She was lost in Verona, but she’s been found in Helsinki: Laura Põldvere is trying her luck in Finland after twice flying the Estonian flag at Eurovision. She’s doing it with a song named like the one which blocked her from winning Eesti Laul 2016: “Play”.
Finnish broadcaster YLE is sticking to last year’s formula, although expanded: this year there will be seven acts competing rather than six. Their songs will be revealed one by one every weeknight at midnight Finland time (23:00 CET) until 21 January.
Laura “Play” (UMK 2021)
“Play” is described as an “irresistible combination of country and pop” about “an on-and-off relationship where one person has become fed up with constantly forgiving the other”.
Laura represented Estonia at Eurovision in 2005 (with Suntribe) and 2017 (with Koit Toome), but didn’t make it to the final on either occasion. Will Finland give her the chance to make it third time lucky?
But… why is she trying now for Finland? According to her bio on YLE, “ever since she was a little girl, Laura has spent a considerable amount of time in Finland”. “Today, she typically spends half of the year in Finland as part of her musical and professional career. Her tenth album, released in the winter of 2019, was produced in Finland, and she has also begun learning Finnish”.
The grand final of UMK will take place on 20 February. The number of competing acts was whittled down from 278 entries, and only seven entrants will take the stage.
The songs were selected by a jury of industry professionals, led by radio YleX’s music manager Tapio Hakanen. He had praise for the applicants, saying, “The level of the songs and artists was incredibly strong and I am confident that we have coming in the spring of 2021 the toughest UMK of all time. I’m really happy and grateful to each and every musician who sent a song to Yle.”
The winner will be chosen by a mixture of jury and public vote. Rather than the usual 50/50 split, the public will hold 75% of the power.