Image credit: Yle / Miikka Varila
Finland’s ever-popular national final Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu, or UMK, returns this Saturday, with seven artists competing to follow in the footsteps of Käärijä’s success at Eurovision 2023 in Liverpool. Keep reading to find out more about this year’s contenders!
Cyan Kicks – “Dancing With Demons”
The only returnees in this year’s UMK lineup, Cyan Kicks are back for another shot at the UMK trophy with their entry “Dancing With Demons”. The four-piece band hailing from Helsinki has already seen previous success at UMK, coming second to The Rasmus in 2022. Their 2024 entry hopes to build on this success, with a song both true to their style yet something different and new for the band themselves, and something any listener would immediately recognise as befitting to the image of Finland in Eurovision. The catchy rock song paired with the dark visuals of the music video and the ever-topical use of AI to generate the “Follow Me” hook all culminates to create a powerful contender for the UMK trophy. Could Cyan Kicks best their previous result and take the crown this Saturday?
Sexmane – “Mania”
The brother of UMK alumni Isaac Sene, Max Sene, known as Sexmane, is another one of the artists competing to take home the UMK trophy and represent Finland at Eurovision in May. Arguably of the most popular artists at present in Finland, with a debut album that remained in the Finnish music charts for 100 weeks and is still one of the most streamed full-length albums on Finnish Spotify, Sexmane hopes to replicate his success in the Finnish music scene on the UMK stage with his entry “Mania”, a powerful “bare all” track that talks openly and candidly about the ups and downs of life, and more specifically Sene’s, with lyrics written across different days to pull on the authentic feelings of how someone can feel okay one day, and weaker the next. Could this candid yet strong track strike a chord with the voting public and win Sexmane the UMK trophy?
Sara Siipola – “Paskana”
Sara Siipola is another of this year’s competitors, vying for the chance of lifting the UMK with her entry “Paskana“, an empowering, moving pop-ballad. Siipola, hailing from Laihia, has seen previous success within the Finnish music scene, having been placed 4th on YleX Läpimurto’s breakthrough artists list in 2020, and winning the Radio Suomen Levylautakuna vote in 2019 with her debut single “Brave heart”. “Paskana” is an emotional-yet-empowering ballad that lyrically talks about the feelings of the world still carrying on whilst you feel like a wreck, but also that feeling all manner of emotions is normal, and it’s okay not to be okay. Could the powerful message of “Paskana” strike a chord with the Finnish public and win Sara Siipola the UMK trophy?
Jesse Markin – “Glow”
Another of this year’s contenders for the UMK trophy is Jesse Markin with his entry “Glow“. Markin fell in love with music at a young age, and formed part of the hip-hop group “The Megaphone State” for 12 years, after which he chose to pursue a solo music career to take a step in a musical direction more to his choosing. With “Glow”, a song 5 years in the making, Markin hopes to build on the successes he’s seen already within his solo career, and add the UMK trophy to his collection of awards earned. “Glow” is a catchy, upbeat dance track with a heavy motivational message, conveying to listeners that life can have both good and bad times, but without the bad, the good won’t feel as good, and ultimately, as the lyrics say, “you’re gonna make it”. Will “Glow” be the song that gets viewers voting and take Jesse Markin to the trophy?
Windows95Man – “No Rules!”
Windows95Man is teaming up with singer Henri Piispanen for their entry “No Rules!“. Described by the singer as untypical of what’s usually seen in the Finnish charts, “No Rules!” is by no means a “joke entry”, and instead carries an important motto in a tough situation, and is all about unapologetically being yourself, something that is very true to the brand of Windows95Man. Windows95Man and vocalist Henri Piispanen, who has admitted he never intended to be the vocal feature on the track, are hoping with their performance to show that life isn’t always that serious, and to ultimately make the viewing crowd happy with their infectious, genuine, high-energy performance. Could this energy take them all the way to the UMK trophy, and potentially to Malmö in May?
Sini Sabotage – “Kuori Mua”
Well-known Finnish rapper is also one of the 7 acts competing for the UMK trophy this year, with her multi-layered hit “Kuori Mua”. The rapper, who started her career as a featured artist and DJ before going on to be signed by a record label and releasing her debut single “Levikset repee” in 2013, has described her return to music with “Kuori Mua” as coming home, with the message of the song being a direct response to all of the opinions and labels, or “layers” that the public have stuck to Sini across the duration of her career. The song carries a fun, playful, sexy outer layer, but when diving into the lyrics, the song is so much more, showing that it’s what‘s inside that counts. After the success of Finnish rap at Eurovision last year with Käärijä, will the UMK voters look to continue on this trajectory and help Sini Sabotage to the UMK trophy?
Mikael Gabriel x nublu – “Vox Populi”
Inspired by and named after the Estonian radio show “Vox Populi”, where listeners phone in and get to speak their mind about the current state of the world, Mikael Gabriel teams up with Estonian rapper nublu for their UMK entry “Vox Populi”. Incorporating both Finnish and Estonian lyrics, the earworm of a song focuses heavily on the theme of freedom of speech and that ultimately people should use the voices they have to try and change things for the better. Could this message resonate with the Finnish public and help Mikael Gabriel and nublu lift the UMK trophy?
YLE have confirmed that the running order for the UMK final will be the following:
- Sini Sabotage
- Cyan Kicks
- Jesse Markin
- Mikael Gabriel x Nublu
- Sara Siipola
As with all national finals, the performance on the night can make or break a song in this competition, so it will be interesting to see the creative visions of all 7 participants come to life on the UMK stage. Expect all the glitz and glamour that UMK has come to provide in recent years!
The Finnish national final artists have been some of the most vocal national final artists when it comes to the inclusion of Israel within Eurovision this year, with Jesse Markin lending his voice to the viral artists petition to remove them from the competition, and stating that if Israel are to compete, he has no intention of going to Eurovision should he win UMK this year. Due to this, YLE have confirmed that they do have a plan in place in the instance that the winner of this year’s UMK takes the decision to not go to Eurovision in Malmö.
Who would you most like to see lift the UMK trophy this Saturday? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to follow us on all socials!
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