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Exclusive | X Factor’s Saara Aalto on performing, the LGBT community and the future

By Will Stroude

Saara Aalto is taking this year’s X Factor by storm – blowing us away in her first audition with Sia’s ‘Chandelier’, thrilling us with Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ for Fright Week, tearing up the stage with Bjork’s ‘Oh so Quiet’, slaying it last night at Disco Week with the Donna Summer/Barbara Streisand classic ‘No More Tears (Enough is Enough)’. We met with her to chat about her X Factor journey so far…  

Saara, last night for Disco Week you opened the show with a massive performance of an absolute classic. How much did you love doing that?

I totally loved it! It was so much fun! I am a huge fan of both Donna Summer and Barbara Streisand. They are true legends and it was an honour to perform their classic girl power anthem on the show. I was excited to have the opportunity to go on after Sister Sledge last night and keep the party going in my shiny mirror dress! It was a fabulous night.

You’ve been getting some amazing feedback from the judges. Nicole said in your first audition that you made her want to twerk, that her ass wanted to clap for you! How did that feel?

Haha, Nicole has been so supportive throughout this process. She championed me from the start. The judges really seem to believe in me, and that’s amazing. Having their support means so much to me.

Last night you got the best feedback so far from the judges.

I was so thrilled with the judges’ kind words. It was amazing! Louis, Nicole and Simon were so positive. And of course Mrs O is always the most supportive. I was thrilled with Mrs O’s reaction last night. She has been an inspiration to me throughout this process and her best advice has been “Don’t be polite on stage”… I love that!

What do you do when you’re not working?

Haha, we never stop working! We’re performing, rehearsing, meeting people, doing interviews. It’s amazing but we’re super busy. But it’s awesome. As contestants, we are living our dream. Getting to perform every week in front of such a supportive public is awesome. We get to express our creativity working with geniuses like Brian Friedman, my costume designers and the rest of the production team. There have been some other highlights too. We went to the Pride of Britain Awards recently, which was an incredible experience. There so much pain and emotion in the room, but also so much love.  

Speaking of love, tell us about your beautiful fiancée, Meri. She’s always there by your side.

She is my love, she is my rock, she’s my girl. We have been through so much together and we are here standing strong as we go on this journey together. This is not an easy process, it’s an emotional roller-coaster for everyone involved, and it’s been wonderful for me to have her here supporting me week after week.


Image: Fabio Noto 2016

And have you and Meri been out on the town yet?

Last week Meri and I were invited to an event hosted by Stonewall, which is the largest LGBT charity in Europe. It works to protect and further the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. It’s a cause very close to our hearts. We were thrilled to meet everyone, find out more about the charity’s incredible work and also to catch up with some LGBT celebrities like Jodie Harsh and Gok Wan, and I was thrilled to chat with Seann Miley Moore from last year’s X-Factor.

Ah, Seann! We love Seann! He was the star of the show for us last year.

Yes, he is incredible. I had so much fun watching him slay it on the show last year. I have always been a huge fan of his, and it was wonderful to meet him. Like me, he brought something different and was from another country. We talked about the incredible support and warm welcome we have received from the British public. I can’t wait to see him again, it would be so much fun to collaborate with him in some way.  

We’d love to see that! Speaking of international fabulousness, there’s a clip on YouTube of you singing “Let It Go” from Frozen in 15 different languages… that’s pretty incredible! How did that come about?

I’ve always loved singing in different languages and in Finland I’m often invited to sing at events where there are different nationalities. I always try to sing something in their language. Well once I sang at the event where they had people from 20 different countries and I wanted to sing something to surprise them all. So I took Let it Go and made a 15-language-version for the guests and they loved it!

So, what’s next for Saara Aalto?

Well, I’m going to keep going as far as I can in the competition. I’m loving every minute. It’s scary sometimes, but it’s exciting and this is my dream. I’m getting to work with fantastic and super-talented people on the show. I am so touched and humbled by the support I am receiving from the public. My social media accounts are full of amazing messages of love and encouragement. Last night was my favourite performance so far. I loved being a disco diva. I can’t wait to see what next week brings. Please vote, I don’t want to go home just yet!

Finally, we loved your glitter panther last night… Can you get us one?

Haha, I’ll have a word with the team!

You can catch Saara Alto’s next performance tonight on X Factor at 8pm on ITV or alternatively catch up on ITV’s website.

Interview: Huw Morris

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