Pollapönk, Iceland’s merry band of bearded kindergarten teachers who have brought their messages of acceptance and sartorial awesomeness to this year’s Eurovision song competition have made it through to Saturday’s final. But it was pretty tense there for a bit: Iceland was the last country to qualify in last night’s semi-final.
For those of you not familiar with the Eurovision voting system, you can watch thishandy video tutorial, or here’s the short explanation: once all of the night’s semi-finalists have performed, viewers in the countries competing in the semi-final have 15 minutes to vote for their favorite performances. (You can’t vote for your own country.) Popular vote determines half of the outcome and the other half is determined by the votes of each participating country’s “professional jury.” (There’s more to it than that, but really, it’s way too complicated.) Then, once the votes are tallied, the qualifying semi-finalists are announced in no particular order.
For many, this process is incredibly stressful, so perhaps it’s understandable that some of us—cough, cough, Morgunblaðið—jumped the gun in announcing that Iceland had not, in fact, made it through to the finals. “Lesson learned,” apologized the paper when the error was realized. “The excitement overwhelmed the journalist in this instance.”
It doesn’t help that this is the fourth time in five years that Iceland has been the last qualifier announced. Morgunblaðið details Iceland’s maddening history of being Eurovision’s perpetual last-pick.It all started with Jóhanna Guðrún in Moscow in 2009, happened again to Hera Björk Ólafsdóttir in Oslo in 2010, and continued for Sigurjón’s Friends in Dusseldorf in 2011.
“It’s ridiculous,” Polla-Punker Heiðar Arnar Kristjánsson said in an interview after the results came through. “I had really written it off. I didn’t believe that we Icelanders would be last for the fourth time in five years.”
At any rate, they made it! Watch their semi-final performance below and tune in for the final on Saturday, May 10. Áfram, Ísland!