ICELAND – When Tel Aviv was announced as the Eurovision host city, nearly 20,000 citizens signed a petition asking the Icelandic national broadcasters to decline participation, arguing that taking part amounts to an endorsement of Israeli human rights violations against the Palestinian people. Many of the country’s household names publicly ruled out competing.
“Clearly there’s a huge distinction between the actions of the Israeli state as an institution, at which criticism is directed, and the Israeli people,” says Haraldsson, who goes on to describe what he sees as the paradox of Eurovision this year: “You sign up to a contract that says you’re not allowed to be political in the competition, but if anyone thinks they’re going to Tel Aviv without a political message they couldn’t be more wrong. It’s a paradox because all of the songs that make it to that stage will offend the sensibilities of many people by virtue of the context of where the contest is taking place, and the legitimate criticisms many people have.”
“Our message is a warning in uncovering the dystopia that is happening in Europe, in America, all over the world,” Mattias says, cracking a rare smile at the band’s after-party in Bio Paradis, Reykjavik’s only arthouse cinema, as they celebrate their triumph at Songvakeppnin. “We will win Eurovision 2019. As of now, things are going as planned. Songvakeppnin was another step in the downfall of capitalism and the unveiling of the scam that is everyday life. We are the pink elephant in the room.”