Eurovision 2019 Review: Iceland – Hatari – Hatrið Mun Sigra

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Iceland sends underground band Hatari to Eurovision
Iceland could use a positive change in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. The Nordic country failed to qualify for the final for four years in a row now, even finishing last in their semi final last year with Ari Ólafsson’s ‘Our Choice’. Through the same national final format, they found a completely different act this year. Underground electro punk band Hatari (which translates as ‘Hater’) was controversial from the moment they announced their participation and unsurprisingly emerged as the winners too. In Tel Aviv they will perform their song ‘Hatrið Mun Sigra’ with an eye catching stage show. Bookmakers already predict a top 5 finish for Iceland, but is that realistic?

Iceland easily delivered the hardest to judge and/or predict act of the year so far. There is just so much going on! The band consists of members Klemens Hannigan, Matthías Tryggvi Haraldsson and Einar Stefánsson who claim to want to end capitalism, but then again most of their performance art is satirical. But what about their music? Their song ‘Hatrið Mun Sigra’ (which translates as ‘Hate Will Prevail’) is an in-your-face piece of electronic music on which Matthias screams on the top of his lungs over the verses, in an aggressive way which will definitely grab the viewer’s attention straight away. The chorus however, sounds like smoothly produced electro pop, in comparison to the metal vocals of the verses. There is a more than decent hook hidden there and the key change in the last chorus makes it even more memorable. As there is so many different styles hidden in one soundscape, it is hard to predict what the televoters and juries will make of this. Especially if you also take into consideration how they present themselves on stage…

They perform in BDSM leather outfits, one of them wearing a mask and coloured contacts too. While it might be creepy to the average viewer, their act is well executed and will stick with the televoters for sure. Nobody will wonder at the end of the show which one was Iceland again… In a competition with over 40 songs, the first thing you have to do is stand out and the guys of Hatari definitely have that part down. Fans were quick to compare their impact to Finland’s 2006 winners Lordi, but those ‘monsters’ had a catchier track and less edgy performance. The online reaction so far has been more positive than anticipated and a lot of people seem to react to their message and artistic vision. It remains to be seen if the juries will recognize this too. I expect higher scores from televoting which should be enough to at least get them in the final. If all else fails they will at least be one of the most talked about acts of the contest! I am not sure if that will be enough to end capitalism, but at least they tried!

Review on the semi-final performance:
Iceland delivers potentially the most talked about act of this year’s Eurovision with Hatari. The band gives a spectacular bdsm inspired performance. The staging is impeccable and the band sure knows how to sell this grunting, electronic, industrial track with a bright pop hook as a chorus. Although the grunting in the verses sure is not my cup of tea, I am more bothered by the weak vocals in the chorus. They are supposed to carry the hook, but more often than not they sound out of tune. It was never a question really if Iceland was going to qualify from this semi-final, but it is rather hard to predict how far they could go on Saturday night.

Review of final performance and result:
Iceland brought the shock factor in the 2019 contest with a bdsm inspired performance by the band Hatari. The grunting vocals in the verses are in stark contrast of the high pitched soaring vocals in the chorus, but these were unfortunately still out of tune during the final. Although loads of people seemed immediately turned off by their appearance and the grunting, there actually is a strong pop song to be found underneath all that. Of course this was going to impress the televoters (6th) more than the juries (14), resulting in a 10th place overall.


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