Over its past two editions, Uuuden Musiikin Kilpailu — the Finnish Eurovision selection known as UMK — has focused on a single artist performing three new songs. But ahead of the 2020 selection, producers have announced they’ll return to their previous format, where multiple artists will compete for the chance to represent Finland at the song contest.
There’s a lot to be excited about. For years UMK was a decidedly more experimental selection than those of its Nordic neighbours. The display of Finnish talent spanned all manner of styles, quality, taste and wackiness. We’re talking fifty shades of zany! Once the show even gave construction workers and taxi drivers seats at the judging table. Amid all that there was never a shortage of songs to play and replay.
With that in mind, we’ve chosen ten songs that we feel highlight some of the best talent Finland has given us at UMK over the years. None of them made it to Eurovision, proving just how deep the well of talent is in Suomi. Anyway, and without further ado, let’s revisit!
1. Siru – “Mustelmat”
We have to start with what is, to date, the highest scoring song in the history of the Wiwi Jury. With a score of 9.7 out of 10, it’s safe to say this Finnish-language ballad was everyone’s cup of tea back prior to the live shows. A heart-on-sleeve performance that spoke to beauty in bruises and pain with booming instrumentals, Siru was the clear front-runner. That made her elimination in the semifinal a shocker that’s still felt in the Eurovision bubble today. Nevertheless “Mustelmat” will remain a high of the 2015 national final season.
2. Mikael Saari – “We Should Be Through”
In 2013, the world was introduced to Mikael Saari, whose heartfelt tale “We Should Be Through” immediately put the Nordic country on the map as a favorite to go for gold in Sweden. The juries ranked him joint first, but he ended as runner-up to Krista Siegfrids’ pop banger “Marry Me”. Saari tried once again in 2016 — and to much acclaim. But he came short once again, and Finnish fans have clamoured for his return ever since.
3. Eini – “Draamaa”
Serving schlager so potent it could make some Melfest divas blush, Eini’s cheeky and booming “Draamaa” delivered a statement on stage. Fireworks, sexy dancers and unabashed fun, this is a diva at her finest. “Even if you’ve made mistakes for decades and forgiven so many things, this is now, and will always be, the same kind of drama.” Queen knows how to keep it real!
4. Opera Skaala – “Heart of Light”
There has been no act more flamboyant to step on a stage than this Opera-EDM crossover queen. The pathos and histrionics that lead singer Essi exuded, the baroque costumes, the flawless vocal flourishes and those LEGS, “Heart Of Light” emerged as a favourite to take it all and fly the flag to Vienna. Coming in third place, Opera Skaala has cemented their status as a UMK highlight we revisit over and over.
5. MIAU – “God/Drug”
In this writer’s opinion, this three-piece girl rock band is the epitome of confusion that leads to addiction. While MIAU could have been seen as underdogs, the fact that they achieved third place in a highly acclaimed version of UMK only gives more power to the point. You made us listen, you made us replay, you made us fall in love. And we’re still not entirely sure why!
6. Mikko Pohjola – “Sängyn reunalla”
And from gold, we go to silver. Mikko’s easy going Finnish tale won hearts and judges from all over, and was deemed a favorite to take it all from the start. Alas, he finished as 2014’s runner-up. He brought a soothing voice, an ethereal feel and major power behind the voice and instrumentals. It all channeled quality. Filled with heart and soul, “Sängyn reunalla” still came just short at home.
7. Jasmin Michaela – “Kertakäyttösydän”
You could argue that 2014 was a fine year for Finland — between having a great winner in the form of Softengine and this pop princess with a tongue-twister of a name. “Disposable Heart” was a fiery, unapologetic piece of pop and a unique way to display the Finnish language. She didn’t make the final, but we encourage Jasmin to keep trying to dance her way into Finnish hearts once more.
8. Lili Lambert – “Let Me Take You There”
We hit 2014 again, albeit with one of their earliest cuts. Lili Lamber caught our attention with the studio version of her track — a hot slice of Scandipop we’re sure that Finland’s neighbours would have loved to get their hands on. A victim of a flimsy live, she can be proud of the finished product. It’s as ready for 2020 as can be!
9. Diandra – “Colliding into you”
2013’s third place finisher brought this modern, mid-tempo piece of R&B ready to storm the Top 40. This Finnish-Chilean diva was not one to shy away, in style or in vocals. There’s only one way to love him, but thousands of ways to love “Colliding Into You”.
10. Lauri Yrjöla – “Helppo Elama”
The only Finnish-language song in 2017, Lauri kept it cool as Lapland with his song “Easy Life”. While not managing to break into the top 5, he was one of the best singers of the night, and won over scores of new fans with his easygoing vibe.
What do you think? Are you excited for UMK’s return? What artists do you want to see in the lineup? Which is your fav song from UMK to date? Let us know in the comments below!