16 February 2015

Review: Iceland: Eurovision 2015: María Ólafsdóttir

María Ólafsdóttir to sing for Iceland
After a couple of semi-finals, twelve competing songs and a super-final, it was announced on Valentine's night that 21-year-old María Ólafsdóttir will take the song Unbroken (Lítil skref) to Vienna in an attempt to secure Iceland's first win at the Eurovision Song Contest.

The two semis had discarded five songs, so it was all to play for when the remaining seven artists gathered in Reykjavík before a typically enthusiastic crowd of supporters.

Pollapönk and the first three of the acts had already warmed up the audience by the time María (who also performs by the name of María Ólafs) took to the stage. She was joined by three backing singers, as well as two dancers who really added no great appeal to the overall performance. They seemed to be there just to make up the numbers. Unlike the song, thankfully.

With so few of the forty national songs already chosen, this effort has become one of the more memorable so far. There is obviously a strong Disney influence going on with more than a nod to the company's Frozen franchise (ideal for Iceland, I guess). Moreover, María is also being marketed as a pop princess, dressed as if she has just stepped out of the movie, while the song is the type of power ballad that one might expect to hear on the soundtrack.

It's all very 'musical theatre' to me, though. Not really surprising as that appears to be María's background. Stints in shows such as The Sound of Music, Annie and The Lion King have honed her superior vocals. Consequently, she evokes more Idina Menzel than she does say, Meghan Trainor or Kylie Minogue.

That's not to say that she or the song are bad. They're not. This entry has all the required elements of a catchy pop song: melodic and memorable enough that you could easily catch yourself humming it after a few plays. It's only real problem is its repetitiveness, both lyrically and musically.

However, Iceland has produced some high quality songs over the years and this is another it can add to its roster. It's not as strong as, say, Yohanna's entry in 2009 or even Greta Salóme and Jónsi's from 2012, but at the moment its competition is relatively weak.

Nevertheless, it has a very good chance of qualifying from the second semi-final, where it can be likely assured of some high value votes from both Norway and Sweden.

What do you think?

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