Sign up for our newsletter ⟩
News |

Finnish X Factor finalist's Japanese-themed performance raises eyebrows in Britain

Singer Saara Aalto, the first Finn to make it to the finals of Britain's X Factor televised talent contest, will perform live in London to an audience of millions on Sunday evening. But her performance on Saturday night -- in which she wore a Japanese Geisha outfit -- garnered some criticism from the British press and on social media.

Saara Aalto.
Saara Aalto's performance on British TV's talent contest the X Factor on Saturday evening. Image: Syco / Thames / Dymond/ AOP

When Britain's X Factor celebrity judge Simon Cowell told Saara Aalto to be careful on Saturday night following her live performance of Girls Aloud's "Sounds of the Underground," it sounded like a warning.

Cowell went onto say that while he liked her wacky style, he did not care for her outfit.

As it turns out, many viewers on social media and some British media outlets appeared to be less-than-impressed by Aalto's decision to wear a Japanese Geisha-style outfit on Saturday.

The Sun newspaper ran the headline: "The X Factor 2016: Viewers brand show 'racist' after Saara Aalto dresses as geisha."

Having advanced to the finals of Britain's massively popular X Factor, Aalto is set to perform Sunday evening in the sixth live show in the series that's judged by the public and a host of celebrities including Sharon Osborne and Simon Cowell.

Aalto's new life as celebrity

Aalto spoke with Yle in London, before the scandal broke. The 29-year-old from Oulunsalo said she's very happy to have made it this far.

In addition to rehearsals and training, Aalto juggles a schedule of photo-shoots and interviews. As well as X Factor's own productions, the British media and paparazzi are reportedly monitoring her every move. 

Aalto said it's hard to estimate her current level of celebrity status as she's taken from place to place by car, told when to get in and out, and accompanied by bodyguards all the time.

She said that her over-the-top approach, which was criticised in Finland, is welcome in England.

"People are excited about my ideas and my abilities," she said.

Latest in: News


Our picks