Sunday, July 22, 2007

Alice on the road

Alice is active again. Known for her long silences and even longer periods between albums she has been performing here and there in Italy this summer. And she has a new version of I treni di Tozeur in her sleeve this summer. All new orchestration. One word: harp!

(photos by Christina @ )

Nylon Beat is here again!

Well, hold your horses, it will last only 2 nights and it's a one off comeback, the girls swear. After four years for the first time on stage together as NB they will warm up the audiences for Toto in their stadium concerts in Oulu and Tampere on August 17th and 18th. A very good occasion to release a greatest hits album as well. Maybe not such a wise thing for Toto as it seems most come to see NB instead of them - one can only hope people will stay and see Toto and not leave after NB!
NB's success in Finland is something quite remarkable: eight gold and seven platinum albums (as many as ABBA btw) and over 500.000 albums sold over a period of 8 years. They spent over 150 weeks in the Finnish Top-40 and mastered so many big radio hits that it takes over an hour to perform only the "musts" on those two nights. They will add a few other songs they like themselves and that's it.

Nylon Beat participated in Euroviisut 1998 with Um ma ma (3rd) and in 2000 with Viha ja rakkaus (5th). Jonna - the blond one - was in Euroviisut 2004 with Like believers do (4th). Both have been doing music since in various projects.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Finland 1973: Marion Rung

Year 1973. No one knew Marion would held the record for the next 33 years! (If we did YLE might have pulled out in some point). Some argue Anneli Saaristo (7th out of 23) beats Marion as the best placing but 6th is higher than 7th isn't it?

Marion was on top of her career in everyway around that time. Besides scoring the best Finnish placement ever in the Eurovision in 1973 she won the Intervision in Sopot in 1974 and again in 1980. She also won the best artist award in Yamaha festival in Japan 1974 and came 3rd in Istanbul Song festival in 1976 as well as the award for the artist with most personality in Musical Mallorca festival (whatever that is/was), and at home she also won Syksyn Sävel 1977 contest.

Marion was also getting international recording five singles in Germany and an album in London but she refused to move abroad so she lost her chances. 1975 became the culmination of her career, with big hits at home and some in Germany. In the 1980's and 1990's she did a lot of television and floor shows and the record sales suffered and hits were missing, yet she remained her status as one of the big ones.

In the 2000's she has moved to the dance band music and has been entertaining in dance clubs (no, I don't mean discos but those places for elderly people) and toured the nation with Leidit lavalla or Ladies on stage project together with Katri Helena, Paula Koivuniemi and Lea Laven, as well as her own 40th anniversary tour and 45th anniversary concert. 2005 she was on stage with Annie get your gun-musical and in the gossip papers for her new love affair, that ended sadly as he died only a few months after they found out he has cancer in late 2006.

She has recently released a new single Aika haavat hoitaa (Time will heal the wounds) and her latest Greatest hits-box also featured two new songs. She performs regularly in concerts and private gatherings.

The rumour is Johanna's song Who cares about a broken heart in 2002 was ment for Marion by YLE but the Swedish composers wanted someone new (read: young) to sing it instead. What a waste if it is true!

Mikko from Helsinki to Belgrade?

Mikko Leppilampi who charmed the pants off of half the European population as the host of the ESC2007 in Helsinki is also a singer. Well, to be honest he has released one album so far that didn't quite set the charts on fire and can be now bought in sales pins at 1,99 euros but anyways, he is a singer and Eurovision fan. And that is a dangerous combination! He already joked after Helsinki 2007 that he might try his luck as a singer in 2008. And now, folks, he is about to release a new single, in English! Is this the countdown to actually trying it??

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bring Zeljko home

The same website that sells Marija sells also all Zeljko goodies and lots of other stuff from Serbia and ex-Yugoslavia so go shopping here Worth mentioning is the ridiculously cheap prices....

Serbian delight: Zeljko!

Here's a Zeljko being all summery and beachy on YouTube for your delight:

The best of Marija Serifovic

This year's winner has released a best of CD including a slightly different version of the winning song Molitva. I must say I am a bit disappointed with her material; nice but that's it. Molitva stands out with a couple of other tracks but mostly it is just "nice"... (And Marija doing Turbofolk really sucks! She'd better leave it to Severina) Meanwhile, I wait for new material and hopefully some great ballads, that are kinda missing here with the exception of Molitva. (Now, where did I put my Zeljko CDs....?)

The Molitva team: Rukoilen

Hard to believe it is already (or only) two months these wonderful girls were the queens of Helsinki with the leading lady Marija. Here's the accapella Finnish version of the song

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Finland 1972: Päivi Paunu & Kim Floor

Finland returned to the Eurovision with another duet. Päivi Paunu was quite a big star at the moment while Kim Floor was practically unknown theater student. Even YLE didn't quite believe in the song so they decided to focus on the visual presentation and they resulted in an okeyinsh 12th place. The preview video had them rolling in snow in Porvoo wearing huge furs - now how exotically Finnish and visual is that?

Year 1972 was quite eventful for Kim Floor, besides Eurovision he met his future wife in September and married in December (yes, they're still married!) but with Päivi they didn't collaborate much. They had no material, he was no singer and they didn't have a manager either and missed for example some gigs in Portugal for that after ESC.

Later in life he went into business and lost it all in the late 1980's bank crisis. He re-emerged in the 1990's acting in a TV soap and then hosting the Wheel of Fortune.Päivi Paunu, or von Hertzen as she is now, scored a few hits on her own including Oi niitä aikoja (cover of Those were the days) that is an evergreen before leaving the music business and is rarely seen anywhere these days. She did perform in Euroviisut 2007 along with Kim Floor.

Finland 1971: Markku Aro & Koivistolaiset

Finland returned to the contest in 1971 after skipping the 1970 edition (the only time we have willingly done so, btw, and also the only time the contest has not been broadcasted on radio/TV since 1959) with one of the hottest up and coming male singers, Markku Aro. He got backing from Koivisto sisters who also were quite popular show girls at the time but soon disappeared from the spot lights.

Markku Aro's debut single came out in 1968 and he scored big hits all 1970's. In the late 1070's - early 1980's he collaborated with Singapore born Nisa Soraya - until the romance lasted - and they were in Euroviisut 1981 with Mun suothan tulla vierees sun (5th) as well. He had also participated in Euroviisut 1969 (5th), 1974 (8th), 1976 (3rd) and 1979 (5th). But Markku's star was falling and he hasn't got a big hit since early 1980's even if he is still around recording and singing live and being quite popular and a household name. His latest album is from 2006.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Who was the man?

Ever wondered who was the man walking through the fog screen in the opening of the ESC 2007 and making us follow him to Lapland and the adventures of Lordi? That was Pasi Rantanen himself, the Kiss masked backing singer in Athens and runner up in Euroviisut 2007 with his band Thunderstone!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Finland 1969: Jarkko ja Laura

Jarkko (Antikainen) and Laura (Ruotsalo) were the whole nation's sweethearts, young and sweet happy couple when they won the 1969 Euroviisut. The voting was done by postcards and they beat Katri Helena's now evergreen Maailman pihamaat easily: over 85.000 vs 42.000! The song is rather "humppa" (typical Finnish music loved and danced by elder generations in endless summer nights in the countryside) when sun never sets while trying to escape the mosquitos) but somehow it has resisted the test of time.

They had a few hits in the 1960's and got married after Madrid. They released 23 singles between 1966-72, and a few songs in the 1980's and 1990's. They still perform as a hobby these days, and Laura also released a solo album in 2004 - only to be asked "Where's Jarkko?" as she says today.

Finland 1969: Finalists

Here's a nice photo of all the finalists in Euroviisut 1969. It is also quite remarkable each and every participant is a winner; Laila Kinnunen, Marion, Katri Helena and Markku Aro, and the whole nation's sweethearts Jarkko and Laura who beat all the others that year.... More of them shortly!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Finland 1968: Kristiina Hautala

Kristiina Hautala remained on top of the Finnish music scene for a couple of years and culminated her career with Euroviisut win. Between 1966-1970 she recorded only a total of 22 songs plus one single in Sweden. By 1970 when she moved back to her hometown Stockholm she had already stopped performing live and concentrated on her studies and disappeared.

To a big surprise in 2003 she released her first full lenght album "Hetki tää" in collaboration with Matti Viita-aho. The album got a good critic but went nowhere and propably no one but die hard Eurovision fans even know it ever was released...

Finland 1967: Fredi

Matti Siitonen, who was nick named Fredi for his resamblance to Fred Flintstone, was a new comer in the 1967 national final but beat the veterans Laila Kinnunen, Marion and the hottest malestar of the moment, Danny.

He started his career in the early 1960's in a folk band called Five Pennies, and later The Stone Faces (later translated into Finnish as Kivikasvot) musical comedy group that would become huge in TV and on stage in the 1970's. His biggest solo album is from 1974 "Avaa sydämesi mulle" that sold over 60.000 copies. He has numerous hits, both original and covers. His latest album is from 2005 and he is currently recording a new one.

He has won Euroviisut twice as a singer (1967 and 1976) and once as a composer (1979) so he can be called the Finnish Johnny Logan! He also wrote Sonja Lumme's "Vielä jaksan odottaa" in 1988 but it only reached the 10th place. Siitonen has been however a very regular name in Euroviisut the past ten years or so thanks to his daughter Hanna-Riikka, who besides gaining a huge success in Taikapeili group, was backing vocalist in 1996, 2004 and 2005, and competed with Nina Tapio in Euroviisut 2006. She is also the singing teacher in the Finnish Idols series.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Finland 1966: Ann Christine

Ann Christine, one of the leading ladies of the 1960's, participated in Euroviisut only once and won. She recorded some 20 singles and 3 eps between 1962-1969 but instead of schlager she was more of a jazz and rock girl (and a very good friend of Laila Kinnunen).

Her career started as usual in a talent contest she won and got a five year recording contract and her debut single "Lalaika/Kun twistataan (Let's twist again)" was released in 1962. It sold over 11.000 copies and remained her best selling single ever.

By 1973 she was bored with singing, considered a career as a urse but it didn't quite work out so she walked into a bank and asked for a job. She got it and stopped singing just like that. In 1976 she backed her belongings and moved to Sweden where she still lives and says "I don't sing even in the shower anymore!" (She did come to Euroviisut 2007 as a guest and did a play back to Play boy though)

Finland 1965: Viktor Klimenko

Viktor must be the most exotic of the Finnish Eurovision singers by far. He didn't win the 1965 national final but was sent to Naples anyways. And scored a big flat zero while France Gall won with a similar song her lookalike Katri Helena had sung. Finns are still wondering, what if...

Back to Viktor. He was born in the Russian war camp from cossack parents in 1942 and later his family was posted in Finland. He only got the Finnish nationality in 1973 and actually was in Naples with an alien one. Today he presents himself as "Finland's most famous immigrant". He also participated in Euroviisut 1966 (3rd), 1969 (3rd), 1972 (6th) and 1977 (3rd).

His career can be divided in four different parts: first schlager singer in Finland, from late 1960's and especially in the 1970's international star with wild Russian and Cossack music and image, in the 1980's religious preacher and singer only in the churches and other spiritual places, and now... a multifaced artist who sings all beforementioned mixing it up. He gladly shows up now in any Eurovision related shows and happenings. He has sold several gold and platinum discs both in Finland and Sweden.

Katri Helena shock!

Katri Helena, 61, shocked the audience in a good way in Seinäjoki Tangomarkkinat (the festival that annually chooses another Tango Queen and King to make older generations happy before dropping the crown and trying to break into pop and Eurovision, like Jari Sillanpää, Johanna Pakonen, Heidi Kyrö, Arja Koriseva and so on) by dressing up in a micro skirt like she did in her early career. We are used to see her in more sober dresses, like her ones in the Eurovision 1979 and 1993. Actually, she is known as a sort of a style icon for ladies of certain age, and has created her own style. And this micro skirt was a very welcome breeze of fresh air to it, me thinks!!!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Finland 1964: Lasse Mårtenson

Lasse is one of the grand old men of the Finnish music industry and has penned many wonderful songs over the past five decades, enough to have a tribute album made of his songs by young up to date artists in 2006 followed by a tribute concert, something that he apparently wasn't very pleased with... He disapproved the new arrangement of the songs and the whole project. "A tribute? I feel more like my work's put in shame! No one asked me. I feel my identity and artistic image has been abused" he commented. Maybe he is just too old (73) to appreciate the new rap and hip hop versions?

He was very productive in the Euroviisut in 1960's: in 1963 his Kaikessa soi blues was a runner up and another song 4th, in 1964 he won with Laiskotellen, in 1965 his song Iltaisin won but was not sent (see post below), in 1967 new comer Fredi won with his song while Danny came second and Laila Kinnunen 6th... He also wrote four more entries (or there could be more but I am a lazy researcher!) until 1977.

He started his career in Lasse Mårtenson trio (1952-1960) before going solo both as a singer and composer. Later he was conducting in theathers, became famous jazz musician and in the late 1970´s he concentrated more on composing for TV and films. His most famous piece is actually from TV-series Myrskyluodon Maija, and especially its theme song that every Finn knows by heart. In 1997 he recorded an album with soprano Karita Mattila.

An Eurovision curiosity is that he was married to Siw Malmkvist, who represanted Sweden in 1960 and Germany in 1969.
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