Finland’s Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu 2020 was filled with surprises — from the women of F3M unleashing fire guns to Erika Vikman dancing alongside bears. And in the end, after an intense night of competition, Finland finally crowned its winner: Turku-born Aksel Kankaanranta.
He was meant to represent Finland at Eurovision 2020 with the song “Looking Back”. But following the cancellation of the contest to help turn the tide of coronavirus, his future at Eurovision seems unclear. Judging from YLE’s official statement on the matter, they are exploring different paths forward for Eurovision 2021.
“[The cancellation] has an impact on many things and we are considering different options,” UMK producer Anssi Autio wrote on the official Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu web site. “Of course, the Finnish delegation hoped that we would have a Eurovision spring in one way or another, which for many is the highlight of the year. However, given the current situation, this was a sound and sensible decision. In the next few weeks we will tell you how UMK will proceed.”
The statement leaves plenty of space for producers to manoeuvre. They could internally select Aksel and stage a one-artist UMK, as they did for Saara Aalto and Darude. This would likely see Aksel sing three songs with the public and a jury voting for their favourite. Alternatively, they could stage a show as they did this year with several different acts but give Aksel an automatic spot in the show. This would align with Estonia, who have decided to give their Eurovision 2020 singer an automatic spot in the semi-finals of their national final Eesti Laul.
Aksel Kankaanranta: Finland’s would-be Eurovision 2020 singer
We met up with Aksel in Helsinki just a day after his victory to learn a bit more about this man of mystery who endeared himself to hundreds of thousands of Finns.
Aksel’s foray into music started with the violin, which he played from the age of four until around 13. Later, when he was playing the bass, he decided to sing along with his orchestra. “I just started singing… and I realised, what is this? It worked really well… Then I just started to train more. And here we are!”
These days he writes songs whenever he feels inspired. He keeps his phone nearby so he can jot down his thoughts in the “notes” section. In 2017, Kankaanranta finished second in The Voice of Finland.
How did Aksel decide to participate in the Finnish national selection for Eurovision?
“Actually, I was first contacted by this Spanish dude and he asked if I wanted to participate in the UMK with his song, and I was like okay, yeah, sure. Then I wrote some lyrics for it.” Afterwards, he contacted music experts to professionalise the sound, and it was ready to go for the Finnish competition.
The final voting segment during UMK was incredibly tense. Aksel was ranked first by the international juries, but it was unclear for a time whether the televote would guarantee him a win. Although he finished second in that portion of the vote to Erika Vikman, he still won the night — and he wasn’t expecting it.
“I was a bit taken by surprise, and, well, I still don’t know how to feel about it. Still processing.”
As for the staging, the Finnish team wanted to scale it up to suit the Dutch stage design. The plan was to keep the same 3D screen, that was in the original performance during the UMK final. He also planned to have three more backing singers, bringing him to five in total. “It brings a bit more contrast to the song,” he said. Despite these additions, Aksel was keen to keep the performance in a minimalistic style.
Aksel admitted that he had already listened to the Eurovision 2020 songs. For him the Lithuanian entry is “literally on fire.” As for his broader favourites, he loves “Fairytale” from Alexander Rybak and says his favourite Finnish act is Paradise Oscar.
What do you think about Aksel Kankaanranta’s “Looking Back”? Let us know in the comments below!
Nice to c /hear a new voice in me home country ?
Aksel won the right to represent Finland when he won UMK. So if he is interested, he should be selected to represent in 2021.
It’s just bad for UMK because they just got rid of the widely criticized one artist selection. So we’ll see which one they will choose.
I wasn’t crazy for Looking Back, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is giving the selected artists their due. He totally should go.
This one is easy.
They’ve done whatever they wanted, whenever its suited them, with this national final in recent years.
2021 UMK: A Song For Aksel.
Akseel needs to sing Cicciolina ….
He song is really growing on me. I really like It now. The tune is really a earworm
Pick F3M with Bananas instead for fun
Gosh damn, nooo they are not Sandhia (Fin 2016)
F3M is better than Sandhja
Well, they can’t singing ….
I want him to go to Eurovision in 2021… as a duet with Erika Vikman about thicc bois lol
I didn’t care about him or his song, but Finland should send him again.
Give Aksel a 3-songs-UMK like Saara and Darude in 2021, please, and give Erika Vikman a 3-songs- UMK in 2022. Thank you <3
Yeah give Erika bears and she is readyyyyy
He certainly made the most out of his song. I think for Finland it wouldn’t be hard to choose him because they selected the artist internally before and frankly, Aksel would probably beat both of those. Personally, I want to finally see Mikael Saari on the Eurovision stage. Also Zühlke, with the right song.
OMG yeah Mikeal Saari, pleaseee.
Not a fan of the song but he deserved an automatic spot in the finals.
maybe automatic spot in ESC Grand Final.
As always for 2020 artists, Aksel deserves his glory at ESC 2021.
It won‘t hurt UMK if it is purely for him next year, as they did with Saara and Darude
Looking Back is not the greatest song, but Aksel’s voice is amazing. An Aksel and 3 songs to chose from? Oh, yeah, baby, that’s what I’m hoping for.
Hope that he will represent Finland in 2020, I have faith in Finland!
2021 u mean
he should definitely be given an automatic pass to the final, same with the other 2020 winners who won’t be re-confirmed for 2021
Estonia did that with Uku, so I hope that every country that possibly won’t send the same singer again put their 2020 singer automatically at least in the selection, if not make a selection for them.