Recently we made a list of ten unforgettable songs from the Finnish national selection Uuuden Musiikin Kilpailu — better known as UMK. But the truth of the matter is that you can’t sum up the wonders of UMK with just 10 songs, as, since its inception in 2012, it has featured the great and the unusual, the confusing and the shocking, and everything in between. So, in light of Finland reverting back to a multiple artist competition for 2020, it’s time to go back in time and highlight some of the moments that left us speechless in one way or another.
1. Shava – “Ostarilla”
Welcome to Finndia! Only at UMK would you find yourself some spicy Bhangra beats sung in Finnish. Colorful, addictive and just a bit overwhelming, these artists considered themselves favorites to go to Vienna. Sadly they only mustered eighth place in a nine-person final. And in true Bollywood-style, they blew the six-person limit through the roof by bringing everyone they could muster for the hot dance numbers! How would this have been staged if it were sent to Eurovision will always remain mystery.
2. Norlan El Misionario – “No Voy a Llorar Por Ti”
Way before the “Despacito” craze of the 2017 national final season, we had an honest to God reggaeton number down to every single cue. And it wasn’t from Spain, but rather from the cold, spruce-laden north via Finnish-Cuban sensation Norlan El Misionario with this nostalgic yet danceable tribute to his father. Plenty of acts have tried to bring Latin flavor to the Eurovision stage, but Norlan’s was the most earnest act we have seen in that regard across all national finals. Spanish reggaeton in Finland? Wrap your head around that!
3. Stig – “Laululeija”
There is quite a lot to unpack about UMK 2012’s third place act, which was reportedly the heavy favourite to go to Baku. Was it the backwoods aesthetic? The flannel folk fashion? The lack of eye contact with the camera for the whole number or the extensive Finnish quasi mumbling? I see this as the salty liquorice entry: a delight to Finland, but outside of the border it would be a two-minute-twenty-second eyebrow raiser. After a while it does become hypnotic in a way, though…
4. Club La Persé – “My Little World”
And this one goes to the club kids! In 2017 we saw the four-piece ensemble — consisting of Mr C*nt, Jean Michelle, Miss Anti-Socialite Lili Butterfly Effective 2.0 and Ellen Vivan — do what they do best: create chaos. But catchy chaos nonetheless. Amid all kinds of makeup, colors and thumping beats, this song about longing for love was the one that ingrained on everyone’s mind in the run-up to that edition of UMK. This little world is out of this dimension and it’s still screaming.
5. Angelo De Nile – “All For Victory”
De Nile is not just a river in Egypt, but also the most passionate singer in all of Northern Europe. The seriousness Angelo had singing this theatrical rock number surrounded by the cast of 300 is actually un-ironically admirable. Not every act has the confidence to count with that many sustained high notes in the span of three minutes and not one, but TWO false endings. He lived for victory, but ended up scoring a respectable fifth place. Et tu, Suomi?
6. ClemSO – “Thief”
With a barebones beat louder than his voice and heavily-accented English (and bonus Yoruba, which was difficult for many of us to distinguish), ClemSO brought his own Nigerian flavor to the melting pot that is UMK. It resulted in three minutes of me trying to figure out what the lyrics were, and when I encountered the very flattering line “Your backside like Aso rock, Yepa kileleyi, I go like to preside over it, yeah yeah” I was indeed, sold, that “Thief” is art.
7. Gunther feat. D’Sanz – “Love Yourself”
If you’re going to have a Swedish star in your national final, the only option is the mastermind behind the “Ding Dong Song”…and featuring the Spanish-Finnish D’Sanz to give added kick. Between loving yourself, touching yourself and finding your inner beauty, this is essentially a DIY kit to slaying inside and out. The song reached fifth place, so there are very clearly some Finns who enjoy a bit of self-love every now and then.
8. Aikuinen – “Kyynelten lahti”
Never anywhere else will you find a song that’s this depressing but wrapped in such a bubbly and charming package. A real anthem for the losers of the world, Aikuinen is a DEVO-inspired Stepford Smiler happy to tell you about how he lost the lottery last Saturday, how sorrow will always be his best dance partner and how Sweden will score a huge five-to-one lead over Finland. If we’re talking about the song today, in 2019, it might be prudent to tell Aikuinen that lead has been extended to six to one.
9. Knucklebone Oscar & The Shangri-La Rubies- “Caveman”
Sometimes you wonder how a song could make the cut to the national final in the first place. After much thought and self-reflection, I can confidently say this is not one of those cases, as this is actually brilliant. The level of confidence and showmanship that Oscar displays during the three minutes alongside his Rubies in this rockabilly fantasy is simply epic. From a piggyback ride across the crowd to the smashing of his guitar at the end, this entry really does have it all. Maybe this REALLY is the fried chicken, and in fact, this is the DNA.
10. Pää-Äijät – “Shamppanjataivas”
And we end with what is likely the largest party ever to happen in any national final across Europe. The “Shamppanjataivas” stage performance of UMK 2016 really brought the event to life. Champagne showers, pizza deliveries and guys in fox suits framed our protagonists who sang in a bubble bath, delivering a vibe reminiscent of a house party gone south in record time. And it could not have ended with a more fitting conclusion than the act ascending and being suspended mid-air. Truly outstanding.
What do you think? Do any of these UMK moments bring a smile to your face? Do you think UMK 2020 will have any acts that can top these? Let us know in the comments below!