National Finals Explained– Söngvakeppnin

Iceland was the last of the Nordic Nations to join the Eurovision family in 1986. Since their debut, the primary way the country as selected their Eurovision entries has been via their national final “Söngvakeppnin”. Despite the country’s small population, there is often something for everyone’s taste in the line up.


“Söngvakeppnin” typically consists of 10-15 songs in total that are then split into semifinals. In recent years the contest has consisted of 10-12 songs split into two even semifinals. In the semifinals artists are required to sing their songs in Icelandic, and if the song makes it to the final the artists then would sing the song in the language that they would plan on singing in at Eurovision. 

When there are 10 songs in the competition (like we have this year– 2023) two songs from each semifinal are chosen to advance to the final with the vpote comprised of 100% televote. There is then one additional song selected from the remaining six to act as a wild card and participate in the final. So, if your favorite in the semi doesn’t make it on the televote alone, don’t give up! There is still a chance that they can make it to the final!

In the final, the qualified songs are performed again. The final voting is consisted of jury and televote. The scores from these two groups are then added together to narrow the field down to the top two songs, which then advance to a Superfinal. The winner of the Superfinal and their subsequent ticket to Eurovision is decided 100% by televote; and there you have it! The winning song is chose in Iceland. 

Notable Entries

 Folks will remember Iceland’s Entry from 2021 Daði & Gagnamagnið with their song “10 Years” that placed fourth in Rotterdam in 2021. Initially the group was selected to represent Iceland at 2020 with the song “Think About Things” which was a bookie’s favorite (song most popular with those placing bets) to win in 2020 before Eurovision was canceled. This was the group second go at representing Iceland in 2017 they came second with the song “Is This Love?”

In 2023 we are getting our first Faroese artist, but back in 2019, Kristina Skoubo tried to represent Iceland with her retro pop song “Mama Said”.

From the first edition of the contest that determined the Eurovision entrant there is “Syngdu lag” by Pálmi Gunnarsson.

And from the following year, 1987, “Norðurljós” by Eyjólfur Kristjánsson. Just the opening chords alone put a smile on my face

Then there was Regína Ósk, who’s ballad “Þér við hlið” almost harkens back to a medieval sound in the instrumentation but is performed with some gorgeous modern vocals. Those high notes alone are to die for. She placed second to the memorable “Congratulations” by Silvia Night.

Söngvakeppnin’s two semifinals take place on February 18 and 25. The Grand Final will be held on March 4.

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