Norma John won UMK 2017 and will represent Finland at Eurovision with their song “Blackbird.”
Vocalist Leena Tirronen and pianist Lasse Piirainen formed Norma Jean in 2008. Tirronen finished third in the Finnish X Factor in 2010. Piirainen is slated to appear as a team captain this spring in a new version of BumtsiBum!, a Finnish TV show based on Ireland’s The Lyrics Board.
Well before UMK, Ben Morris of Europops fame tweeted that “Blackbird” was “[r]eminiscent of Anouk,” and we agree. Both have haunting melodies, lush arrangements, and suitably melancholy lyrics. But while “Birds” is borderline desperate (“no air, no pride”), “Blackbird” is more mournful:
You sang when he was in my bed
You sang when my heart sang
Now you remind me of something I’ll never have
So blackbird, don’t sing
Tirronen delivers those heartbreaking lyrics with power and grace. You feel her hurt, but you also get the sense that she is strong enough to get over the pain. The melody of the chorus is certainly memorable. We both had it in our heads well after we finished watching UMK and that was without listening to the video replay. We have high hopes that this is going to do well in May.