Saara Aalto might have narrowly missed out on being crowned the
winner of this year's X Factor, pipped to the post by Matt
Terry, but she has definitely made a place for herself in the
show's history books.
Not only is Aalto the first
contestant to make the final after being in the bottom two twice,
she's also the most successful female LGBT contestant in the show's
13 years. "It feels incredible," the singing sensation tells DIVA
when we chat to her just days before the final. "It's crazy that a
girl like me can break records."
Saara is not just a girl, though.
The 29-year-old came to The X Factor as an established artist in
her native Finland - check out her back catalogue on Spotify - and
an impressive CV includes stage performances in High School Musical
and Wicked, as well as voicing Anna in the Finnish dub of Disney
smash hit Frozen. She also has experience with talent competitions,
having been placed second in Finland's version of The Voice, and
she came within touching distance of representing her country in
the Eurovision Song Contest in 2011 and 2016.
Despite all of the success, and a
career many of us could only dream of, something was missing for
Saara, and she was about to give it all up. Then came The X Factor.
But Simon Cowell's dream factory hasn't been a fairytale for the
"snow fairy from Finland", and as any fans of the show will know,
it's not been an easy ride for Saara.
After several strong performances in the early rounds of the
competition - Nicole Scherzinger said Aalto's version of Sia's
Chandelier made her "ass want to clap" - she looked like a dead
cert for the live shows, so was obviously upset when
Sharon Osbourne said she "didn't feel a connection" and failed
to give her a seat in the gladiatorial-style six-chair challenge.
Saara initially had the support of the crowd, but things quickly
turned sour when she sang a second song in French, eliciting boos
and chants of "Off, off, off!" Even after she was brought back as a
"wildcard" contestant, Saara struggled to connect with the viewers,
and found herself singing for survival in the first two live
Many speculated that the singer's
failure to ingratiate herself with the voting public, despite
having one of the strongest voices in the competition, was a result
of being a foreign contestant in "Brexit Britain" and Aalto herself
told The Daily Star she had been subject to abuse on social media
for being the only non-UK act to make it to the live shows. "I
hoped people would take me as I am. It doesn't matter where I'm
from," she said.
Read more in the January issue of
DIVA, on sale now at the links below.
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