Hei, Suomi! The Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — is currently reviewing the songs competing at Finland’s Eurovision 2017 selection Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu (UMK). Next up is Emma with “Circle of Light”. Do we want to step in her circle or are we enjoying the darkness outside of it? Here’s what we think!

Emma – “Circle of Light”

About Emma

Twenty-six-year-old Emma Sandström hails from Kokkola, Finland, but currently lives in Stockholm where she works as a music teacher. In 2015 she took part in The Voice of Finland. Her UMK entry is her first single release. Emma describes her folk-meets-electronic sound as wooden dance music (WDM).

“Circle of Light” reviews:

Robyn: If Finland wants to get back in the Eurovision grand final and end up on the left-hand side of the score board, this is the song to do it. “Circle of Light” is so catchy, and manages to be uplifting, mysterious and soothing. But most of all, I want to see this go to Eurovision so I can see what they do with the staging. It promises something spectacular.

Score: 9/10

Forrest: Emma is offering, by some margin, the most Eurovision ready track competing in UMK this year. That’s not to say it’s perfect though. I would argue the instrumentation does a lot of the work here and it does its job well; that electric violin is simply stirring. Emma has a great voice, but the lyrics get repetitive towards the back half of the song and the bridge feels incongruous. Finland has a habit of producing unexpected results in its national final, but if “Circle of Light” wins, I think, with a few tweaks, it could do very well in Kyiv.

Score: 7/10

Bernardo: Rakas, we are fine. Emma — slayer of spiritual out-of-this-world bangers — has a chance of making the top ten in Kyiv. It’s the first song that’s made me feel this way this year. Her strong and compelling vocals combined with a well-crafted instrumental make me feel like I’m safe in her circle of light. It gives me life.

Score: 9/10

William: Tribal and spiritual, catchy and well-produced, Emma’s “Circle of Light” ticks all the boxes for a potential winner. The crash of drums, the reedy sound of the oboe, the electronic squeeze box — somehow the convoluted instrumentation works, creating a distinctly Celtic feel. In the video she serves Jon Snow Game of Thrones realness, suggesting she’s ready to put on a proper stage show in Finland. Assuming her vocals match the promise we see here, she stands a very good chance of heading to Kyiv.

Score: 9/10

Josh: The clear stand-out in this year’s Finnish selection, Emma is serving up some District 12 Hunger Games realness because, although the song is raw, it’s also expensive. The production behind both the song and the film clip means that YLE are preparing and priming this for the stage in Kyiv. I’ve missed Finland in the final this past couple of years, and this is the only surefire way of getting into that field of 26. We are safe in the circle of light!

Score: 9.5/10

Sami: This is as close to perfection as we get in this year’s UMK. Everything in this works. It’s memorable, it’s perfect for Eurovision and it has so much potential. I love it when traditional elements are brought into pop music and in this case, they do it with good taste. The only thing I don’t like is the bridge before the last chorus. With small fixes, this could even win the whole contest.

Score: 9.5/10

Chris: When UMK gets it right, it gets it so right. It feels crazy to say it, but I do, genuinely, think that this is a Eurovision winning song. It feels like the haunting, broodier older cousin of “Only Teardrops”, but in a good way. It’s not a rip-off: in fact, I think it’s an improvement. I hope and pray the staging is as epic as it should be. Most importantly, I hope and pray that Finland don’t make a very stupid mistake.

Score: 9.5/10

Jovana: Emma has so emerged as the favourite to earn a ticket to Kiev, and fairly so. Out of all UMK entries, “Circle of Light” screams ‘Eurovision’ the most, combining dance beats with elements of folk. Emma’s sweet, Vanessa Paradis-like appearance and more than decent vocals will also attract the viewers’ votes for sure. However, the reason why I can’t give “Circle of Light” more than seven points is that it reminds me too much of last year’s Icelandic entry “Hear Them Calling”. Although I liked that song, I found it too repetitive, and I have the same issue with Emma’s number. But maybe this year the audience will appreciate Emma’s effort more than Greta Salóme’s.

Score: 7/10

In the UMK Wiwi Jury, we have 19 jurors but only room for 8 reviews. The rest of our scores can be found below:

Anthony: 7.5/10

Antranig: 9/10

Dayana: 8/10

Edd: 8.5/10

Jordi: 8.5/10

Kristin: 8.5/10

Luis: 8/10

Natalie: 9.5/10

Patrick: 9.5/10

Ramadan: 9/10

Rezo: 7/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before calculating the average score, the highest and lowest scores are dropped. This is to remove outliers and reduce potential bias. We have removed a low of 7 and a high of 9.5.

WIWI JURY VERDICT: 8.59/10

SEE OUR LIST OF UMK 2017 RANKINGS HERE

FOLLOW ALL OF OUR FINLAND EUROVISION NEWS HERE

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Kungen
Guest

I feel that it will repeat the fate of Greta

(J)ESC Fanatic
Guest
@CookyMonzta In my opinion, Greta failed to qualify because Russia was competing in the same Semi-Final. Viewers who were looking for an impressive show chose Russia’s, as it looked more polished. Greta’s performance in the Icelandic national final was better, if you ask me. I personally prefer “Hear Them Calling” to “You Are The Only One”, but the latter is certainly more memorable and accessible to the average ESC viewer. The fact that Russia performed earlier also contributed to Iceland’s flop, as many people might have thought that Iceland was trying to copy Russia. Not to mention that Russia has… Read more »
an esc fan
Guest
@ Avstriya : ”It is really funny to see how the wiwi jury always falls for the same songs every season. It is like a wiwi bubble within the Euro bubble. And after the UMK or the ESC semifinal is over, they will be rubbing their eyes in disbelief and wonder what happened. And then add it to the list of biggest crimes.” I agree, this song will not stand out. Finland has the chance to send something funny (in a good way) like ”Love yourself”, and with this song will stay in semi. I feel it will be a… Read more »
Zebb
Guest

I like it but there could be more vocal work in this song. It similar to Iceland’s last year but more danceable which is good.

Jumper
Guest

Emma is good but we had heard kind of this song in 2013, Norma John is good too but I’m affraid of what ballad will get as Finland got in 2012. Their live version will determine my choice.

Sean
Guest

I feel like I’m the only person who doesn’t adore this. This is just a watered down attempt to recreate the success of Emmelie De Forest (who I also have a disgruntled attitude about) and the fan support of “Hear Them Calling.” The instrumental is bland, her voice is one more, and the lyrics don’t make as much sense as they could. And even though I despise this, it’s still my 5th of UMK, that’s how terrible the selection is. Personally crossing my fingers for Perfect Villain, but I’d also like Alva, Norma John, or Anni doing well.

...
Guest

My favorite song! I really enjoyed the interview, she’s so kind… I hope she wins!

Purple Mask
Guest
Well we all know what happens when UMK gets presented with an obvious runaway winner, don’t we? I think we can bet on “Circle of Light” being the runner up to one of the sillier entries. I’m sorry to be so negative, and this has nothing to do with the lovely Emma or the catchy song or even the expensive video: This is to do with the form and fate of the UMK event. My advice to Emma would be to have a good time at UMK (if that’s possible) and then get ready to release some records, because she’s… Read more »
eurana
Guest

I am not impressed.

Official Månsters Association
Guest
Official Månsters Association

This or Norma John should definitely go to Eurovision. Though I love this song, I feel like they should change the choruses, since it gets a bit too repetitive for me. For the rest of the song, it should definitely stay as it is, if it goes to Eurovision.

SpirK
Guest
To me this is very overrated. The verse drives me in but then the chorus and the musical break (with the somewhat annoying repetitiveness of “We are safe in the circle of light” during the break) are really nothing new or special to me. We’ve heard this all before (“Only Teardrops” and mostly “Hear Them Calling” and even more “Heartbeat”) and we know how the last two ended up. Fan favorites that didn’t surprise anyone else than Eurovision fans. And I must say, “Hear Them Calling” was in my top 5 , but that one was more special (In Icelandic… Read more »
Mr. Nutella
Guest

This is a nice song but I don’t want to see it to represent Finland…

CookyMonzta
Guest

@(J)ESC Fanatic: When I first heard this song, I too thought it was reminiscent of Greta Salome’s “Hear Them Calling”, which I thought deserved to go to the final. Methinks the attempt to one-up Mans with her shadow stage display might have cost Greta that spot. Emma’s crew will not make that mistake. If she wins UMK, I expect that they will try for a combination of a traditional (i.e., cultural) vibe and a light/fire show. She is my #1 for UMK.

Maxime TISSOT
Guest

I on’t think this can win Eurovision, but it could finish quite high in Kyiv!

AngieP
Guest

I am not as enthusiastic as most of you are. It has “only teardrops” vibes for sure. It’s a good song though. And Finland can qualify with this. But for me, there’s nothing “WOW” about it.

Pablo
Guest

While good, I don’t know if this is the one to go to Kiev. It’s tailor made for ESC, but same was said of Greta. So it may go right or wrong.

The bridge is kinda weak and clunky, but the instruments used here are top-notch.

Should this go, I’d be good, but I am wary on how it could perform. Lauri might be the better shot at making a bigger statement and following the minimal electro modern vibe.

mistergrr
Guest

Very overrated. Really boring and reminds me so much that “I hate economy I need an aspirine” icelandic song…
I hope Finland will choose Gunther or Club la Persé

Pheonix
Guest
I agree with those who think this is a very typical, derivative, particular formula Eurovision song, the likes of which we’ve heard too many times before, much stronger in the past. This UMK reminds me a bit of MGP 2006 in Norway, when the audience booed after Alvedansen won, because they knew Absolutely Fabulous was far more in tune with Eurovision at the time and would have done way better than the heard it all before song which went to Athens. I think Circle of light is a very similar situation, which is why Finland would have a much better… Read more »
blondboybc
Guest

Yessss! The Wiwi Jury and I agree 100%! This must go to Kyiv! It’s the MOST memorable, impactful, made for Eurovision song in the entire final. Top 10 written all over it, given good staging! 9/10 from Canada! Best of luck, Emma! 😀

I am not Jamala
Guest

8.5/10

Finland please don’t screw this up…

Robyn Gallagher
Editor

David: “So the song is made up of 13 sentences being repeated during 3 minutes.”

Nothing wrong with that. 🙂 Repetition is a poetic technique!

David
Guest
So the lyrics are: We are shadows and dust (+ We are sorrow and pain) But let us pretend x5 (+ I wanna pretend) We will never die x2 The wolves are coming for us We will be all right (rakas) Now hush (hush), I don’t wanna cry Rakas, we are fine I know it’s already time We are safe in the circle of light x12 Nothing bad will ever cross the line x8 Let me draw you a circle of light x3 I know we’re fading away We are standing in circles of light that nothing may cross x3… Read more »
Riva
Guest

I liked Greta’s song, but her song stays higher in lyrics than this. There were external obstacles like Lazarev and bad visuals at ESC, but as it came dead last with televote you can’t reject same possibility for Emma. Song like this needs strong visuals to create captivating image. I suppose also that it’s probably too much in it for older generation. Anyways, thx for those fans who have made the speed (core) version, I really like it 🙂

Pollaski
Guest

I don’t hear a winner. I do hear a Top 10-15 song, depending on what the rest of the countries do.

Which means, of course, Finland won’t choose it, because if you’re a non-Swedish Scandinavian country, it wouldn’t be Eurovision without you periodically unloading the revolver into your foot.

Avstriya
Guest

It is really funny to see how the wiwi jury always falls for the same songs every season. It is like a wiwi bubble within the Euro bubble. And after the UMK or the ESC semifinal is over, they will be rubbing their eyes in disbelief and wonder what happened. And then add it to the list of biggest crimes.

A generic, formulaic and worn-out tune happened.

Frau Von Storch
Guest
Can I just say that I think that people who think this can win Eurovision are truly delusional? Get real. This is not even nowhere near a winning song. “Circle of Light” sounds to me like a discount version of “Only Teardrops” and we all know that it won in 2013 because there were no other real contenders that year (in any other year it would’ve never won). I think it will struggle to qualify for the final if it gets elected, just like Iceland last year. I also think a woman of Emma’s age should not be singing a… Read more »
Pavel
Guest

Heard this a million times before. 4 out of 10

Doorioo
Guest

Nice. But will be overrated by fans. Might not even win in Finland. It is like Iceland last year

AL
Guest

but finnish voting isnt’ always that great :/ still hope my neighbours pick this song 🙂

Stian F
Guest

Ok so this is officially the fan wank of the year now then as Brequette failed completely in Spain… this song is nothing special at all – it feels like a mix between Denmark 2013 and Ireland 2014. I dont even think it will qualify to the finals – if iceland couldnt do it last year, this is not the song to do it for Finland – sorry. Its not a bad song, its just not the right song. 6/10

Avstriya
Guest

This years winner of the Greta Salome award

mawnck
Guest

Whoa, this one IS good. I hope she slays live.

Colin
Guest

Finally a deservingly high score! One of the best UMK songs. It has a catchy chorus, great lyrics and atmosphere. I like how it’s both optimistic and depressing at the same time! Kudos! 9/10. Along with Love Yourself and Blackbird a deserved winning song.

(J)ESC Fanatic
Guest

@PP

We’ll see that. See ya in May.

D
Guest

I think it’s a good song, but I don’t think it’ll do amazing if it wins UMK. In my opinion, it just looks really good in comparison to the other UMK songs, but in ESC it would get Top 20.

MarioC
Guest

Electronic folk is one of the worst genres and that mad violin beat during the chorus is as annoying as it gets. It’s equally an offense to genuine folk music and electronic sound. It’s a perfect example of how some things need to stay separated.
Also, just like you all overrated Greta Salóme (and she was way better) you will have predicted once again nothing more than a failed qualifier. Uh.

Briekimchi
Guest

@Tomas Patrick Davitt – I thought that was called pulling a “Denmark”?

PP
Guest

(J)ESC Fanatic

Your favorite Emma wili flop so hard at Eurovision 2017, if Finald send her at contest.

malter
Guest

Yeah, it’s good, but doesn’t sound like a Eurovision winner to me. It’s going to be in the Grand Final, for sure (if it even makes it to ESC), but Top 10 at the most.

Tomas Patrick Davitt
Guest

I dont think this song can win the whole contest – I think its a little bit too shallow for that to be honest. Unless she can pull something extremely stirring and avante-garde in the staging. Unfortunately, I think she’ll edge towards the more predictable and “Only teardrops’ imitating barefooted-peasant look.

But this is DEFINITELY a qualifier for the grand final and unless we have an epic year (fingers crossed), it should be comfortably in the top 15 and maybe even top 10.

FINLAND – DONT PULL A ‘FINLAND’ AND CHOOSE THE WRONG SONG AGAIN >.<

(J)ESC Fanatic
Guest

@PP

Norma John would finish in the top 10 at ESC only if all the viewers needed a nap.

(J)ESC Fanatic
Guest

This is it, the big favourite. I want to step in her circle of light. This is very well-produced and I love the instrumentation and her voice. From the very first moment it reminded me of “Hear Them Calling”, which I absolutely adored. It does get a tad repetitive, but it’s the best Finland has to offer. I would love to see it at Eurovision and I’m looking forward to her performance in UMK. My only concern is that Finland never sends fan favourites…

7.5/10

eurofan
Guest

I like the song itself, but I think Europe will be tired of this Wake Me Up/Lovers on the Sun/Heroes formula. And NO to Emma trying to call it “wooden dance music” when there’s nothing original about “Circle of Light.”

an esc fan
Guest

She remindes me of Lagertha from the tv series Vikings, if she will go to Kiev I hope she will not wear fur or leather. She needs a comfortable dress.

Eduardo
Guest

This is awesome! This is 10/10…! Winner.

Jr esc nl
Guest

To be honest: I don’t even expect it to reach the Eurovision final…