'We bonded very quickly' - Former X Factor stars Janet Grogan and Saara Aalto reunited in Lisbon for Eurovision
X Factor star Saara Alto has been reunited with her good friend Janet Grogan in Lisbon ahead of Eurovision.
Saara and Janet met on X Factor in 2016 and while Janet did not make it to the live shows, Saara, who is from Finland, came second in the final.
Now Saara is representing her native Finland with Monsters at Eurovision while Janet is singing backing vocals for Ryan O'Shaughnessy on Together for Ireland.
Speaking ahead of the opening ceremony this evening, Saara said she was thrilled when she heard that Janet would be in Portugal for the competition too.
"When I was on the X Factor Janet was there as well and we were in the same group, the Overs and Sharon [Osbourne] was our mentor and we went to judges houses and we shared a room together because we bonded very quickly," she said.
"We are really similar. We really like each other and we were happy to share a room together in Los Angeles where we were filming. I was so sad when she didn't make it to the live shows, but we still kept in contact and we had very deep and nice conversations together.
"I was so happy when she text me and said, 'Saara, I will be in Eurovision with Ryan!'. I feel like the universe brought us back together!"
Janet was equally thrilled, describing Saara as a "good friend" and adding, "I think Irish people are going to love what she has to offer [with Monsters].
Saara has had two rehearsals for her performance so far with her routine featuring choreography from X Factor's Brian Freedman. During her first rehearsal, however, there was a bit of a technical glitch.
"I have a massive set piece and I'm rotating and going upside down and Brian Freedman, he always makes me do crazy stuff like on the X Factor UK, but the machine didn't work and I got stuck upside down," she reveals.
"I was a bit worried we wouldn't be able to fix it but we did and the second rehearsal was all good."
The 31-year-old star is hoping that people in Ireland will get behind her for her performance as well as Ryan. They both perform at the first semi final on Tuesday, May 8.
"I have very good memories of Ireland," she says. "Actually when we did the X Factor tour the best audience was in Dublin. It was so good. Everybody went so crazy there. I felt I had so much fans in Ireland and I still have.
"I just really hope they like me here [at Eurovision]. They liked me on X Factor so I hope they like Monsters too!"
Ryan and the team have been mingling and partying with the other countries for the past few days, including performing an acoustic version of Together at the Swedish Embassy and tonight they have the grand opening ceremony at the Musaum of Art, Architecture and Technology.
Ryan's girlfriend Ailbhe is flying in today along with Ryan's co-writers Laura Elizabeth Hughes and Mark Caplice. His parents, grandparents and his uncle Gary O'Shaughnessy, who represented Ireland at the contest in 2001, fly in on Tuesday ahead of the semi-final.
His mother Janet bought Ryan a good luck rock n roll teddy bear who has become the Irish team mascot since their arrival in Lisbon.