgium all seem like locks to qualify, leaving six spots up for grabs. Cyprus, Latvia, Armenia, Moldova, and Montenegro all occupy a similar soundspace, and I’ve placed Iceland as the weakest entry of that bunch. Given all the musical problems I have with this entry, and the strength of the crowd in this semi-final, I just don’t see how Svala edges her way in.

Eurovision Song Contest First Semi-Final
May 9, 2017

AlbaniaArmeniaAustraliaAzerbaijanBelgium • Cyprus
Czech RepublicFinlandGeorgia • GreeceIcelandLatvia
MoldovaMontenegroPoland • Portugal • Slovenia • Sweden

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