There was a fair deal of enthusiasm surrounding Iceland's first participation in Eurovision and the national final, Söngvakeppni Sjónvarpsins, recieved more than three hundred entries (at least according to the BBC preview show).
Perhaps the winning performance didn't quite match the high expectations after all. The song was a decent but slightly square little piece of soft schlager rock, competently sung but not terribly engaging. An unnecessary and clumsy Eurovision reference in the lyrics made nothing better.
Palmi Gunnarsson - Gleđibankinn (Iceland 1986 national final)
Perhaps the good people at RÚV shared my sentiment as an extensive reconstruction project started after the national final. Two other participants of the national final - Helga Möller and Eiríkur Hauksson - were called in to join winner Palmi and form a trio appropriately named ICY.
The lyrics had some fine-tuning and with the aid of a new and livelier arrangement and a joyful video clip the song found a new nerve and plenty of energy. Suddenly it seemed like Iceland could be a contender in Bergen.
ICY - Gleđibankinn (Iceland 1986 preview clip)
The successful transition from insignificant schlager to exuberant pop seemed to have worked wonders. During the rehearsals, Iceland was greeted with enthusiasm and many people regarded them as a dark horse, the song that could surprise on the night.
Once all twenty countries had voted, many people probably felt a bit surprised regarding Iceland. In spite of a spirited, bouncy performance and good singing, there was no success in sight. Nineteen points, sixteenth place. That's all. Disappointment all over, but the Icelanders would soon enough find more success in this contest.
This was the beginning of some sort of a tradition. This was the first - but certainly not the last - Icelandic entry to go through a certain amount of nip and tuck before the national final. Not seldom with a more successful outcome than at the debut.
ICY - Gleđibankinn (Iceland 1986)