After reviewing and revoting the national selection shows in Albania, Belarus and the UK, we have steamed on towards Finland, where we will review the entries that competed in UMK last month. For the first time, our line-up of participating writers has changed, as Calvin is taking a break while Ole has joined us. Tonight we bring you reviews of the first 6 entries competing; tomorrow you can expect reviews for the remaining 4 entries and the results! Have fun!
Emma – Circle of Light
Ferdi: Oh no… that didn’t go too well did it? Those vocals could’ve been way better and I think she forgot her lyrics at some point. Great song but this is half a letdown. The staging is very nice, but everything else just didn’t live up to what it should be.
Ole: This was my favorite song from the whole Eurovision season prior to the live performance. I was so excited and I thought that she was going to win by a land-slide. Then the performance happens and it sadly falls flat. The show is visually stunning and the cuts are well produced for the most parts during the first two minutes. Then it almost seems like the producers give up. Emma´s vocals are not able to carry the song and she messes up multiple times with making it match. I think she would have benefitted from not having that show. She was sick and should have focused on singing and not a high-tech crazy show.
The song is beautiful and she is a good performer, but you do not get that feeling based on her live performance.
Kai: This one screams fan favourite, and sure enough it was. By now this fusion of folk and pop is predictable, and has become quite stale. The song itself isn’t terrible but it doesn’t evoke any strong feelings in me either way, and what’s more, the live performance was incredibly weak.
Alva – Arrows
Ferdi: These vocals weren’t too amazing either; Alva sounded a bit squealish (?) and the staging wasn’t that amazing either. There’s little more to say here.
Ole: For me is this a song and performance that don´t match. The song is sweet, but the performance is full of attitude and I don´t get a warm feeling. The dancers are good and she is able to sing, but I feel no connection or like she means what she sings. It´s also way more catchy as a studio version and I get more life out of that. Not a bad performance, but almost instantly forgettable for those who had not gotten addicted to the song prior to the show.
Kai: I quite like the synths here. “Arrows” is a very well produced piece of electro-pop that unfortunately comes with an incredibly squeaky topping. The vocals make this much harder to swallow than need be, and i’m left with difficulty enjoying it fully. I do appreciate it’s mystical vibe though.
Gunther & D’Sanz – Love Yourself
Ferdi: This has gotten quite some hate from eurofans but I think it’s a fun, clever and catchy song. It has a steady beat, catchy chorus and I like how both of their voices go together. The performance itself was nice, nothing that special but very decent, as were the vocals. I’ve always thought to myself that if this somehow went to Eurovision, it could be the next “Slavic Girls”. Would’ve loved to see this go, really.
Ole: Gunther can make anything sound dirty so that he was the one to shout Helsinki was maybe not the best idea. What is a great idea whoever is everything about this song. A deep and meaningful song hidden in a song many feel is dirty. If you don´t know Gunther then you will know what he is about after 10 seconds of the song. He carries himself like a star and no-one else is able to follow him. Gunther is interesting and with his lovable partner D´Sanz does this come across as a great song and a decent performance. The backdrop with them singing is very good and you understand very well who the stars are. Gunther moans for 3 minutes while D´Sanz tells you to be yourself. YES! This is UMK! Unfortunately is this left like out in the cold like Paa-Aijaat from last year in the contest, but both these songs are welcomed into the many warm hearts of crazy eurofans.
Kai: Ah Günther, inventor of the duck face pout and king of the mustache. I just can’t help but smile when listening to this outrageous slice of euro-dance. This is one you either passionately hate or find yourself amused by. I fall into the “amused” camp. It’s cheap and trashy, but just so much fun. It’s a shame we’ve been denied what would have been the most epic pornstache showdown of all time at this years Eurovision. Francesco has no competition now.
Anni Saikku – Reach Out for the Sun
Ferdi: The song is not the best, I think most of us can agree on that. It’s quite bland; when the chorus is supposed to hit after a build-up, it doesn’t and I’m left slightly disappointed. However, Anni did perform very well at UMK. I like how she interacted with her on-stage cage actually and her vocals were great. Songwise this is far from the best pick, but Anni delivered on the big night – more so than some of the bigger favourites, such as Emma.
Ole: Anni is very talented, but the song for me is not strong enough on it´s own. Her staging and style is fitting to what she wants, but for me is it too safe. I like her and the song, but I wish for something more.
Kai: A very predictable mid-tempo ballad, melodically speaking, and not to my taste at all, but there are little neat flourishes here and there that manage to attract me somehow. I like the playful synths during the chorus. It’s not a song for me but it’s sweet and I appreciate it.
Knucklebone Oscar & The Shangri-La Rubies – Caveman
Ferdi: Another entry that has gotten quite the hate from Eurofans. I used to be on that side, but I’ve discovered the charm of the song recently. Once again, one of the lesser songs for me, but one of the better performances. Say what you want, but these guys put on a fun and extravagant performance. Still, it would’ve probably meant an epic flop at the actual Eurovision Song Contest, I’d think.
Ole: Putting this so high will make many happy that I´m not a official jury member, but hear me out.
This performance right here puts show over music in a heart-beat, so much so that Knucklebone Oscar forgets to sing because he is too excited about his show. He wants to go straight to the fun part as he runs around like his life depends on it. And in a way did his life depend on this.
As good as this song is was it never going to do well alone, but just like in the music video is he able to showcase himself as one crazy dude. Everything he does is because he finds it funny and the ideas are very good. This performance has every rock n roll-cliche included and that brings a big smile to my face. This keeps me interested in the same way “Black Bird” does, but they are on two completely different planets.
Kai: This sounds like something ripped straight out of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and i’m a big Richard O’Brien fan, so as you can imagine, i’m actually rather charmed by this. It’s campy and silly, but then music doesn’t have to take itself seriously all of the time, and the musicianship here is actually very strong. Das ist einfach wunderbar.
Norma John – Blackbird
Ferdi: I wasn’t really a fan of this before the live show – I would’ve ranked it about 5th back then. The live performance turned that around. After quite a few “meh” performances, it was time for Norma John to perform – and wow, they slayed the stage. Leena’s vocals were the best of the evening and the dark and mysterious but also… tender(?) performance finished it all off. Undoubtedly the best performance of the night, only outbeaten by one other song. Overall, a more than deserving winner.
Ole: Next to the definition of “perfect” in the dictionary is a photo from this performance. Everything about this is on such a high level and it´s impressive to see. Nothing on this night could match the magic of this song. This was a song I was not really a fan of prior to the show and as a song is it not my favorite, but there is no question about it in my eyes that it deserved the victory for Finland. This left me speechless!
Kai: I think Finland absolutely went with the right track this year. In fact, it’s been a long time since we’ve had a piece so dreamy and ethereal at the contest. “Blackbird” builds in such a beautiful way. For me it’s all about that instrumental break. It sends chills down my neck and almost makes me tear up. My only nitpick here is that Leena Tirronen has a beautiful voice, almost too perfect. I’d love to hear this performed with more of a raw, lived in voice. Somebody like Marianne Faithfull I hear in my head singing this. It’s just a personal craving I have for songs like this though. This is an absolute gorgeous entry.