Yle had some bad luck in the first heat with the sound mix being weak throughout most songs and I am hoping that issue will be fixed for tonight. It wouldn't really help future editions of UMK if the participants fear that the competition will make them look tuneless on live television.
1. MAKEA - Painovoima
When I first had a fragment of this chorus, I thought this could be one of the entries to look out for. Having heard the whole song, I am not so sure anymore. This mix of a Hanna Pakarinen-chorus, energetic rap and ska is more confusing than effective, and when the 80's heavy metal guitar solo these three minutes already start feeling very long.
2. LAURI MIKKOLA - Going Down
A quality performer with a quality song in a genre we haven't really heard that often before in Finnish finals. Possibly the negative mindset of the lyrics can scare off a number of viewers who think Eurovision should be a happy party, but surely a contender.
3. CLARISSA FEAT JOSH STANDING - Top Of The Word
Here it comes: the only typical happy eurovision song in the entire line-up, given a very bouncy and charming performance by pop starlet Clarissa in duet with equally likeable Josh. Just a shame that the song is so generic and predictable and made by the numbers. I would have loved seeing what Clarissa and Josh could be capable of had they had more to work with.
4. MIKKO POHJOLA - Sängyn reunalla
If you want to know what contemporary Finnish pop music aimed at a slightly older audience sounds like, then this is the song for you. A delicate, almost whispering, little song in a soft and attractive arrangement. Something for the local radio stations to play until the world comes to an end. Perhaps not instant enough for the ESC, but my personal favourite of the year.
5. MADCRAFT - Shining Bright
Together with Lili Lambert - eliminated last week - this is the biggest question mark of the line-up in my book. Both genres were represented last year without any notable success and yet they are back again. This is quite catchy and well sung by a bunch of guys who probably loved Green Day in the mid 90's and kept on playing together since. Not bad but doesn't fill a void in any way.
6. HANNA SKY - Hope
Love. Peace. Trust. Eternal topics of eurovision lyrics. Hope too. Not a bad song, interesting in its own little way, well sung, but the very naïve and straight-forward lyrics become a little too much for me to swallow in the end.
So, who will be tonight's direct qualifier? It is harder than ever to predict, since Yle introduced a little novelty in the voting this year. If you have money in the bank and wish to help your favourite in a big way, you can buy blocks of up to fifty votes in one go.
|Screenshot from yle.fi/umk2014|
There could be some good reason for this new function - surely there is one - but it also leaves a bitter taste after the show. Last week's direct qualifier Softengine were clearly the best act in the running but is also the only act to be picked up by a major label. The tiny suspicion that their label could have made a little investment in getting their group into the final keeps nagging at the back of my head.
The question for UMK is not only who has the most appealing entry but also who could have fans willing to cough up some money for their favourite singer.
All that aside: I think tonight's qualifier will be Clarissa - given her energy, star quality and her fan base among the Swedish speaking parts of Finland; a group that has had a certain impact on the results during these last years.
In the other end of the result, I think rap-ska-combo Makea will have a hard time breaking through to the audiences, possibly battling it out with MadCraft or Hanna Sky unless the latter really impresses with her vocal skills.
There should be a live webcast available worldwide on the official UMK website.