The great Eurovision Song Contest might not be taking place until May, but in the Nordic countries, it is already dominating prime-time television on Saturday nights. The nations that do the whole pop thing better than anyone else, are currently holding their respective national selections in which they find a song to send to the rest of Europe in May. And regardless of who wins and ends up representing each of the five nations, the competitions are already churning out some solid-gold bops to put on repeat.

In Norway, three individual artists have formed a new band especially for the occasion: Sami singer and rapper Fred Buljo; Alexandra Rotan, a vocalist who has accompanied Norwegian super-producer Alan Walker on tour; and Tom Hugo, the singer of last year’s Oslo Pride theme song. Together, as KEiiNO, their disparate influences have made for an understandably out-there number. Spirit in The Sky is the sound of Scandi ethno-pop, Sami folk, and Eurodance all rolled into one. Some will find it sublime, some will find it ridiculous, but you will not hear anything else like it this year.

Over in Iceland, things do not get any less weird. The biggest shock of all is the participation of Hatari, an electro-punk band who are the darlings of the alternative and indie scenes and are known for their shock live shows and musical protests against social injustices. Given that Iceland has failed to make the Eurovision finals for the last four years, it would not be too much of a surprise if the Icelandic people were to send Hatrið Mun Sigra (Hate Will Prevail) as their own protest to the rest of Europe come May.

Also in Iceland, Sunday Boy by Heiðrún Anna Björnsdóttir is well worth a listen or ten: a song that sounds like it was made by The Cardigans, and with vocals that come from the same school of pronunciation as Heiðrún’s more famous Icelandic contemporary, Björk. And sticking with Iceland: ludicrously catchy pop delivered via a tongue in the cheek and a wink to the camera is brought to us on a large scale by Daniel Oliver and his song Licky Licky. Or, if you are wanting to play it anywhere that little ones might be in earshot, there is the Icelandic version, Samt Ekki!

www.scandipop.co.uk

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