Ahead of the final of Finland’s Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu 2017, the Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — is reviewing all ten competing entries. Next up is indie pop duo Norma John with their song “Blackbird”. Are we feeling the pain or are we just left cold? Read on to find out!

Norma John – “Blackbird”

About Norma John

Norma John consists of two friends — Leena Tirronen and Lasse Piirainen — neither of whom is named Norma or John. Leena took part in Finland’s first and so far only season of The X Factor in 2012. After that she released an album under the moniker Leena Ihmemaassa (Leena in Wonderland). Keyboardist Lasse Piirainen has been playing for 30 years already. Their song explores a break-up and the pain that follows when everything seems to remind you of your ex.

“Blackbird” reviews

Kristin: I’m completely mesmerized. Such a beautiful production. So low key, so simple, but so strong, and the instrumental part just sent shivers down my spine. And Leena’s soft and heavenly voice is the icing on the cake here. Unfortunately, I don’t see this winning UMK, but I’m going to root for this nonetheless. Norma John. You just get me.

Score: 9.5/10

Patrick: I am writing this late at night so initially I was scared this might put me to sleep. But actually I kind of buy this act. She has a very smooth and relaxing voice, the song itself is very chill and has a quite touching melody. It reminds me of Ireland’s winner “The Voice” mixed with Norway’s “Nocturne” — just very toned down and calm. It is a very well produced song and I quite like it. For Eurovision this would not be the right choice, but it’s definitely worth a listen — and worth Norma John giving it a shot.

Score: 5.5/10

Bernardo: Her voice! “Blackbird” is so dark but so dreamy at the same time and suits Leena’s voice perfectly. This will kill it with the judges. Lyrically it is extremely well constructed and the production has the perfect tone. I’m transported to another universe. Slay Norma John, slay!

Score: 8/10

William: It’s atmospheric and enchanting and her voice is stunning. But 30 seconds into this I had to check if I still had a pulse, as the song just loops monotonously until a rather long instrumental break. It sounds like a mash-up of Elisabeth Andreassen’s Melodifestivalen 2011 song “Vaken I En Dröm” (which finished last in its semi) and a song they’d play in a made-for-TV movie about senior citizens. I appreciate the beauty here. But sometimes beauty needs a bit of ugliness and grit to make it memorable.

Score: 5/10

Robyn: This is some good Scandinavian gothic. “Blackbird” is about the common experience of heartbreak, but Leena’s vocals elevate it to more than just a song of sadness. She brings both strength and fragility to her performance. I’m also enchanted by the little fluttery instrumental break, evoking a bird in flight. It brings the perfect amount of lightness to the song, a glimmer of hope amid the misery.

Score: 8.5/10

Natalie: I know it’s brilliant, ridiculously well-composed and earnestly written, and I appreciate the beautiful and passionate delivery. In all respects, I should be happy for this to go to Eurovision. But I just want to hate it. I guess the problem is that I want to beam when I watch Eurovision and be consumed by optimism and happy energy. But this is just so maudlin and pained. I just can’t be a fan. I’m so sorry.

Score: 5/10

Jovana: “Blackbird” is probably the entry I most enjoyed listening to. It’s one of those songs that you want to listen to with your eyes closed. It’s also proof that when you have a singer that can deliver both technically and emotionally, you don’t need more than a simple melody with a few instruments. “Blackbird” is a tune that I can imagine being used in a film, something like The Lord of the Rings. However, it is reminiscent of popular songs including Florence and the Machine, Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts” and, obviously, The Netherland’s 2013 entry “Birds”. Sometimes audiences reward familiarity, sometimes they punish it.

Score: 8/10

Sami: In a way this works like dementors in the Harry Potter universe. It drains peace, hope and happiness out of you, but in this case, you kind of enjoy it. The simplicity makes this effective and moving. Sadly it’s slightly forgettable. The melody isn’t really going anywhere and the song is mostly based on Leena’s great vocals. The music video is amazing and I hope they can bring the same intensity to the stage performance.

Score: 6/10

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: 7/10

Antranig: 7/10

Chris: 7/10

Dayana: 4/10

Edd: 9.5/10

Forrest: 6.5/10

Jordi: 6.5/10

Josh: 7/10

Luis: 5/10

Ramadan: 7/10

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 4 and a high of 9.5.

WIWI JURY VERDICT: 6.79/10

SEE OUR LIST OF UMK 2017 RANKINGS HERE

FOLLOW ALL OF OUR FINLAND EUROVISION NEWS HERE

31 Comments
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mawnck
mawnck
4 years ago

Love it!

AngieP
AngieP
4 years ago

I absolutely love this song! The atmosphere, the mysteriousness, the darkness of the song! The voices amazing! Great ballad! I know many of you think we need sth happier at ESC and not sth sad, I agree. But my personal favourite is “Blackbird”.

Jumper
Jumper
4 years ago

My current playlist was them, Emma, Lauri and Norma John. This blackbird has better chance to be sang well in live. And with good staging and acts, this could be the winner.

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
4 years ago

Boring and sleep-inducing.
Even for its genre, this is not that good. The song repeats itself and does not have enough variation. Her voice is just ok and the lyrics don’t offer anything new (after about 20 seconds, I kind of get the gist). I would not choose to listen to this.
(FYI – am married, with kids and I thought BPM was for measuring heartrate!)

MarioMario
4 years ago

Lovely.

Unofficial Månsters Association
Unofficial Månsters Association
4 years ago

Leena has a very beautiful voice and the song is very relaxing. While this song doesn’t build up and is pretty much one note, I love the melody and the gloomy atmosphere around it. The only thing that I’ve been questioning is: what’s the point of Lasse being there, if only Leena sings?
Score- 7/10

an esc fan
an esc fan
4 years ago

Or Anouk – Birds

Colin
Colin
4 years ago

@an esc fan – That is what I hope for too.

@Cal – Neither did ‘Monster like me’ or ‘Calm after the storm’ and the results were still splendid.

Ddraven4
Ddraven4
4 years ago

Is this the best and most beautiful song in the national selection? Yes, by far. Is it the one that should go to Eurovision? HELL NO. I love this song, it is clearly the best written and produced song aming the 10. But sadly being the best song isn’t what wins Eurovision, as much as people try to tell themselves that it is, it’s just not true. Eurovision is a combination of flag bias, good stage presence and either cliche radio pop or contemporary interasting tunes. Are there songs that break that mold? Yes, but it is just too big… Read more »

Cal
Cal
4 years ago

THIS IS MY WINNER!!!
Absolutely stunning! Yet it won’t qualify as it doesn’t have any cheap beats or gimmick!

an esc fan
an esc fan
4 years ago

@ Colin
If Finland will have the courage to send Love Yourself, then they deserve to win.

Cambell Grace
Cambell Grace
4 years ago

@Polegend Godgarina

In what way does it try hard to be too artistic? Out of all the UMK songs this is easily the most beautifully sung and well constructed. Sadly, it won’t win because the overrated ‘Circle of Light’ will even though it is clearly a rip off of Emmelie de Forest.

Colin
Colin
4 years ago

Underrated, but I was honestly expecting it would be underrated much more. This song is simply beautiful and touching to the core. No, Eurovision is not meant to spread only joy and happieness. Sure, we need that too, but we need variety of good songs, and that includes many genres and many moods. Blackbird is absolutely one of my favorites to win UMK.

My UMK ratings so far:

1. Love Yourself 9.5/10
Tie* Blackbird 9.5/10
3. Perfect Villain 8/10
4. Helppo Elama 7.5/10
5. Reach out for the Sun 6/10
6. Paradise 3.5/10
7. Caveman 2/10

InWonderLand
InWonderLand
4 years ago

I think this song is beautiful story of break-up or lost. She gries for someone she has lost. The most beautiful song in any selection this year.

(J)ESC Fanatic
(J)ESC Fanatic
4 years ago

@Purple Mask

Thank you for your comment. I hate stereotypes.

an esc fan
an esc fan
4 years ago

I meant ”Circle of light”

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
4 years ago

William at his best: “…a song they’d play in a made-for-TV movie about senior citizens.” 😀
Has he ever seen “Last of the Summer Wine?” (BBC)

an esc fan
an esc fan
4 years ago

I’m very curious what Finland will choose : their language (Lauri), international favourite (Emma), or Norma John. Poor bird, just because is black people see bad things. This song might have better staging than Emma’s, because ”Circle of life” makes me think about Ruslana, a lot of fur and nothing original.

Polegend Godgarina
4 years ago

Also, I’d like to thank William for always making me scream with his reviews. He has a way with words that always gets me lmaooo

Fergy
Fergy
4 years ago

The only song to save Finland from embarrassment this year. Finland send it!!!

Polegend Godgarina
4 years ago

I dislike this song with a passion. It tries too hard to be artistic, but it only falls into the boring category. Blackbird? More like, blackbored.

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
4 years ago

@Boop: 1. Define “young.” (I happen to be in my 30s.) 2. Define “gay.” (I’m currently single, and have ex-girlfriends AND ex-boyfriends. 3. Define “bpm.” This can mean “beats per measure” or “beats per minute.” Either way, 500 beats in either context is a massively inflated exaggeration (a bit like your assumed stereotypes). I like the musical expression in “Blackbird,” but it does remind me of painful memories. The song makes me feel depressed, and that’s not because I’m young, or gay, or craving a faster tempo – it’s because of how the music recalls those memories of life in… Read more »

Jerome
Jerome
4 years ago

My personal favourite of UMK ’17. One of only two songs here that caught my attention from the first listen (the other was Arrows). It just tugged at my hearstrings when the piano instrumental part played.
It may not be the fan favourite, but I’m still gonna root for it. You never know, especially with UMK.

Bastian
Bastian
4 years ago

Another fav of mine. I think its pure art, its beatiful and haunting.I have no idea if this would do well in esc though. I think its a song not every viewer will understand 🙁 hope im wrong.

PP
PP
4 years ago

For me best song in finish selection and only song for TOP 10 in final at Eurovision for Finland (similar result like The Netherlands 2013, Norway 2015).
But I m affraid that Finland made mistake 3 years in row and send other song especialy Ema (fan favorite) with her Finland wil be in final in final place from 12 to 18 place , Ema only look like winner from 2013 but song is not good as song from Denmark that year and some song from Ireland in past with similar sound .

(J)ESC Fanatic
(J)ESC Fanatic
4 years ago

I expected Edd to bash this really harshly and I’m shocked to see he gave it a 9.5/10.

Avstriya
Avstriya
4 years ago

This is my current number 2 so far of all the songs we know so far for this year.

Number 1 – Contigo

(J)ESC Fanatic
(J)ESC Fanatic
4 years ago

I’m sorry, but I have to be honest: I find this song so boring! I don’t understand how people can enjoy it. It’s extremely dull and sad. It severely lacks dynamism and oomph and it feels like it lasts for much more than three minutes. The only interesting part is the instrumental break. Leena has a beautiful voice, but the song does nothing for me personally.

3/10

Boop
Boop
4 years ago

My impression is that Wiwibloggs readers are mostly gay, young, and discredit anything that isn’t 500bpm in a major key. This is easily the best song in UMK and should win. Sadly, the awful Circle of Light will win and won’t even qualify in May but Blackbird has the potential to win ESC 2017. This should have been an internal selection.

CharlieChan
CharlieChan
4 years ago

I just love it. I think they could win UMK with a wonderful perfomance. I am can’t tell if they could do well at ESC but you never know.

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
4 years ago

For me, this song has connotations of being about an abusive relationship. (It might even be darker than that.) It’s a beautiful piece of musical expression, but it’s not something anyone should actually ever have to experience in real life. This is best confined to musical theory and the odd funeral. Please write another song for these two; this is too sad.