Following a three-week drought where very little happened in the Eurovision world, tonight saw a hectic schedule whereby seven shows simultaneously took place and two actual entries for Copenhagen 2014 were decided. One of these such entries was Finland; who, in a gripping UMK finale, elected pop-rock band Softengine to fly their flag in Denmark, with the anthemic “Something Better”. What were our reactions to the chosen entry and the show as a whole? Read on to find out!
“Something Better” was the first direct finalist to the UMK final, it was the first song performed tonight, and it ended up finishing in first place and thus winning the right to represent Finland at Eurovision this year. Softengine’s song really has always been head and shoulders above the popularity of the rest – certainly in the jury rankings anyway – but tonight’s result was still very tense, with all to play for right up to the very end.
If you haven’t already heard it, here’s this year’s Finnish entry:
… and what a brilliant entry it is. Putting aside the fact that the lead singer is absolutely beautiful, the 2014 song is the latest in a series of fantastic contributions by YLE, and proves that the effort and enthusiasm in Finland is still burning strong, despite their recent disappointing results!
So, as you’ll know if you read our NF preview article for Finland, I was extremely disappointed when Jasmin Michaela failed to qualify from the semi-final; so much so that I could only really muster support for Mikko Pohjola in lieu of the magnificent “Kertäkayttösydän”… However, watching the show tonight, with “Something Better” performed first, I just got swept away in the sheer power of the stadium anthem, and by the end of it I not only *got* it, I loved it.
Think Coldplay crossed with the poppiness of The 1975 and the boyish enthusiasm of Anonymous from Andorra 2007. On paper, it sounds like it might not quite work, but there’s something about the melody and arrangement which just clicks perfectly into place. I think it’s the sheer Finnishness of it to be perfectly honest. (I’m not mad, let me explain) It has that underlying melancholy, manifesting itself in the form of THAT minor key chorus, but the beat and the soaring melody give it more of a triumphant air, and you’re singing along by the second “we’ve FOOOUNDDD something better”. And then, it goes one better and introduces a Viva-La-Vida-esque chanty “oh-ohh-ohh-ohhh” bit in the middle 8, which then morphs into rhythmic shouts from the band before returning as an underlying countermelody to the final chorus. Imagine hearing this one live. Just imagine!
As is often the case with songs of this genre, the vocals were… well the vocals were just about there for most of it, but the odd dodgy note here or there was barely noticable when juxtaposed with the sheer strength of the performance as a whole. One thing I do have a bit of a problem with is the random bit at the end where he goes all screamo on us for the final few “WE FOOOUNNNDDD”s. Initially, I assumed this was a byproduct of the live performance, with the experience just getting the better of him. Having a proper listen to the studio version, however, it would appear to be a more permanent component of the song’s closing phrases, which really is a shame because it makes it that teency bit less accessible to a wider audience.
Mikko Pohjola’s beautiful “Sängyn Reunalla” was a truly special composition, and would have likely seized a Kuula-style top 10 at ESC, whereas fanwank “Top Of The World” was a typical rough-around-the-edges catchy europop number, which had Ivi Adamou written all over it. Still, for me, “Something Better” is an amazing song, and an admirable choice by the Finns.
And now I’ve covered the song, can I just bring to your attention the fact that the lead singer is exquisite? Thank you. Here he is looking lovely.
And here’s what I can only assume is his blowjob face.
Let’s move on.
The UMK final was truly a joy to watch. It was, for me, the first national final of the 2014 season to do exactly what it said on the tin: it felt like a fair contest between eight well-established competitors being judged by professionals. The setup was domestically-orientated, but easily accessible – loved the stage and the green room in particular! The whole show was entertaining and infused with enthusiasm for UMK and Eurovision itself, it really was lovely to see.
One of the main things I adored about the show was the amount of airtime they gave last year’s winner Krista Siegfrids, which included the live début of her new single “Cinderella”, a mashup of “Amen!”, “Marry Me” and a new song which I can only assume is titled “YOLO”, and a MENTAL introductory sketch which feautured – amongst other things – a dishevelled Krista writhing around in a sewer with Laura Voutilainen. Gotta love the Finns, ey. No seriously, I want to live in Finland after tonight, I want to live there, and learn the language, and just.. be Finnish. They presented themselves as really fun people, just like they did back in 2007 when they hosted the whole shabang.
Again on the livestream, there was no translation, so for the main, I remained out of the loop as to the intricacies of the jurors’ dialogue. At least Josh Standing knew how I felt, ey! (Seriously… his little face when the points were being announced and he didn’t have a clue what number they’d received… Clarissa was cheering and he’s still sat there like “what.. was that good? oh..” Bless him.) Amongst the other things we noted on Twitter was the male presenter’s resemblance to CBBC’s Raven, Lauri Mikkola’s shamazing fashion sense (well.. apart from his stage costume..), the fact that “Mama” out of Hukka ja Mama is in fact not related to the other guy at all (mindblown) and that she did a SASSY CHIARA WINK at the end of her performance, wow…
After tonight’s two selections, we now have a total of six selected songs, of which Finland definitely have one of the better ones as it stands right now. The anthemic rock genre has a mixed record at Eurovision of late, with acts like Sinplus and Anonymous failing to make the cut into the final, but other contributions from maNga and A Friend In London (RIP) have managed to reach the top five. Are Softengine destined for such glorious results? I’d love to say yes, but the fact remains that this is Finland we’re talking about. I would LOVE to see this one in the final top ten, but I doubt it’s got enough mass appeal for that. Still, we must remember that Finland have been drawn in the second semi-final – ye of just fifteen songs. Not only that, they’re second half. This is an almost sure-fire qualifier, right? And, as ByeAlex proved in Malmö, once you’re in the final, there’s no guessing how well it could do.
I’ll certainly be supporting the guys from Softengine in Copenhagen; for the sixth year running, Finland have sent a fantastic song which more than appeals to my personal music tastes and merits the long-overdue recognition YLE have deserved pretty much every year since their infamous victory back in Athens.
Nadine Glöck from Germany: Okay as entry. My second place in the UMK. 10/10. Just sad Lauri didnt make it 😦
Angelos Noutsos from Sweden: It’s like SinPlus from Switzerland two years ago, but with better pronounciation. 3/10 – not impressed
Marco Muntean from Romania: Don’t like it, sorry. Lauri was the BEST
Svetlana Andriyenko from Ukraine: I like this song very much, but I was hoping for Clarissa and Josh to win 😦
Wow… well the reaction to the selected Finnish entry is a lot more lukewarm than I anticipated, looks like I am in the minority who really really love it. Perhaps by comparison, this one will grow on the fans once the sting of NF-failure recedes and “Something Better” comes to be reviewed alongside thirty more as-of-yet undecided songs. One can only hope, ey!
What do YOU think of Finland’s 2014 song? Feel free to let us know below!