This is the gay man helping Saara Aalto ensure her Eurovision performance is a winner


Saara Aalto | Photo: saaraaalto.com

Finnish star Saara Aalto is celebrating her qualification to Saturday night’s Eurovision final. The UK X Factor runner-up was kept waiting until the penultimate envelope was opened, which she described as ‘terrifying.’

‘I was so nervous, because I really wanted to go through,’ Saara told us after her qualification. ‘Because what is Eurovision without the final?

‘I was just there in the last table in the greenroom waiting for the cameras to come to me, and they didn’t come. They were filming all the other contestants but they weren’t coming over to us!’

Saara is the first Finnish singer to make the Eurovision final in four years with her song Monsters. She now feels she can relax after having overcome the hurdle of Tuesday night’s qualifier.

‘Now that I have actually made it, I’m more relaxed. I think I can actually enjoy the experience, but I was nervous about Tuesday.

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‘The audience was so good. I was so happy and now I feel very confident about performing on Saturday because I know that the audience will be on my side. Of course they have other favourites as well. But in general, at Eurovision, people are so supportive. I know they will enjoy and celebrate with me.”

The performance itself, in which Saara is spun around on a wheel, wields handheld fireworks aloft and falls from a height into the arms of her dancers, was the creation of X Factor creative director Brian Friedman. According to Saara work started on it in the bus on the way home from the selection show in which Monsters was chosen.

‘I knew for Eurovision we had to create something new that would surprise people. So Brian Friedman and I started work on it almost immediately. For me it was important to do something that hadn’t been seen on a Eurovision stage before. I want people to say that this performance is going to be something else.

‘Our original plan was even bigger, but Eurovision has so many rules about how heavy the sets can be so we had to make it a bit smaller. It took some time to really polish and finish it.’

‘It’s very important to sing about about my own life’

Monsters features on Saara Aalto´s first international album, Wild Wild Wonderland. Since her previous record, the singer has come out as a lesbian and is happily engaged to Meri Sopanen, who is also her manager. This period in her life is reflected in many of the songs on her latest collection:

‘For me, it’s very important to sing about about my own life. I’m a very honest person and it’s very difficult for me to hide anything.

‘Also, I always want to have songs with strong messages. I was just writing about my own life but hopefully it will inspire people, and of course many of the songs talk about love and how to be brave and love who you want.’

A lifelong Eurovision fan, getting to the contest has been a major focus of her adult career. So, it’s perhaps no surprise that when asked what she’d like to accomplish next, her answer was simply, ‘I don’t know!’ She isn´t complaining though.

‘I’m a Disney princess. I have done Eurovision. I’ve sung with Andrea Bocelli and Adam Lambert, and have even performed in my favorite musical Wicked. I’m doing my first UK stadium tour with Steps in the summer, so what next? I have made all my childhood dreams come true.’

Saara Aalto is representing Finland in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018, which you can catch live on BBC1 on Saturday at 8pm.

Words: Peter Dunwoody

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