In Finland the country’s entry for next year’s Eurovision Song Contest will be decided by public vote during 3 televised heats in January 2011 and then a televised Grand Final in February. Twelve of the acts featured in the heats are pre-selected but 3 are “wildcards.” There are 15 wildcard entrants posted on YLE’s Eurovision page. The Finnish public (or anyone with a Finnish mobile number) can vote for their favourite by SMS and the three acts with the most votes get a slot in the TV finals.
Chorale are one of this year’s wildcard acts hoping to make it through to the TV finals and closer to representing Finland in front of a global audience of tens of millions with their Eurodance track “Share Your Life.” (listen here). After Finland’s disasterous performance last year (when they were represented by a Kajalan folk act) is a more accessible English-language pop song the way to win back Europe’s heart?
I have been to two Chorale gigs. One was in Iittala in July 2008, the other in Urjala in August of this year. Both shows were fantastic, joyful, flamboyant and energetic. The absolute antithesis of the turgid death metal which Finland is famous for exporting. My love of Finland has a lot to do with this band. I began trying to learn Finnish by listening to their songs. Their songwriter and front man Markus Ahola is a friend of mine and I have also spent time with the other members of Chorale: Tero (song writer, producer keyboards, synths), Santtu (guitar and backing vocals) and Susannah (vocals).
Markus (Maka) is a blonde bundle of up-beat energy who never stops smiling, joking or singing and is perhaps the world’s biggest fan of Eurodance. From the second he picked my sister and I up at Toijala station back in 2008 we knew we loved him! Tero is very intelligent and a really interesting guy to talk to. He is also a very talented photographer. Santtu is an absolute sweetie, the perfect gentleman. Susannah is happy and friendly and has a great stage presence. The boys all come from the tiny town of Toijala, Akaa near Tampere (Susannah is from Helsinki). All have day jobs as well as performing with the band. Maka is a personal trainer, Tero a freelance graphic designer, Santtu works in engineering and Susannah is a urologist. They have had some chart success in Finland but this is their shot at the big time.
I asked Tero his thoughts on the process of getting through to the finals: “I think it’s good that YLE decided to limit the entries only to 15 (last year 30). Overall quality is much better than last year and it’s easier for people to decide their favourite(s).” He also pointed out that Chorale seemed to be amogst the peoples’ favourites so far: “Chorale – Share Your Life is leading the official poll with 20% of votes.”
The comments posted under Chorale’s video on YLE’s site have not all been enthusiastic with some commenters bemoaning the standard of the Finnish entries but, as Tero points out, “Our song really wakes feelings in listeners. Not all of them are positive. But I think that song that creates so much feelings must be good and ready for bigger stages! Just think of Lordi just to name one: How much controversy they created among listeners.” All publicity is good publicity seems to be the mantra here and Chorale are certainly attracting attention with 91 comments and 349 Facebook recommendations at the time of writing some from as far afield as Spain and Hungary.
But attracting comments is one thing, getting people to vote is another. Tero has this message: “Chorale has lots of fans. Let’s hope they all vote! When (not if) we advance to finals, we’ve promised to make a show that will be remembered… Nothing can stop the dance!”
You can vote for Chorale by sending “viisu 10” by SMS to 17113. Voting closes 10:00 Helsinki time, 15.10.10. The result will be announced 18:45 16.10 on YLE TV2.