Aftermath 2019 (1): Hatari helps break Iceland’s longest non-qualification streak

Hatari 2 Iceland Eurovision 2019
Iceland first rehearsal 2019 Photo by: Thomas Hanses

Iceland’s longest non-qualification streak is now over, with their most radical entry proving to be a massive hit with the public. Representatives Hatari not only helped to break the non-qualification streak, but also gave Iceland a Top 10 finish which Iceland had not achieved since Yohanna in 2009. The group finished in 10th place overall, with 232 points.

The song ‘Hatrid mud Sigra’ had a strong visual impact, labelled as “the BDSM-act from Iceland”. And though the song appears to be filled with hatred, it is not what the band actually hopes is going to happen in the world.

Time for Change: Iceland finally takes a risk at Eurovision

If we look over recent Eurovision history of Iceland, it’s clear to see that the nation gravitate towards safe entries. Inoffensive pop songs, many of which dated within the context of their respective contests. They weren’t helping Iceland achieve desirable results at the contest. Iceland failed to qualify between 2015 and 2018. All four of these entries were extremely safe, but as a result didn’t stand out from the competitors. Hatari was far from safe.

This is the change Iceland needed at the contest. Considering the nation had failed to qualify for many years in a row, there was actually no risk to send something risky – what’s the worst that could happen? Sending Hatari with the song Hatrið mun sigra was by far the best choice despite the song being divisive as was the group and their performance style, especially when you line it up with the other options from the national final which were unsurprisingly all inoffensive pop entries.

Divisive, but still widely appealing

Stylistically the song was very much diverse from the previous Icelandic entries, but also diverse in the broader context of Eurovision. We have heard techno inspired music at Eurovision, and we have also heard a few punk rock entries, but nothing quite matches up to the blend that Hatari brought to the contest this year.

The song did well to incorporate the screamo, punk verses with the more delicately sung choruses. Matched with the BDSM costumes and their overall style, the entry obviously caused a stir with audiences. However, its diverse nature is certainly something that made the entry more memorable (ideal when it comes to voting).

It’s also interesting to note that the song was in Icelandic language. The last time Iceland presented a song in Icelandic was back in 2013, where they also qualified. It just goes to show that English isn’t always the superior language at Eurovision. National language now provide a point of difference in a sea of English. It gives a sense of authenticity to the performance.

Overlooked by the Jury, but a public favourite

Unsurprisingly, the public favoured the Icelandic entry more rather than the jury. Looking at the final specifically, Iceland received points from 34 of the possible 40 countries, with three ‘douze points.’ Contrastingly, the juries awarded no 12 points to Iceland, with few nations awarding points to Iceland at all. In fact, Iceland achieved 4 times as many televote points as they did jury votes in the final.

The Aftermath 2019 series is made in collaboration with our Australian partner website Eurovision Union.

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