Album Review: Saara Aalto – Wild Wild Wonderland

saara aalto wild wonderland

Saara Aalto takes us to a Wild Wonderland on new album
2018 is shaping up to be the biggest year in Saara Aalto’s career so far. The Finnish diva started to get international recognition thanks to finishing as runner-up in X Factor UK after doing countless singing competitions in her native country. Aalto was internally selected to represent Finland at the Eurovision Song Contest this year (she participated in the national final twice before) and in a show where she presented three brand new tracks, the Finnish people and a jury selected ‘Monsters’. Saara now releases an album with the three tracks and more new material titled Wild Wild Wonderland.

Saara Aalto wowed the British public week by giving them a swinging disco or dance performance one week and following it up with a vocally challening ballad the next. On Wild Wild Wonderland Saara certainly went in a more uptempo direction, which is not surprising after she gave us the infectious pop dance hybrid ‘Monsters’, disco pop extravaganza ‘Queens’ and powerful midtempo Sia inspired ‘Domino’. Out of the 13 tracks, we only get one proper ballad, but luckily for us, it is a stunner! On ‘Dance Like Nobody’s Watching’ it is just Saara’s heavenly vocals, piano and strings while she convinces us to ‘dance like nobody is judging who we love’. She makes clear ‘we won’t be silenced’ and we will ‘kill them with kindness’. Queen of inspiring messages!

Although most of the record could be defined as uptempo pop, Saara shows her chameleon soul with different vibes and sub genres on almost every track. ‘DANCE!!!’ is a swinging tribute to the disco pop of the eighties with a production that echoes Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ in the middle-eight. ‘Half A Heart’ is a vocal whirlwind on which Saara channels her inner Pussycat Doll with enough sass and hooks to back her up. On ‘Sirens’ Saara follows a more contemporary approach with a light electronic production and a bright, soaring chorus about universal love. Aalto teamed up with British pure pop hit machine Xenomania (Girls Aloud, The Saturdays) for ‘My Touch’. Not a lot of artists these days would get away with this bonkers and campy type of pop, but it fits Saara’s voice and persona like a glove! I can already picture her performing this at sunny Pride events all over Europe, after her (hopefully successful) Eurovision participation.

‘Don’t Deny Our Love’ (co-written by Axel Ehnström who represented Finland at Eurovision in 2011 as Paradise Oskar) is one of the absolute highlights of the record with a punchy electro pop sound and an all destroying chorus. The way Saara hits the high note in the ‘I know you got reasons to be scared’ part, is out of this world! ‘Walking On Nails’ is another pitch perfect pure pop tune with a radiofriendly chorus and lyrics that discuss the uncertainty that comes with a new love in your life. ‘HÄN’ (which is not in Finnish as the title would made you believe) lets Saara showcase her powerful vocals in a Jessie J type of way, but with more restraint and nuance. Title track ‘Wild Wild Wonderland’ sounds like it was taken straight from a early noughties Kylie Minogue record, which is about the biggest compliment a pure pop fan could hand you.

It is impressive to see how Saara Aalto managed to drop a perfectly cohesive upbeat pop record, considering the big amount of collaborators she worked with to make Wild Wild Wonderland happen. There is enough hit worthy material on here to help Saara make use of the buzz she will receive after performing for millions of people at the Eurovision Song Contest. Wild Wild Wonderland is an album that defines her as an artist and could be her ticket to international success if Eurovision works out the way we’re hoping for!

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