The Finnish selection has (once again) changed its modus, and the entire selection this year contains 12 songs compared to last year's 24. In each semi, there will be four songs of which two will pass straight into the final and the other two will enter the Second Chance round.
However, the Second Chance round will be broadcast as a part of the final. So all 12 songs will, however you twist and turn the matter, make it into the final broadcast. An idea that gives the two songs that makes it through the Second Chance a real advantage on the songs initially qualified. Maybe one should hope for one's favourites not to win the semis but to go into the Second Chance?
Well, all things aside, here are the four songs of tonight and my ratings:
1. HANNAH MARSH - Broken Flower 2/5
First song to enter stage is a pleasant little piece of country pop, with a very harmonious beat and feel to it. A song the Corrs could have had on one of their albums, but probably not one they would have pushed as a single. Hannah has a very nice voice and she has written a very nice song and the word nice weighs very heavily on its shoulders. Nice never wins Eurovision. You like it for as long as it goes on, and as the next song starts you already forgot about it.
2. KARI TAPIO - Valaise yö 2/5
A dose of Finnish iskelmä, the local version of schlager in this carefully crafted number that in parts reminds me a bit of "Tie uuteen päivään", Finland's entry back in 1971. "Modern" and "edgy" are, thus, not the right words to describe this package. Kari is a living legend in Finland, but he is also one of the big problems about the song. Under every rock and behind every bush in Europe, you can find a local Kari Tapio; a living legend that means a lot to you, but who won't mean anything to the hundreds of millions watching and voting elsewhere. Not a bad effort, but completely doomed if a good placing is what you are looking for.
3. MOVETRON - Cupido 2/5
Back in the mid-90's, all of Finland danced like crazy to Movetron's hits "Ristinolla" and "Roomeo ja Juulia", both of which stood the test of time and remain songs you can still listen to, unlike most of the dance songs of that decade. Then the era ended and Movetron disbanded. End of story, or so we thought. Late 2007 saw Movetron bursting back onto the music scene, pretending that time stood still and no musical progress has been going on since "Ristinolla" was taken off the turntable. Again, this is not bad, but nobody is ready for a 90's revival, and this new song somehow sounds older than their old ditties. Not a particularly good thing.
4. CRUMBLAND - Pleasure 2/5
This first semi feels more like a time machine than a national selection anno 2008. Crumbland sounds remarkably alike all Seattle-based rock bands who ravaged the charts back in 1993. This could be "Cats In The Cradle" had there been more chorus to it. Not bad, but just not my cup of tea. And in no time or place is this Eurovision winning material.
I must sadly say that it doesn't matter much to me which two songs passes on to the final, as I refuse to believe that any of these four songs is the one that will fly the blue-and-white banner for us in Belgrade. But if I have to guess, I would think Kari Tapios fans vote him into the final alongside Crumbland for all lovers of rock music.
That all songs benefit from good performances and manage to lift themselves live and surprise me in a positive manner. And that next week's bunch is stronger.