Eurovision 2016 – Finland: ‘Sing it Away’ (Sandhja)

Finland’s song for 2016 is a fast-moving soul-infused disco number that needs to end almost as soon as it has begun. The verse amounts to very little, thrusting all the attention on the melodically unambitious chorus. With no real contrast between the two, the song quickly gets boring. It’s also got a challenging fast-moving lead vocal underpinned with close harmony high-up in the mix – duff notes in the live vocals from this National Final performance highlight how risky this number is.

Finland’s only win since their 1961 debut was Lordi’s ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah‘ (2005) – what seems now like a wily creation which both ridiculed and celebrated the Eurovision at the same time. I couldn’t bear it then and I can barely tolerate it now. In that respect 1962’s ‘Tipi Tii‘ (7th) and ‘Kuin silloin ennen‘ share a common bond, with Hard Rock Hallelujah being ever so slightly more annoying.

For most of the competition’s history Finland’s efforts have, largely, languished mid to bottom of the table. In recent years, there’s been a string of a slash-metal-esque numbers since Lordi’s 2006 win, a sort-of club number in 2009, and a folksy number in 2010.

Sweet and well-intentioned as ‘Da Da Dum‘ was in 2011, Paradise Oskar (21st) did veer on the slightly creepy side in head and shoulder shots. Pernilla’s ‘När Jag Blundar‘ had elegance but lacked presence in Baku and failed to qualify. ‘Marry Me‘ was an entertaining watch and great for the Final running order, only managed 24th place in 2013. Softengine’s Coldplay-influenced ‘Something Better‘climbed to 11th place in 2014, but last year’s metal number ‘Aina Mun Pitää‘ failed to qualify.

The quality stuff is, for me at least, found further back in the Eurovision dark ages. Carita’s ‘Keep Me Warm‘ from 1974 is worth a listen, and whilst 1983’s ‘Fantasiaa‘ borrowed heavily from Abba’s trademark sound and it’s chorus let it down slightly, 1985’s Eläköön elämä thundering up-tempo rock number and 1986’s ballad ‘Never the End’ were more convincing. To date, Vicki Rosti’s ‘Sata salamma’ (9th, 1987) remains my all-time favourite from Finland. Don’t tell anyone, but ‘Nauravat silmät muistetaan‘ remains a guilty pleasure. .

I can’t really explain Finland’s foray into reggae in 1982, 1981’s pseudo-progressive effort, 1991, 1992, or 1994. God only knows what was happening in 1976 and like the singer Vessa Matti-Loiri in 1980, I’m struggling to find the melodic line in Finland’s song that year, ‘Huilumies’ – the flute really didn’t help. Probably best avoid all of those, if I were you.

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