The future of Icelandic music is bright. This Saturday the final of Músíktilraunir, the Icelandic battle of the bands contest, was held at the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík. Meet the winners of this year’s competition.
Músíktilraunir was broadcast on the radio and streamed online, the whole stream is available on Músíktilraunir’s Facebook page. The winners were chosen by a panel of judges, except for the People’s Choice, which was selected through a televote.
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To qualify for the final, the bands had to first compete in one of four preliminary nights. The metal band Blóðmör beat out ten other groups to become this year’s champions. But they weren’t the only ones who were awarded at the end of the night.
In addition to first place and two runners up and the People’s Choice being crowned, awards are given out in several categories for outstanding performances with specific instruments, as well as for the most bluesy band.
First place – Blóðmör
The winners of this year’s battle of the band are three 16-18-year-old boys from Kópavogur. In true Generation Z fashion, the band started as a Facebook group, in 2016, before they started playing together regularly last year.
Their setup is simple yet effective; guitar, bass, drums, and the guitarist takes care of the vocals — no need to reinvent the wheel.
The band, named for the traditional Icelandic blood pudding, takes inspiration from different directions but especially from Icelandic punk bands which predominated in the early eighties.
The three teenagers stepped on stage at Harpa Concert Hall on Saturday and announced that they were going to tear the roof off the building, and then they did. Their set, with accompanying long-haired headbanging, was incredibly tight and safely secured them the win.
Second place – Konfekt
The band in second place also has three members, but the resemblance ends there. The three twenty-year-old girls in Konfekt write sweet pop music with a slight R&B feel in both Icelandic and English. Their set was light and fun, especially since the drummer looked like she was having the time of her life.
Third place – Ásta
Singer-songwriter Ásta Kristín Pjetursdóttir got to third place with nothing but her guitar and her beautifully melancholic voice. She sat on a bar stool with her guitar, in a super cool fringe jacket and her shy charm enchanted the audience. A solo artist we hope to hear more from in the future.
People’s choice – Karma Brigade
The audience voted, and the band Karma Brigade was their favourite. A six-person band with extremely chill vibes. They won the people’s hearts with two keyboards, two singers, a guitar, bass and drums.
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Awards for individual musicians within bands were also given out. These musical MVP’s are listed below.
Singer – Anna Ingibjörg Þorgeirsdóttir – Konfekt
Anna Ingibjörg Þorgeirsdóttir’s vocals got her band to second place, and she herself was chosen the best singer. We assume her numerous and confident vocal runs had something to do with it.
Guitar – Haukur Þór Valdimarsson – Blóðmör
Blóðmör’s front-man Haukur Þór Valdimarsson didn’t just secure his band the victory with his vocal performance and guitar playing, his guitar skills also won him the best guitarist award.
Bass – Tumi Hrannar Pálmason – Flammeus
The frontman of Flammeus sang and played bass and won an award for the latter. Rarely do electric bass’ get the spotlight, and Tumi Hrannar proved that to be a mistake. Not only was his bass playing impressive, but he also played it while singing, which is doubly impressive.
Keyboard – Guðjón Jónsson – Flammeus
Despite some bands in the competition having more than one keyboard player, it was Flammeus’ one keyboardist, Guðjón Jónsson who was crowned king of the keys. Bringing Flammeus’ awards total up to two.
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Drummer – Eva Kolbrún Kolbeins – Konfekt
Second place band Konfekt’s drummer Eva Kolbrún Kolbeins sat at the drum kit in a green floral dress and effortlessly earned the title of Músíktilraunir’s best drummer. Seemingly having the most fun out of any contestant.
Electronic Musician – Guðlaug Sóley Höskuldsdóttir – gugusar
Fifteen-year-old Guðlaug Sóley Höskuldsdóttir stood on her tippy toes so she could reach the mic to announce the names of her songs, and then she laid down the most impressive electronic tracks of the competition. An added element to her and percussionist Aníta’s performance were interludes of choreography which made the set even more enjoyable.
Lyricist – Ásta Kristín Pjetursdóttir – Ásta
Ásta Kristín Pjetursdóttir’s lyrics were a highlight of her beautifully understated performance. They earned her a well-deserved award for lyrics. Who wouldn’t award a songwriter who names a song “Tár og hor” which means “Tears and booger.”
Blues-iest band – Stefan Thormar
For reasons unknown to us, an award is given to the act which plays the most blues-inspired music. Which this year was Stefan Thormar, the name of a singer who started the band as a solo project but now plays with a bassist and drummer at his side.