He took home the trophy at UMK 2020 with “Looking Back”. And he even suggested that he hadn’t submitted a song for 2021. But, in the end, Aksel Kankaanranta is trying his luck again with “Hurt”.
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.
Aksel “Hurt” (UMK 2021)
The reigning champion of UMK is back with “Hurt”, a “powerful yet sensitive ballad about how looks can be deceiving”.
“Someone may look like they’re ok on the outside, but they could still be in terrible pain on the inside. When you’re hurting, you also end up hurting the ones you love. I’ve lived that experience, so I’m truly able to identify with this message. My song is also a reminder that you don’t need to be anyone but yourself”, he explains.
Aksel believes that he is better prepared to focus on his performance this year, as he is now more familiar with the contest and its production process.
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.
This is a super beautiflul song. But would not stand out on eurovision
It is awesome, rooting for this at UMK
omg its so beautiful!!!
His voice is stunning, but I’m afraid that during the song I keep on waiting for something “more” to happen, and it doesn’t. I like Oskr’s song better.
It is flat indeed!
More mall music, nice song sung well, but not engaging enough to distract you from shopping.
It needs a touching staging to make it work.
I don’t think it would make it to the final.
More emotional than his minimalistic attempt last year. I don’t know which one I like the most, but I kinda like it.
Erika Vikman’s fans are truly disgusting. They were already thumbing down the song even before it was released. People, she would be ashamed of all of you!
The song is a jewel of delicacy, power and emotion, so far the best one released of the 5! If Aksel nails the live performance as he did last year, he has the ticket in the bag.
are u axel kantakanta boyfriend?
Far worse than Looking back! That was atmospheric and haunty song. This is just produced medicore ballad. It doesn’t stand out in any way. 2021 is not his year, I’m afraid.
I like Aksel ‘s song “Hurt” very much and I hope for him that he is winning again and have a second chance to represent Finland in Rotterdam. The other song I really like is Oskr – Lie. If one of these songs win I ‘ll be happy.
So far, UMK has high quality this year <3
1. Laura 9/10
2. Teflon Brothers × Pandora 8/10
3. Danny 7.5/10
4. Oskr 7/10
5. Aksel 7/10
While my personal ranking and rating would be somewhat different, I can agree that there is no song in this year’s UMK which I would rate with under a 7/10. They are ambitious this year and I respect that.
My personal ranking reflects quite clear, that I am not a big fan personally of male ballads, slow songs, singer-songwriter etc. (especially in comparision with female pop), but I respect the effort “objectively” and rate them with a good 7.
If Teflon Brothers x Pandora have a clever perfomance, then ”I Love You” is the clear winner.
The other are boring, especially Lie…
Hopefully! Teflon Brothers x Pandora & Blind Channel are the only ones I can see reaching the final.
no thank you
still Danny for me, who got more genuine emotion, this from Aksel is way weaker than looking back, and also quite pretentious, generic
as if one year of sorrow and pain is not enough for a song with lame rhyme of “living” and “dying”. read the room aksel kantakanta
This song is really lovely, musically emotive and further rounded by Aksel’s beautiful voice. What I find interesting is how the lyrics are about moving on from sadness, yet the music is oozing melancholy. And even more interesting is that I find this relation satisfying and fitting. I really feel it! 🙂
Any comparisons with Looking Back or Lie (both of whom I already love) are not my priority today. 🙂
Dude can sing. That is for sure.
I like “Hurt” very much, especially the part that starts with “And I’ve been down that road before”. It almost feels like a sweet and cozy lullaby, but at the same it feels empty and sad. Personally I prefer “Hurt” more than “Looking Back”. I would also love to see Aksel return to ESC 2021 with other fellow competitors, but I think it will be a tough competition for him. I also love “I Love You” by Teflon Brothers and Pandora. It’s such a banger and puts you on a good mood. I really think Finland could do better with… Read more »
I actually have same top list as you have! Only for me it’s hard to say if I like Hurt or Lie more since both are good in their own ways and don’t really lack anything. All songs have been really amazing, not a single bad song yet
An amazing song.. He sings my situation at the moment! Better than Looking back personally.. A bit Lewis Capaldi.. A winner if you ask me.. Let’s go Aksel!
Not really blown away but will reserve judgment until the live shows. His performance of “Looking Back” was 100x better than I was expecting and so this could be the same.
Beautiful song! “Looking Back” was the most underrated song last year (I had it in my top 5!) so I hope he’s luckier this time with “hurt” which sounds a bit more mainstream.
I still hope that we send a troll/rock entry, because then people wont forget the song.
Not a bad effort. It’s nothing earth shattering but I’m feeling it a lot more than I was with “looking back”.
Good song again, can’t really pick a certain favourite since I’ve liked all songs so far. Only Danny’s song seems too theatrical for majority of voters to go for (I still like it though) and Laura’s song just isn’t giving much of a reason to even listen it again.
Wow, I think it’s so good and suits him so well! Just so sad that there’s too many awesome options to go and only one can win, so far I can honestly say there’s no more Looking Back to those days when Finland didn’t have so much to offer and qualifying to the final was a bit of a challenge!
Enough sad boy ballads. PLEASE
There is nothing wrong with male ballads. They have just as much right to be in Eurovision as every other genre. There is more to music than “yaaas kweeen” bops.
Yes, All “yes kween songs” are bad, for example Fuego
out of all bad “yes kween songs” u pick one of the best ones haha.
I disagree that they’re all bad. They have their place too… haha
It’s funny you automatically assume that I don’t like the sad boy ballads. We don’t need 5,000 songs of any one genre. The Finnish selection is becoming very one note w them.
All three of the male ballads in Finland are different, and have their own individual identity. There is also a rap/pop number and a female-led pop track from Laura… We’ll also be getting a rock song tonight from Blind Channel as well as probably another pop song from Ilta tomorrow. If that’s one note then… I feel sorry for you. I don’t mean to sound rude, but I genuinely think if there were 3 Cicciolina type songs, no one would even say anything. But because there are 3 male ballads in the running (which some sections of the Eurovision fandom… Read more »
He has such a beautiful voice
What is the deal with the mixing of this video? It seems off. In the chorus did they have him record his own vocals and are layering it on top? or are they auto-tuning it? Also it seems like the video and audio are just slightly off sync from each other.
Layering vocals is a technique used in basically every single song ever. It’s nothing new
I wasn’t a fan of Looking back, but this is beautiful! It really fits his voice, and it will be interesting to see which song will do better Oskr or Aksel, or will Teflon Brothers win instead! I’m very hyped for Finland this year!
While I still generally prefer “Lie”, I cannot deny that Aksel has upped his game this year. This song seems to play better to his strengths, as his vocals make very clear. Some of the lyrics are a tiny bit clunky (“…don’t need to hurt anymore…” throws off the meter a tad) but the emotion behind every word is truly superb. A great effort for him, well done to the songwriters, and I would be happy for Finland to send him back to the Netherlands.
Last year Aksel was whithin a whisker of being my personal winner, so obviously “Hurt” was the song I anticipated the most. And it’s definitely good… but I can’t help feeling like there’s something missing. Lyrically, it’s a natural step after “Looking Back”, except this time the emphasis is put on the future instead of the past, hope and determination rather than nostalgia and regret. It’s once again a sort of musical therapy, an artistic way of dealing with the things that drag you down, and the shift from passive pensiveness to active self-reflection is honestly very touching and could… Read more »
It’s a better song than “Looking Back” and it showcases his voice beautifully. I agree with Max that the song could benefit from a strong bridge, but I like it anyway. Taking the subtle road actually fits Aksel’s quiet personality. I still prefer “Lie” though. And I fear one will maybe get in the way of the other, cause they share the same qualities and spirit.
Interesting that you and others prefer “Lie,” which is a much more storytelling (or recit-y) kind of song. The issue I have with “Lie” is I can’t immediately recall a melody from it. I remember the story and the singer, but not the actual music. “Hurt” has a Chorus melody that straight away I can remember, and I feel it very much. But that’s interesting how others hear them differently. Maybe i’m just too musically emotional? Haha
I can just talk for myself, but I love good storytelling in a song. The thing I love the most about “Lie” is how he grabs my attention right away and I can’t stop paying attention to the lyrics, because I want to know how the story ends. It has a “he’s talking to me” effect that “Hurt” doesn’t have. With “Hurt” my attention went directly to Aksel’s vocals, to the point I had to rewatch it to read the lyrics. It’s another kind of seduction through music, right? Also, you have a background in music, I have a background… Read more »
I think it’s better than last year and I can see it win again, although I prefer lie over this.
Its a lovely song! I like it better than his entry last year. My ONLY wonder as far as Aksel’s chance to go to Eurovision go is that the song gives me SOMEWHAT similar vibes as Danny and especially Oskr’s entry. Not to say that they would “cancel each other out” but I just wonder how it might shape peoples votes – whereas a song like Pandora (and Teflon Bros) really stands out from the crowd, so far at least anyway.
Bref, Pandora & Teflon Bros are my favourites still, but this is still a sweet entry I think.
I find it better and less repetitive than looking back.Aksel’s voice is the centrepiece here. I can see this one winning too.
It’s subtle. Even lie is subtle but it had better progression. Prefer Lie as of now .
I’m not afraid to say that I really like this song. The raw emotion is put in front of us, and all the usual musical journeys are stripped away down to the basics. This is unapologetically direct music, the likes of which Eurovision doesn’t usually hear. Both “Hurt” and “Looking Back” make me feel something without using many musical notes; that’s quite special.
I love it and it’s definitely one of the 2021 Eurovision finalists!
One song was chosen, how would you even know that?
Cute depressing ballad, which could work on radio but not on Eurovision. I prefer his 2020 effort. However, I’m waiting for the staging as it might elevate the song.
Btw, i hope it sounded like Christina Aguilera’s Hurt, lol.
Another melancholic, introspective effort from Aksel and I am here for it. It almost feels like a fitting sequel to Looking Back in that this one still has the aching sadness for the past but now there is an acceptance and a hope for the future. Bravo Aksel!
For me, so far it is between Aksel and Teflon Brothers x Pandora. It is almost a repeat of last year – the heartfelt ballad vs the fun, upbeat entry – it is all making for another interesting show!
Honestly, I prefer this over Oskr’s song because I find “Hurt” to be more sophisticated melodically and lyrically than “Lie”. However, I do think the latter is probably more palatable for the general audience so it might have more potential at Eurovision. In any case, well done Aksel for another great entry and please ignore the obnoxious haters. Best of luck for UMK and hopefully, Eurovision!
The verses are pretty basic. The chorus is much stronger, but I feel like it lacks a melodic twist in the second part. It has so much potential.
Also: Why is there no bigger sort of crescendo as a bridge? I think he could handle it vocally. He has a great voice!
Ultimately, I was expecting something more like Muista kuka oot… Aksel can show off his rich vocals much more in that one…
I love myself a good bridge in a song <3 could really elevate it yes.
I was positively surprised. I expected Looking back 2.0 but while this is still a ballad too it has more mature and overall different feel. Teflon brothers are still my current favorite but I can’t decide if I’d put this second or third after Lie. I wonder how they are going to execute the layered vocals live though.
As I expected, I’m now kinda split between Aksel and Oskr. I still lean more toward “Lie,” but this is lovely and builds on what worked with “Looking Back” and added more. I would be happy if Aksel got the ticket.
My ranking thus far:
3. Sina paivana kun kaikki rakastaa mua
4. I Love You
In any case: no, “Lie” wasn’t a fluke, UMK is bonkers good this year and even the worst entry so far isn’t that bad. Finland is on a really good track this year and I feel more optimistic about their chances of a good result (or at least qualifying) this year than I have in a while.
Agree! And I saw a lot of people saying that last year’s umk was better and that the umk radio moderator was lying when he said that this umk was strong. BUt I think it’s so good, and Ilta and Blind Channel will also serve so how can acts like Oskr, Laura and Aksel and even Pandora(for now) compare with acts like the girls who sang “Bananas” and Zühlke and Tika with dated and 100x heard before songs.
Sorry, but I Love You is winning.
girl do you understand what an opinion is
Hurt is sweet and Aksel is talented and relatable, but this song, in my opinion, lacks the emotional oomph and crescendo that made Looking Back, which I think would have just about snuck in, a grower and a mind clearer.
I am really sorry but I was not a fan of Looking Back and I think that Hurt is worse than Looking Back. I’m still #teamILoveYou, and I also like Lie. However Aksel still has a chance because of the sympathy vote. Other than that I don’t really see how he could win UMK in terms of televoting since he came 2nd last year, behide Erika Vikman. If the Finns don’t go for the sympathy vote then this is not a winning song. There are already 2 other ballads in the contest and Hurt is not the best among them,… Read more »
Lie is still my clear fave so far!
I think the song is fine and there’s nothing bad but I am underwhelmed by hurt. I feel like the song is just there but nothing more than that; however, I wish Aksel the best!!!