Tonight, the second out of three semi finals will be held in the Tohloppi TV studios in Tampere. Five acts go on stage, three of them take a place in the big final on February 12th.
This week's bunch is a lot stronger than the songs on offer last week. Which is odd. Yle should of course spread the strongest entries as evenly as possibly among the semis in order to have as strong a final as only possible.
And here they are - the entries of this week reviewed based on the studio versions. If somebody sings badly live, I will be as unpleasantly surprised as you.
1. SOMA MANUCHAR - Strong
Soma Manuchar opens the game with a modern sounding pop song that could be described as a not too remote cousin of Jonna's ill-fated entry of last week. Soma could very well go down the same road as this has proved to be a tricky genre in Finnish finals - the audience tend to ignore young females with modern pop ditties. "Strong" is however, despite lacking any kind of surprise element by the end, reasonably strong.
2. PARADISE OSKAR - Da Da Dam
No use beating around the bush here: this is my big favourite out of all fifteen entries on offer. Paradise Oskar (the name taken from a main character in an Astrid Lindgren novel) is a Finnish Tom Dice with a better song and a voice full of sincerity. Classy, relaxed, original and yet accessible. And unlike most of the other songs, this one has a very clear hook for people to remember already after one listening.
3. JIMI CONSTANTINE - Party To Party
When Jimi Constantine sang with the band Technicolour, he would have been one of my favourite acts to represent Finland at Eurovision. Now he enters on his own with a song that starts out promising with a bit of a (somewhat dated) pop sound, pumping rhythms and a very present backing vocal section. Musically very close to "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi and maybe there is where it loses me. Despite all promising components, this just falls flat on its nose, trying to be fun and crazy when it really isn't. And that silly lyric (we party all night and dance with all the models - who cares?) doesn't help a bit.
4. MILANA MISIC - Sydämeni kaksi maata
Milana has a lot to live up to in this contest - her mother is none other than Laila Kinnunen, Finland's first ESC entrant in addition to being perhaps the country's most beloved singer ever. She is playing the exotic card and wants to be original and mixes a ballad, an oriental interlude and some discofox à la Love Boat into the same song. Not a bad effort once you hear it a couple of times, but on a first listening it is nothing but confusing.
5. FATHER MCKENZIE - Good Enough
The second strongest entry of the evening has a bit of a shakey beginning to fight against: here and there during the first half of the song, this comes across as a bit amateurish, but it all comes together nicely at the end. If the audience listens all the way, this is a grower that gets better by every time you hear it. And it may be helped in the voting by the fact that one member comes from Ostrobothnia and another from Åland Islands, where local patriotism is a good thing and people are not afraid to televote.
So who will reach the final, then? I hope and think that Paradise Oskar is untouchable and easily sails into the final, but Finnish televoters are sometimes very unpredictable. Soma Manuchar would deserve a spot in the final, but her type of songs seldom impresses the viewers. And how loyal fans does Jimi Constantine have?
My prediction is that Paradise Oscar, Father McKenzie and Jimi Constantine makes it to the final, leaving the ladies behind. That is not gentleman behaviour, but a very likely outcome.