With 55 years competing, Finland has proven its own unmistakable charm in the Eurovision Song Contest. From being a perennial rock n’ roll powerhouse to a conjurer of mesmerising ballads and nearly everything in between, the Scandinavian nation could be counted on to give fans of the show an unexpected treat every year. Since 2012, Finland has opted to using the show Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu, otherwise known as “UMK” or “New Music Competition” in English. How does it work, and how is the song for Eurovision decided?
Let’s have a closer look at UMK, which will be hosted once again at the venue Logomo, in Turku.
Having received 363 entries across Finland, the Finnish broadcaster YLE has narrowed down the number of competing acts to seven. As is typical for most national selections, the winner of the combined public and jury vote gets to represent their country in the Eurovision city come May. The seven acts and songs participating in the show this year are:
|Benjamin — Hoida mut|
|Käärijä — Cha Cha Cha|
|Keira — No Business on the Dance Floor|
|KUUMAA — Ylivoimainen|
|Lxandra — Something To Lose|
|Robin — Girls Like You|
|Portion Boys — Samaa taivasta katsotaan|
75% of the final points are decided by the Finnish public and 25% are by a jury of international music professionals from seven countries, including Eurovision alumni. As the votes from the juries are calculated, they are converted into points proportionate to the performances’ popularity among jurors: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12; with the highest points, 8-12 being announced verbally. The public vote carries a dramatic sway. The band The Rasmus was the victor last year, receiving over 27% of the public vote. This year, announcing the points and crowning the winner lead vocalist from the Finnish pop band Sunrise Avenue, Samu Haber will be the host of this one-night affair.
The Rasmus — Jezebel (UMK 2022)
Over the years of UMK being televised, the number of acts has ranged widely from six all the way to ten, with the exception of years 2018 and 2019, in which only three songs were set to compete. Interestingly, the 2018 edition of the show was unique in that every song competing was performed by the same singer, Saara Aalto. More on that a little later.
Now the important question: what makes UMK a national selection worth watching? The answer to that, my friend, is its incredible diversity. Every year, we’re given a show where we can see innovative underdogs clashing with cultural legends, young bands and old soloists, metal and pop, rap and electronic; really anything truly distinct they could get their hands on for an eventful, balanced, and incredibly entertaining competition.
Blind Channel — Dark Side (UMK 2021)
We would be remiss to not mention the band that rocked alongside winners Måneskin in Rotterdam during Eurovision in 2021, Blind Channel. Their entry “Dark Side” exemplified what many Eurofans know as a staple of Finnish entries: a head-banging rock song with cathartically brash lyrics and a killer melody. Having provided a stark contrast to not only Måneskin but also the other acts in 2021 launched Blind Channel to achieving a 6th place result for Finland, which was their highest result since they won in Athens in 2006.
Erika Vikman — Cicciolina (UMK 2020)
Coming runner-up to Aksel’s “Looking Back” in the 2020 edition of the show, singer Erika Vikman gave viewers an electronic self-love anthem alluding to the legacy of Italian adult entertainment actress, singer, and politician Ilona Staller, otherwise known as “Cicciolina”. This was truly one of my personal favorite songs coming out of the 2020 season, and the track itself is strutty, cheeky, playful, and bold. If you’re one to like punchy queer anthems with a schlager kick like I do, this is for you!
Saara Aalto — Domino (UMK 2018)
Saara Aalto had competed to try to represent Finland before, in 2011 and 2016. In 2018, YLE decided to internally select Saara as the artist for the Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon and have the national final determine which of three songs would be the favorite among viewers to go to the show. “Monsters” was the chosen song after the combined votes, which I thought was all-around decent and a fun number to watch in May on the big stage, but did not have the same performance quality and chill-inducing composition as its midtempo ballad runner up, “Domino.”
Bess — Ram Pam Pam (UMK 2022)
As of me writing this, Ram Pam Pam by Bess is the most played song on the radio and streaming in Finland. This would be no wonder, since last year’s third place entrant delivered a charismatic, catchy, jovially sassy number about leaving someone who just doesn’t match your rhythm. The lyrics are exciting and memorable, and the performance is colorful, fiery, charismatic. Most importantly, it’s just so good.
So now that you know a little more about UMK, what’s something you want to see from Finland at Eurovision?
Finland will select its representative for Eurovision 2023 on 25 February.