It’s Sigurjón’s Friends for Iceland!
The second of the trio of Nordic entries revealed this weekend came from the finals of the 2011 Söngvakeppni Sjónvarpsins in Iceland. Out of all of the finals that happened this weekend, this was the one that I was looking forward to the most, not only for its quality of entries, but also considering the emotional force behind one of the entries, “Aftur Heim (Back Home)”. It had been co-written by Sigurjón Brink, and was originally intended to be performed by him as well, but his sudden passing from a heart attack at the age of 36 threw the song’s participation into flux. After a bit of time and soul-searching, Sigurjón’s family decided that a group of his friends would take up the mantle and soldier on in his honor: Gunnar Ólason, Vignir Snær Vigfússon, Pálmi Sigurhjartarson, Matthías Matthíasson, Hreimur Örn Heimisson and Benedikt Brynleifsson.
“Aftur Heim” went up against a very strong set of opponents in Iceland’s final, including Eurovision 2009 runner-up Yohanna, X-Factor winner Jógvan Hansen, and well-known rock singer Magni Ásgeirsson. In the end, though, it was the song with the sunny melody and the tragic story that won the whole thing, with Magni’s “Ég trúi á betra líf (I Believe in a Better Life)” coming in the runner-up position.
Here’s the winning performance out of Iceland:
I’m not sure if the emotional impact that the Icelandic selection felt with this song will carry over in the same way in Eurovision as it did for the preselection, but standing on its own merits, I think that “Aftur Heim” is a beautiful song, and the singers’ voices work very well both together in harmony as well as individually. Many Eurovision fans are still reeling a bit from the fact that the lovely Yohanna wasn’t selected to represent her country again, but as that shock wears off, and fans start listening to “Aftur Heim” in depth, I have a feeling that it will grow on people, and maybe become an underground favorite, as “No No Never” was back in 2006 for Germany. Will it find success in Düsseldorf? It’s very hard to say at this stage of the game, but at the very least, I think the guys did their late friend very proud.
One last comment, and it’s simply a personal opinion: I honestly hope that Sigurjón’s friends choose to honor his memory in one final way by keeping the lyrics in Icelandic. Now, if Sjonni kept English lyrics on standby in case it won the National Selection, that’s one thing, but if that’s not the case, I think that it would honor the integrity of both the artist and the song to keep this version of the song as intact as possible. Again, this is just me talking…er…typing, and I recognize how much of an advantage it can be to sing in English for Eurovision, but I think the song (and what it reflects) is beautiful and poignant as it is.