Svala has booked her ticket to Kyiv by winning Söngvakeppnin with “Paper.”
Svala “Kali” Björgvinsdóttir’s music career has spanned more than 20 years, and she has experienced more than her fair share of ups and downs over the course. She had a near brush with big time success in late ’90s/early ’00s. She was living in Los Angeles and had signed a six-album deal with EMI–one of the biggest record deals ever for an Icelandic recording artist. Snoop Dogg was the creative chair of her label, Priority Records. Svala’s first single under the label was “The Real Me,” a Britney-style pop song co-written by Anders Bagge (who, tangentially, later found Eurovision fame with Azerbaijan’s “Drip Drop” and “When the Music Dies”). The single had been on the Billboard pop charts for several weeks by Fall 2001. Then September 11th happened, and her label struggled. Nevertheless by this point, she had gained some fame in Iceland.
A few years later, Svala reinvented herself by teaming up with Einar Egilsson and his brother Edvard to form the ’80s-inspired synth-pop band Steed Lord. Though self-distributed, the band’s songs were licensed by North American TV shows, and they were commissioned by H&M to design a clothing line. Then, in April 2008, the band’s car was hit in a head-on collision. All three band members suffered severe injuries, and Einar required three surgeries to save his life. Despite the near-fatal accident, they once again relocated to Los Angeles and the band continued to tour actively. In 2015, Svala became one of the four judges on Iceland’s version of The Voice.
We tell you all of this because Svala’s story is much more interesting than what you’ll see during her three minutes on stage in Kyiv.
When we review songs for this site, we listen to them over and over again. This can be a pleasure or a pain, and in the case of “Paper” it is turning out to be death by a thousand cuts. We do not find the lyrical metaphor or the musical arrangement at all engaging. We were also confused by her staging at Söngvakeppnin, which seemed muddled and disconnected from the song. Iceland would need to considerably revamp “Paper” if they want any chance at making an impact. They are in a competitive first Semi and they must fight to get their share of oxygen. We feel like their chances are slim.