Hei Suomi! Finland will celebrate 100 years of independence this year and the Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — have travelled north to join the party. The indie pop duo Norma John is hoping to give the country their second Eurovision victory and will represent Finland at the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 with “Blackbird”. Are we feeling the pain of loss or are we happy to just let the blackbird sing? Read our review below!
Norma John with “Blackbird”
About Norma John
Norma John consists of Leena Tirronen and Lasse Piirainen, neither of whom are named Norma or John. They have been friends since high school, where their musical paths first collided. The group was born in 2008, but “Blackbird” is their first official single. Leena took part in the Finnish version of The X Factor in 2010 and finished third. She released her debut album under the moniker Leena Ihmemassa (Leena in Wonderland) the same year. Lasse has played piano since he was just four years old. Next to performing with a number of big Finnish artists, he also composes and produces music for himself and others.
Bogdan: Arguably the best song Finland has ever sent to the contest, “Blackbird” is pure poetry. Comparable only to the likes of Susanne Sundfør or Ane Brun, Leena’s other-worldy voice slowly pierces the heart like a black dagger, and you can’t but surrender to its arresting power. Instead of a typical bridge, Lasse’s piano solo marks a departure from the recipe, stressing once again the uniqueness of this dark but utterly beautiful song. In an ideal world, entries like “Blackbird” should win Eurovision.
Chris: “Blackbird” seems to be a song people either connect with or they don’t. Unfortunately, in this case, I find myself in the latter. Whilst Leena’s vocals are certainly haunting, the entire piece feels too empty around them. Whilst simplicity can certainly work at Eurovision, this feels like it’s gone a step too far. Too often on listens it just passes by without being a standout — there may be trouble for Finland.
Sami: This is simply stunning. I love the haunting atmosphere, which Leena keeps up with her beautiful voice. This is much more than just a typical Eurovision song. This is something for those who don’t like all the glitter and the glamour. I am so proud of Leena and Lasse and I think Finland might surprise many this year. The only negative thing I find is that the lyrics are slightly repetitive.
George: There is something dark and mysterious about this song, and it’s unexpectedly likeable. The vocals are undoubtedly on point and nearly flawless, and I think it’s really going to work live. Nevertheless, the music is really simplistic and just doesn’t work for me. And at some point, I feel like it’s just going on and on without progressing at all. This is most probably a qualifier, but that’s all.
William: I hated the studio cut. And then, when chairing the UK jury in the Finnish final, I awarded it my 12 points. This song comes to life live, owing to Leena’s resonant vocals which carry pain and longing so well. The staging — all smoke and dark lighting — creates a stirring atmosphere that demands silence, even as Leena’s voice soars. From all the darkness she still gives us light. The song becomes a meditation on love, loss and moving on. I adore it.
Angus: “Blackbird” is a slice of high Nordic noir dark drama and it ticks many boxes. The haunting vocal hits you like a blast of cold air — the emotional intensity of the piece is unparalleled in this year’s lineup. At the point where interest is fading, the piano middle-eight recaptures your attention. That said, unless the emotional intensity can be channelled properly, this will fail to engage viewers. The song is incredibly dark, but it’s also simple and for some that will fail to win their attention.
Robyn: This is a nice piece of Scandinavian gothic. There is a power and stillness to “Blackbird” — capturing that is going to be the key to whether it will work live. As long as the audience can connect with Lenna and Lasse’s miserable ballad (perhaps reflecting on heartbreak of their own), this should get Finland back in the final.
Deban: Europe’s state of mind, Eurovision’s running order, the visual presentation and many other external factors will all play a part in how this entry attracts votes. “Blackbird” may be beautiful, but it is too stagnant to have much impact on listeners who seek immediate gratification. This entry leans towards dark poetry, but IMO, this leans too far out. That said, I’ve warmed to this in the wake of London’s recent terrorist attacks especially when listening with my eyes closed.
In our Wiwi Jury, we have 38 jurors but only room for eight reviews. The rest of our scores can be found below:
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 1 and a high of 10.
Wiwi Jury verdict: 7.33/10
What do you think of this song? Share your own score and review below!