After hearing that the 4th Mello semifinal wasn’t that good, I decided to watch the final of Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu (the Finnish national final) on February 27. I tried watching both at the same time using two separate screens the weeks prior, but it didn’t work out very well, especially when trying to listen to Swedish in one ear and Finnish in the other. Let’s just say that didn’t work, and I decided that one screen and one NF was enough.
Overall it was a really good show (bar a few people singing off key) and I was glad to not be able to vote because I wouldn’t be able to just pick one:
Love is Blind: Audio alone, this song is a toned down, PG version of Tooji’s “Father Project” (NSFW), which criticized religious groups’ lack of acceptance for LGBT, that anyone not fitting the groups’ standards would go to hell. I really liked the song in studio, despite the really cheesy lines like “love is blind” or “I won’t go to heaven if you aren’t by my side.” On the other hand, the song is in the grey region between Eurovision and Pride, where the host location alone would determine whether “Love is Blind” would have a too-political entry. Performance-wise I wanted to like the live version, but Cristal Snow was so off-key in his performance that I spent the entire 3 minutes wondering if his in-ears failed. I understand that at least one of the demon backing singers was screaming to add a bit of dissonance and give a bit of a “hell” feeling, but it didn’t seem to work as planned. Also, if South Park hell could pull off a choir, then so could Cristal Snow.- 6th place
Ain’t Got Time for Boys: This was one of those songs that I didn’t really pay attention to until the final. I knew that it existed, and that it seemed like a pretty chill, jazzy, coffee-shop-open-mike-night vibe entry in people’s ranking videos. Unfortunately, a) it was in unlucky slot 2, and b) compared to all the other entries it seemed like the toilet break entry of the show. If the song was playing on the radio, I might enjoy it. While it definitely worked on TV by filming a lot of close-up shots and not making the stage drown her out, and she pulled it off well vocally, it felt like watching the performance took more energy than the song provided. – 8th place
Good Enough: Before we go anywhere, here’s a reminder that Angelo de Nile, the guy who had the crazy Roman gladiator musical last year, is the same person as Kimmo Blom. This year he still brought the musical theatre aspect, but this time it was much less OTT and he didn’t have his character role to act through. And while it was what the ESC fanbase would call “a generic ballad most likely paired with an Azerbaijani fire curtain written by a Swedish guy who couldn’t make it in his home country”, Kimmo and Annica performed it really well with a lot of chemistry (probably because they are also a couple in real life). I don’t think anyone has done the mirror trick so far, with the two singing away from each other but looking at each other’s reflections (virtual images), and then the mirrors moving away for them to look at the real people. The real vs. virtual message worked with the lyrics, which really sang to me, especially the lines in the refrain, “When only silence haunts you and no one really understands you/pick yourself right back up, you’re better than just good enough.” Brain chemical disasters= shite. Someone telling you that you’re better than good enough=it’ll be slow but you’ll recover.- 5th place
Draamaa: Sweden (or at least Björkman) claims that schlager in the Mello world is dead. First off, schlager is not dead. It’s just that composers can’t send “meh” schlager entries that are “so last generation” and expect a great result. Eini pulled it off really well vocally and visually in the final, especially with the dancers in the background. I have absolutely no idea what she was singing outside of the word “draamaa” but it was a fun song to listen to. Also, given that around 95% of Eurovision NF entries are of artists between ages 16 and 35, it was really nice of YLE to invite an artist outside that range and unlike Mello (*coughcough*), have her qualify and not place last. -7th place
Let Me Out: Like Stella Christine’s entry, I didn’t pay attention to this song until the final and only knew that it was a rock entry performed by female artists. Given the pop song majority at UMK and that they were loud enough to keep the audience awake, the Barbe-Q-Barbies were bound to stand out. Despite only hearing the entire song once, I can still remember the general tune of the refrain, so that’s usually a good thing. -4th place
Don’t Wake Me Up: So Conchita’s “Rise like a Phoenix” is one of her favorite entries; that’s probably why she wanted a similar, simple stage act of standing on a platform and telling a story. The blue atmosphere with rain showed that it was a sad story, but the story telling wasn’t as effective as her music video (where people at the party were destroying all the memories of her partner), and I don’t think it transferred as well to the audience (hence the last place). Yes, she was a good singer, I really liked the song in studio version, and she seemed to match the studio version live if I closed my eyes, but I got confused visually. Blue and rain was supposed to mean sadness, but what about the red shoes and the fire curtain that typically mean something happy? Did ManuElla from Slovenia try to do a subtle promotion about blue and red? Or did Tuuli Okkonen just really like those shoes?- 9th place
Sing it Away:
Thanks to the jury, the song is now representing Finland. When I first listened to the studio version, my first thought was that Sandhja (the H is silent) reminded me a bit of Miley Cyrus due to her hairstyle, outfit, and lower singing voice (I blame the canteen at uni for blasting Wrecking Ball every 10 minutes for the comparison). Once the song built up to the refrain, the brass-band-y part reminded me of Australia’s entry last year. Out of the upbeat songs in UMK, this entry sounded like it would do well on American radio. She looked like she was enjoying her performance, as she had a lot of fun on stage interacting with her backing vocalists and bringing her party on stage to the rest of the audience. I was a little confused about the screen blocking on camera though. What happened then? Did one of the backing singers suddenly do something YLE deemed inappropriate to show on live TV? (In that case, does the Finnish version of the FCC have a 6 second delay on TV too?) Did someone have an accident? Or did they block the screen because it looked cool? Anyways, now that she’s going to Stockholm I wonder what she’s going to do since the Eurovision stage will be much bigger than the UMK stage.- 1st place
No Fear: Well surprise, surprise, Ms. I-place-second-in-everything placed second again (despite winning the televote). This was the first UMK16 entry that stood out for me in studio, due to the song’s eastern/southern Asian elements. And while yes, there was the super obvious pride theme since she came out sometime last year, “No Fear” works for anyone feeling shite and wanting to feel self-love, to be accepted instead of given murder for being different; I found myself singing the first verse a lot after getting yelled at for the tiniest details at home. While it was great in studio and she did give a good performance on stage, it wouldn’t have worked out had she won UMK. For starters, only 6 people are allowed on stage, and backing vocal tracks are not allowed. I’m going to guess that she didn’t have any backing vocal tracks, but for the super-OTT performance she had 4 backing vocalists and 6 dancers to complete her costume change. Given that she kept the same performance, cutting down to 3 dancers and 2 backing vocals wouldn’t have worked in her favor. At least the Finnish public really liked her song and performance, so maybe she now has a lot of tours to look forward to. -2nd place
On it Goes: So Mr. I-lost-to-Krista-Siegfrids-in-2013 came back to UMK, with, what seemed like in the studio version, another sleepy ballad that I couldn’t pay attention to. As a result I wrote him off prior to the contest. His performance during the semifinals changed my mind, as he was on key and could match the studio version, if not perform even better to project his emotions to the audience through the screen. It was a really intimate performance, with just him and the (at first sight kind of creepy) dancer on stage, like one of those really intimate scenes in a musical that would appear on the Tony Awards. Given his vocal and stage performance, I thought he was going to get the ticket to Stockholm, but Finnish voting isn’t very predictable, and some people might have found his act a bit pretentious. So a respectable 3rd place it is. (Thanks asphalt constructors for the 12 points!)
***Note: All captions are fictional and don’t represent what actually happened. The pictures are from YLE. And now that I’m done, I’ll leave the computer and go get some salmiakki.