Of all the weird and wonderful acts to have graced the Eurovision stage, few were as attention-grabbing as Finland’s 2006 effort Hard Rock Hallelujah by Lordi, which featured monster costumes, pyrotechnics, heavy guitars and growled vocals; a combination not calculated to win the support of the pop and folk-friendly Eurovision audiences.
But Lordi’s success turned out to be a false dawn. In the years since, a handful of punk or metal performers have attempted to replicate it, but all have disappeared without trace, and the same fate may await Iceland’s 2019 effort, Hatrio Mun Sigra by Hatari. A punk-techno band, Hatari were formed in 2015 but reportedly had decided to split up at the end of 2018 before turning up as one of ten acts in Iceland’s Songvakeppnin 2019 in March.
Hatari’s dark and angry version of punk will certainly stand out from the collection of jaunty pop songs and strained ballads that make up the typical Eurovision field, but bookmakers have taken a cautious approach to their chances. Their price has hovered between 10/1 and 20/1 and currently they can be backed at around 14/1 with most bookies, although that still puts them in the top six.
The problem for Hatari is that while Eurovision audiences and juries are surprisingly welcoming of novelty acts in different musical genres, there is less room for manoeuvre when it comes to tone. Lordi’s growling was in the service of an essentially uplifting song, and had a silly, pantomime edge, whereas Hatari are offering a slice of shouty, BDSM-themed punk-techno that may well be an attention grabber but is likely to turn off some of the more conservative judges and audiences.
Hatari also have to overcome the weight of Eurovision history. Iceland have been competing since 1986, yet have never won it, finishing second in 1999 and 2009, and they have struggled badly since semi-finals were introduced in 2004, failing to make it to the final on seven occasions. Their last four entries have disappeared without trace, and while Hatrio Mun Sigra is a good song, Hatari’s edgy presentation makes them no certainties to qualify, and a risky betting proposition even at 14/1.