Finland has chosen Saara Aalto and “Monsters” for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Now, it would not be a stretch to call Saara Aalto a competition veteran. She finished second in the Voice of Finland 2012 and she has also finished second at the Finnish national selection show UMK twice, in 2011 and 2016.
See a pattern? One wondered if she was ever going to get a win somewhere, anywhere.
Then something interesting happened: Saara went to the United Kingdom and entered X Factor UK. She finished second (again) in a series that was widely watched by the Brits, the Irish, and the Finns. Rumor had it that she planned to enter the UK national selection competition Eurovision: You Decide. Finland took a look at its crop of songs, decided they were a measly bunch, and gave her a direct-to-Eurovision offer, thus beating the UK to the punch.
It’s a classic story:
You’re not good enough for me.
Ok, I’ll change. How about now?
Better, but no, you’re still not good enough for me.
Is that really how you feel? It breaks my heart. But I’ll pick up the pieces, move on, and find someone else who will love me the way I deserve.
Wait, someone else likes you? I like you so much better now. Come back!
Well, it always has been you, so…okay. But you hurt me bad. This time I have some conditions.
Sure, sure anything. But please come back! I need you!
Thus, for this year’s UMK, Saara co-wrote and performed three songs for the public and an international jury to choose from. “Monsters,” the runaway favorite, was co-written with “Heroes” songwriters Joy and Linnea Deb and Ki Fitzgerald from Busted.
“Monsters” is one of those only at Eurovision songs, from its thematic content to its ballad-to-dance track transition. It’s a Euroclub stomper, if not a Eurovision winner. Maybe it will finish second?
Saara’s vocal phrasing is excellent. She’s not flawless: She runs the risk of being shouty and she struggles with the lower end of her range. Be not fooled by her surname: Ms. Aalto is definitely a soprano. But her obvious glee about finally getting her chance at Eurovision translates into a joyful, infectious live performance.
Speaking of infectious, let’s talk about that lyrical hook: “Monster” burrows into your brain and pops out at random times.
“I ain’t scared no more!”
So it’s got that going for it.