In May she took Finland back to the Eurovision grand final for the first time since 2014. But that was just one milestone in Saara Aalto’s movement up, up, and up.
On Tuesday the Finnish beauty opened for iconic 90s pop-dance group Steps for the final time. And our girl didn’t just warm up the crowd at Kew the Music in London — she set them on fire!
Besides her UMK winning track “Monsters”, Saara dropped her favourite tracks from Wild Wild Wonderland — her debut studio album with a major label.
Steps — that’s Lee Latchford-Evans, Claire Richards, Lisa Scott-Lee, Faye Tozer and Ian “H” Watkins — enlisted Saara as an opening act for their UK tour. Saara was in good company: They also called on megastar boy band Blue for some of the dates.
And while Saara has been a long-time fan of Steps, the love definitely goes both ways. “They know my songs,” she told me backstage after her set. “They are always singing them when we’re getting ready.”
The tour followed Saara’s run at Eurovision 2018, which saw her performing from Helsinki to London via Amsterdam ahead of Lisbon.
“It has been so much fun to get to know people all over Europe and the world. They loved ‘Monsters’ and they still do. It’s great. ‘Monsters’ will always be special to me.”
And so will her fierce stage costume: Finnish broadcaster YLE has it in their archives.
Now that she’s beloved from Lithuania to Ireland, Saara has some big news: “I have some European tour dates coming soon. That’s going to be very exciting!”
And while she can’t reveal the countries on the itinerary just yet, she says her vision of Europe is big — “really big!” So she may well be coming to a city near you.
We were disappointed in the final results at Eurovision: Saara came 25th in the grand final, having placed 24th with the jury and 21st with the public. What does she make of that?
“I really don’t know. I think this year was full of so many good female singers. I also felt like maybe this year was more fun. People were looking for fun songs. Some years people like mysterious, dark songs. But this year was all about having fun. Of course my song was about having fun but it was a bit darker.”
Where is the massive on-stage wheel now that the show is over? Saara jokes that it’s very versatile. “We have it at home and we use it every day for different purposes.”
The stress of ESC didn’t really faze her. “Because I’ve experienced the X Factor UK and it was quite big for me, after that everything has been quite OK. But without it Eurovision would have been too much.”
“Eurovision fans are really excited and super enthusiastic, which is really nice. It was a good experience.”
Finally, how did our super friendly snow fairy cope with being critical as a judge on X Factor Suomi?
“I thought I would be really strict like Simon Cowell. But when I was there I really wanted to be inspiring. It was really hard to be negative in any way. I was being nice and supportive.”
Do you want Saara to sing in your country? Put in your requests down below and maybe you’ll see her soon!