In an exclusive exchange with the Grapevine, the Hungarian delegation to the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest explained to us why their country had awarded Iceland 12 points for the country’s entry, “Coming Home” by Sjonni’s Friends.
Iceland did not fare spectacularly at this year’s Eurovision. After making it into the finals, Iceland ended up in 20th place out of a possible 25, with 61 points in total. The winner, Azerbaijan, walked away with 221 points. Iceland did do marginally better than Hungary, however, who won 53 points.
Head of Press for the Hungarian Delegation at Eurovision Gina Prónay-Zakar, in an email exchange with the Grapevine, started by saying that the delegation wanted to “express our gratitude on behalf of the Hungarian Delegation for your assistance before and during the Eurovision Song Contest.” When asked why Hungary had bucked the trend and awarded Iceland 12 points for their entry, Prónay-Zakar explained:
“First of all it was a nice song, we really liked it during the rehearsals. (we were neighbours in the dressing rooms area, so we listened to the guys a lot. So why we have given twelve points? As Hungarian people are supposed to be ’emotional voters’. I guess the story behind your song could touch the soul of the viewers. Our commentator [talked] about Sjonni, his tragic death and his friends a lot and I think our viewers were impressed by it and the song itself, too. But as I heard our professional jury also appreciated your song, so I think it must have been a great entry.”
The story behind the song that Prónay-Zakar refers to is that Sigurjón “Sjonni” Brink, the composer of the song, passed away last January, and his friends decided to take the song to the Eurovision tryouts in Iceland in his honour.
The musicians who performed the song were far from Eurovision rookies. Guitarist Gunnar Ólason played with Two Tricky, who represented Iceland in Eurovision in 2001; guitarist Vignir Snaer Vigfússon played guitar with Birgitta Haukdal in Latvia in 2003 and co-wrote Selma‘s entry in 2005; and drummer Benedikt Brynleifsson was in Eirikur Hauksson‘s band in Helsinki 2007.