Saara Sofia Aalto (born 2 May 1987) is a Finnish singer, songwriter, and voice actress. In 2012, she came second in the first season of The Voice of Finland. In 2016, Aalto finished as the runner-up in the thirteenth series of The X Factor UK, which gained her international recognition.
Aalto at the Eurovision Song Contest 2018
|Birth name||Saara Sofia Aalto|
|Born||2 May 1987|
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Discography
- 5 Filmography
- 6 Awards and achievements
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Born in Oulunsalo, Finland, Aalto grew up in a musical family and received piano lessons from pianist and pedagogue Olga Maslak, born in Odessa, Soviet Union. Aalto wrote her first song at the age of five. Her close relatives include painter and documentary director Eeli Aalto and magician Simo Aalto. In 1998 at age 11, she won the Kotka Maritime Festival song contest for children with one of her own compositions. Aalto also won the Charlotte Church international singing competition, organised in US, in 2003 with her own composition. Aalto represented Finland in the Golden Stag International Song Contest in Romania in 2004. She went to the Madetoja secondary school for music, where she graduated in 2005. After graduation, she moved to Helsinki to study music at the Sibelius Academy, and at the same time also studied singing in the Helsinki Pop & Jazz Conservatory.
2007–2011: Career beginningsEdit
In addition to her singing career, Aalto is also an actress, having starred as Dorothy and Phannee in the Finnish production of Wicked - The Musical and as Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar. From 2008 to 2011, she appeared in the Helsinki City Theatre musicals, first as Kelsi in High School Musical on Stage! and its second installment, and then in Wicked.
2011, 2016: Eurovision Song ContestEdit
Aalto took part on two separate occasions in the selection process in a bid to represent Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest. She participated in the qualifying rounds in Finland for Eurovision 2011, placing second to Paradise Oskar who went on to represent Finland. She received 40.7% of the public televotes, compared to 46.7% for Oskar. Aalto's recording was released as a single by Yume Records, a self-release record label she founded together with Teemu Roivainen in 2011.
Her second bid to represent Finland was for Eurovision Song Contest 2016 through the competition Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu, again placing second. Although winning the public vote, she was disadvantaged with the judging vote going to the eventual winner Sandhja who went on to represent Finland with the song "Sing It Away".
In an interview Aalto described her music.
I call my music Epic Love Pop! I love dramatic and emotional music with a show feeling. I also want to bring love, joy and encouragement for everybody; be yourself and inspire others! I've studied piano since I was a little kid and through music schools, singing competitions, my career and concerts (in Finland and all over the world) I've gotten lots of experience and confidence to be who I am as an artist. (...) I've performed in musicals and big shows in Finland. (...) I'm happy to be versatile performer.
2011–2013: Success in ChinaEdit
Following her performance of "Blessed with Love" for qualification in Eurovision 2011, that December she was involved in the Santa Claus Season's Greetings Song Contest, where she sang "Ai De Zhu Fu," a Chinese (Mandarin) version of her Eurovision song "Blessed with Love".
In November 2012, Aalto was guest vocalist at Robert Wells's highly successful show Rhapsody in Rock at Shanghai Daning theatre. Following a successful performance in Shanghai in May 2013, opening for Spanish tenor José Carreras and singing several songs in Chinese, Aalto returned to the city to duet with tenor Han Peng at the Closing Ceremony of the Shanghai International Film Festival in June 2013, broadcast to over 800 million viewers in 10 countries.
Finding great reception from Chinese audiences, in July 2013 Aalto went on to release a full album destined for Mainland China and other Chinese markets also titled Ai De Zhu Fu. On the album she performed nine of the album's 13 tracks in Mandarin language.
2012: The Voice of FinlandEdit
Aalto participated in season one of The Voice of Finland. In the blind auditions, broadcast on 6 February 2012 on the Finnish commercial television channel Nelonen, she performed "Taking Chances" from Celine Dion with all four coaches, Elastinen, Lauri Tähkä, Paula Koivuniemi and Michael Monroe turning their chairs. She opted to be part of Team Monroe.
In the Battle Round on 17 February, she was confronted with team competitor Anna Inginmaa, both singing "True Colors". Coach Monroe opted for Aalto to go to the next round. In the live show on 23 March, she sang "Barracuda" and was saved by Monroe after failing to get enough votes from the public. She followed it up with the French language "Je suis malade" from Serge Lama and was safe after the public vote. In the semifinals with her rendition of "Over the Rainbow", she qualified for the finals held on 20 April where she sang "I'm Gonna Be Strong" from Frankie Laine and an original song titled "My Love". She placed second to winner Mikko Sipola.
2016–present: The X Factor UK, Eurovision Song Contest and Wild Wild WonderlandEdit
Aalto auditioned for the thirteenth UK series of The X Factor in 2016, singing a cover of Sia's "Chandelier", which earned her three yeses from the attending judges. At the bootcamp, she performed "On the Radio" by Donna Summer and was sent through as part of the over-25s category with Sharon Osbourne as her mentor. At the six-chair challenge, she performed "I See Fire" by Ed Sheeran and was sent home by Osbourne who stated a lack of connection. However, after the crowd chanted to bring her back, Aalto was given a chance to perform Serge Lama's "Je suis malade", which caused the crowd to turn on her, while Nicole Scherzinger criticized her song choice, stating "we ain't in France". Osbourne then asked Aalto to leave.
Aalto was brought back as Scherzinger's wildcard pick for the over-25s category and therefore went to judges' houses. She was chosen to proceed to the live shows after performing ABBA's "The Winner Takes It All". In week 1 of the live shows, Aalto finished in the bottom three after performing "Let It Go" and faced a sing-off against the duo Bratavio, where she performed "Alive" by Sia. Aalto was saved with only Louis Walsh voting to save Bratavio, though praising her performance. The following week, she sang "River Deep – Mountain High" and finished again in the bottom three, performing "Run" by Snow Patrol in a sing-off against Freddy Parker. The result went to deadlock and Aalto was saved as she had the higher public vote. In week 3 she performed "It's Oh So Quiet" coming 2nd in the public vote, and in week 4 Aalto sang "Bad Romance", placing 3rd in the public vote. In week 5, Aalto finished in the bottom three for the third time after her rendition of "Sound of the Underground", but was saved by majority vote after performing "Who You Are" in a sing-off against the group Four of Diamonds. Voting statistics revealed that Aalto would have never been in the sing-off had there been no Lifeline Vote or if she won the Lifeline Vote all three weeks. Her following performances were "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" in week 6 placing 2nd and "My Heart Will Go On" in week 7 again placing 2nd. In the quarter-final, she sang "The Winner Takes It All" and a medley of "Diamonds Are Forever" and "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend", topping the public vote for the first time. Following the eliminations of Relley C in week 3 and Honey G in the quarter-final, Aalto became Osbourne's last remaining act in the competition.
In the semi-final on 3 December, she sang a medley of "White Christmas" and "All I Want for Christmas Is You", and "Chandelier" as her second song, topping the vote again reaching the Final 3, where on 10 December she performed "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and "Bohemian Rhapsody", the latter as a duet with Adam Lambert, again topping the public vote. With the elimination of the group 5 After Midnight she was in the Final 2 facing Matt Terry. In the Final on 11 December, she performed "It's Oh So Quiet" and "I Didn't Know My Own Strength". In the ensuing public vote, she placed as the runner-up to eventual winner Matt Terry with 40.4% of the votes.
|The X Factor performances and results|
|Auditions||"Chandelier"||N/A||Through to bootcamp|
|Bootcamp||"On the Radio"||Through to six-chair challenge|
|Six-chair challenge||"I See Fire" / "Je suis malade"||Eliminated; re-instated as a wildcard|
|Judges' houses||"The Winner Takes It All"||Through to live shows|
|Live show 1||"Let It Go"||Express Yourself||Bottom three (9th)|
|"Alive"||Sing-Off||Saved (Majority vote)|
|Live show 2||"River Deep – Mountain High"||Motown||Bottom three (9th)|
|Live show 3||"It's Oh So Quiet"||Divas & Legends||Safe (2nd)|
|Live show 4||"Bad Romance"||Fright Night||Safe (3rd)|
|Live show 5||"Sound of the Underground"||Girlband vs. Boyband||Bottom three (6th)|
|"Who You Are"||Sing-Off||Saved (Majority vote)|
|Live show 6||"No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)"||Disco||Safe (2nd)|
|Live show 7||"My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic||Movies||Safe (2nd)|
|Quarter-Final||"The Winner Takes It All"||Louis Loves||Safe (1st)|
|"Diamonds Are Forever" / "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"||Contestant's choice|
|Semi-Final||"White Christmas" / "All I Want for Christmas Is You"||Christmas||Safe (1st)|
|Final (Saturday)||"Everybody Wants to Rule the World"||New song||Safe (1st)|
|"Bohemian Rhapsody" (with Adam Lambert)||Celebrity duet|
|Final (Sunday)||"It's Oh So Quiet"||Song of the series||Runner-up (40.4%)|
|"I Didn't Know My Own Strength"||New Song|
In a press-conference in December 2016, Aalto revealed that she works with the joint effort of ROAR Global and Global career management companies, and that she has signed a five-album recording deal with Sony Music UK and Sony Music Finland. In October 2017, Aalto announced she had left Sony Music for Warner Music Group. In a statement, she said: "I was honoured I was signed to Sony. But later I felt like they weren't the right team. When I met the people at Warner they were very excited about my style and making me into this big theatrical artist." On 7 November 2017, it was announced that Aalto would represent Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal. The three bidding entries were released by Yle and Saara Aalto, along with an accompanying music video. Aalto was a judge on the second series of the Finnish version of The X Factor, mentoring the girls. Aalto could not attend the finale night of The X Factor Finland due to her commitments with The Eurovision, so Matt Terry represented her instead, but her category's last girl, Tika Liljegren, was crowned the winner, making Aalto the winning mentor. Aalto announced in March 2018 via social media that her first album under Warner Music Group, Wild Wild Wonderland, would be released on 27 April 2018.
In 2019, Aalto participated in the eleventh series of Dancing on Ice. She was partnered with Hamish Gaman, and after reaching the final, she and Garman finished in third place.. In June it has been announced that one of Aalto's songs, Dance Like Nobody's Watching, will be the official song of Pride in London 2019 
Aalto had a nine-year relationship with singer Teemu Roivainen, but the couple broke up in 2013. Aalto and Roivainen continued collaborating in music. Aalto later began a relationship with a female fan, personal trainer and life coach, Meri Sopanen. They became engaged on their two-year anniversary in August 2016. Aalto now identifies as a lesbian. Aalto and Sopanen moved to London in January 2017.
|Title||Details||Peak chart positions|
|Blessed With Love||—|
|Enkeleitä – Angels||
|You Had My Heart||
|Ai De Zhu Fu||
(with Teemu Roivainen)
|Wild Wild Wonderland||
|"—" denotes an album that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
As lead artistEdit
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"Blessed with Love"[a]||2011||—||—||—||—||—||Blessed with Love|
|"You Had My Heart"||2013||—||—||—||—||—||You Had My Heart|
|"You Raise Me Up"
(with Teemu Roivainen)
|"No Fear"[b]||2016||—||—||—||—||—||Wild Wild Wonderland|
|"Dance Like Nobody's Watching"||2019||—||—||—||—||—|
|"—" denotes a single that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
As featured artistEdit
|"Sydämesi tyhjä huone"
(Teemu Roivainen featuring Saara Aalto)
|2015||Sydämesi tyhjä huone|
|"Enkeleitä"||2013||Enkeleitä – Angels|
|"Reach the Stars"[d]||2014||Non-album singles|
(with Teemu Roivainen featuring Big Spender)
|"Let It Go"||2019|
|"Art of Forgiveness"||2015||Jonna||Sound Mind|
|"All I Ask of You"[e]||Waltteri Torikka||Sydän|
|2008||The Tale of Despereaux||Princess Pea||Finnish version; voice roles|
|2010||Alice in Wonderland||Alice|
|2011||From Up on Poppy Hill||Umi|
|2012||Rise of the Guardians||Tooth Fairy|
|2017||Olaf's Frozen Adventure|
|2007||Talent Suomi||Herself||Contestant; 2nd place|
|2011||Euroviisukarsinta||Contestant; 2nd place|
|2011–present||Bubble Guppies||Molly||Finnish version; voice roles|
|2012||The Voice of Finland||Herself||Contestant, 2nd place|
|2015||Hey Duggee||Norrie||Finnish version; voice roles|
|2016||Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu||Herself||Contestant, 2nd place|
|2016||The X Factor||Contestant, 2nd place|
|2018||X Factor Suomi||Season 2|
|2018||Eurovision Song Contest||Contestant, 25th place|
|2019||Dancing On Ice||Contestant; 3rd place; alongside Hamish Gaman|
Awards and achievementsEdit
|2016||Iltalehti||Finnish Person of the Year||Won|||
|2017||Vuoden Positiivisin Suomalainen||The Most Positive Person in Finland||Won|||
- Selection process for Finnish entry to Eurovision Song Contest 2011
- Selection process for Finnish entry to Eurovision Song Contest 2016
- Selection process for Finnish entry to Eurovision Song Contest 2018
- To commemorate Chinese New Year 2014 (Year of the Horse) (song in English and Mandarin)
- The Phantom of the Opera
- Saukkola, Mirva (2018). "Saara Aalto hoitaa kauneuttaan myös ruokavaliolla: "Vältän vehnää ja sokeria"" (in Finnish). Anna.fi.
- Juha Sutela (14 October 2002). "Unohtumaton ilta Olgan kunniaksi". kaleva.fi. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
- Kimmo Pihlajamaa, Yrjö Mikkonen and Sari Hourula. "Oulun musiikkielämän grand old lady". kaleva.fi. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
- Saara Aalto (8 March 2016). "I wanted to learn to sing like Charlotte Church". facebook. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
- Josh Darvill (9 December 2016). "X Factor 2016: Saara Aalto and Charlotte Church share a surprise connection". TellyMix. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
- Satu Koho (8 May 2008). "Mitä mietti maailmanvalloittaja Saara Aalto uransa alussa? Forum24 haastatteli laulajaa keväällä 2008". forum24.fi. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 October 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Saara Aalto konsertoi Helsingissä » Umami". Umami.fi. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- "Finnish Pop Star Saara Aalto To Perform At The Award & Closing Ceremony For The Shanghai International Film Festival". top40-charts.com. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- "Saara Aalto pestattu Maria Magdalenaksi Lahteen". hs.fi. 1 June 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- "Kuvat: Muistatko vielä? Näin Saara Aalto nousi julkisuuteen". mtv.fi. 11 December 2016. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- "Finland sends Paradise Oskar to Düsseldorf!". Retrieved 6 February 2017.
- "Ensimmäiset UMK-finalistit valittu – onko joku heistä Suomen euroviisuedustaja?". Yle. 6 February 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- "UMK 2016: FINLAND REVEALS FULL RESULTS OF TELEVOTE AND JURIES". wiwibloggs.com. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
- Tony Rojas (29 January 2016). "Saara Aalto: "I want my song to be the happy funeral of fear, where people are dancing together!" (Finnish semifinalist – Exclusive Interview)". www.esc-plus.com. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- "Chinese listeners to vote for best Finnish SANTA CLAUS SEASON'S GREETINGS SONG 2012". Finland.cn. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- "Negative voitti joululaulukilpailun". Suomen suurlähetystö, Peking -Suomen pääkonsulaatti, Shanghai (in Finnish). Finland.cn. 29 December 2011.
- "Rhapsody in Rock: Startsidan". Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- "Robert Wells - "Rhapsody In Rock" Shanghai Edition with guests Saara Aalto, Jia Ruhan & Chen Jun". centerstagechina.com. Archived from the original on 4 March 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- "Saara Aalto: 'What if you would sing in China?'". dreamdo. 1 January 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
- Heini Kangasluoma (23 June 2013). "Saara Aalto Kiinassa: Rankan alun jälkeen maailmantähtien eteen". mtv.fi. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
- "Voice of Finland: Riitaa laulajista! | Viihde". Iltalehti.fi. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- Rahn, Florian (29 August 2016). ""That's How You Do It!" Finland's Saara Aalto Nails X Factor UK Audition". wiwibloggs.com. Wiwibloggs.
- "Voting stats 2016 revealed". ITV. 11 December 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
- "Saara Aalto kertoi tulevaisuuden suunnitelmistaan lehdistötilaisuudessa". mtv.fi. 20 December 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
- Harp, Justin (20 December 2016). "X Factor's Saara Aalto lands a huge record deal". Digital Spy. United Kingdom: Hearst Corporation. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
- Mitchell, Bea (25 October 2017). "Saara Aalto leaves Simon Cowell for a new record deal". Digital Spy. United Kingdom: Hearst Corporation. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
- Halpin, Chris (7 November 2017). "Saara Aalto is Finland's Eurovision 2018 act...and will sing three songs during the UMK final". wiwibloggs.com. Wiwibloggs.
- Weaver, Jessica (10 January 2018). "Finland: UMK18 songs to be released next month; first song on 9 February". ESCtoday.com. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
- "EXCLUSIVE: 'I don't have time to plan my wedding!' Saara Aalto's hectic schedule has forced her to delay marrying her girlfriend... as she is revealed as a judge on X Factor Finland". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
- "Saara Aalto to release Wild Wild Wonderland on April 27th". Escxtra. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
- eurovisiontj (10 March 2019). "Saara Aalto places 3rd on Dancing on Ice". ESCXTRA.com. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
- "Me Naiset: Saara Aalto erosi miehestään 9 yhteisen vuoden jälkeen". Ilta-Sanomat. 2 May 2013.
- "Saara Aallon Meri-rakas avoimessa haastattelussa: Ensisuudelma tapahtui minun aloitteestani". mtv.fi. 16 October 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- Adams, William Lee (4 October 2016). "X FACTOR REVEALS SAARA AALTO'S FEAR OF NEEDLES…AS HEAT MAGAZINE REPORTS ON HER ENGAGEMENT". Wiwibloggs.
- Douglas, Nicole (22 November 2016). "X Factor's Saara Aalto exclusively reveals the moment her girlfriend proposed: 'For me, it was a surprise!'". OK!.
- "X Factor's Saara Aalto was one of Finland's first open lesbian artists and is proud to be an inspiration". Mirror.
- "Sanonut et ekoja naisartisteja parisuhteessa naisen kans,niitä ei paljon julkisuudessa ole. Pitää olla varovainen sanavalintojen kans..media". twitter. 16 December 2016. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
- Butterworth, Benjamin (23 December 2016). "Saara Aalto opens up about her sexuality as she poses in stunning new photo shoot: 'I've always known gender doesn't matter for me. But now, being with a woman, it's hard to imagine going back to men.'". PinkNews. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
- "Moving to London". Saara Aalto. 26 January 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- Peak chart positions in Finland:
- For all except noted: "Discography Saara Aalto". Finnish Charts Portal. Hung Medien.
- For Airplay Chart: "Musiikkituottajat - Tilastot - Suomen virallinen lista - Artistit › Saara Aalto". Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
- For "Monsters": "Suomen virallinen lista - Singlet 20/2018". Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
- Peak chart positions for songs in Iceland:
- Peak chart positions for songs in Macedonia:
- Peak chart positions for songs in Sweden Heatseeker Chart:
- "SONG: Saara Aalto – 'DANCE!!!'". Scandipop.co.uk. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
- @SaaraAalto (28 January 2019). "@saaraaalto: 'Dance Like Nobody's Watching' is a song so close to my heart ❤️ I hope it empowers you to be the person you are meant to be. The UK Radio Edit is released on Fri Feb 1st & Music Video at 5:30pm on Sun Feb 3rd.😍 You can listen to the original version now: spoti.fi/2Dn0UBx" (Tweet). Retrieved 28 January 2019 – via Twitter.
- "Let It Go - Single by Saara Aalto". Apple Music. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
- "Art of Forgiveness (feat. Saara Aalto) by Jonna". Apple Music. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
- Miia Vatka (31 December 2016). "Iltalehden lukijat valitsivat: Saara Aalto on vuoden suomalainen!". Iltalehti. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- "Saara Aalto on Vuoden Positiivisin Suomalainen 2017 – Vuoden Positiivisin Suomalainen". vps.positiivarit.fi (in Finnish). Retrieved 19 November 2017.