X Factor 2016: Saara’s Journey – From “Abroad” To Adored

There’s an archetype of auditions on shows like this, in which an auditionee is initially portrayed as self-deluded or otherwise weird, but turns out to be vocally brilliant and wins everyone over. Saara did this not only in her audition, but over and over and over again. It’s been one of the most remarkable journeys in X Factor history for an act currently celebrating Finland’s Independence Day and planning to make the UK her adopted home.


And it’s all there, in microcosm, the first time we meet her. Our introduction to Saara initially portrays her as some kind of yokel from the Finnish boondocks with an annoying laugh, who is blissfully unaware of how she’s coming across to others. ‘Sleigh Ride’ strikes up in the background as she makes animated small talk about Santa Claus with awkward-looking fellow auditionees. Louis and Nicole frown uncomprehendingly as she says her name in a Finnish accent.

Then she sings ‘Chandelier’, and it’s great. Other auditionees, watching on the big screen, are shown to be captivated. Nicole stands to applaud, and seems genuinely impressed; she says “her range is out of this world” as Saara walks out of the room. The background music is now ‘Beneath Your Beautiful’. It’s a textbook of the audition genre.

But even in Saara’s archetypal redemption, there are touches of continuing to poke fun at her. After Nicole wonders “where did you come from?”, Louis helpfully says “Finland”. As ‘Beneath Your Beautiful’ fades out, producers can’t resist adding a few sleighbells.

Saara was only briefly sighted at bootcamp, with Simon describing her as “over the top” but “a character”.

Then came the six-chair challenge – the most difficult piece of Saara’s journey to make sense of, even in retrospect. Producers will have known, at this point, that they’d have one wildcard slot available to parachute a reject back in for judges houses – but they won’t have known that Ivy-Grace Paredes would be denied a US visa, allowing them to bring back a second act.

We’d be fascinated to know which of Saara and Honey G producers originally intended to bring back. They’ve claimed it was Saara, but logic points to Honey G: she was given the pimp slot in the first audition show, an editorial decision presumably made before they knew about the Ivy-Grace visa issues. And Honey G was clearly their priority of the two once the live shows started.

So: was Saara’s 6CC car-crash choreographed or unexpected? It began by reprising the motif of an audience initially sceptical about apparent weirdness being won over: as Saara cheerfully introduces herself as a “snow fairy from Finland”, a cutaway shows a watching girl disdainfully wrinkling her nose; but by the time Sharon sends Saara away, saying “I do not feel a connection”, as Nicole pleads for clemency, the audience has been won round and is loudly chanting “bring her back”.

What happens next is the puzzling bit. Saara returns to stage; Simon asks: “is there another song you can sing to change her mind?”; and it all seems set up for the payoff of Sharon being won over, too. But then Saara starts warbling in French. Dermot puts his head in his hands. The audience boo. Nicole grabs Sharon’s mic and sounds annoyed as she tells Saara: “this was your one shot! These people had your back!”

What was in the script here? Our best guess is that it called for Sharon to be won round, but that Saara hadn’t been briefed on what would happen because they wanted to film a genuine emotional reaction. We’d guess that as Saara walked off, a producer will have encouraged her back on stage, but they’d assumed she would have had the sense to launch into a more suitable second song.

Who knows. At any rate, after her reinstatement, at judges’ houses poor old Saara was back to square one, being portrayed as self-deluded and socially unaware. After she’d sung ‘Winner Takes It All’ for Sharon and Robbie Williams, the edit juxtaposed Saara telling Dermot “I think I saw a tear in Robbie’s eye” with Robbie telling Sharon “I got a bit bored”.

Before that performance, Sharon had told Robbie: “this is Saara from Finland”. In the first live show, Sharon introduced her as “Zara” from “Norway”. So either Sharon rapidly developed memory problems, or she was play-acting her sudden inability to pronounce Saara’s name or remember her home country. We know where our money is. After the performance, Dermot jokingly asked Sharon to confirm where Saara is from; she said, dismissively, “abroad”. It all had the effect of emphasising Saara’s foreignness – thereby making it harder for her to connect with the British audience – and diminishing her by suggesting that she was unimportant in her mentor’s eyes.

Producers gave Saara a song she knows well, ‘Let It Go’, but chose not to allow her to shine with it: they mucked around with the arrangement, and decked out the stage with dead trees.


The show keeps on doing this – choosing to prioritise controlling an act’s vote over taking the opportunity to create great television – and they wonder why ratings keep falling. It landed Saara in the first of her three singoffs.

After the week 2 rendition of ‘River Deep, Mountain High’, the unhelpful treatment continued as Louis called Saara “cold”. This was an interesting choice of insult – nothing we’d seen of Saara’s personality suggested coldness, but perhaps viewers will have subconsciously been primed to accept it by knowing she’s from a cold country. Saara duly appeared in her second singoff, before which Sharon introduced her as “from abroad” then needed to be reminded of her name. It all felt unnecessarily cruel.

And, as we argued at the time, puzzling: acts like Saara – combining vocal prowess and performing ability with an interesting personality – don’t come along often. Why did the show seem intent on wasting her? (Presumably, because there’s only so much oxygen to go around, and their initial priority was wringing as many column inches as possible out of Honey G.)

However, it seems that Saara also had her cheerleaders behind the scenes – it’s been clear from choreographer Brian Friedman’s column in the Gay Times that he rates her. About week 3, he wrote “it inspires you to create when you’ve got a singer that you can give anything to and they’re going to be able to achieve it”. And this was the week the penny finally seemed to drop for producers. They embraced the madness, and Saara delivered a jaw-droppingly entertaining ‘Oh So Quiet’ from the pimp slot.


Week 4 brought Lady Gaga for Hallowe’en, as ‘Bad Romance’ gave Saara another showcase to entertain. She escaped the singoff for a second week. But she dropped back into the bottom two again in week 5, when the song choice of ‘Sound Of The Underground’ seemed designed to restrict her room for vocal expression, and Brian’s technicolour Geisha staging just felt odd.


By now Sofabet commenters were referring to Saara as the “singoff assassin”. The theory was as follows: with her being foreign, producers could dampen Saara’s vote any time they want to, dunking her into the singoff; and they could rely on her, once there, to outsing whoever she was there with, giving them ample justification to send the other act packing.

Assassin services were not required in week 6. Saara was allowed to shine with ‘No More Tears’ and granted a hugely helpful VT that showed her charmingly appealing for votes via regional radio in various parts of the UK. Perhaps not coincidentally, she was shown appealing for votes from Newcastle and Scotland; the singoff was contested by Samantha (from Newcastle) and Ryan (from Scotland).


We still have a sneaking suspicion that the script called for a fourth singoff appearance in week 7. This time, her VT portrayed her as being homesick for her family in Finland, and there was a lot of subtitled talking in Finnish. Then her styling was unflattering, and the arrangement and staging for ‘My Heart Will Go On’ felt unhelpfully musical theatre. It will be interesting, when the voting statistics are released after the final, to see how far Saara was above the drop zone. Our suspicion is that producers possibly wanted her to be there, assassinating Ryan, and keeping the wheels on Honey G for another week.

But by week 8, the thinking behind the scenes seemed to have changed once again. Parsing Dermot’s teases on the state of the vote strongly suggests Saara won week 8, and that this was the first time she’d topped the vote. She gained huge praise from the panel for her first song, ‘Winner Takes It All’ – but then the judges seemed keen to dampen her momentum in their reactions to her pimp slot mashup of ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ and ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend’, Nicole and Simon calling it “cheesy”. It’s worth remembering producers will have known, at that point of the show, how the vote was going.

If that indicated a desire to help Saara, but not too much, we also detected a similar vibe during the semi-final. Saara’s Christmas mashup earned the “corny” tag from Nicole and Simon, and there were some debatable styling and staging choices for ‘Chandelier’. Of course, we shouldn’t make too much of that, because the big picture was clearly that producers wanted to help both 5AM and Saara while deramping Emily and Matt.


More interesting was what didn’t happen. If producers were thinking of Saara as their inevitable winner, they might have done more to establish a feelgood narrative around her: remember that at the semi-final stage in 2014, Ben Haenow’s VTs featured an emotional festive dinner with his family and a heartstring-tugging charity visit; Saara’s VTs were more anodyne. Likewise, there could easily have been some self-congratulatory Cowellian spiel about “honoured you chose to compete on this stage… the UK X Factor launches international stars”. There wasn’t. It didn’t feel to us, yet, like quite the done deal in producers’ minds.

We’ve long speculated that Saara would be easy to take down if producers wanted to: there are myriad ways they could subtly suggest that her heart is with Finland, not the UK, and it would be easy to tell the story of her relationship with fiancee Meri in a way that might make a few Middle English bums shift uncomfortably on their sofas. The two main stories in the press about Saara on Monday featured calls for Meri to feature in her coverage on the show, and speculation about whether Finns are voting illegally.

We assume the show has some influence over its press coverage, and the second story in particular is unlikely to have been accidental after Louis jokingly asked Finns to vote during the show itself. The “insider” quote was about as unhelpfully phrased as possible: “it’s hard to tell what is happening here… it’s just supposed to be people in this country.” But then, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything more than the show taking a chance to get itself in the press. As Simon told Honey G, “when people are talking about you, you’re winning”.

And, as we saw with the Finnish embassy VT in the semi-final, everything that could in theory be spun negatively can also be portrayed in a helpful light. How the media covers Saara in the rest of the week will hopefully give us more clues as to how her VTs will be edited. From the footage of the Helsinki homecoming, it certainly looks like they have plenty of material to portray it in an hugely positive, heartwarming way if they want to embrace Saara as a feelgood underdog winner.

The rumours of an Adam Lambert duet also seem reasonably promising: again, it could go either way, especially as not all the Middle England audience will necessarily be familiar with the frontman now working with Queen, but it certainly has the potential to be a vocal showstopper (unlike, say, when Che Chesterman was landed with Rod Stewart last year).

Whatever happens, it’s amazing that Saara got this far, given how unhelpfully she was portrayed in the audition stages and the first two live shows – a testament to her ability not only to sing and to perform, but also to shrug off those negative attentions. Unlike a number of other acts this year, notably Emily and Matt last week and Ryan every week, Saara has typically come across as cheerfully oblivious to when she’s being stitched up.


Perhaps, as implied by her initial audition portrayal, there really is a Chauncey Gardiner aspect to her character. If so, it’s probably a sanity-saver on a competition like this. For example, when Nicole and Simon were slating the creative concept for her diamonds mashup – which the VT had told us was all her own work – she kept nodding and smiling winningly instead of looking hurt, and the criticism seemed less harmful as a result.

Or perhaps she’s been well aware, but just sucked it up and kept her eyes on the prize. Again, it’s all there in her first audition: she told us that this was her first time in the UK, and she’d come over from Finland because she wanted to find a way to help her career. She’s certainly done that.

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199 comments to X Factor 2016: Saara’s Journey – From “Abroad” To Adored

  • Jessica Hamby

    I hardly watched any of the audition shows. Saw some of the early room auditions but missed most of the rest. Seeing the 6 Chair Challenge for the first time I get it. That was genuine car crash tv. If I’d seen it I’m not sure if I’d have backed her when I did.

    She’s done an amazing job to win people around from that. Nicole nailed it when she asked “Do you know where you are?”. That lesson seems to have been learned. It’s not about being british, it’s about respecting and embracing the british. Perhaps being so multi-lingual she simply didn’t think about it but singing in french she might as well have turned around and showed the audience her bumhole.

    As an aside, I read a “singing expert” on digital spy claiming that Saara can’t do soul or R&B. Her clip of “On The Radio” kicks that idea into touch. She killed it.

  • Chris Bellis

    Excellent article as usual.
    I said a few years ago that I know that BBC and ITV back-room staff scour these pages. I think this is shown well by the decision this year to subvert the embassy meme, by linking it to Father Christmas, having it spoken in fluent English, and having a Scottish competitor’s VT subtitled.If you google “Saara Alto betting tips” you will get sofabet results on the second page. Presuming that sofabet doesn’t have vast sums of money to pay google for the top pages, that shows the influence sofabet now has. The writers should take this as a compliment, but also be prepared to be subverted. Sofabet is now very influential, being quoted in digitalspy, Mirror, Sun etc on a regular basis. I can imagine the production staff having a laugh at how they might subvert some of the other givens, like red and black, colour vomit etc.

  • Dana

    I’d forgotten how awful her treatment was in the early days.

    The Saara story is the best one they have had in a long time and it seems entirely accidental. If they had actually tried to create it themselves, I don’t think they could have pulled it off. Matt winning would be such a damp squib in comparison.

  • They will have one member of staff who reads sm including this site. Cowell and/or his mind control man may also read Sofabet for fun to see how subtle or obvious their ideas are (to the minority).

    But that’s where it ends. They will have no interest whatsoever, or even time, to “subvert” analysts’ ideas. Whistle-blowing type sites have no effect on the general population and therefore are largely irrelevant to TPTB, however revealing they are.

    • Edie M

      I think you’re partly right and partly wrong. It’s hard to subvert something like lighting- red & black is damaging (often anyway) because it is subliminally negative so if you want to dampen someone you still use it despite sofabet. But if you want to do an embassy visit but present it more positively you might pick up on what sofabet has said about the ways Andrea & 4th impact were portrayed in their VTs.

    • Chris Bellis

      I’ve missed a key point, which I would like to submit to trusting sofabet commenters. Insider betting. Never happens of course, except in every other sport. I grew up with a friend whose dad was a well known horse trainer. Several times he was under suspicion for manipulating races one way or another, and as a lad I used to hear all the talk at his house, so I knew full well he was guilty. But of course it couldn’t happen at ITV.

      • Gavster

        It happened many years ago. The Bookmakers reported suspicious betting activity and it was traced back to someone working on the show who knew the voting stats.

        However, this week saw the first dodgy move on Betfair when Matt was heavily backed for bottom 2 right before the results show started.

      • EM

        A couple of times this year the odds on Betfair have taken a big change about ten to fifteen minutes before the Saturday show which have looked like someone knowing the running order. Emily’s odds increased a couple of weeks ago just before the show, then it was revealed she had the pimp slot…

      • Stu

        It happened right before Ben was crowned the winner two years ago. He shortened and Fleur drifted massively. 1/7 vs 8/1 I think the odds were.

  • Chris Bellis

    I’d also like to add that if Sharon had taken one tenth of the drugs her husband has consumed it’s entirely possible that she wouldn’t know the difference between Norway and Finland. Her husband doesn’t and he’s been touring there for donkey’s years. Finland loves metal.

  • Dean

    I just have to say I absolutely adore Saara. This has been one of the weirdest shows, but we at least got one of the best ever contestants out of it. She really is TV GOLD!

  • EM

    The big red flag over Saara is that (in my memory) they’ve always seen her as a talent show contestant rather than potential pop star. Matt and 5AM have both had the recording artist tags thrown at them haven’t they (actually I can only remember Matt getting this)

    If she has been kept on to keep the show entertaining then judging by the viewing figures it hasn’t worked.

    • HL

      It sounds a bit stupid to say that “this song should be on your first album” if a contestant already has released music. 5AM’s Kieran and Saara both have done it. Saara’s albums have been indie self-releases, but Kieran has apparently worked with major labels: https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/1759915/x-factors-5am-star-kieran-alleyne-has-already-released-an-album-had-a-tv-show-and-worked-with-beyonces-team/
      There are other ways to say that there is potential, no need to tag them as “recording artists”.

      Mind you, they have not said they could easily see Matt in a West End play or as a lead of a boyband. Actually Saara is the only one they can safely mention in a same sentence with West End, since all the others have already done West End. 😀

      • EM

        I’ll be honest here HL it feels like you are quibbling for the sake of quibbling.

        My point stands that they haven’t flagged up any potential for Saara past being a talent show contestant. The other two finalists have had recording artist images painted for the audience.

        It would be very easy to give her the line “when you come back next year on a Sunday as a guest this is what I can see you do” or even talk about how long she’s been trying to crack it and finally this is her launch pad to being a star. But they haven’t and that’s a point well worth pondering by anyone taking a punt on her.

        That’s not to say she won’t win on public voting but the producers really don’t seem to be doing much to make that happen.

        • HL

          I am sorry you found my answer irrelevant and irritating. I thought you were stuck with the words “recording artist” and I tried to give one explanation why that tag would not even be helpful. You are of course right that it sounds worrying if there are no mentions of possibilities to make cooperation after the final.

          All three finalists have been mentioned as possible “winners”, which in practice means a record deal and guest appearances, so it is not that bad as it could be, but for a Saara backer it would have been really nice to get more than that before the final. She has been given mentions of having a great personality, and being nice to work with, and a really hard-working person, and a versatile musician, and a world-class artist. Not that bad, it will help her to make a deal with some other label if it does not work out with Syco. Or then she can continue with her indie recordings, maybe with a new contact to help her with songwriting? Or a new duet partner? (However, I am more interested if she is going to sail through to Sunday than if she is going to win, since I don’t even need her to win.)

  • Black n Blue

    As much as I think Saara would be a deserving winner, it’s going to be a struggle if she’s saddled with an “Ed Sheeran ballad” as we’ve been promised for the final two sing-off. If she could choose her own song for Sunday night it would be a cakewalk.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I think she’ll love an Ed Sheeran ballad. She can hold a tune, she’s got a lovely tone and she can put all sorts into a single line, never mind a verse or a whole song. She’ll be fine.

  • stoney

    That’s me all done and ready for Wembley Saturday night. What a horrendous treble of reality betting I have had. In comparison to last year when I landed the mother of all trebles.
    Now i find myself needing a saara win to pretty much break even. The only one i have no returns on going into the final is matt, which knowing My luck over the last few weeks should see him cruise to victory. Good luck to all I’m now off to try and get this hat dislodged from my stomach 🙂

    • George

      It’s been quite the year, hasn’t it? Seems like some of the craziness going on elsewhere has infiltrated The X Factor.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I must have missed the hat thing. Did you say if Matt goes b2 you’ll eat your hat? Did the Brexit poll teach you nothing?


      • It was if Emily did not make the final.

      • HL

        My only financial misjudgement so far has been last weekend. I was pretty sure they would not get Matt in B2, because 5AM’s support seemed so weak. Somehow they still managed to do it. Probably there were too many voters who thought Matt would be safe anyway, and 5AM inherited more votes from Honey G than I had estimated. Happily I did not promise to eat anything.

        • Chris Bellis

          As I said before, I knew the week when they gave him a Sia song they were intentionally taking him way out of his comfort zone.

        • Stu

          How can their support seem so weak when we know they topped the vote at least once? We also knew Matt wasn’t running away with it.

          • HL

            Stu: Honey G and 5AM have been hard for me to predict. I just don’t get these acts myself, and the “likes” and “searches” and “view counts” and “streams” and such stats are not telling much about them. Last week I got it right, they were in B2 as I had predicted, but now I was wrong. Maybe there is an indicator that works, but I haven’t found it.

            Actually we did not know for sure that they had topped the vote before this weekend. We knew that three acts had done it before week 7, but it could have been Saara or 5AM in week 6, some people even claimed that it must have been Honey G. Anyway we knew they had been close to do it at some point, but that goes with everyone left in the competition. I thought they were *much* weaker than Saara and Matt, definite B2 mimers without serious pimping, and dampening of others. It will be interesting to see the actual percentages.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Off topic but the gif I linked to was from the 2015 election, when the first exit polls suggested the Lib Dems were going to get 6 or 6 mps, not from the referendum.

    • EM

      Stoney your hat has been highlight of the comments this series.

      There but for the grace of god…..

  • Dean

    A bit OT but I was just going back through a few old x factor performances and even very good performances didn’t get 4 judge Standing ovation. Nowadays there seems to be a 4 judge SO every 3rd performance. I also felt the critiques were much more in depth and much better. Nowadays they just seem very nonchalant.

    • George

      They’ve tried to soften up the show and any criticism is now seen as a bit panto similar to Strictly. Except Strictly still has detailed critique despite the lighter mood.

  • Stu

    I was wondering about whether YouGov still do their poll ahead of the final (can someone confirm this?) and I came across this:


    Although that suggests the majority of viewers are younger. The comments section is telling.

    Anyway, am I right in saying YouGov has got it right every year?

  • David Cook

    This is the first year I’ve missed the audition programmes, SCC was the first programme we watched this year. I’ve still not seen the auditions other than the YouTube clips of those of the twelve finalists. My first impression of Saara was basically “who on earth is this mad woman” – however as with the other eleven I ventured onto Youtube to see what I could find. There’s a lot – “I’ve sung a lot, a lot”. Some of its indifferent, even poor, but there’s also a lot of good, excellent even. I was amazed to see her ‘Chandelier’ audition – was this the same person. Turns out she’s even quite good at ‘Je Suis Malade’. It’s supposed to be a talent show, and as we know talent’s actually quite hard to find. You could go for years and not find someone with the breadth of ability that Saara’s got. She seemed like a gem. What you can’t find, I don’t think, is anything which remotely explains the SCC appearance.
    It’s been hard to watch at times – as I said had it been me I would have told them where to stuff themselves during week 3. If she’s appeared more stoic then perhaps it’s because when you’re in the last chance salon there’s just no point giving up anyway.
    I didn’t think she would win – I didn’t think they’d let her – and maybe they still won’t, but she was certainly better than fifty to one. (Maybe I should have spotted that Honey G was a better bet than 100:1 but I digress). However here we are in finals week and amazingly she’s in with a chance. I guess we all want to spot that elusive long odds winner – and this year it might just happen. If it doesn’t then I’ll just get my stake back. Oh and ‘top over’ but then that was a no brainer wasn’t it?

  • GsP

    Brian isn’t even hiding it now, Saara takes the top two spots in his weekly ranking column with Gay Times.

    Sorry, can’t seem to link on my phone.

      • Dana

        Sharon again worrying that the gimmicky dress for Chandelier would ruin things for her. Seems she has been trying to keep her word since the Sound of the Underground disaster, which is strange as she gives the perfect impression of not giving a crap about Saara on the live shows.

        • PolarNight

          For me Sharon often looks touched / emotional during Saara’s performances. It may be that the surgeries have affected how her feelings are reflected on her face. I have a feeling that Sharon has done a good job regarding mentoring (overseeing the Friday/Saturday rehearsals). Thought she failed to remove the ‘Sound of the Underground’ wig.

          I stumbled on a ‘perfect’ parody picture on Twitter regarding Brian’s & Saara’s choreography design meetings. The person who tweeted it claimed to have found it from some Facebook page:

    • Curtis

      I wonder if Saara’s biggest supporter behind the scenes is in fact Friedman rather than the elusive “producers”. One probably shouldn’t underestimate the effect he can have on the show, and reading his columns lately I feel he goes the extra mile for Saara.

      • Martin

        I said a few weeks ago, Brian is the biggest asset to this show in terms of ensuring that the actual performances are entertaining. Jessica correctly identified long ago that without Saara, there wouldn’t actually be much to watch. Producers likely realised that, and it ties in beautifully with them being able to allow Brian a bit of creative freedom to keep him quiet. Based on his Gay times articles, he seems like a strong character and it must make the producers job a hell of a lot easier in negotiating things to potentially have the ability to say “look, we’ve given you the freedom with Saara but we need this from you with Contestant X”. Especially with their ability to deflate her vote through other means, as mentioned in the article.

        That is assuming we take Brian’s article as genuine. There has been an undercurrent of frustration through these articles, and his relative disappearing act through the competition. The show needs him now more than ever – I’d have thought that his articles would be regulated tightly by the show, and I can’t imagine that two or three years ago, we’d have seen this sort of thing.

  • Chris Bellis

    So Sam Smith turned down the chance to appear with Matt in the final, and he gets James Arthur instead. I don’t whether that’s a positive or a negative for him.

  • Daz

    i wonder if the sudden turn on matt is because of louis tomlinson signing to syco. simon wouldnt want a lookalike with a better voice on his books as well.

  • 5AMs homecoming is amazing! Like 50 people came!
    It’s actually rediculous, kinda embarrassing so far.

  • Jessica Hamby

    You can watch it streamed here if you’re on facebook. I’m not.j


  • Sindi

    I think Daniel is right about the 6CC. When you look at clip it looks like Saara really did decide to sing Je suis malade at the spur of the moment. She has said she loves that song so the decision makes sense. She didn’t have time to think about the language question. Also she’s used to using many different languages.

    • Woofie

      She was asked about it on Xtra Factor she said she didn’t know what she was thinking at the time. I think it was a spur of the moment.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I’m sure she didn’t intend to offend anyone. Perhaps she didn’t realise that she was taking part in a little drama for the benefit of the cameras. Perhaps she was nervous and it was the first song that came into her head. Whatever the reason, it was a the wrong song for that audience.


      • Jessica Hamby

        Hopefully she will win this weekend and it will the funny story she tells about how she nearly lost her big break when she went on a talent show in Britain and got booed off for singing in french.

        • Sindi

          It was a very humiliating situation. She’s so strong to have come back fighting after that. It would have been enough to break the confidence of someone for good. Of course it helps her she wasn’t born yesterday. She posted a backstage video later at which she said she was nervous about how her 6CC would look like on TV, so it wasn’t easy for her.

          I think she’s so focused on her career that it helps her to shrug off everything irrelevant. Also she’s been rejected before, for example by a Finnish record company who said she could not sing in English because she would never be as good as the foreign acts.

          • Sindi

            …and I think she’s fully aware of the nature of the game.

          • Dendrite

            By now, they all should be. However, Saara’s early interviews did have a definite Alice in Wonderland vibe to them (well into the live shows, actually), and I very much doubt she knew what she was getting into to begin with (double-deckers tend to be rare to the east of the Channel, and Finnish talent shows are more egalitarian). The 6CC stage should have been a major eye-opener, though.

          • HL

            She has been watching X Factor for years so of course she must have known that they sometimes do dirty tricks. Most contestants however tend to think these things will happen to other people…

  • Jessica Hamby

    I put Outona Alkuun, Rakastettuna Loppuun into Google Translate. It said Top Stranger, Loved One To End.

  • Alan

    Surely the 6CC was as contrived as every other aspect of the show? She played the pantomime villain on the assurance that she would be put through regardless. Same as Matt and his ‘half step too high’. Manufactured drama.

    And whats with taking Brian Friedman’s words as gospel? He’ll be towing the party line no different to Fleur. Sharon having creative input was the point where alarm bells started ringing for me. As if.

    Great article though.

    • 360

      I thought the editing of the 6 Chair was really offensive and left a nasty taste in my mouth.

      How they’ll spin that, going back, if she wins is beyond me. That was a monumental producer cock-up to not brief her in advance. I’m sure she was told before it that they would put her through, and her whole reaction through the 6 Chair audition comes across as if she’s been thrown and is off-balance.


      How she and Sharon will behave together at the final will be interesting viewing, given Sharon’s repeatedly-affirmed disinterest in and disconnection to the act who’s now her last standing. Similar to the series where Kelly Rowland championed Misha B throughout the series, and then was saddled with Amelia Lily, who she chose to eliminate in week 1, as her last remaining act. The VTs where she visited her home and they tried to hastily build a ‘bond’ between the two were cringeworthy.

      Thank God Saara and Sharon won’t have to sing a duet!

      • Jessica Hamby

        It looks like a mess to me too but without it Saara wouldn’t have had this trajectory. It’s hard to say how far she would have got without it – she’s obviously a very talented woman – but the story of rejection to acceptance is worth a lot.

        They’re always giving us background sob-stories to get us emotionally invested in the contestants. With Saara we’ve watched it as it’s unfolded and actually been part.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Sharon looks like she really likes Saara at bootcamp. Just a brief snippet but very expressive. Makes the doubt Sharon showed at 6CC seem even more manufactured. My thought is that they wanted her to come back and sing something amazing to create more drama – that’s what 6CC is there for. If only they’d prepped her by asking her to prepare a second song…..

    • I dunno, Alan, I think (as Henry says below) sometimes we see can conspiracy where it’s actually cock-up. If they brief the acts on what to expect, they have to rely on their acting skills for the responses of tension or surprise, and they’re not trained actors – surely it will generally make for better TV if they manufacture the situations and film the raw emotional responses? I’d guess that when an act is really important to them, and they want to avoid a meltdown, they’ll brief them – e.g. I’d bet Matt was tipped off what would happen with the Christian Burrows drama at the end of Nicole’s 6CC. But I’d also bet Christian wasn’t. Why would they be too bothered exactly how he reacted, if they planned to dump him at JHs anyway? Similarly with Saara, if they viewed her at that stage as easily-replaceable early weeks cannon fodder at best, they won’t have cared too much.

      Interesting question re Brian. I’m sure he knows when to self-censor, but his pieces don’t read like they were ghosted by the corporate PR machine, like Fleur’s do.

  • 360

    This is unrelated to my last comment, but, given that we’ve talked about the popularity of her audition before on the lists of the most-viewed videos, and the fact she had a lot of early prominence through the audition process…

    I have found myself wondering sometimes if it was an initial producer (or intern) cock-up that led to Saara Aalto from Finland going through to judges’ houses as a replacement for Ivy-Grace, when the similarly-named Sada Vidoo, from Denmark (the Living Doll woman) was already a comedy/quirky act ready-made and fully-formed, who had had several long segments dedicated to her backstory, who positioned herself as an advocate for ‘people who are different’, and who also was a fairly impressive singer under the overblown persona.

    Especially, really, in a series that seems to’ve been looking for as many comedy/joke acts as possible to boost Honey G, to lighten the mood, to try to recreate 2010, and, as we’ve been realising, to disguise 5AM’s shortcomings for as long as possible.

    • Alan

      Its difficult to argue against that theory without sounding overly dismissive or rude but you’re suggesting that a show that is famed for controlling and manipulating every aspect of its production to advance its own agenda and has successfully run 10 or so live shows for over a decade might have accidently booked the wrong act for judges houses? It seems a little unlikely to me.

  • GsP

    Saara will be in Leicester Square at 11am tomorrow. Only just announced so expecting a couple of 0’s less than showed up in Helsinki.

  • Lake

    Headline: Sharon Osbourne snubs Saara Alto’s X Factor homecoming campaign in bitter blow just days before the final


    ” A source said: ‘Sharon has commitments in the US with her TV show but you would think in this week of all weeks, she might pull rank and join Saara. She badly needs the support but clearly she’s not exactly a high priority for her.’ “

  • Curtis

    I think the reason they didn’t quite go all-in on Saara in the semis is because the theme of the show this year is that it’s an open competition. They’re going to hold that to the end – every act has topped the vote at least once, every act has been in the bottom 2 at least once.

    However I do think that her performance of Chandelier was meant to be a clear “moment” for her. Sure, there was the dress and the dancers, but she got lots of great close-ups and also panning over the crowd at big moments (as they did in TWTIA and managed to catch a mid-song standing ovation). She also got a helpful epic arrangement building up throughout the song, again, very similar to TWTIA. One thing I noticed in the judges comments is that while Simon couldn’t help but mention the “silly dress”, he rushed through that part of his comment to quickly call her “absolutely sensational”.

    I am 70% sure they have chosen Saara as their winner because they know it would be such a great feel-good moment. However, stories coming out in the press are giving me a little bit of doubt, and if they could possibly get 5AM over the line then maybe they would. I think that would be a bad decision for the show, but we know from experience that the show is happy to make bad decisions to get the outcome they want!

  • Stu

    I can’t think of a more unpredictable final in XF history. It’ll be interesting to see if the “song of the series” choices strongly indicate anything. Maybe Saara will return as a Geisha for another Sound of the Underground rendition? 😀 Matt could Wham it up.

    • HL

      “Je suis malade” is also a song of the series…. 😀 What about “I see fire”, does Sharon feel it this time?

      Chandelier (1)
      On the radio
      I see fire
      Je suis malade
      The winner takes it all (1)
      Running up that hill (JH’s, not shown on tv)
      Let it go
      River deep mountain high
      It’s oh so quiet
      Bad romance
      Sound of the underground
      Who you are
      No more tears (Enough is enough)
      My heart will go on
      The winner takes it all (2)
      Diamonds medley
      All I want for Christmas is you
      Chandelier (2)

      But this is Sunday’s menu. I’d be more interested to know what the acts are going to sing on Saturday to get through.

      • Jessica Hamby

        I’d love to hear her doing something like that version of On The Radio, different to her usual big divaesque arrangements and more contemporary. She can obviously do it and it would win over all the people who label her stage school or musical theatre.

        Probably won’t happen though.

      • Stu

        Oh I forgot the SOTS theme is on the Sunday… so Saturday’s the duets and any song they want?

  • Scott

    It does seem that “open competition” has been the priority, certainly in recent weeks and maybe from the start. If Matt wins this weekend then he can easily be presented as the underdog, as Saara is now favourite. Alternatively, Saara has come from absolutely nowhere to win it. Alternatively, where the hell did 5AM come from to win the competition?

    By accident or design, whether they know who’s going to win or they don’t, at least we’re not all sitting here like last season knowing from about week two who’s going to walk it.

    The points Daniel raises about knackering any prospect of having a good show by being obsessed with controlling voting numbers is solid. I get the concept that the producers’ hands are inevitably visible to some degree in every reality TV show – I can normally tell you who’s going to win Celebrity Masterchef by watching the final, and that’s a show that doesn’t require phone votes, just the viewer to be persuaded that a worthy person (in terms of skill and personality) has done it. Even Bake Off has a degree of this. Problem is the puppet strings are really quite visible now on The X Factor, even for those who don’t follow things as closely as we do.

    Some sort of balance really needs to be reintroduced. I get that if you have a Little Mix or someone you clearly want to push to the top to give them a huge career lift then you’ll do that – more worthy winners and all that. But it’s hard to imagine Saara or Matt doing damage in the charts these days. 5AM at a push. In years like that, it would be interesting to see what would happen if a bit more leeway was given.

  • Spiidey

    A weird claim on Pop Justice (the most trust worthy of old sites) that it is GEM and not The Weeknd that are performing with 5AM.

    Initially it seems astonishingly unlikely but they’re all friends of the show and it would be some comeback if that was how they were revealed, walking through the doors as 5AM introduce them.

    GEM are 60% of the original Spice Girl line up (Geri, Emma and Mel B).

    • Jessica Hamby

      None of the duets have been confirmed by the show yet. It makes more sense that it would be them than The Weekend. Last year they said something to the effect that a member of pop royalty was going to sing with Che. I’m sure I read an article by Daniel somewhere suggesting it might be Stevie Wonder. It turned out to be Rod Stewart.

      • Spiidey

        True. We should make no assumptions until it’s officially confirmed.

        GEM would fit right into 5AM’s ‘vocal’ style though – massive auto tune requirements or a heavy backing track with everyone jumping around R&B style with Mel B shouting “colours of the world”, “every boy and every girl”, “people of the world” over the top of it.

        Wonder if it was Say You’ll Be There that they topped the vote with?

    • JScouser2002

      spiidey, do you have a link for the pop justice suggesting GEM?

      Can’t find it. Thanks

  • Jessica Hamby


    The story should have been punters scrambling to cover potential losses on Matt Terry but these stories aren’t for people who actually bet. I would like to add that whoever the “one brave woman” referred to is, it isn’t me although I’ve decided to think I am the inspiration for her. She’s almost certainly made up. I’d be surprised if there was a bookie in the country who’d take £100 on Saara at 80/1. They’d probably only let you do £20 and you’d have to go somewhere else to place the rest.

    I don’t know why newspapers don’t just go with facts. Facts are at least as interesting as the stuff they make up and more useful to their readers.


    Nick. Mate. Let it go.


    Aston. Mate. Let it go.

  • Scott

    Oh Jesus, I’d suggest that comment reflects worse on Emily than it does on Nick. As much as it comes with a hefty filter of a newspaper desperately trying to egg people on. He made a mild criticism of her performance like plenty of people do online about stuff on a nightly basis, he didn’t make a personal attack on her. To be fair to Emily she’s probably used her full stock of patience getting on the show without screaming at someone.

    As for Aston – oh mate, it worked out for you though, surely? That feels like a relic from a bygone era when the contestants thought there was some degree of level playing field there. That season was an ideal for producers because Alexandra Burke got the boost of winning the show, and they’ll have known JLS would have been fine in any event.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Also Alexandra Burke’s mum was lead singer in Soul II Soul and I think the family knew Beyonce and called in a favour. The producers were hardly going to turn her down.

  • Alen

    so kylie, the weeknd and little mix have been confirmed so far as guests on x factors facebook.

    little mix for 5 am and kylie for matt?

  • Plinkiplonk

    In regards to Saara’s story before the live shows:
    With a program as heavily (and clumsily) edited as this show, I refuse to believe that the 6CC was an unexpected and unwanted slip up on Saara’s part only. They could have easily stopped her French song, not use it in the edit, and get her to sing something more suitable. As it is, it created drama, was unexpected and made uncomfortable viewing – job done.
    Also, I am very surprised that after numerous years with Visa issues they would come up against this as an unsurmountable problem. If Ivy Grace really had been earmarked for the live shows, they could have found a way around this. I think they were just concerned she would do a Sam Bailey on them and foghorn her way to the win, so she was quietly replaced with Saara. The reason it wasn’t milked more for drama was probably to prevent a surge of sympathy for her a la Gamu, which would have lead to questions being asked.

    Summing up, I would say that this may be the first year where they switched favourites halfway through, despite the original Chosen One still being in the competition. It’s probably a combo of lots of reasons, like Matt not polling as strongly, the Real Louis Tomlinson (who I imagine cannot be too happy with the comparisons that were everywhere at the start) now signing with Syco as well as some dodgy personal rumours about him ( don’t care if he is gay or not, but that’s the guy sold as heartbroken over a girl, bit embarassing surely ?). At the same time, Saara fought her way to the top by sheer determination and talent, which is a lot more than can be said about 5AM, so she must have been a tempting alternative. Also, the minute they realised they could spin this year as ‘the most unpredictable EVAH’ having the widely tipped favourite winning would be an anti climax, no?

  • “In regards to Saara’s story before the live shows:
    With a program as heavily (and clumsily) edited as this show, I refuse to believe that the 6CC was an unexpected and unwanted slip up on Saara’s part only.”

    It’s a false step from thinking there is much conspiracy to thinking everything is conspiracy. Honey G was clearly their primary planned replacement. Saara may have been shouted at while she was walking off though – “Go on, go back and tell them why you should stay!”. They then edit of course. One thing they left out of Honey G’s edit was her arguing with Sharon. The crowd turned against her and started booing and shouting “off”.

    They have to be flexible because they don’t know how the acts will turn on the big stage and when not singing their favourite songs. Before the show they may have watched footage of some acts in regional competitions and scouts may have been to a couple of small gigs by acts, but apart from that they don’t really know their acts.

    • PolarNight

      Henry VIII: “Honey G was clearly their primary planned replacement”.

      I would not be so sure about who was the wildcard & who was the standby replacement. Based on media reports Ivy’s visa was only rejected because of wrong type of visa was applied. She would have got a correct visa if there was time to wait some days (less than a week).

      When Saara was informed she would be the wildcard the production had sent a film crew to Finland to Saara’s apartment. She had been asked to invite some family & friends to be there and was let to believe it was just some extra “after the X Factor” filming. (These details are either from Saara’s Facebook videos before the live shows or from some interview (potentially from her fiance)).

      Also Saara would likely need at least some days to sort out things before traveling to London (and from there to LA together with the other contestants).

      Logistically getting a film crew to Finland, filming, Saara sorting things out in Finland and Saara flying to London takes time. Thus one could expect that Saara was informed to be the wildcard a lot earlier than Ivy’s visa problems emerged.

      It is wise to have a replacement on standby if something goes wrong. Honey G is a London based act and would be much more likely to be used in a standby replacement role than Saara. Then again producers may have intended for the overs to have 2 wildcards and when Ivy’s situation emerged only the role label for HG was changed.

      • Dendrite

        One of the friends present during this filming told the story to mtv.fi. However, travelling to London is not as complicated as you may think – if money is not an issue you can normally get tickets for same day flights (it just costs a lot more). Also, in the eyes of US immigration, Honey G and Saara are equal (both trustworthy EU citizens, whereas Philippines tend to face tougher scrutiny). While it does take a bit of advance planning to send a film crew to Finland, such preparations could be started as a precaution at the first sign of visa trouble, and the trip could have been called off at the last minute had it been deemed unnecessary (or simply used for its originally stated purpose).

        Saara undoubtedly has compared notes with Honey G to establish a timeline for who-knew-what-and-when, but she has declined to comment on the timing of the wildcard news, and this was not revealed in her friend’s interview, either. There are a couple of other things that suggest that Saara was a direct replacement for Ivy Grace: both are (a) vocally skilled power balladists and (b) quota foreigners. At the JH stage, the two would have been fighting against each other for a single slot in the live shows, in any case.

        • PolarNight

          Travel arrangements can indeed be made fast from Finland. Then again Saara is a professional singer who has gigs lined up too. Dropping everything and leaving during a day or two could be bit too much to ask. (Then again that also means she can perform ‘on fly’ without too much practice). Of course she could have been in standby mode too.

          It will be interesting if they are allowed to tell about the dates in some point in the future.

  • stoney

    Of the duets confirmed saara and Adam Lambert is the only one that has the potential to have the wow factor

  • EM

    How the lighting on the X Factor works (I was disappointed not to pick up any tips about who orders certain lighting techniques here!)


  • stoney

    Harry styles and matt, surely not? That would be the ultimate full circle turn around from Simon if this was to happen.

  • David Cook

    Maybe it’s about time they started looking at the prize on offer.

    Suralan found it a chore finding meaningless jobs for people who didn’t want to be working for him anyway. It was better all round to give them a bit of dough and send them on their way.

    So why not just change the X factor to a cash prize too.

    Syco don’t get stuck with someone they don’t want, but can still offer contracts to those that they do. The unwanted winners get some form of tangible prize, and the opportunity to strike a deal with someone where they might be better matched.

    I know people are going to say that they’d still manipulate to get the winner they want just for the cache of winning, but this often works against the acts anyway, because the compromises required frequently limit their future credibility.

  • Spiidey

    From digital spy

    Rylan just was giving final exclusives in relation to the final on Saturday

    There will be a performance from a yet unannounced artist, which will be an exclusive.
    The Weeknd, Little Mix and Kylie Minogue will be performing.
    2 X Factor winners will come together for an incredible duet
    One of the confirmed acts to perform on the final will do a duet with one of the acts.
    The final contestants will be having a mentoring session with Kylie Minogue this week

    New song choices.

    Saara will perform a “Eurovision Classic” song which her European fans have wanted her to perform throughout the live shows.

    5AM will take on a RnB Dance anthem performed by an all time great RnB male artist

    Matt will perform one of the biggest songs of this past century, which was sung by one of UK’s biggest female artists EVER

    The winners single(S) are not what people will expect, it is different from previous winners songs – Rylan described it as a Radio and streaming hit!

  • David Cook

    Andrew – I’ve got to agree with your point regarding why they continue to prioritize manipulating the voting over providing entertainment.
    I know this is to some extent the reason for the existence of this site, to spot the manipulation and benefit from that. The issue is that it is now so heavy handed that the show is descending into farce. I suspect many thought it reached that stage last year with Louisa – the act that was so good that the only other act she could be trusted to beat in a final was R&B.

    This year the objective seems to be grabbing headlines in ‘The Sun’ over providing entertainment. I’m not sure what the purpose is in this. Surely the point in all this publicity is to encourage viewers. Yet anybody who is encouraged to watch is treated to the spectacle of the truly talentless being hyped to the detriment of more talented acts. There is zero long term credibility in doing this. I must be out of touch because I simply cannot see how this is improving ratings. Indeed clearly it is not. Do they actually think ratings would be falling at an even more alarming rate without this?

    • It’s completely baffling, isn’t it?

      Can’t help thinking it’s not coincidental that the ratings rot set in in 2011, which is not only when Cowell went off to try to crack the States, but when they really started dicking around with the format (the ridiculousness of parachuting Amelia Lily back in halfway through). I seem to remember at the time there were quotes about “you have to continually adapt the format to keep people interested”, but I get the impression that the reality shows that are still going strongest are the ones that have done the least of that. A tweak here and there, like you say with Suralun’s prize, but not different panels of judges every year, different numbers of wildcards every year and only announced at the last minute, etc. Masterchef tried a complete format overhaul one year but quickly realised they’d cocked it up and went back into the rhythm of something closely resembling the previous format.

      I genuinely can’t tell if they think they’re helping, they just don’t care about the long term, or they can’t help themselves.

  • David Cook

    When someone says Eurovision Classic most people probably think Hmmm – Brotherhood of Man?

    It couldn’t be could it?

  • GsP

    Rise Like A Phoenix would work at Wembley, even if not that well known.

    Euphoria got to #3 in the UK and would please her Eurovision and gay fanbases. It would be epic but not vote winning.

    If it’s ABBA or Boom Bang A Bang she’s done, but I’ve not seen a single person ask her to sing these songs. The other two very much so.

    I didn’t know her second song at JH was Running Up That Hill. Bet it was great.

    • David Cook

      It would be interesting to hear Running Up That Hill. I don’t suppose you can do a song of the series that was never shown.
      I’m not sure how it would work as a lot of the effect came from the layered vocals. It’s a bit like listening to 5AM only it’s in tune.

    • Spiidey

      Could it be Love Shine A Light?

      That is a PROPER classic and an absolutely great, rousing, anthem. And it was the last time the UK won the competition.

      It’s also absolutely perfect for her voice. She can use her upper non belting register throughout and then rely power out the “and we’re ALL gonna shine a light together)

      • Spiidey

        Rise like a Phoenix is an absolutely TERRIBLE song. It works vaguely better in an arena than it does listening to it on the radio / CD.

        However, it ONLY won Eurovision because of the character that was singing it. Take that away and it’s an absolute death knell for Saara.

        I literally cannot believe this is happening.

      • HL

        Spiidey, no, her fans** have not been asking for any old Eurovision classics. Euphoria (2012), Rise Like A Phoenix (2014) and her own not-at-all-classic No Fear from last spring are the most likely Eurovision songs that come to my mind.

        **I am not sure if people who want her to imitate Conchita Wurst and cuddle with her fiancé in the final are her fans at all, sounds like they are using her to drive their own agenda.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Rise Like A Phoenix is a piece of crap. I know it’s got anthemic status amongst some LGBT people (by no means all) but it’s a dreadful song. As I said in a previous thread, if Saara makes her performances into LGBT acceptance campaigns she’ll end up only singing to people who already agree with her. No-one else will listen. She won’t change anything. If she becomes a singing success whilst being openly in a same sex relationship she will challenge preconceptions simply by existing. She can then start more active campaigning later.

      Thank God I covered myself on 5AM but this is still very disappointing, if only because she is my favourite act.

  • Dana

    Saara’s not going to get any votes singing a “Eurovision classic” or duetting with Adam Lambert. I say that as a long time backer. Nailed on for 3rd place now imo.

    • Spiidey

      First instinct is to agree with you but thinking about it logically, vocally the duet with Adam should easily be the standout from the duets.

      The Eurovision song is so weird and tricky. Eurovision is a piss take for the majority of the UK (I say this as a huge fan). I say Eurovision, you say “I ain’t voting for that”.

      If the plan is to get a moment from this and the producers achieve it I’m gonna need a replica of Stoney’s hat.

  • Saara, I thought you knew. For fuck sake your sabotaging yourself. 5AM are going to win.

  • Spiidey

    “Saara will perform a “Eurovision Classic” song which her European fans have wanted her to perform throughout the live shows.”

    This is interesting – which European fans? Has there been a trend on her Twitter / Facebook feeds with continual comments for her to sing a certain song?

    • GsP

      The only one that comes up frequently is Euphoria.

      Even if this doesn’t work in the UK. Syco may potentially be lining her up for the Scandinavian market, and given the final is being shown live in a few extra countries this year because of Saara, that may be a factor here ie it’s as important to set her up with those viewers as much, if not more so, than the UK.

      Or they simply want to kill her chances.

      • Spiidey

        They simply want to kill her chances it seems. The mere mention of Eurovision does that instantly.

        Given she is now picking a Eurovision song, Euphoria does make some sense as then she’d be doing an up tempo Euphoria along with a ballad in the duet with Adam.

        If it is Euphoria, will Brian Friedman bring back the creepers?

  • Remember we were expecting Saara to “Finnish Fifth” Actually Honey Dipped..

  • Prediction Again.

    3RD – Saara

    Saara is absolutely ***** ************* *********** *******

    Seriously though, she has no idea how his works though, I keep posting arguments for both sides but seriously Saara… Eurovision? I know why she can’t get a deal now. It’s a shame.

    2ND – 5AM if Matt duets with Jamie Some witty joke Arthur they get first but I mean working with the assumption he gets harry styles a Lil Mix duet could counter this though,

    1ST – Matt He wins after all.

    • 360

      Seriously though, she has no idea how his works though, I keep posting arguments for both sides but seriously Saara… Eurovision? I know why she can’t get a deal now.

      With respect, I completely disagree. As someone who has been on a lot of similar shows and was in all probability invited to come on this one, she’s likely best placed to know the ins and outs of it.

      The smile on her face as she accepts criticism and the whole happy-and-naive act she has played throughout the lives suggests someone who knows how to play the game, given her previous experience.

      We know they manipulate as much as possible. Why then would you believe that this (songs, image, etc.) was actually her choice, or that she had any way to refuse it? Because the show’s producers say so in press releases? In all likelihood she was offered this as a role to play to boost her profile, and if possible, they’d make her a finalist, as long as she smiled and went along with everything they said and gave her to do and be. It’s all farce.

  • Dana

    It does all seem very self-indulgent from Saara. The producers must be happy for her to hang herself as they seem to have lined up some top duets for the other 2.

    • Spiidey

      It’s not the duet that’s going to kill her though. The duet could actually be a moment of executed well with the right song.

    • PolarNight

      It is also possible that she does not want to win as career wise it could be better for her to become 2nd or 3rd.

      Then again it is too hasty to analyze the situation at this moment especially as the song is still unknown. In past weeks there has been several “this is a bad song for her” situations and almost every time she has proven us wrong (Sound of the Underground being the exception).

      Also the Adam Lambert (if it AL) duet has potential to be a showstopper.

      • Spiidey

        Is it realistic to think she entered with the ultimate intention of finishing 2nd or 3rd, and not winning?

        I find that hard to believe.

        • Perhaps she simply entered to get some airtime and job opportunities? I think she already feels as a winner by getting this far. Winning the show often proves to be a rock around the winner’s neck and Saara’s prospects for major label recording career aren’t great anyway. Her winning the show could turn put to be a moment of glory, followed by a quickie album that flops and then dropping from SYCO.

        • PolarNight

          I don’t think she expected to reach the finals when she entered. But now she is there and the bookies favorite to win.

          Career wise she needs to provide a believable performance at the finals & surely will give her all. But you can dampen that with the song choice (which may have been dictated by the producers. Before the Louis loves week the music team/Sharon had picked all her songs).

  • I’ve just caught news that Saara’s song of the series is A mash up of her French 6CC challenge song and the sound of the underground duetting with her girlfriend with Finnish flags.

  • James

    If there’s one thing we should know by now it’s never to underestimate Saara. Oh So Quiet and Winner Takes It All were both supposed to be disastrous song choices and yet both ended up being “moments” for her. I wouldn’t write her off just yet.

  • GsP

    Interesting how so many people who for so long have argued the producers effectively control the performed songs are now also saying Saara is self sabotaging. Is she somehow the only contestant people are saying is being given free reign to do whatever she wants?

    Whatever song she ends up with will suit what the show wants for their story arcs and end result. If she’s doomed for third regardless, better it’s on her own terms (which they are happy to go along with) and she enjoys herself and pleases the fan groups who will be booking her PAs in years to come than being forced into doing something terrible against her will (Candy!) and pleasing noone.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Another fair point and as James has said, she might just end up taking the roof off.

      I shall bury my doubts and wait and see, but it’s hard when money is involved. One minute you think it’s in your hands, the next you think it’s being snatched away……

    • Jessica Hamby

      She should be filling arenas, not doing PAs in the village. Imo she is that good.

    • David Cook

      Got to say – in my (admittedly not very expert) opinion she sounds pretty good. I’m not sure how this came about, but there’s also a really nice video blog by Saara of her doing the concert.

  • HL

    I have decided that if it is Euphoria, there is still hope. It is a great song. There is nothing wrong with it except for being Eurovision, and not a UK number one. But it was number three less than five years ago.

    “….This is the highest chart position for a non-UK Eurovision entry since Johnny Logan’s “Hold Me Now” in 1987…. It is the most downloaded Eurovision single in UK history, ahead of Waterloo by Sweden’s ABBA and I Can by the United Kingdom’s Blue.” (Wiki)

    The Phoenix on the other hand would be a terrible choice in my opinion. It must have topped the vote only because people thought the beard was funny.

    • Ron

      And the UK gave “Euphoria” 12 points at Eurovision that year! The other important thing about “Euphoria” – it is a really catchy song with plenty of diva moments.

      Even if viewers are going into it with no memory of Eurovision 2012 and/or with a “Ugh, Eurovision!” attitude, there’s still potential for Saara to impress viewers with some vocal gymnastics.

      It’s a Swedish Eurovision song; it’s genetically engineered to get votes.

  • Dana

    Saara’s song is likely to be No Fear imo

    -She performed it at her homecoming gig- the X Factor team just happened to have the backing track handy?
    -People actually have been asking her to do this- she has even spoken about how everyone wants her to do it in Facebook chats
    -She has form for performing her own songs at crucial moments ( The Voice Finland)
    -“Eurovision classic” might be less specific a description

    • PolarNight

      No Fear is not a classic. But it could potentially work as an ‘entering the stage’ song.

      That could actually work. It is her own song, its message is in sync with her X Factor story ‘to believe in yourself’ / ‘to fight until the end’. It would also ‘free’ her actual song to be something non-Eurovision.

      • GsP

        Totally agree. The acts have 2 ‘official performance’s but they sing a part of a third as an entry song. No Fear would work quite well for that part.

        • Spiidey

          If it’s a “show entering” performance then I’m totally on board with it. Prefect choice.

          If it’s one of the main performances then I remain to be convinced.

    • They’ve got researchers to check out these things. I don’t think a song that has never been sang at ESC could conceivably be called a “Eurovision Classic”.

    • Mim

      After all the hints that have been dropped, I’m 99% sure this is the case but I hope with all my heart that I’m wrong. I think the “Eurovision classic” description simply means the song has a connection with the ESC. At least if Saara performs No Fear and it turns out to be her downfall, she can only blame herself. I sincerely doubt TPTB would have forced this particular song on her. Fingers crossed for Rise Like a Phoenix – hell, Dancing Lasha Tumbai would be a better choice.

  • Ben Cook

    I’d be perfectly happy with Rise Like A Phoenix!

  • SJ

    Duetting Rice Like A Phoenix with Adam Lambert could be a massive show stopper imo, because the song is pure drama in itself, Saara did duet it with her friend, find it in Youtube, couldn’t link it here, sorry, but take a look, hope she leaves the beard behind in the final though.

    • Jessica Hamby

      It would be a good metaphor for her journey too.

      • HL

        Yes, I admit, it is good metaphor and it would not be that bad as a duet with Adam. I have seen that video clip from a Pride event. And the UK gave this song 12 points and many people have heard it. (No Fear did not even make it to the competition.) I just happen to hate the song. There is nothing fresh and modern in it. Just a pompous LGBT anthem, known for the beard.

        Would very much prefer Euphoria and then a Queen duet with Adam. The Phoenix would be ok as a duet only if the other song was something totally different and really good. And No Fear would be ok only as a small sample. The final is not the right time to introduce an unknown song. But I know she has a habit of doing just that. 🙁

  • Sindi

    Maybe they’re just spreading rumours to make people talk.

  • Akit

    Duet will be The Bohemean Rhabsody. Winner takes it all! Final sweep. Good luck Saara! Proud Finn!

  • Marianne

    I really like Adam Lambert and would like to see a duet with him, but I’m very sceptical. Saara mentioned other names like Celine Dion and Lady Gaga, when asked who she’d like to do a duet with if she made the finals. And said there were lots of options. So if Sharon is making two of her dreams come true presumably the duet is with one of her idols, but it isn’t necessarily Adam Lambert. Nothing but supposedly confirmed rumours.

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