ESC 2017 Review: Finland – Blackbird Can Sing

I love Finland so much. The land of Lordi and Krista Siegfrids! Does their song for this year have wings? Or will they have to Sing It Away again?

These are my own PERSONAL rankings of what I think of 2017’s Eurovision songs but I’m also going to make some bold predictions about the eventual fate of the song. These will probably be very wrong for a variety of reasons including I have no idea what almost half the artists sound like live or what type of staging and song changes could be made. There’s plenty of songs that have been let down by their staging (2016 Spain for example) so in the end they’re just guesses in the dark.

Country: Finland
Artist: Norma John
Song Title: Blackbird
My Ranking: 29th (out of 43)
Semi Final: 1st Semi Final
Final placement prediction: NQ

Finland in Eurovision is perhaps best known for it’s surprise 2006 win with Lordi’s “Hard Rock Hallelujah” complete with monster costumes and pyrotechnics but they have a very long history in Eurovision and not a great record overall. Since that win they’ve failed to qualify 4 out of the 10 entries and received sub-20 another 4 out of 10 times, as well as finishing dead last once. Finland, as a Nordic, has a fairly robust population and musical talent but it just doesn’t seem to make it from their national final, Uuden Musiikin Kilpailiu, to the euro stage. At UMK this year there were two songs I thought might have been top 10 material as well as two songs about oral sex and none of them were chosen to represent this beautiful country so I don’t know how to feel. If I could do it all over again I would just send Krista Siegfrids with her UMK opening song “UMG Bitch”. Get it together people of Suomi! Anyway we got this instead and it’s not bad, it’s just not my cup of tea.

Norma John, whose name is not Norma Jean like I always think it might be, are the winners of UMK 17 and their song “Blackbird” is what I would have called a musical ballad. The wiki page called it “chamber pop” which is a term I have never heard of in my life and just seems to be defined as pop music using live instruments. To me it sounds like for a near majority of the song the only instrument is a piano (and her voice) and there’s absolutely nothing pop or even reasonably “radio” about this song so classifying it as anything but piano ballad is a stretch to me. Norma John themselves are a Finnish duo of pianist Lasse Piirainen and vocalist Leena Tirronen and they have had very different careers and paths. She was on X Factor back in 2012 and he has 30 years of classical experience so it’s very likely that this team up is an ESC-stand alone project.

The song is a very soothing melody, the lyrics are actually quite touching but the plodding piano and her soft vocals always kind of put me to sleep. This song doesn’t have the bravada that many ballads bring to ESC and while I don’t have any problems with dark subject matter, this song verges on boring by the time we hit the halfway point. There’s a bridge where I always think the song has ended as well, the pause goes on too long even on stage and things become even more awkward when the song starts up again because instead of new lyrics, she simply repeats the song again. While her delivery at UMK was very good, the song has a hyper predictable sound to it and without any vocal changes suffers from repetition more than the average song. It’s hard because the subject of the song makes it hard to really have break out emotional moments, instead she has quite sad moments but they don’t translate in to anything I want more of. In a way, this song is an inferior version of last years “Color of Your Life” which only won favor with voters because of Michał himself and the shocking ability of a single man to hit a high note and then hit another even higher note and when you think he’s done he hits ONE MORE just to show you. This song doesn’t do that and it feels more like a warm up vocal practice than a display of what human voice could do.

With low energy, dark colors, and a lack of vocal change ups this song punches below its weight and I think it’ll pay for that with a non-qualification. Blackbird, don’t sing.

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