Norma John to Kyiv for Finland!

So, after a fabulous night in the Espoo Metro Arena, Finland has finally chosen who will represent them in Kyiv this coming May! Finland has chosen Norma John to sing “Blackbird” in the International Exhibition Centre in Ukraine! This has proven to be an interesting choice, but what do we make of their selection?

Well this is a very interesting decision the Finnish public has made, and one I actually enjoy! As many of you who follow us here at ESC Views, Norma John was my clear favourite going into this evening, with the subtle, heartfelt lyrics and majestic, emphatic instrumentation leading its case. However, I am absolutely overjoyed that “Blackbird” won the night with a 37 point lead on second placed Zühlke (lolwut). This song is big, bold, brash and most importantly – it has depth and meaning to its lyrics. Leena’s vocals are controlled, but she lets the power out in the choruses as she laments over the loss of her true love. The song has come under fire since its selection for being boring and not going anywhere; that’s what’s meant to happen. It’s as if this song is almost a eulogy for her lost relationship, and the constant monotony of the song forming a sort of rigor mortis, as all she can do is remember about the good times in the relationship. I’m not sure how this would play out to the grater European public in Kyiv in May, but if Leena’s vocals and the stripped back staging are anything to go by, this could be a potential dark horse in the Contest….be prepared!

So, this is essentially what happened during the show, so that you don’t have to trace our Twitter feed! (But P.S. you SOOOO should follow us on Twitter – we’re hilarious!):

  • The show was opened up in a way that only host – the ultra fabulous  Krista Siegfrids – could do. Dressed in nothing but a tight two-piece and a puffy blue bolero, Krista belted out a song written especially for UMK, essentially making fun of the whole concept of the Contest and the show itself. She may have been making a joke, but DAYUM, she slayed while she was doing it! THAT, BBC, is how you open a show!
  • There was no messing about in the presentation of the songs and first up was the fan favourite – “Circle of Light”. Did she deliver? Not one bit, unfortunately. The vocals were weak on Emma’s part, she fell out of sync with the song at the second verse and the crucial light stick was extinguished at the slightest whack. It just didn’t work out for her, which is a shame, as her song was one of the best going into this evening.
  • After the abysmal performance of Emma was “Arrows” by Alva. This performance was also pretty weak vocally, and Alva’s trademark Lena-esque nasal voice shone through, but it was a clean break after what had proceeded it. The staging was pretty basic and inoffensive, but it was nice….just nice though, not outstanding.
  • Günther and D’Sanz followed and what we all watched rendered me speechless. The main points I was able to note were that I was practically blinded by the huge amount of white in that performance. Next, Im glad they turned Günther’s mic down in the chorus, it made my feeling dirty after it all a little less painful and cringey. I’m just shuddering at the thought of it all.
  • Next up was Anni Saikku and surprisingly, she delivered a strong and solid performance. This could have been a dark horse in the Contest and it was clear that she wasn’t messing about – it was obvious Anni was a contender and it was a definite step up from the studio version of the song. But is it just me or does anyone else have no idea why that abstract cage was there? Was that meant to be a metaphor for her own self-imposed entrapment? Maybe it was meant to be left up to the imagination, I don’t know.
  • Knucklebone Oscar and his Shangri-La Rubies followed Anni and I seriously have to say that what happened in this performance can only be described as “absolutely diabolical”. Never could I think someone could take such a prestigious music competition such as Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu so jauntily, for lack of a better word. Yes, we get it, you’re a bit of a cult rockstar; that doesn’t mean you should enter a song that was absolutely SHIT. I’m sorry but no! You can break your guitar as much as you want, it won’t improve your song. Take your Katie Hopkins backing singers and go…
  • Luckily, we were rewarded for putting up with Kucklebone Oscar by listening to the eventual winner of the night -Norma John. I’ve already discussed the power and the control of the song above. However, the staging of “Blackbird” really emphasised the amazing aura and mood of the song and of Leena and Lasse themselves. Stood in a gorgeously funerial black gown with Lasse behind her on the piano, Leena stood on that stage and just sang. Now, I’ve given out to artists before about just standing there and offering no movement to their songs. However, in this case, the lack of movement was completely justified as the song was not meant to be a club banger; you’re meant to pay attention to the music rather than the aesthetic of the performance, although the addition of low lighting, dry ice and the moving water from the music did help to sell the song. All I can say is kudos to Norma John for creating such an emotive performance – kiitos!
  • Lauri Yrjölä followed with the only Finnish entry of the night and to be fair, it was a really pleasant performance! Lauri’s voice was on point throughout the song and it was clear that there was potential to do well on the night (although he finished 8th altogether, yeah….no). However, the potential was wasted on the weird dancing and rather stiff moves Lauri himself was giving. The performance and the song was pleasant, but it just wasn’t enough to win.
  • After Lauri came quite possibly one of the weirdest performances of te Eurovision season so far; from Club La Persé. I mean, the performance vocally was practically non-existent, but it was crazy and a bit cheesy in a good way! I think Ellen Vivian (the drag queen swinging from the cage) was the best vocalist as she was the only person to actually sing, but the rest of it was……interesting, to say the least. Can that be it? I honestly was just sat there for three minutes just sitting there watching and trying to comprehend the appeal of such gay-glam!
  • The penultimate act to show what they had was Zühlke. The performance was practically Part II of her music video for “Perfect Villain”, and I guess that works well? There were points in the song where she fell out of tune and it came across as if sometimes she had some in-ear problems along the lines of Emma but this didn’t phase Zühlke as much, leading to a much sharper performance. One thing about the performance though I have no idea of – what dafuq were those dancers? I mean, I know the music video was rather sexual and rather sadistic, but to have dancers performing Belgium 2013 choreography four years later? I thought we moved past that! How she came second though will forever surprise me, given that going into the show, “Perfect Villain” was my personal #8….awkwaaaaard!
  • My First Band brought the night’s competition to an end with the overtly sexual song “Paradise”. However, where Günther & D’Sanz fell down, MFB made up; there was no immediate dirtiness or filth to be felt or heard in the song. Instead, the performance was smooth, precise and it created a good party atmosphere. All in all, it was a good song to end on, as it brought the show into a party mood and the vocals and summer vibe were just pleasant to keep the ambience going into the rest of the night’s proceedings!
  • For the first interval act, we had the Norwegian child-duo Marcus and Martinus singing about topics children their age shouldn’t be singing about. “I’ve been looking at girls”; “I want more of everything you got”; boys, relax. You wouldn’t know what to do with what you’d be presented with. Hush now. I just shut off from thereon….
  • After this, it was time to collect the international juries’ points! We had the results from countries such as the UK, Spain, Norway, France and the host country, Ukraine itself  and after all that, Norma John won the jury vote with a total of 94 points. However, they were being chased by Zühlke and Emma who finished second and third respectively with the juries. Strangely though, public voting continued for a few minutes after the jury vote which is a bit bad, but hey that’s the rules of UMK.
  • While the public votes were being totted up, we were treated to a second interval from some woman named Jenni….Just when I thought the weird dancing waves were finished, we were treated to another one! Finland loves interpretive dance it seems!
  • Finally, we got to hear the full public votes and it threw up a few surprises! However, all in all, Norma John won the vote with 88 points from the public, cementing their victory and as such, they shall represent Finland in Kyiv in May! Congratulations!

So, will this song qualify? Again, it’s a hard question to answer as such, as at this stage there are still too few songs to judge on; not to mention that we have no idea how the semi-finals will be allocated (although we will have a proper analysis done in the coming days after the draw has been carried out!). However, it can be said that this stands a decent chance to make the final, but only dependent on the staging and where it comes in the running order. “Blackbird” is a fabulously dark song, but if you stick it in between – say, NAVI from Belarus, or (let’s take a shot in the dark here) Ariadne from Estonia, this will be swallowed up faster than Gabriela was between Laura and Douwe last year in Stockholm. However, it’s rather early to predict how the other countries are going to lay themselves on the table, so for the meantime we shall take a stance of cautious optimism. Let’s just hope Leena and Lasse are able to deliver on the aura they’ve created!

So, that is what we think – what are your thoughts? Do you think Norma John soar like a blackbird in Kyiv, or will they fall down the rooftops? Should Norma John have even won UMK 17? Who was your favourite? Where is Finland in your Top 5? Let us know your opinions by commenting below!!

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