Thursday, 27 February 2014

Anouk releases new single "You & I"



Dutch alt-rock singer and nobody's wife Anouk has released a new single called "You & I". It was co-penned by a fellow Dutch, music producer and DJ Afrojack. It is her second single since the incredible Sad Singalong Songs album, being preceded by the no-nonsense "Wigger". It marks a departure from the symphonic sound of her previous record and brings back the poppier side of her - make of that what you will. There's been no news regarding a new album but considering she has indeed been writing new material, I'm sure there's plenty of more to come.

Meanwhile, here's the music video:


Monday, 24 February 2014

Here's the new Artymove single + video!

So guys, I'm sure you remember Artymove, the Swedish electropop band whose previous single "So Real" also appeared on my Best of 2013 playlist and whose "No Option" collaboration with Jeannie was featured as the blog's Song of the Week last week? Well, the band's got a new single out!

As the title might suggest, the new single "Back and Forth Redux" is not actually a brand new song as such but rather a revamped version of a track called "Back And Forth" from their 2012 EP Bankruptcy. The new edit is shorter, omitting the original outro, and features guest vocals from a Danish rapper Mercedes. It's pretty catchy - I've had the song in my head for days!

When I saw Artymove open up for Dragonette in Helsinki in 2012, the singer Mathilda joked about this song being "only about that Finnish thing you've got, the sauna. Nothing more." Well, in the music video they take this metaphor a step further and the slow motion clip is actually filmed inside a sauna. Other shots include Mathilda and Mercedes dancing around a fire. To quote the lyrics, they literally "keep it hot and keep it steamy"!





And in case your curious, here's also the original version. Being one and a half minutes longer, it features an outro where the line "Come on everybody" is chanted throughout, before turning into something that sounds like a funeral hymn, of all things! Quite the juxtaposition, eh?





So there's some exciting new music to kick off your week with, enjoy! Oh, and I was told they've also got new material in the making so stay tuned for more.

Siouxsie Sunday: 'The Rapture' by Siouxsie and the Banshees



This Sunday, the album that will be reviewed is Siouxsie and the Banshees' 1995 record The Rapture. Released 19 years after the group was founded, The Rapture was the last LP they recorded before disbanding the following year. So this is it then - the very last Siouxsie and the Banshees studio album. (Although there's plenty of remaining Siouxsie recordings so fear not, it's far from over just yet.)

After releasing Superstition in 1991, the Banshees headlined the first Lollapalooza festival and were then asked to record a song for Tim Burton's Batman Returns. The outcome was the fantastic stand-alone single "Face To Face" that was co-orchestrated by Danny Elfman. A year after that, in 1993, the group started to record material for a new album. They then took a break from the recording process to play several festivals abroad, performing some of their newer songs as well even though they remained unreleased. The following year, Siouxsie also duetted with Morrissey on an incredible, heart-rending cover or Timi Yuro's "Interlude". The band felt that the album wasn't quite ready yet so they collaborated with The Velvet Underground pioneer John Cale to finish it. Two songs were dropped from the initial version of the album and ended up as B-sides for a later single release ("Black Sun", "Hang Me High") while a bunch of new songs were recorded with Cale. The completed album The Rapture finally saw the light of day in early 1995.


Sunday, 23 February 2014

New Game of Thrones trailer features a Siouxsie and the Banshees song!

That's right - the 1985 Banshees classic "Cities In Dust" from the group's Tinderbox album is featured in the new Game of Thrones trailer! Although it's not the original version of the song that's featured, but rather a cover of it by The Everlove. It's not the first time that this particular cover version is featured in a trailer: it was also used in a trailer for the 2012 video game Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. The trailer use of a Banshees song was hinted by none other than a founding member of the band, Steven Severin himself in a Siouxsie/Banshees/Creatures fan group in Facebook, though he didn't reveal the song in question. I was kind of expecting it to be "Israel", one of their signature hits, if only for the line "There were princes, and there were kings"






While the slower cover version is arguably more suitable for a trailer use, the original one is still miles better as far as I'm considered. (For a modern, electronic take on the song, you might as well check out Junkie XL's cover of it.) And for old times' sake - it's Sunday, after all! - here's the one version that started it all:


Saturday, 22 February 2014

Lily Allen's new album will be called... 'Sheezus'.

Oh dear.

And no, it's not a joke: not only did she reveal the album title on The Graham Norton Show yesterday calling it "a confident title choice - and a little nod to Kanye West"she then tweeted the following:



Is it just who's worried about how reactive her material seems to be getting these days, milking currently 'relevant' or 'trendy' phenomena for publicity? (Interestingly enough, that was also one of my main issues with M.I.A.'s Matangi.) First there was her comeback single "Hard Out Here" which played with references to both Robin Thicke's slimy dance floor anthem "Blurred Lines" and Miley Cyrus's horrendous signature dance move twerking, and now she names her album after Kanye's (quite narcissistic but also) extremely critically acclaimed Yeezus. Sheesh!

So far we've heard a couple of singles from the album, and another thing that worries me is her flirting with Auto-Tune. Why she does that when she can sing perfectly well without it is beyond me. Take her latest tune "L8 CMMR", taken from the soundtrack of the television series Girls for example:





Ugh.

In other news, "Air Balloon" is still a nice saccharine pop tune and now has an equally cutesy music video to it as well. It features exotic animals of the savannah, oversized mushrooms and a giant crucifix floating about in space. Not a single actual air balloon makes an appearance, though.



Friday, 21 February 2014

Happy February 21!

And what's that now, you ask? Well, February 21 marks the 14th time that the annual International Mother Language Day is celebrated. It is observed in order to promote multilingualism and the diversity of cultures and languages. So that's what. Nope, I hadn't heard of it before either so I've got my friends over at Wirtanappi to thank for keeping me informed. (They were discussing it in their radio show this morning.) Thus, remember to be proud of your very own language today - they are a richness!

Something else happened today as well. A baby princess was born on the other side of the border, in Sweden, so congratulations Madeleine and Chris for your newborn child! Grattis!

In order to tie these completely separate things awkwardly together and celebrate both my native language (which is Finnish) and the little princess (who is Swedish), here is an interesting video of Nina Persson (of the Swedish rock group The Cardigans) singing a Finnish tango song at the 2006 Guldbagge Awards, Sweden's leading film awards. Yes, a tango song. Yes, in Finnish.

The somewhat surprising cover is actually taken from a 2006 movie God Willing (Om Gud Vill) where Persson stars as a Finnish tango singer who moves to Stockholm. And the movie's another thing I had absolutely no idea about! It's quite surprising what you can find in the depths of Youtube.


Thursday, 20 February 2014

2014 BRIT Awards: A brief recap



As you might now, the 2014 BRIT Awards were held last night, with some of the biggest names of the British (and global) music scene getting together and celebrating each other's work. The attendees and the viewers were treated with several live performances among which there was an interesting collaboration between Disclosure and Kiwi indie sensation Lorde. Now, let's be honest - we've heard the lead single of her pretty good Pure Heroine album far too many times already (catchy as it is) but here the song's remixed into a refreshingly new version. However, by the time the song speeds up and segues into "White Noise" with Aluna of AlunaGeorge coming to claim the stage, there's no question of which alt-popper's performance dominates in this mashup. Nice jobs from the both of them, anyway!





We also heard an Egyptian-themed live rendition of Katy Perry's latest single "Dark Horse", complete with her channelling a neon-clad Cleopatra. She does deliver a solid performance, even though I still can't get over the fact that Prism would've had basically ten better candidates for the next single (which is nearly every other song on the album barring "Roar" and "Unconditionally" which have already been released as singles, in case you missed it). I would very much prefer it without its silly trap elements. What is it with me and my disappointment in single choices these days...?






I'll leave the outfit commentary for fashion blogs, so let's move on to the awards. Deservingly, music icon David Bowie was awarded as the best British solo male, becoming the oldest recipient of a Brit Award at the age of 67. He wasn't present himself so his award was collected by Kate Moss. Fun fact: he's been nominated in the same category for four times before, the first of which resulted in a win in 1984, 30 years ago.

Elsewhere, Daft Punk and Arctic Monkeys were expectedly crowned as the best international and British groups, respectively, while the latter's latest record AM was chosen as the album of the year, beating Bowie's The Next Day among others. In addition to Arctic Monkeys, many BRIT Awards performers such as Ellie Goulding, Bruno Mars and Lorde received awards, while the latter's temporary partners in crime Disclosure were nominated in four categories but eventually lost them all, two of them to Arctic Monkeys. Such injustice - "White Noise" should've been the single of the year. And then there's One Direction who, like Arctic Monkeys, scooped two awards as well. *sigh*


Here's the complete list of winners:


British Male Solo Artist - David Bowie

British Female Solo Artist - Ellie Goulding

British Group - Arctic Monkeys

International Group - Daft Punk

British Breakthrough Act - Bastille

Critics' Choice - Sam Smith

MasterCard British Album of the Year - Arctic Monkeys - AM

British Single of the Year - Rudimental featuring Ella Eyre - "Waiting All Night"

International Male Solo Artist - Bruno Mars

International Female Solo Artist - Lorde

British Producer of the Year - Flood and Alan Moulder

British Video - One Direction - "Best Song Ever"

BRITs Global Success - One Direction

Monday, 17 February 2014

V V Brown reveals new single

And it is...

*drumroll*

"Faith". Well damn, that's my chances for a personally written song blown out of the water - I was rooting for "Ghosts". As a matter of fact, I was a tad disappointed with the choice as in my opinion, "Faith" is the weakest track on her otherwise spectacular Samson & Delilah album, even feeling slightly like a filler.

Anyway, the re-recorded single version features a new guest vocalist, Bloc Party's Kele Okereke and the new male vocals do sound better now. Listen to the song below:


Friday, 14 February 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

It's the 14th of February and you know what that means - Valentine's Day is upon us. You're already probably so sick of all the saccharine posts and romantic sentimentality in the realms of social media and television etc. And then if you don't have someone special to share this 'magical day' with, you're either deemed a desperate loser or a pathetic hermit incapable of human emotion.

It's not like that everywhere in the world, though! In Finland and Estonia we don't celebrate Valentine's Day as such, but we rather call it ystävänpäivä or sõbrapäev, respectively, which would translate to "friend's day". So instead of commemorating romances and people's desperate quest for avoiding loneliness, we celebrate having friends and spending time together with them. Much less exclusive, much more fun! Although the effect of the ubiquitous American culture has inevitably influenced the day, turning it more and more pink and heart-filled. (Speaking of hearts, you might as well check out my heart-themed playlist - fear not, it's not that schmaltzy.)

As a Valentine's Day gift for her fans, the Danish indie popper MØ has recorded and released a cover of Spice Girls' 1996 single "Say You'll Be There". (Don't even get started - compared to a lot of stuff dominating the charts these days, Spice Girls were just fine.) And it gets even better - you can download it for free





And here's the original version and its music video, with Mel C - I mean "Katrina Highkick" - being as badass as always, throwing high kicks and backflips in the middle of a desert. As you do.


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Band of Skulls share new single + music video 'Nightmares'

The amazing alternative rock trio Band of Skulls - one of my favourite current rock acts - have released the next single taken from their forthcoming album Himalayan. The song, titled "Nightmares", is the second single from the record, preceded by the excellent "Asleep At The Wheel" which was infectious enough to make it to #9 on my Best of 2013 song list.

While "Asleep At The Wheel" was a typical edgier Band of Skulls track rich in riffs, "Nightmares" showcases the group's mellower, blues-influenced side, with the chorus asking "If I died tomorrow, would you be upset / or would you be the one coming to get me?" and Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson's emotional vocals blending together as beautifully and seamlessly as ever. Here's the music video, depicting a love story gone tragically wrong:





There's also a beautiful acoustic live rendition of the song on Youtube. Damn, it really, really makes me want to see these guys live. They actually were in Copenhagen last year opening up for Queens of the Stone Age but the tickets were rather expensive and I couldn't go there anyway so... got to keep an eye on the tour dates, then.





Ah, so stunning. Someone get me a glass of whiskey, a cigarette and a rainy evening like right now. They also played "Asleep At The Wheel" in the same session:






Seriously, how good are these guys?

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Róisín Murphy teases new EP, shares details about forthcoming projects

So, everyone's favourite electronic goddess Róisín Murphy has shared a teaser of her forthcoming EP - yes, there's finally a new Róisín record on the way! - which will be released in May and is called Mi Senti. As the title might suggest, it's going to be sung interestingly in Italian. She did the project together with her partner Sebastiano Properzi aka Brigante (of Luca C & Brigante, with whom Róisín has collaborated on their "Flash of Light" song). Listen to the 54-second teaser below:





Hmm. It's an interesting choice for a teaser but I don't really know what to say to be honest. She's done better stuff for sure. Maybe I'll just wait until we've got the actual EP in our hands before I say anything more than that, who knows how it'll turn out to be. It could be amazing after all.

However. HOWEVER. There's more than that!

In a recent interview with Irish radio presenter Rory Hall, she reveals that Mi Senti is not the only thing she's been working on lately - here's what she said:
"I have been incredibly productive as of late, actually (...) I'm working on an album, a Róisín Murphy album, which is going really well. I've got a single coming out on Eskimo records soon called 'Leviathan', which is a collaboration with Freeform Five. I'm doing another house music EP."
While a follow-up for 2007's incredibly Overpowered is not exactly brand new information - she spoke of it already back in 2009 - it's great to hear that the album is finally proceeding. (Although she did have two children during this time so the delay is understandable enough.) Whether or not the new single "Leviathan" will be on the album or not is currently unknown (the same goes for other post-Overpowered non-album songs "Demon Lover", "Orally Fixated""Momma's Place" and "Simulation"), but the song can actually already be listened to on Eskimo Recordings' Soundcloud page. To save you from unnecessary clicks and waiting time, here you go:





Now that's some proper Róisín stuff there. And then there's also that other EP she mentioned. I assume it's going to be a collaboration with someone (perhaps Luca C & Brigante or someone entirely new?) but we'll have to wait for more details. Anyway, what spectacular news - looks like 2014 could see Róisín coming back with a blast!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Rhino House Band's debut EP is out!

Remember the fortunately non-extinct indie rock group Rhino House Band I once wrote about? And how I said they had an EP on the way? Well, good news guys - it's out now! The excellent five-track record bears the title Golden Summer and can be streamed on their Soundcloud page. I fell in love with the EP on the first listen, and while all the songs on the record are great, personal favourites include "James' Song" and "Dirty Hobo". I actually chose "James' Song" for the first entry for my new 'Song of the week' feature: you can find an embedded Soundcloud box to the right of the blog posts, above the archive, which will be updated weekly with a new exciting song that I want to share with my readers! So keep an eye on that thing as well.

In addition to streaming the EP for free online, you can also buy it on their Bandcamp page at whatever price you want (there's no set minimum). How cool is that? So, check out Golden Summer below and don't forget to support good indie music! 


Siouxsie Sunday: 'Superstition' by Siouxsie and the Banshees



The year is 1991, and the Banshees get back together after taking an extended break to record a new album. It had been three years since 1988's brilliant Peepshow, which was the longest recording gap of their career so far. Meanwhile, Siouxsie and Budgie had worked together as The Creatures, recording another excellent LP Boomerang. The late 1980s had indeed been a creatively successful era for both groups, and Superstition saw them experimenting once again with new elements. This particular album, however, become probably their most polarising one - the new direction they were experimenting with, you see, was pop music.

Uh-oh, we're dealing with that dreaded moment when your cool and alternative favourite band does the unthinkable and goes pop. Sells out. When our favourite artists or groups release new music and it's not what we expect from them, we're often admittedly upset or at least not positively surprised. We've all been there. Nonetheless, sometimes we let our own initial reactions blur our judgement which is never a good thing. And now that I look back at Superstition - or 'the pink album', as the SATB fans tend to call it - it's by no means as lacking as many make it to be.


Friday, 7 February 2014

Annie releases new pro-LGBT song 'Russian Kiss'



The Norwegian electropop chanteuse Annie has released a new song "Russian Kiss" whose lyrics defend LGBT rights while the song title clearly points a finger at (or perhaps gives the finger to) the Russian president Vladimir Putin and his recent anti-LGBT laws that forbid "gay propaganda" such as rainbow flags and public displays of affection between same-sex partners. The laws have worsened the social status of Russian LGBT citizens who have experienced discrimination and violence because of their sexuality. There's even an organised group called "Occupy Pedophilia" (apparently, the group regards homosexuality and pedophilia as somehow linked) that systematically harasses gay men in several ways while filming it and then uploading the videos on the internet to further humiliate their victims.

Annie encourages the LGBT people to fight for their human rights by singing "Don't give up, maybe then they can understand / It is right that you fight for your love demands" before chanting "Shake a fist for the Russian kiss!". The release of the song and the accompanying music video was timed to coincide with the opening of the Olympics to make clear what the message is. Would it work better without the cliché-like imagery of scantily dressed promiscuous people and the sound of the men moaning in the background? Well, yeah. I personally think the over-sexualisation of the LGBT rights campaigns kind of shoot themselves in the foot, but the intention is good and the statement is bold nevertheless. You can watch the music video below.

Meanwhile, Google has made a similar statement on its home page with its rainbow-coloured, Olympic-themed doodle which features a quote that deals with the connection between the Olympics and human rights:



Hopefully there will be a time where we don't have to fight for universal human rights anymore and they would be taken for granted everywhere in the world. Meanwhile, you can support the work for LGBT rights for instance by buying Annie's song over here - proceeds from the sales will be donated to the non-profit LGBT charity All Out.


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Blog news!

Can I just say something? Don't get me wrong, I'm a very addicted and dedicated Tumblr user myself but the way the blog system works over there is a bit silly. I started Popheaval's Tumblr blog by creating a new blog under my personal Tumblr account which meant I could use them conveniently alongside each other. Soon, however, I realised that I couldn't use the Popheaval account independently - for example, if I wanted to follow an artist or a band, I had to do it via my main profile. Any additional profiles are apparently treated as 'secondary' accounts which cannot be used independently nor can they be separated from each other. How very brainless. 

Long story short, I had to create a new Tumblr site for my blog, this time as the main user. The web address is still the same though, and can be found over here. If you're on Tumblr, make sure to follow to keep updated.

Anyway, rant over. Since this is a music blog after all, I'll make it up for you with some exciting up-and-coming music: here's Beatrice Eli, a Stockholm-based indie popper who combines soul and electronic music with amazing results! Check out her song "The Conqueror" below:





If you liked the song, make sure to check out her debut EP on Spotify! (Click here for the link.)

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Naomi Pilgrim's debut EP is out!

Hey guys, still remember the Swedish/Barbadian pop promise Naomi Pilgrim whose super catchy debut single "No Gun" I discovered through Nordic Playlist? Well, if you liked her, then here's a treat for you - she's got a three-song EP out! Her self-titled debut features two new songs, "Rainmakers" and "Money", in addition to the amazing "No Gun". "Rainmakers" is, like "No Gun", Pilgrim's original material, while "Money" is a cover of a Lady song of the same name.

Try if you like Lykke Li or MØ. Or just good soulful electropop in general. I simply can't help admiring the current Nordic music scene - there's so much going on at the moment! 


Monday, 3 February 2014

New(-ish) music videos from Popheaval's UMK favourites!

So, the UMK14 (Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu, the Finnish national Eurovision preselection for the Eurovision Song Contest) culminated in Softengine's victory, and thus the juniors of the competition earned their tickets to Copenhagen. Was I surprised? No. But was I still disappointed? Well, yeah. I had a couple of favourites that I would've preferred to the winning act (good as it was) but while none of them made it to the ESC, I can always replay the music videos of those songs instead. Here are Popheaval's picks for the best UMK entries, and now you can check out their music videos as well!

Hukka ja Mama's "Selja" was the one I rooted for the most. I just can't help loving the sincerity and the naiveness of this wonderful tune. The duo themselves described the song as "toylike" and as a mixture of loveliness and melancholy. The delightfully childlike music video recreates that feeling - and you might even learn a little Finnish thanks to the toy letters that spell some of the lyrics - with the result being this adorable clip:




I would've loved to see MIAU rocking the ESC stage with their bizarre backup dancers but unfortunately that didn't happen. They did make it to top 3 in the competition though which is awesome! The ballsy trio is currently working on their debut album which is due to be released this May. Meanwhile, feel free to draw inspiration for your next night out from the wacky dance moves seen on the music video:




I already posted Lili Lambert's new music video in my previous UMK post but I'll do it again anyway. While it's one of my definite favourites this year, it was actually the first one to be eliminated from the competition. Too bad. Her UMK entry "Let Me Take You There" is an infectious mid-tempo dance number that recalls the type of RnB they used to make around mid-noughties and it feels a little bit retro but also at the same time very fresh and modern. I've had it on a loop in my head for DAYS and it doesn't appear to be going anywhere. But with earworms as good as this, how could you be upset? The almost-one-shot music video was filmed at Bar Bläk in Helsinki, and features a lot of group dancing in the background while Lambert seduces her viewers singing the song.




And then there's Mikko Pohjola with his (annoyingly) beautiful song about infidelity. Initially, I wasn't that keen on this song but, especially after receiving new arrangements, it did stealthily grow on me. (On a side note, look at his jawline - it even rivals that of Ridge Forrester!) Where was I? Ah yes, especially with some additional timpani and tubular bells in the final chorus, the song got much more powerful and impressive and maybe it is in fact the kick that the grandeur brings into the song that I felt the demo version was lacking. The song, accompanied by a minimalist music video, finished 2nd in the contest so it was close, so close. It would've been great to hear Finnish being sung in the ESC as beautifully as he does it but hey, there's always other years to come.




Here were my favourites - do feel free to share yours in the comments!

Siouxsie Sunday: 'Boomerang' by The Creatures



After Siouxsie and the Banshees had released their 1988 masterpiece Peepshow and finished with the subsequent promotion tour, the band decided to take a break. This, of course, was not to say that they'd take a complete year-off from the music biz, but rather simply signified another resurfacing of Siouxsie and Budgie's experimental side project The Creatures.

Ever since The Creatures came to be, it was clear that the project was never intended to rival the Banshees, but rather just provide the duo with a means to fulfil their more experimental side. (The Creatures did find their own success: their debut EP Wild ThingsFeast single "Miss The Girl" and stand-alone single "Right Now" peaked at #24, #21 and #14 in the UK singles chart - with the latter staying in the charts for 10 weeks! - while Feast itself peaked at #17 in the UK album charts.) So apparently even the eccentricity of the Banshees wasn't enough for the two of them! That's how the project came to be in the first place: their debut EP was inspired by a leftover demo from the Juju sessions. While Juju was arguably a rather tribal album, the demo track "But Not Them" took the tribal feel to another level, consisting merely of vocals accompanied by percussion.

Boomerang was The Creatures' first LP since 1983's Feast, a tropical experiment characterised by the duo's distinctive percussion-driven sound. While Feast was written and recorded in Hawaii, which was reflected in the soundscape of the album, for the creating process of Boomerang they rented a stone barn in Andalusia, Spain. Stylistically there was a lot of development in the duo's sound: both the range of the instruments they used and the influences they drew from broadened. They incorporated brass arrangements (in the vein of "Right Now") and experimented with exotica with amazing results. Fun fact: the artwork for the album was photographed by Anton Corbijn (who's done everyone from David Bowie and Depeche Mode to Björk and U2) and while he became famous for his black-and-white photography, the Boomerang era pictures he took of The Creatures marked the first time he chose to photograph artists in colour.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Popheaval goes Eurovision: UMK14

UMK (abbreviation for Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu or "Competition for New Music") is the Finnish national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest. The UMK final is drawing near (it's on this Saturday night), so the situation is getting quite electrifying!

The competition has basically four rounds. In the first round, the acts perform to the four-member jury and get feedback from them. None are eliminated. Starting from the second round, there is a live audience. The contestants are divided into two heats, from which the entries that have received the most votes go straight to the final. Respectively, the entries with the least votes are eliminated. Both jury and and the audience vote. Third round is the semifinal: only the audience votes and additional two entries are eliminated. Thus, four acts have been eliminated so far, and eight contestants remain in the competition, all eager to seize the victory in the fourth round, the final. The competition is bound to be an exciting one, and here are my thoughts about the national pre-selection entries.


1. Softengine - Something Better

Softengine's "Something Better" won the 1st heat, hence making its way straight to the final. It's a double-edged sword: on the one hand, the band clearly has a lot of support. But on the other hand, the other entries have had one performance more to cement their position in the viewers' heads and grow on them. The song itself is great, a bit Coldplay-ish perhaps with the piano parts and the synths, and it has a nice anthemic feel to it, complete with the obligatory sing-along "wooo-oo-oo-oo" in the bridge. The song could do without the screamo-influenced vocals in the end, though. All in all, it's a good, catchy song and I wouldn't mind if it were to represent Finland.






2. Hanna Sky - Hope

"Hope" was the winner of the second heat, so the song has earned its place in the final. It's quite interesting that both the winner entries of the two heats were placed in the beginning of the running order. The song is decorated with exotic instrumentals, so there is an element of cultural fusion in it. That, along with the lyrical theme of hope, makes me feel that the song tries so hard to be a world-embracing peace anthem, it comes across as a cliché. And we know how they tend to fall flat competitively. It also feels like she's trying to play a bit too evidently with the 'child of nature' image (like last year's winner Emmelie de Forest), ending up trying to emulate Beyoncé gone Elovena.






3. MIAU - God/Drug

When I heard the fierce 37-second demo preview of the song, I fell instantly in love. Then I heard the song performed in full length, and I was disappointed: the song turned out to be too repetitive for my liking, and it basically took the first two and a half minutes for the group to get to the final climax which is what the song is all about. However, the tables were once again turned by their semifinal performance - while the song might not be the most diverse one out of the bunch, the ballsy girl trio have an incredible live energy and put on one hell of a show. The song has developed and they've added some new vocal tricks to bring variation. And then there's also the batshit crazy backup dancers (who are men, by the way). So, the song and the performance have really kept becoming better and better, and at the moment they are my second favourite contestant in the race. The final chorus of this particular version was actually the only moment of any of the songs to give me the chills. 






4. Lauri Mikkola - Going Down

Lauri Mikkola is a skilled singer for sure but song just doesn't work for me. The soulful chorus is pretty much the only interesting thing in the song, and Mikkola's moving on the stage is mostly cringeworthy. I really like the backing vocals though. It's not a bad song, but it's not memorable either, so... I'm sorry to say, but the song is going down.






5. MadCraft - Shining Bright

Has someone given them too much sugar or what? This overly colourful, overzealous group are somewhat entertaining to look at, like the kids skating at the local mall, but there's only so much hyperactivity one can take. In fact, weren't they already skating to this song back in the '90s or is the song just that generic in its genre? Sure, they've brought colour into the UMK mix but that's about it. They've received media attention which is probably what they came for in the first place, and I'm fairly certain the final is as far as they go.






6. Mikko Pohjola - Sängyn reunalla

The original demo of "Sängyn reunalla" ("On the edge of a bed") was rather boring (other than the "kotii-i-i-ii-iin" vocal hook) and didn't get anywhere. The final version, however, features a proper build-up and now sounds much more promising. The emphasis in this song is heavily in the sad lyrics which tell the story of a man who's having an affair with a woman who is already in a relationship. So basically, the storyteller is a total dick but the lyrics describe it beautifully. Now, the thing is, considering Finnish is hardly a widely-spoken language and the song lyrics are translated and subtitled only in Estonia (with the exception of Finland itself), it would be a risky move to send a highly lyrical entry to the Eurovision Song Contest when it won't be generally understood and a large part of the song will remain undelivered. Then again, Ott Lepland's powerful ballad, sung in his native language Estonian, placed 6th in 2012, so universally understandable lyrics are not the automatic key to happiness. If he does win the contest and represents Finland in Copenhagen, please force him to consult with a stylist, though - he looks like he's literally just got out of the bed. Pohjola's song has apparently been the most streamed one on Spotify so who knows what's going to happen.






7. Clarissa feat. Josh Standing - Top of The World

Okay, this one I must've heard already in the '90s. No? Alright, then the song is just an incredibly tacky mixture of musical elements we've all heard far too many times before, with the final part of it even seemingly trying to recycle "Euphoria". The singing's not that impressive either. The duo might be singing about being on top of the world but this song is certainly not taking me there. Interestingly enough, the Finnish Eurovision fan community Viisukuppila has gone bananas about the song. Perhaps it's the campiness of it...? 'Cause I mean, this is the campiest of camp.







8. Hukka ja Mama - Selja

Ah, Hukka ja Mama, how I love this song. Drawing from both indie folk and the Finnish rautalanka rock genre popular in the 1960s, "Selja" is a fascinating mixture of musical styles and dream-like lyrics. (The lyrics describe a situation where a person has fallen in love with someone named Selja because of the dreams the person has had about the titular character.) There's a wonderful contrast between the sincerity and naivety of the lyrics and the vocals and the melancholy of the musical arrangements. The duo is also fun to look at: they for example start the performance sitting on a kind of a sofa you could find at your grandma's, they've bought a sizable wolf plush toy on the stage (the Finnish word 'hukka' can be translated to 'wolf') and singer Martina's hairdo is adorned with giant colour pencils. The songwriting is excellent and Martina makes a captivating frontwoman. The almost magical "Selja" is my personal favourite and I'll certainly be rooting for it here in Denmark - save the best for last, eh? Douze points!






So here's my final verdict:


Definitely yes!

Hukka ja Mama - Selja
MIAU - God/Drug

Not bad at all.

Softengine - Something Better
Mikko Pohjola - Sängyn reunalla

Nah.

Hanna Sky - Hope
Lauri Mikkola - Going Down

Please, no.

MadCraft - Shining Bright
Clarissa feat. Josh Standing - Top of The World


The whole competition has been an enjoyable couple of weeks, and what I really love about the execution itself is how well it takes social media into account, such as in Twitter where they actively scout the hashtag #umk14 asnwering, favouring and sharing tweets. Therefore, the UMK feels like an actually interactive format, and they have received positive feedback about it even from abroad, so good for them!

I'm ending the post with another UMK14 favourite of mine, Lili Lambert's seductive "Let Me Take You There", that was unfortunately the first one to go. While it might have not been the best song here, there was something so instantly infectious about it that I've been listening to it almost daily. (I do prefer the vocals in the demo version, though.) Anyway, the winner and Finland's representative in ESC 2014 will be chosen today, and the broadcast can be streamed live wherever you are over at this link, starting at 20:30 (or 8.30 p.m.) UTC+02:00 so remember to tune in! (And all you Finnish readers, do vote as well - it's all in your hands now.)

What are your own favourites? Let me know in the comment section below!