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”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
In the UMK Wiwi Jury, we have 19 jurors but only room for 8 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 7 and a high of 9.5.