We are already at the last of the three semi finals leading up to this year's big national final in Finland. Five songs will fight it out over the last three spots on February 12th, and one of the semi final losers will be given a golden bonus ticket as well.
On to tonight's hopefuls:
1. EVELIINA MÄÄTTÄ - Dancing In The Dark
A girl with a modern pop song has not been a winning formula this year. After Jonna and Soma Manuchar falling through, the odds are not exactly brilliant for Eveliina. On a first listening, I found this entry slightly more interesting than the two girls before her, but ultimately it falls into the same trap anyway. There is not enough dynamic to keep the listener hooked, and for the last minute the whole thing just drags on without a single thing happening throughout.
2. SAMI HINTSANEN - Täältä maailmaan
This song, written by Antti Kleemola who sang in last year's Euroviisut, has a very strong air of déjà-vu over it. There were loads of big ballads like this one in Finland's national selections in the 80's. Close your eyes, and you will think this is Kirka in Euroviisut 1985. Sami Hintsanen sang in Euroviisut 1996, but is better known as the wild and crazy host of TV2:s karaoke game show "Tartu mikkiin". For him to come in and play all serious with a song like this...? I say no.
3. TOMMI SOIDINMÄKI - Seis!
Yet another Tango King trying to cross over into some kind of pop field. Reminds me of when opera tenors try to do pop and the result more often turns square and dead rather than groovy. Maybe Soidinmäki's stage presence can blow some life into the package on stage, maybe the arrangement will feel less dated with the right performance. A hit on the local schlager radio, but in no way suitable for the ESC.
4. SAARA AALTO - Blessed With Love
Saara could easily fall into the same group as Jonna, Soma and Eveliina, but usually the average Finnish televoter is more enthusiastic about heartfelt ballads than pop. This song is cleancut, elegant, includes notes high enough to impress and possesses a dreamy feeling that would suit any Disney classic anywhere. The only thing it lacks is a pinch of drama or excitement. Pretty but not overwhelming.
5. STALA & SO. - Pamela
The last song on offer is a piece of glam rock that could well have been an album track by Wig Wam (Norway 2005). At first it feels so stereotype and square that my eyes start rolling by themselves, but first impressions can decieve. When the chorus kicks in, it offers a bit of the temper and attitude that is missing in all other entries tonight. When the verse comes around for the second time, you notice that it carries a certain finesse in the melody line as well. Not the ultimate song in any way, but a bit of a relief at this point. If the performance is up to scratch, this should be tonight's clear winner.
Tonight's lucky three are most probably Stala & So, Tommi Soidinmäki and Saara Aalto, unless Sami Hintsanen would prove to have a fanatic fan base out in the woods, waiting to flood the switchboards with their calls.
If those three are the lucky ones, I would also award the lucky loser spot to Jonna or, if she performs well tonight, Eveliina Määttä. Not that it matters much - Maria Lund, who got it last year, proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that the lucky loser is shark feed in the final anyway.