The Netflix comedy Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams, was a surprise hit of 2020. And the standout moment for many was “Husavik,” an emotional ballad that McAdams’ character sings about her Icelandic hometown.
Songwriter Savan Kotecha is used to awards – he’s earned at least 17 Grammy nominations and 18 ASCAP Awards by working with stars like Ariana Grande, the Weeknd, and Britney Spears, per Elle. But as he told Vulture, he was “speechless” after the 2021 Oscars chose to recognize “Husavik,” nominating it for Best Original Song.
He was also touched by the real town of Húsavík’s DIY campaign to get the song nominated. “I mean, when you’re doing the movie, you don’t really think, Oh yeah, there’s this town where people — this movie’s gonna mean so much to them. But yeah, it’s been so heartwarming,” Kotecha revealed.
“I mean, gosh, this movie, to be a part of this movie that Andrew Steele and Will Ferrell came up with, especially at the time when the world was going through COVID, you realize, you know, what feels so special about this project is it brought so much joy to people at the time, and a laugh to people at the time when we needed it the most,” the songwriter continued.
“It’s been a really special thing to be a part of,” he added. “And now there’s an Oscar nomination, so that’s kind of life-changing.”
The ballad pays tribute to the 'ridiculous' but 'fantastic' songs of Eurovision
Performed by Molly Sanden, the Oscar-nominated ballad “Husavik” incorporates the Icelandic language into its lyrics (per Genius.) The character Marianne sings about her hometown with affection and humor: “Where the mountains sing through the screams of seagulls / Where the whales can live ’cause they’re gentle people.”
Savan Kotecha explained the lyrics in an interview with Variety, revealing that his Swedish wife used to “force” him to watch Eurovision, so he was already very familiar with the competition. “When I watched Eurovision, it always felt like the English lyrics were sort of Google-translated into English,” he joked.
“And some of them were ridiculous, obviously, in general. But we wanted to make the melodies really, really strong. That’s a great thing about Eurovision,” Kotecha commented. “You know, you take away the lyrics, you take away maybe the over-the-top production, and the structure of the songs and the melodies are really, really good. So I thought, okay, if we’re going to do this, we need to make the melodies fantastic.”
He also described how the song addresses how Rachel McAdams’ character feels in the movie. “Because that’s the moment where she’s confessing that all she needed was him,” Kotecha told Variety. “We wanted it to feel earnest. We knew Will (Ferrell) would bring the comedy into singing the echoes in the second verse. But it felt like with this one, the moment was all about what she was feeling and her really expressing herself.”
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