This year, the legendary DJ Ville Virtanen, also known as Darude (yes, the Sandstorm-guy) will represent Finland in Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv together with vocalist Sebastian Rejman. The final contest will be held on May 18 and the semi-final 1 which Finland has been allocated to on May 14. However, there is still one final and perhaps the most momentous step to take before we can begin to compare Finland’s entry with the other countries: choosing the song.
Darude and Rejman’s song will be chosen by international juries and general audience on March 2. The three songs are already out, and we still have some time to speculate and muse over the entries before the final choice!
1. Release Me
(Ville Virtanen, Jaakko Manninen, Brandyn Burnett)
The first song revealed, Release Me tells the story of a parent who is forced to leave their children to wave from the windows when they travel distances for their work. The message is very personal for Darude and stems from the circumstances in his own life. The song has a Darudesque trance track over a regular pop song structure, and vocals sung by Rejman. The song comes accompanied with a cute video, where Darude is seen playing with a child and throwing a concert in front of an enthusiastic audience.
The strong point of the track is the message (as an interesting and totally unnecessary comparison, a song with a surprisingly similar message, Save Your Kisses for Me by the UK group Brotherhood of Man won the contest in 1976). However, if the message is lost somewhere in the loud mixing of the instrumental sounds and roundabout lyrics, as often happens in ESC these days, it truly destroys the chances of the song. The music video enhances the message but is likely not shown during the final live performance.
Look forward to: The video has somewhat unnecessary footage of a lady doing some aerial acrobatics in tight bikini and fishnet tights. I wouldn’t be surprised if she is seen on the stage in a true Eurovision fashion.
(Ville Virtanen, Chris Hope, Thom Bridges)
The second song released was Superman. It is an Ode to the super people of everyday life, those that give others the chance to shine through their hard work and effort. Fair warning: don’t watch the music video while listening to the song for the first time, it is bound to distract your focus from the song (the video has a slightly inconsistent yet cute story in a style reminiscent of Moldova with Darude plumbing the toilet among other things). The strong point of the track is its positivity. Like in Release Me, the lyrics are simple and there is a lot of repetition. Thanks to this the chorus is very easy to remember, but that might also be partly because Rejman’s pronunciation of ‘Superman’ is quite memorable, at least for me.
Look forward to: The international audience reacting to that dididiidiididi in the C part.
3. Look Away
(Sebastian Rejman, Ville Virtanen)
The last of the three entries handles global issues and how people should face the issues and do something about them instead of looking away. The chorus is a bit repetitive with its ‘Look away’ s, but danceable. The music video is simple and beautiful, showing different people with different backgrounds. The format may not be nothing new, but the video works the best out of the three.
The message is a slight risk, as important as it is. The Eurovision Song Contest might be exactly the kind of distraction for many people, a chance to look away from the problems looming around them. Social or environmental messages are typical in Eurovision, but a successful entry usually handles the message with a hint of positivity, lightness and even humor, such as Netta’s dealing with Me Too-issues in the last year’s winner song, Toy. On the other hand, even heavier issues can receive a lot of votes from the general audience if they tackle the issue in a way straightforward enough, such as Italy’s Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente, that dealt with terrorism and was third in the public vote last year.
Look forward to: Towards the end of the song, Rejman’s repetition of ‘Look away’ starts to sound funny.
All in all, I think that all of the songs are hit potential in Tel Aviv, because they offer people a chance to hop and dance their excess energy away, something that the live audiences are always looking forward to (probably not the least in Israel’s party-capital). However, the thing that makes me worried is that judging from the first impression, all the songs sound quite similar. It might mean that Darude simply stays true to his trademark style, but it may also hint towards the songs not being able to stand out.
My personal favorite at the moment is Look Away, because it feels like the most complete piece. Its message is easy to understand and, let’s face it, it is the most dramatic. I expect that there will not be as much happening on the stage this year as with Saara Aalto last year, but the final opinion will have to wait until March 2, when we see the live performances.
Listen to all the songs and see the videos here!: https://yle.fi/aihe/artikkeli/2019/01/29/darude-announced-as-finnish-entry-for-the-eurovision-song-contest-2019-watch