1-4 September 2017: UMK (Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu) opened up for song submissions from the public. The day after submissions closed, they posted a picture of a hard drive on their facebook page. This hard drive supposedly contained all of the songs submitted. So far, things seemed fairly similar to the past 6 years, since Finland introduced the current selection format. The dates for the two semi-finals and final were not announced yet.
7 November, 2017: There was a surprise announcement that Saara Aalto would be representing Finland in Eurovision 2018, certainly leaving a few people confused after the first step of usual preselection had already taken place. Saara has been growing in popularity over the last few years. Not only in Finland, but also abroad. Particularly in the United Kingdom, where she placed 2nd in their edition X Factor in 2016. Clearly, 2018 was going to be a very different year in the Finnish selection.
The general reaction to choosing Saara to represent Finland was mostly very positive. Many see the potential with her since she has experience, charisma, excellent stage presence and has a powerful voice. It was announced that there were be three songs released, one at a time. The public would then vote for the one they like the best in the final, ultimately selecting the entry song for Finland.
9 February, 2018: The first song ”Monsters” was released, along with the music video. The feedback on the song was great. Monsters is a catchy pop song, about overcoming obstacles in your life. The music video shows her in what is probably supposed to be her house, surrounded by various monsters. It has lots of potential. Being so well liked, it left many wondering what else she has in store for her next two songs.
16 February, 2018: ”Domino” was the next song released, with lyrics describing a relationship in trouble. The music video featured Saara singing as well as two women dancing intimately. The melody is catchy and is memorable, but it does not have the same wow factor as the previous song.
22 February, 2018 The third and final song to be revealed was ”Queens”, about putting the past behind you and being stronger now. In the video, Saara is shown with various looks, alongside four male dancers and two cats. The song definitely impressed quite many people. It has a great, catchy melody and grabs you from the first listen.
3 March, 2018 The Final of UMK took place. Saara performed all of her 3 songs. Krista Siegfrids opened with a funny number using the melodies of other ESC songs.
’Monsters’ was up first. Saara had black winged angels (or demons) dancing with her on stage. Next up was ’Domino’. There were large props on stage along the lines of the title. Following this was ’Queens’ where Saara sang on small prop stage with several dancers. Mel C performed ’I Turn to You’ as an interval act, as well as a trio with Krista and CatCat performing a very different version of ’Bye Bye Baby’.
The international jury gave their half of the points first, with ’Monsters’ getting the highest amount of points, followed by ’Domino’ and then ’Queens’. When the same exact thing happened with the public vote, ’Monsters’ was declared Finland’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2018!
Overall, it was a very entertaining show to watch. Despite the final being shorter in length than previous years, at just over 1hr20min, YLE did a great job at keeping it funny, entertaining and captivating the whole time. Good luck in Lisbon Saara!