Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is a love letter to the pan-European pop-music competition that, like Cannes and the Olympics, was so rudely (but necessarily) taken from us this year. And unlike Will Ferrell’s aughts comedies like Talladega Nights and Blades of Glory, Eurovision is less a parodic skewering and more a genuinely affectionate and pretty accurate depiction of its chosen milieu. There are reverential in-jokes aplenty for Eurovision fans, like appearances by Conchita Wurst and Netta, and there are also some clueless American backpacker stand-ins for the rest of us. But Eurovision’s secret weapon is the original music: deeply catchy Euro-pop pastiche that alternates between grand and sweeping (Fire Saga’s “Double Trouble” and “Husavik”) and whatever the Russian version of Ricky Martin is (“Lion of Love”). And look, we already know that Rachel McAdams is a talented treasure, a gift to the world courtesy of London, Ontario. But as Sigrit Ericksdottir, one half of the titular Fire Saga group, is she really producing those magical, Björk-esque, almost porpoise-like Icelandic whistle tones? Is she, like Will Ferrell, doing her own singing in Eurovision?
The answer is yes and no — but mostly no. There is one song in the film that is purely McAdams singing: at the piano in the hotel room, as she composes what will end up being “Husavik.” The rest of the performances, though, are listed in the credits as being performed by McAdams and Molly Sandén, a Swedish singer who herself has a real life Eurovision connection: She represented Sweden at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2006. But in the liner notes for the soundtrack, McAdams isn’t credited as performing songs, and Sandén is listed as “My Marianne,” which she calls her “Icelandic alter ego.” In the course of investigating how all the Eurovision songs came together, Vulture reached out to the movie’s music producer, Savan Kotecha, who told us that in addition to having Sandén perform the tracks, McAdams also recorded the songs, and then they “sent the files to the film mixers and they blended them.” So in the movie, unlike on the soundtrack, there may be a hint of McAdams in the mix, blending to make that mythical “Speorg note.”
As for Dan Stevens’s instant-icon performance as Alexander Lemtov? That’s “the talented Erik Mjönes,” whose performance Stevens calls “great.” That Trololo timbre has never sounded so sexy.