28 February 2017

Eurovision 2017: Review: Finland: Blackbird

Norma John / Eurovision 2017 / Finland

Finland: Norma John - Blackbird

Ever since their famous win in 2006 - courtesy of Lordi - Finland's fortunes at the Eurovision Song Contest have proven to be problematic. The last ten years have witnessed four non-qualifications and a last place showing - so, can Norma John and their Blackbird improve the Nordic country's circumstances?

Quite possibly. Finland appear to have identified the potential of entering somewhat atypical songs into the Contest - even if the strategy has not always paid off.

Finland flag
This year could be different. Although Blackbird is as far away musically from Hard Rock Hallelujah as one can imagine, this wistful ballad has nevertheless installed itself as one of the early favourites.

It's not surprising. It's sung with impeccable vocals by Leena Tirronen who transports the listener on an emotive journey describing how the most mundane of things can be a painful reminder of lost love. Although emotional, her voice successfully supplants the usual melodramatic mood with a much darker yet delicate quality.

This extends to the song's clever piano arrangement which, on a musical level, manages to carry the emotion to just the right intensity, avoiding the pitfalls of some similarly selected ballads which have proven to be much too soporific.

Of course, the past shows that ballads have managed to keep us awake enough to secure a victory, but they are usually of the "power" variety. Blackbird is much more pensive, quiet and understated. It's unlikely to appeal to the party crowd, but then Calm After the Storm and Silent Storm probably didn't either, but it did those songs little harm.

Suffice to say then, you can bet on seeing Norma John somewhere in the mix. It's a quality entry after all and, with a good tail wind, should comfortably qualify from its semi-final. What happens to it after that is down to the draw, of course. With too many ballads around it, the song could struggle. What it really needs is a position among the overtly power-pop offerings where it is allowed to show how it stands out from the crowd.

Even then, it's unlikely to be this year's winner, but expect to see it gobble up some major points.


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