Finland’s line-up of finalists is now complete, after the third semi-final, held tonight in Tampere. Jaana Pelkonen and Tom Nylund guided us through the five songs in the running. Who would qualify?
Finland’s largest inland city Tampere tonight hosted the last semi-final allowing the voting public of Finland the chance to select three more songs for the Finnish national final on 12 February in Turku.
Our hosts started off in classic Carola mode, with a wind machine making the already wild-haired Tom look even more windswept. They reminded us that a combination of televoting and SMS would select tonight’s three finalists.
Tonight’s competitors were:
Eveliina Määttä – Dancing in the dark (Axel Johannson/Mats Tärnfors/Tracy Lipp)
Hanna Päkarinen (2007) introduced our first hopeful for tonight, the black-clad Eveliina. With a partly robotic dance routine, she performed this pleasant song, that had nothing at all to do with Bruce Springsteen’s 1980s smash hit. There were moments when she looked a little nervous, but the crowd seemed to like it.
Sami Hintsanen – Täältä maailmaan (Antti Kleemola/Mikko Karjalainen)
Finland’s performer from 1989 Anneli Saaristo introduced shaven-headed Sami to the TV audience. With his jeans and checked shirt, you would expect this to be something uptempo. Not so, this was a traditional ballad delivered as only a Finn could. Among the backing performers was a woman with a French horn, something you don’t see very often on stage.
Tommi Soidinmäki – Seis! (Petri Laaksonen/Kyösti Salokorpi)
This next song, translated at Stop!, was introduced by Katri Helena (1979 & 1993) in a matter-of-fact and slightly enthusiastic manner. Tommi, along with his backing singers and dancers (two of each) were all dressed in black. Apart from his quiff, you could imagine Jari Sillanpää performing this. A dramatic middle-eight and dance routine meant this could stand out. Indeed, the crowd gave this the biggest cheer of the night so far.
Saara Aalto – Blessed with love (Saara Aalto)
Saara Aalto had a lot to live up to. Hers was a song chosen by SMS (text) voting back in October, and the other two chosen this way (by Cardiant and Father MacKenzie) had already made it. Markku Aro (1971) introduced Saara who, judging by the postcard, was here to enjoy herself no matter how she did. Saara was dressed in white and sat at a piano with a guitarist accompanying her. A very pleasant well-constructed ballad, complete with a good English accent boded well for this.
Stala & So – Pamela (Sampsa A Stala/Sami J)
Finally, Ami Aspelund (1983) told us about ‘glam rock’ trio Stala & So. By appearances, they could only be Scandinavian, which is not always a bad thing. It was a little bit The Ark, a little bit Wigwam, and a complete contrast to Saara. The motif here was black feathery jackets and red feather boas. And the crowd loved it.
After the five songs had performed we had a brief recap, with a reminder of the number to call and SMS. Then we had a short chat with Hanna Päkarinen.
All five sets of performers were called up to the stage. As in the previous weeks, an intriguing plasma dome atop a plinth was given centre stage, and in a random fashion the acts were asked to place their hands on it. Would it turn red or green(?)? The tension built and after a tense few moments, the three lucky acts were announced as (in no particular order):
Stala & So
In addition to these three acts, one further non-qualifying act from the three semi-finals would be given a wild card entry into the final. This wild card waspicked by YLE, and was announced tonight as Eveliina Määttä.