Finland hopes to relive ‘Sandstorm’ success with Darude
Finland selected their artist for Eurovision internally last year and only gave the people a choice to select the song. Pop star Saara Aalto performed three tunes in their national final, in which ‘Monsters’ emerged as the winner. After three years of missing out on a spot in the final at Eurovision, Aalto managed to bring her country back to the Saturday night, where she undeservedly finished 25th out of 26. This year broadcaster YLE invited DJ and ‘Sandstorm’ hitmaker Darude with the same concept. He performed three songs together with vocalist Sebastian Rejman and ‘Look Away’ was the chosen one. Will Darude be able to relive past successes on the Eurovision stage?
The good news is that the Finnish voters chose right as ‘Look Away’ is the strongest of the three entries. It is a catchy dance number with a formulaic build up. The track starts out understated, then builds up to some big vocals in the chorus, until a prominent beat drops. The fact that ‘Look Away’ is so predictable is not necessarily a problem, but there is no denying that it sounds more like 2012 than 2019. The question is if European juries and televoters will mind this, especially because there are some excellent hooks in ‘Look Away’, making it one of the more instantly catchy tunes of the competition this year so far.
The live performance in the national final left me with mixed feelings. Visually there is a concept that works, but definitely needs to be refined before it is ready for Tel Aviv. They have the theme of the lyrics, in which Sebastian worries about the state of the world while the ones around him seem to be sleeping on it, incorporated in the visuals which is a smart move. Vocally however, the performance lacked some power. It is not like Sebastian Rejman sings out of tune, but it seems like his vocals miss the power to completely sell a song like this. They definitely need some strong backing vocals to back him up to recreate the same impact the studio version has. Then there is Darude himself, who has his own little DJ booth going on, while we all know he is not exactly doing anything live. Those are the rules every DJ and musician has to accept when choosing to do Eurovision though.
I doubt that Darude can make use of his ‘Sandstorm’ fame much, as his Eurovision entry sounds nothing like it. Finland is one of the few countries that sends a dance tune this year, which might help their case at least a little bit. This might be an entry that resonates more with the televoters than juries, but either way I don’t expect Finland to come close to a top 5 spot in the final.
Review on their semi-final performance:
‘Look Away’ is a decent but dated slice of euro dance. Rejman’s vocal performance sure wasn’t pitch perfect as he especially struggled with the lower notes in the verses. The idea of the staging was one of the best of the night, but the execution was not strong enough. Darude, Rejman and the dancer were too far apart, almost as if we were looking at three different performances and therefore the under/above water parts of the dancer weren’t as effective. If you ask me, Finland delivered a better song and performance than some of the countries that did qualify in the end, but at the same time I am not shocked that they did not make it. It turned out they finished dead last in the first semi, hardly gaining any points from both juries and televoters.
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