Editorials & OpinionStockholm 2016

Xtra Review: Finland’s UMK 2016 – Heat 2

The national final season is picking up pace, and earlier this week the 18 competitors in Finland’s Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu were unveiled. They will compete in three heats throughout February, with three acts qualifying from each to make the grand final on Saturday 27 February.
Over the next few days we’ll be taking a look at each song and seeing whether Finland could have a winner amongst the selection, or even just something to get them back into the final again. Yesterday, Peter listened to the songs on offer in semi-final 1. Today, we move onto semi-final 2, the semi Nick listened to.
Attention 2 – Ready For The Show
Too bad, girls, you’re not ready for the show just yet. This teen/bubble gum pop attempt sounds like a pure Meghan Trainor intended effort. That in itself isn’t really a bad thing – Trainor is a successful artist, after all, but aged just 15, these two are just too late for Junior Eurovision and just too early for adult Eurovision. Try again in 2018, I’m sure that’ll bring you more chances. Watch here.
Cristal Snow – Love Is Blind
This doesn’t really do much at first. Cristal Snow lost out to Teräsbetöni in 2008 and he’s going to lose out in 2016 too. This sounds Danish: Inoffensive, middle of the road, pop, but that’s about it. Until the final minute kicks in and that’s where harmonies start working and Cristal Snow actually does something with his sound. Just a shame it’s too late. Watch here.
Annica Milán & Kimmo Blom – Good Enough
Kimmo, in UMK 2015 known as Angelo de Nile, is back with a proper hit. He loves his rock music and that shines through in this and it feels as if Annica could handle that style of song as well. Still, they’re doing a more schlager attempt at it  and that means this song, with punchy vocals, a great chorus and excellent verses has had its repeat button clicked multiple times since hearing it. My personal highlight this heat.

Rafaela Truda – Rise Up
This is an effort at being contemporary. Starting the song off with a sax, this song sounds rather American. The start actually reminds me way too much of Problem by Ariana Grande (just the first two seconds though). It’s just too bad that the chorus is insanely repetitive. And there’s two types of repetitive: Repetitive so it gets catchy or the kind where it just annoys you. This annoys me. Besides that, it doesn’t quite sound as if Rafaela is a good singer. A lot of the song is more spoken and there’s even rap in it. I’ll pass. Big time. Watch here.
Ylona – Blazing Fire
This song passed me by without me even noticing. A rather bland midtempo pop song which is far from packing a punch. She’s called her song Blazing Fire, but her song doesn’t set me on fire nor is it anywhere near blazing. It’s decent, inoffensive and not unpleasant to hear, but it’s not something that should represent Finland in Stockholm. Her voice is quite nice and tolerable, so I’d like to see her return to UMK in the future. With different songwriters. Watch here.
Mikael Saari – On It Goes
A return a lot of us have been waiting for. Mikael Saari, a 2013 hero with We should be through, giving UMK another go. But sometimes it’s better to just keep your reputation alive. The heartfelt, calm ballad he brought in 2013 has become a rather pompous and overblown effort. Don’t get me wrong, Mikael Saari is still a very credible and excellent artist, it just doesn’t live up to the expectations I had.

So who is qualifying?
I desperately want Annica Milán and Kimmo Blom to qualify. I actually expect them to make it through quite easily as they’re miles ahead of the rest in this semi-final. Despite not living up to the high expectations, Mikael Saari would be my second pick. He still has that stage charisma and I hope he can lift the live performance to the next level. Finally, it would have to be Cristal Snow. It’d be filling material behind the other two, but hey – someone has to make it.
I however often see that reality and my hopes are worlds apart. My first two choices seem to collect most of the praise around social media, so I think both Annica&Kimmo and Mikael Saari will qualify. The order will probably swap though, with Mikael Saari winning the semi-final. In terms of voters, Cristal Snow falls right in the middle and whereas that’s enough to put it in my personal top three, I can’t see it getting the votes. It’s Finland, they like to give the odd vote here and there, which means that my final guess would be Rafaela Truda.
What do you think?
Let us know if you agree and have a go at predicting the outcome by dropping us a tweet @escXtra. Meanwhile stay tuned for the next instalment coming tomorrow.

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