Dreams do come true! On Tuesday, during the UMK 18 press conference, hosts Krista Siegfrids and Mikko Silvennoinen revealed a big change to the contest’s usual format. Instead of a number of acts performing for the right to represent Finland, producers have already selected their Eurovision star — and it’s Saara Aalto!
The X Factor UK alum (and previous runner-up at UMK) will be the only act competing at UMK. Saara will perform three songs during the final, and the Finnish public and an international jury will select one for Eurovision 2018.
Saara was all smiles after the reveal, saying:
“I have always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Since I was a child it’s always been my dream to do it. Finally, after all these years, I’ve been chosen to represent Finland. I’m the happiest girl at the moment!”
Producers know they’re on to a good thing with Saara, who has already won over audiences at home and abroad.
“We strongly believe that luminous Saara Aalto, who is building an international music career, is our secret weapon to success,” says UMK producer Anssi Autio.
“We are putting all our best efforts into having three captivating songs and shows to choose from, with the best one staged in May in Lisbon.”
Saara clearly feels buoyed by their support. As she told YLE:
“I know that this journey is going to be fantastic regardless of the results of the actual competition. I’m of course jumping right in with the attitude that I can win the Eurovision Song Contest – or at least finish in second place! That’s something I’ve been great at, no doubt about it.”
Watch: Saara Aalto talks about a UMK return in 2016
The UMK final will take place once again at the Espoo Metro arena, on Saturday March 3.
Saara’s return to UMK comes as something of a surprise. Just a few days ago, Saara said that the BBC had asked her to represent the UK at Eurovision 2018. Either that was a little white lie, or the BBC were simply too late!
It’s also unclear whether this was the original idea for this year’s UMK. We know other artists — such as Emma — applied, and a hard drive of songs was shown off when entries closed in September. But if Saara became available, we’re not surprised that YLE took this option!
As for Saara’s songs, YLE says that the three songs and music videos will be published in the spring of 2018. Saara says that each of them will be incredibly different — and that each will be given a spectacular stage treatment.
“There will not be any of that, ‘Let’s just throw in something’ vibe. Every detail will be thoroughly thought out and delivered to the utmost. This is going to be a great experience for the whole of Finland! I have a strong Finnish and international team with me, and together we are able to make great things happen.”
Saara, of course, has a habit of almost winning. She finished second in Finland’s selection for 2011 with “Blessed With Love”.
Five years later, she again placed second at UMK 2016 with “No Fear”. Now though, there’s nobody in her way to stop her!
There’s clear confidence in Saara, too. Krista Siegfrids, hosting the press conference, perhaps said it best: “We think we can win Eurovision!” It’s a bold statement, given that Finland have failed to make the final for the past three years.
Do you think Saara Aalto can bring Finland back to Saturday night — or even give them their second win after Lordi? Let us know all your thoughts in the comments section below!