This is the preview of the Nordic swing of the weekend’s cluster of national selections. Iceland and Estonia both have long established national finals and are taking place on the evening of Saturday 29 February.
Estonia: Eesti Laul 2020
There has been some criticism of Eesti Laul this year among the fandom, though I am not sure why exactly. (The sound quality perhaps wasn’t as good as it could have been in the semi-finals so many of the vocals didn’t come across well – so maybe that was partly the reason.) The Estonian national selection tends to have a lot of radio/Spotify-friendly tracks, mixed in with some curveballs and usually some Estonian schlager as well. This year has definitely seen that pattern. Following two semi-finals, the final has 12 competing songs. After a 50/50 jury and public vote, the top 3 will go forward to a televote only “super final”.
My favourite: Synne Valtri feat. Väliharf “Majakad”
Speaking of schlager, the grand dame of the Estonian variety is back in the final again along with her two sailor bears. Synne was my favourite Eesti Laul entry last year, and she is my favourite once again this year. This is full on schlager, all in Estonian, and I’m loving it. Has zero chance of winning sadly but will be on my Eurovision 2020 national final favourites Spotify playlist I am sure!
The favourite: Jaagup Tuisk “Beautiful Lie”
Taking a commanding, though not insurmountable, lead in the betting odds and fan polls is young Jaagup Tuisk and his song “Beautiful Lie”. It’s both an artist and song style that seems to do well in shows like Eesti Laul or indeed Sweden’s Melfest. It certainly appeals to a certain demographic (teenage/young girls) who will vote in large numbers in these national finals. The question is whether that fanbase carries over into the contest proper in Rotterdam – sometimes it does, but other times it does not (remember the low public vote for Benjamin Ingrosso!)
Iceland: Söngvakeppnin 2020
Iceland’s national final last year brought us one of the most memorable (and controversial) of the contest’s acts and it is well possible that they could provide us with one of the most talked about (though not controversial in the way Hatari were). Overall, whichever of these two acts win (and it seems highly likely it will be one of these two, even though there are three other artists competing), will certainly stand out – though I think one is more likely than the other to finally get Iceland’s first win.
The previous favourite: Iva “Oculis Videre”
The original favourite, and still very much in with a chance, is this haunting, almost Gregorian-feeling, Icelandic popera number (and everyone was pleased to see the decision was made to keep it in Icelandic for the final). She is half Dutch, which might be a help if she makes it to Rotterdam. She would be the first blind singer at Eurovision for quite some years – though not the very first as both Germany and Spain have had blind representatives in the 90s/early 2000s.
The new favourite and viral success: Daði & Gagnamagnið “Think About Things”
This quirky and catchy retro synthpop track has gone viral, incuding being picked up and retweeted by Russell Crowe and there have been numerous pieces in national media about it.
There are some who have said that the sudden virality of the song with big stars picking up on it may be connected to the upcoming Eurovision film out on Netflix later this year, where the story follows the Icelandic entry. I do think perhaps that is a little cynical to be true though!
Whatever the situation, it’s undeniably very catchy – and I love that late 70s/early 80s synthpop sound – yet it feels very current at the moment, with the success of the TV series Stranger Things and its soundtrack. Were this to win the national final, I do think this could give Iceland one of their best chances to finally get their first win at Eurovision.
As always, the times and links to shows are available on my Eurovision 2020 season calendar page.