My opinion, among others' I'm sure, has drastically changed after seeing the live performances of the UMK songs. On January 28th starting at 20:00 CET, the Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu live final took place. Live stream was available to international viewers. Waking up at 6am Australian Eastern Standard time was well worth it! The stage looked great and Krista was an fun and charismatic hostess as usual. This time she didn't have to juggle being physically present in both the UMK and Melodifestivalen semi finals simultaneously like last year:)
Firstly, Emma with 'Circle of Light. Her studio version of the song was great, and definitely the biggest fan favourite. Unfortunately her live show did not go as well as expected. The staging and use of props was creative, and definitely fit the theme of the song and music video. That seemed to be the only thing going for Emma on the night. She sounded as if she had a cold and her timing was a bit off in places too. Possibly she was somewhat nervous on top of everything else as well. If I had heard the song for the first time during her live performance, I wouldn't have appreciated it at all.
Enough about Emma though, I just had to express my disappointment.
Other honourable mentions on the night in my opinion:
-La Persé with their over the top hilarious act
-Günther & D'Sanz with their ridiculous prop slide, and sleazy lyrics
-My First Band who seemed like a potential winner for a while there as their song grew on many over time
Well this is actually about the winner, Finland's representative in Kyiv. As most reading this will already know, the duo Norma John won the contest with the song 'Blackbird', and will therefore represent Finland in Kyiv this May with their winning song.
Solely based on the studio version, I found the song to be on the bland side, and it failed to get much attention from me prior to the show. Seeing their live performance, this all changed. It took the song to a whole new level. It would be an understatement to say that their performance complimented the song, as it even made the song itself so much better. Now I love it! The combination of the beautiful vocals, mysterious scenery in the background, the on-stage piano and staging as a whole, gave me goosebumps. Their performance provoked various thoughts and feelings, more so than most other powerful ballads are able to do.
The song is about a woman who lost her lover and is telling the blackbird to go away as it reminds her of him. The lyrics, though fairly few, are very strong and meaningful. Many people will be able to relate to the feelings she is singing about as well.
Most likely Finland will be getting through to the final for the first time in 3 years. I will be expecting it if their performance is anything nearly as good as it was in UMK. We will see in the upcoming months who they're up against. There will be a fair amount of songs to compete with on the night since they are in the same semi final as several countries which usually do very well: Sweden, Azerbaijan and Australia. Ok it may be a bit too soon to say Australia 'usually' does well, having only had 2 competing songs. But it has a great track record.
I have high hopes for Norma John and wish them luck in the first semi final on May 9th and hopefully the final on May 13th. Suomi voittoon!