20 February 2021
It’s the first Super Saturday of the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest season, and while it might be low on quantity, it makes up for it in quality. Most notably for Finland’s Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu, where every song is great, and for Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix, where Keiino will need to fight off a posse of other excellent entries to reach Eurovision for the second time after appearing at Tel Aviv at 2019 and winning the televote. Estonia’s Eest Laul has also started (previewed here) and their second semi final is also on. It certainly will be a big night, or a big morning for us in Australia.
Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu 2021
01 Teflon Brothers x Pandora – I Love You
02 Aksel – Hurt
03 Laura – Play
04 Danny – Sinä Päivänä Kun Kaikki Rakastaa Mua
05 Oskr – Lie
06 Blind Channel – Dark Side
07 Ilta – Kelle Mä Soitan
It’s not an exaggeration, every song this year is so good! I liked them all from the start, and still like them. It’s also a diverse bunch from rock/metal, hip-hop/80s-electro pop, male and female ballads, and something uniquely Finnish. While I landed on my favourite from the start, all the rest have shuffled around, with a couple even contending for the top. Note that this year’s UMK will be streamed or viewed later in English and Russian, along with Finnish and Swedish. Check my twitter feed for details.
My Top 7
07 Oskr – Lie
Nothing wrong with this. I’ve listened to it as much as most of the others and, unfortunately, someone must be, to be diplomatic, seventh! It’s a really nice, engaging song, and Oskr really sings it from the heart. It’s just that I prefer 6 others.
06 Aksel – Hurt
Following the cancellation of Rotterdam 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s UMK winner has returned essentially, at least in style, with Looking Back: Part 2. It has all the same infectious qualities and hallmarks and Aksel’s impressive soft vocals that found approval in 2020. The question is can Aksel match the presentation of last year’s effort to lift it to victory? That one was a bit out of the box, so to strike it hot twice in a row, probably not.
05 Laura – Play
Laura has already appeared twice for her home country Estonia at two Eurovision Song Contests. The first with the girl group Suntribe at Kyiv 2005 performing Let’s Get Loud and then with Koit Toome at Kyiv 2017 performing Verona. Play picks up from the country vibe that was in her unsuccessful Eesti Laul 2020 entry, Break Me, after branching out from her long-time association with noted Estonian composer and producer Sven Lohmus. It’s a tough year to cross the Baltic Sea for a shot at UMK glory, as while Play plays to all Laura’s strengths of an engaging pop song and distinct vocals, it’s not strong enough to win.
04 Ilta – Kelle Mä Soitan
I’m a sucker for beautifully sung ballads by beautiful female voices, and this hits all the right notes. That it’s in Finnish adds further enchantment. Sometimes you just need the music, and the voice, and that’s it! For the record, the title translates to “who do I call now”. Then you perfectly understand the song.
03 Danny – Sinä Päivänä Kun Kaikki Rakastaa Mua
Translating to “the day when everyone loves me”, it’s a song about your funeral day. Yes! It’s worthwhile turning on the English captions after already listening to it as the song, while it’s just a guy in a chair rambling on and seems to leave the dramatic section too late, it is strangely hypnotic. In fact, I already heard it four times before checking the translation.
02 Blind Channel – Dark Side
Rock returns for Finland! After Lordi shook up Eurovision in 2006, Finland slowly reverted to its dull and shy self over the years, only to leave some of its more interesting entries at home. Last year was a classic case when Erika Vikman and her Finnish-disco classic, Cicciolina, lost to Aksel with Looking Back. Looking back indeed! Blind Channel is certainly in-your-face rock/metal, or “violent pop”, as they like to call themselves. Musically, they make Lordi look like a pimply faced British boy band, and with lines like “put your middle finger up, take a shot, throw it up, and don’t stop”, they aren’t subtle either. If they can blow up the stage and leave their larynx behind in the process, we could be hearing Dark Side in Rotterdam.
01 Teflon Brothers x Pandora – I Love You
Finnish hip-hop mixed with 80s electro-pop, this also harnesses the retro videogame vibe that made Iceland’s Dadi Freyr one of the favourites for last year’s Eurovision. This strange mix works so well and is so infectious. While I often look to others as possibly better songs, I then return to it and I think “nah”.
Who Will Win?
Personally, I’d be rapt with either the Teflon Brothers or Blind Channel. I’d lean towards Blind Channel if they can really deliver something memorable. The betting markets have Blind Channel the most likely, then Teflon Brothers and Aksel. The Finnish public will be responsible for 75% of the vote this year, with the dubious international jury cut to 25%. Whether an international betting market is relevant to a Finnish audience, we wait and see.
Melodi Grand Prix 2021
01 Atle Pettersen – World On Fire
02 Raylee – Hero
03 Stavangerkameratene – Who I Am
04 Kiim – My Lonely Voice
05 Blåsemafian feat. Hazel – Let Loose
06 Emmy – Witch Woods
07 Tix – Fallen Angel
08 Kaja Rode – Feel Again
09 Rein Alexander – Eyes Wide Open
10 Imerika – I Can’t Escape
11 Keiino – Monument
12 Jorn – Faith Bloody Faith
Jorn made it through the wild card show out of the 20 semi final losers (5 semi finals of 5 entries and 1 winner), and while I really liked Stina Talling’s Elevate from that first semi final, Jorn was good too. Really, that semi was loaded with Blåsemafian winning, and Gold Pass holders Keiino and Tix presenting their songs. Tix’s Ut Av Mørket has become the English version, Fallen Angel, for the final itself, which helps explain the giant wings and all the “wing men” dancing about. The second semi saw Raylee emerge with Hero, and after that, there wasn’t much to excite in the remaining semi finals. Probably Imerika in the fifth semi. A solo woman with yellow and orange hair and an engaging folksy big ballad. Emmy with Witch Woods from the third semi was ok. Of the other Gold Pass holders, Atle Pettersen presented his uptempo World on Fire well, even if it’s quite derivative. Rein Alexander, being one of the fan favourites last year, returns looking “normal” and with something quite generic. No gruff caveman look this year. Odd!
My Top 5
05 Jorn – Faith Bloody Faith
It just shows, faith bloody faith can get you a long way. Jorn really injects some power into the line-up, and while Faith Bloody Faith is quite generic and is full of cliches and familar phrases, it’s so much fun.
04 Tix – Fallen Angel
While we don’t know how it translates into English, you get enough from the Norwegian version as presented during the first semi final. It’s so distinct and the melody really embeds itself in your psyche. Epic stuff.
03 Keiino – Monument
I must admit, I’m really falling for Alexandra Rotan’s pristine and sweet vocals, and they are really on show here in the first part of the song and she unleashes an impressive monster note towards the end. As for Monument itself, it’s not quite a monument to itself, if we’re to compare to Spirit In The Sky. Returning artists are often compared to their previous entry, and need to be better to succeed, even among weaker competition. Keiino is a class act and have a huge fan base, and that might be enough anyway.
02 Blåsemafian feat. Hazel – Let Loose
A curious mix of big brass instrumental sections injected with the exquisite jazz vocal sections by Hazel (heart flutters), and it works. You can’t stop bopping along to it.
01 Raylee – Hero
A bit of a fan favourite last year, Raylee is back in 2021 with something so much more superior than the trashy wild. Imagine the 80s, someone like Laura Branigan, add a crazy perm, and super song, and you get Hero. It’s currently my favourite song of the entire national final season or of any of the selected entries for Rotterdam 2021. You go girl!
Note: Jorn and Blåsemafian don’t have official sources of their performances, so apologies if they get deleted.
Who Will Win?
Odds are, if you believe the odds, and the fans, it’s Keiino all the way. Obviously I want it to be Raylee, so hoping that her fan base, and Norwegians wanting to send someone knew, is enough to get her over the line.