The national finals are a good opportunity to showcase the musical talent of a country and with the combined votes from the public and some industry experts, the shows often culminate in the selection of the best song. But sometimes, just sometimes, the show results in a dubious winner. This is the premise behind this series of articles ‘the songs that should have won’. It will highlight those songs that really deserve to represent their country but were unfairly (or fairly) pipped at the post. Our first look is to the Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu (or UMK for those of us who regrettably, like myself, have limited European language skills!) – Finland’s national selection show.
Finland in Eurovision
In the recent past, Finland has had mixed success at qualifying for the Eurovision final with their latest two entries disappointingly failing to meet the grade and flopping out at the semi-final stage. In 2013 Krista Siegfrids’ Marry Me and the subsequent years entry Soft Engine’s Something Better both hit the final but failed to impress achieving 24th and 11th place respectively. It was a distant 11 years ago that Finland won the competition with Lordi’s Hard Rock Hallelujah.
The Winner of UMK 2017
Norma John’s song, Blackbird is one of my favourite Eurovision songs selected so far. It’s dark, eerie staging and beautiful vocals during the final show of UMK were perfect. Having listened to the song a few times now, I can honestly say that the lyrics, vocals and beautiful piano solo (why did my music lessons never culminate in anything so beautiful!?) have me captivated. On the night, Norma John were a perfect partnership. You can tell they’ve not just been thrown together for Eurovision and the song clearly has personal resonance.
Unfortunately, I worry whether the deep and meaningful lyrics and stunning voice are enough to make this tune stand out amongst the crowd of Eurovision ballads and inevitable dancey, Euro-pop beats? I hope the song does stand out because it certainly deserves to get through to the final. As much as I love the song, I can’t see it as the winner of The Eurovision Song Contest 2017.
What should’ve won?
I initially loved a few of the UMK 2017 finalists and the show seemed pretty competitive with a number of songs in contention. The range of artists and the variety of songs put the UK selection show – with its pre-selected artists and songs written specifically for Eurovision – to shame. The studio versions of Emma’s Circle of Light and, my favourite, the Finnish language song Helppo elämä performed by Lauri Yrjölä seemed initially promising but ultimately didn’t quite live up to expectations on the night. The vocals were somehow not quite there for both artists and the staging was sub-par.
This said, I think that Finland has missed a trick. With work, Circle of Light could have been a competitive Eurovision finalist. The catchy tune and Eurovision-ness seems destined for first place in the selection show. After its lack of success at UMK, the song unfortunately falls into obscurity alongside the other hopefuls from the national final. If Emma’s vocals had been better on the night and this song had been selected, it would clearly stand out amongst the ballad heavy selection of songs that have so far been chosen for Eurovision this year. Have a listen to Circle of Light again and tell me you don’t agree!!