This year’s UK X Factor has been followed more closely than ever before by Eurovision fans across the continent, all because of one lady – Saara Aalto.
The 29 year old Finnish singer has defied all the odds to make it through to this year’s X Factor final, and she could become the first non-British person ever to win the series.
Saara Aalto blew away the judges in the first week of auditions with a rousing rendition of Sia’s Chandelier, but failed to make a connection with the over 25s judge Sharon Osbourne, and left the competition at the Six Chair Challenge. However, she was handed a lifeline when judge Nicole Scherzinger brought her back as a wildcard contestant to join Sharon’s Judge’s Houses.
Mrs Osbourne was won over by Saara’s heart-rending version of ABBA’s The winner takes it all, and sent her through to the live shows. She has now succeeded to make the final, and could be crowned the winner this weekend.
Her appearance is not without controversy, however, as it soon emerged in the British press that Saara is already a well-known star in her homeland of Finland. She came second on The Voice of Finland in 2012, and has found fame in the Eurovision community by bidding to represent Finland at the Eurovision song contest twice.
In 2011, Saara compete in Euroviisut with a song she had written herself, Blessed with love. She lost out to Paradise Oskar’s Da da dum by just 6% of the vote in the super final, placing second.
After placing second in the first series of The Voice Finland in 2012, Saara tried again to represent Finland at the Eurovision song contest in 2016. Her song No fear finished in second place again, just 6 points behind Sing it away by Sandhja.
Saara has also released five albums, including one in Mandarin. Her musical credentials also stretch into musicals, as she played Anna in the Finnish dub of Disney’s smash-hit movie Frozen, and can sing Let it go in 15 languages.
Viewers were outraged by her fame and musical history, accusing bosses of “fixing” the competition. An X Factor spokesman said:
Anyone can apply for The X Factor whether they are professional or amateur, irrespective of their past experience and all contestants are auditioned on merit.
Saara caused controversy again this week after it was reported that her many Finnish fans could be voting using a loophole. Only UK fans are permitted to vote in the competition, but fans have reportedly been sharing ways to get around the restrictions.
ITV bosses have been investigating the claim and made the following statement:
Our investigations have shown there is no evidence that the vote result is being affected by this activity, though we are continuing to monitor the situation.
Saara split from her boyfriend of nine years, popstar Teemu Roivainen, in 2013. She is now engaged to a female fan, Meri Sopanen.
I was in The Voice of Finland in 2012 and my girlfriend — fiancée now — watched the show, liked me a lot and sent me a fan message through Facebook. After a year, she actually came to my concert and we met. We started talking and realised we just shared the same view of life and everything.
Saara has overtaken former frontrunner Matt Terry and is now the hot favourite to win the competition, with bookies offering odds of 8/13.
Although she had a rocky start to the live shows, finding herself in the bottom two three times, she has staged an astonishing comeback and is now set to clinch the all-important record deal that comes with winning the X Factor.
If Saara does indeed win the X Factor, it shall be interesting to see how the perception of the Eurovision song contest changes in the United Kingdom.
The final of the UK X Factor will broadcast across two nights starting tonight; at 20:00 GMT (21:00 CET) on both Saturday 10 December and Sunday 11 December.