I always feel a little bit sorry for Finland, the little sister of Scandinavia that never quite measures up to the highs (and lows) of Norway, nor the formidable reputation of Sweden. Indeed, after nearly 50 entries Finland has only chalked up one top 5 finish, its rather shock win in Athens 2006 with the now legendary “Hard Rock Hallelujah” by Finnish monster rockers Lordi.
Buoyed up by this, they have qualified more often than not since the win, despite often not going for particularly mainstream entries. Last year was the first entry for a long time in Swedish; the Swedes ditched their native tongue in favour of English-language tracks as soon as they were able. But Finland has a substantial Swedish-speaking minority, so much so that all the road signs are bilingual.
I was lucky enough to visit Helsinki for a few days last year, and it lived up to my expectations. A modest-sized capital that wasn’t overrun by people, and braced by cold Baltic air. Finland just potter around, sending whatever tracks they like. 2012’s “När jag blundar” was unlikely to make much of a splash, but I feel the Finns didn’t really mind too much about that.
This year the contest is a lot closer to home, so what would they come up with to send to Malmö?
Last Panda – Saturday Night Forever
Interesting name anyway! Oh look at that drummer… better than listening to the singer at least, a pseudo-Blink 182 punk-pop track. Maybe that chorus is more like McFly (or Son of Dork…). It’s energetic and the arrangement is good, but his vocals really aren’t up to much.
That chorus is decent, even if it is laden with cliches. I guess the Finns didn’t like it that much, it came last in their final, even with a firework-loaded top hat.
Lucy Was Driving – Dancing All Around The Universe
More rock, more shaky rock vocals. This sounds more like Supergrass than anything super-modern. I quite like the marching beat to it, but what is it all about?
Seems to be the history life in a slightly shouty rock-pop rendition. Can’t say it does a lot for me, but there’s nothing I dislike about it particularly. God, that was a bum note near the end! Faint praise, but that’s all I’ve got for this one.
Elina Orkoneva – He’s Not My Man
There seems to be a sudden upswing of these jazzy pastiche things, did Paloma Faith have a great 2012 in Europe or something? Maybe this is more like the old 60s soul trios. It’s quite nice really, particularly when she gets to the choruses.
Nice middle-eight, but again this style doesn’t do a massive amount for me. More tuneful than the two rocky ones I’ve heard so far. The last minute is a decent climax, but I think she’s not going to win me around with this one.
Arion – Lost
More rock? They’re really going for a rock-out in Finland aren’t they? This is more of a Linkin Park-style quiet storm, with a singer who can actually carry a tune. He doesn’t look like he belongs on a rock song, does he?
It’s like this should have been a nice ballad, but at the last minute they decided to bring in a rock band on backing. There’s some decent drama, as well as a rather self-indulgent axe solo in the middle. As far as the rock ones go, this is a success, much more listenable than the first two tracks. Just needed a bit more appropriate styling with the main singer.
Great Wide North – Flags
Are those guitars and a drumkit? Oh not rock this time, he’s got a banjo, just try not to look at his hair (WTF?). This is a bit country really, that’s a genre they seem to do anywhere now. I guess the north of Finland is a bit of a wilderness frontier isn’t it? With banjos.
I think they were going for some sort of lighters-up uplifting vibe, and to some extent they succeed. It just doesn’t seem to have much of an impact – maybe that’s just after these big rock songs. His vocals are a little out of his reach, but the harmonies are really nice. Doesn’t QUITE hit the mark for me, but it’s alright. Wow, I’m a hard sell tonight…
Diandra – Colliding Into You
I’d hear BUZZ about her name already, turns out she was the winner of Finnish Idol last year, so perhaps it was a shock that she didn’t win? Bit of a clumsy title. She’s certainly been styled to within an inch of her life, possibly explaining the random street dancers either side of her.
The song is a bit average, sounds like a minor hit for Jordin Sparks or something. She’s got a great voice though, and that chorus really goes some way to win me over, but the verses just don’t have enough about them. It’s a decent effort, but I’m not too heartbroken that this didn’t win.
Mikael Saari – We Should Be Through
So, second place now, and a rather dour gentleman, standing like a wet weekend, singing a piano-led ballad. It’s the only real ballad we’ve had in this final, but I just can’t get a fix on the melody.
What passes for a chorus (i.e. the bit where he sings a load of big notes, I guess) is watchable enough, but did they think this was going to grab Europe’s attention for 3 minutes? The overlong piano & strings segment put paid to that. He’s got a great voice, and it’s all very theatrical, but I don’t see how it fits with this contest.
Krista Siegfrids – Marry Me
Oh I wasn’t expecting THIS after the rather straight-faced entries in this national final, did this slip over the border from Melodifestivalen?? Krista the bridezilla sings a Katy Perry-esque pop song about getting hitched, with some questionable domination lyrics in places.
It’s certainly a welcome dose of fun, and while her vocals are a little iffy (but no less accomplished than Katy Perry, for what that’s worth), I can see that being a catchy addition to the Malmö roster. Uh uh uh uh uh ding dong…
It’s pure tack, but I hope it should at least get through the semi-finals without too much trouble, it’s the pure bubblegum pop track that Sweden would never send.