Finland is one of those nations that although having a lengthy history at the contest, haven’t always grasped what is successful at Eurovision. Their history is very hit or miss, with the nation having one win in amongst no less than ten last place finishes. Despite that, Finland are unique at Eurovision in the sense that they are never scared to send something daring or different. Even just looking at their recent history, each entry is dramatically different from the last, and even though it hasn’t always brought success, at least it makes things interesting.
This year the nation internally selected EDM artist Darude, and following on from their selection last year, Darude was to release three songs which would be performed at UMK, where a jury and the public would decide which song would represent Finland at Eurovision. This formula was mildly successful for Finland last year with Saara Aalto, but will it give Finland a better result this year?
Song + Vocals
The song Darude will be performing is titled Look Away, the clear winner of the national selection as decided by the jury and the public. Singing the song will be Sebastian Rejman, an interesting choice to say the least, but I’ll come back to that pickle in a moment…
From the three UMK songs, Look Away was certainly my favourite from the bunch by a significant mile. From the opening moments, I find the song to create a good amount of tension both in the beat and the melody, and this builds leading towards the chorus. The pre-chorus really does a great job at setting up what could have been an impactful chorus, but admittedly I think it does lose some power during the chorus. By the second verse, it’s all much the same and it relies on you enjoying the song enough to keep listening to it, as there is nothing from that second verse on that is unique from the first verse, pre-chorus and chorus.
Saying that, I do enjoy the song, but it’s not a song that is invincible from the dreaded skip button. Sometimes I’ll be in the mood to listen to this, and sometimes I won’t and I think that perhaps summarises the reaction to this song. As a studio version, this is a nice song with a strong message, but the issue arises in the live performance.
I remember watching UMK thinking, why did they choose to feature the same vocalist for all three songs, and did they not audition the artist beforehand? The performances were weak to say the least in all aspects, and this was the disappointing thing. Sebastian doesn’t reach the level that he needs to but instead he gets lost among the beat. I can’t help but imagine what this song would have sounded like with a strong female vocalist, and in that scenario I could see Finland confidently qualifying but as it stands, I don’t know that I do see this in the final.
Act + Performance
This carries on from the previous thought, and I don’t want to say choosing Darude was a mistake for Finland because I don’t believe it was a mistake, he has a name for himself and upon the announcement really did create hype around Finland. Had there been a stronger vocalist to perform the entries, Finland would have been in a good position to qualify to the final. This is a shame as I think the nation is really trying here, I just don’t know if it’s paid off yet.
As for the visual performance, I do think this song still has good staging potential, and that potential absolutely has to be reached in order to cover some of the vocal sins. Some aspects of the UMK performance I did enjoy but overall it needs a better concept and it needs to be polished. What I think we can expect is a good light show at the very least, but hopefully the overall performance does improve from the national selection.
This is in danger of not qualifying, and if it does, it will likely fall to the same fate as Saara Aalto. I think Finland had great potential by picking Darude and using his fame to their advantage but I feel that the potential has been dulled by not offering a choice in vocalists. In the end, the song isn’t bad, but it’s also not a stand out and that’s a worry for Finland.