Review: “UMK 2021” (Finland)

Finland will their act for Eurovision 2021 via the mechanism of “UMK 2021“.
“UMK 2021” will include only a final show that will be held on the 20th of February 2021.
During the last decade, Finland struggled to achieve decent results: They qualified only 4 times (2011, 2013,2014, 2018) where in 3 among them they ended in Bottom 5 in the final).

The Finnish section for Eurovision had 2 different formats.
In 2018-2019, they first had internally selected an artists and thereafter held a national selection with multiple songs. While, for example in 2016, 2017, 2020 they held a national final with several artists.

What’s the right formula for Finland at Eurovision? We still don’t know.
However, the country has a strong music industry that can really help in achieving good results.

In 2021, 7 artists will compete in the national selection in order to represent the country.
In this post I will review the 7 songs in the line-up.

#1. Aksel – Hurt 

Aksel won the national selection of Finland at Eurovision 2020 with the song Looking Back
It’s a gentle and basic singer-song writer ballad. The melody is namely based on guitar playing.
The singer is singing about a mental pain.
The first verses are slower than the chorus where Aksel‘s voice arrives with more air.
The transition between the verses and the chorus is quite smooth and direct. The singer is singing the backing vocals by himself: his lead vocal is the lower one, while he is giving us a higher and more impressive voice in the baking vocals.
The third verse is quite similar in its structure to the first verses. The guitar playing is getting louder as the song continues. The second chorus is being performed with a higher voice (while now the backing vocals are the lower one). At this point, the song is reaching its peak. Toward the end, we can hear cello/violin playing which I wish would be more dominant.
The song is radio-friendly, cyclic in its structure. However, it lacks a longer time of excitement and peaks . It feels like it has the potential to be stronger and more competitive but unfortunately it hasn’t been fulfilled.

#2. Blind Channel – Dark Side

Blind Channel is a band from Oulu, Finland. It was set up in 2013. The band plays violent pop, which is heavy music, with pop elements, blinkers and lighter songs.
The band first appeared to the public in 2013. In March 2016, the band signed a keynote deal with German Dragon Productions.

It’s a metal rock song with wide influences of 2004-2008 rock scene.
The song is opened with a mysterious instrumental section which is based on a combination of electric guitar, bass, drums and techno-electronic beat. The first piece of lyrics we encounter is actually the chorus: it has strong sound with massive guitar playing and almost “growling” rock voice by the lead vocalist. The first verse is actually performed in a rap genre as the lead vocalist is speaking-talking. The second verse is less aggressive – the guitars have more calm sound and the focus is on the processed keyboard sound. Very quickly, we are getting the chorus again. The part after the chorus includes growling singing by the band members. The verse that comes after that part has more stable and interesting structure as we can hear a beautiful side of the singer’s voice.
In the lyrics, they mention the “27 club” – the club of some music legends that have passed away way too early (Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse and more).
The last minute of the song starts in a dramatic sound that is “clean” of drums and electric- guitars.
The singing is accompanied by processed backing vocals. The song is closed by the chorus and closure of the verse with shouting of the singer.
To sum up, it’s a decent metal rock song. The golden time of that genre has passed unfortunately. The chorus is much stronger and catchier than the verses. In my opinion, the structure of the song should be reconsidered. In the other hand, I’m glad to see rock bands/singers competing in the Finnish selection.

#3. Danny – Sinä päivänä kun kaikki rakastaa mua (Eng: The day when everyone loves me)

Danny is Finnish percussion singer and music advisor. Danny career began in 1964 as vocal soloist with band called ‘The Islanders’ and the breakthrough hit was ‘East Virginia’
He participated in the Finnish national selection 1966 ‘Euroviisut’ with the song called ‘Pieni sana’ ’. Danny also participated in the selection in 1973 with song called ‘Galileo Galilei’ and 1975 with ‘Seikkailija’ which came 2nd place.
Danny is also ex-husband to Erika Vikman who was fan favorite in UMK 2020.

The song is opened with a quite quiet and gentle guitar playing. Danny has a deep and low voice.
The rate is slow, he is singing indifferently in most sometimes head like a slow speaking.
The chorus contains also backing vocals. The keyboard are put into the lyrics after the chorus.
The singer is speaking on his future funeral – the day when everyone loves him, they can get dressed in white if it lifts their mood.
Towards the end, the backing vocals that can be heard as church- choir overcome the singer voice as well as the melody.
I feel the song it too dated and keeping it in Finnish makes it even more inaccessible.
Danny puts no efforts in his singing and it made the whole experience to a boring one. I don’t think the song is suitable to Eurovision at all.


#4. Ilta – Kelle mä soitan (Eng: Who do I call?)

Ilta is a 22 year old Finnish-German singer and songwriter who have became known after being in 2015. In the beginning of year 2016, Ilta has signed a contract with Warner Music Finland.

It’s a power ballad performed in the language of Finnish.
The song is starting with piano playing while we can hear the sweet and soft voice of Ilta.
The first verse is pretty slow, however the second verse has a faster rate. Ilta is using beautiful vocal decorations while singing. The chorus included not only keyboard but also computer processed instrumental sections. She is singing the chorus in a higher voice and in an emotional way.
The song enables her to show her full vocal range. I can hear her distress and be touched by the story she is trying to tell. The third verse is more emotional than the first one. The backing vocals build an unexpected tension. The chorus is starting with a gentle singing that sometimes can be recognized as falsetto. Ilta has a strong control in her voice. The last chorus includes violin playing which elevates the drama.
That is the right way to build a drama in a power ballad. The singer and the song have the perfect match. Ilta doesn’t give us too much from her vocal power, but she is still powerful enough.
Finnish is a beautiful language and this song just emphasizes it .
There is something mystical and with the proper amount of emotions it can get goosebumps.

#5. Laura Põldvere – Play

Laura Põldvere is an Estonian singer. She has recently moved to Finland.
Laura is a familiar name and face in the Eurovision scene: She has represented Estonia at Eurovision at 2 different occasions: In 2005 as a part of a group and in 2017 as a part of a duo. In both cases, she didn’t qualify for the final. Along the years, she took part in the Estonian national selection, where she even ended as a runner up in 2016 with “Supersonic“.

It’s a mid-tempo country pop song. The song is starting with vocal improvisations by the singer.
The melody is based on fast guitar playing. Laura is standing proud and smiling while stating that she arrives to a record, a high peak. Later on, a beat is added to the melody. Her singing gentle and effortless in a good way. Her singing in the chorus is faster than in the verses.
Laura is opening the chorus with confidence and a little bit husky voice. The rate is faster and the guitar playing are something between Latin and the wild west. The second verse is much shorter but it’s upbeat. The chorus appears again, when its second part is pretty optimistic and dreamlike. Laura is singing while the backing vocalists support her. The contrast between her husky voice and the high voice in the backing vocals is pretty effective. The only thing I would have changes is put a little bit more power in the song, especially in the chorus.
The song is actually a good shot, I even like it more than her song in “Eesti Laul 2020“. It’s memorable and its different parts connect very well .The style in general reminds me of Miley Cyrus songs and vocals.

#6. Oskr Lie

Oskr aka Oskari Ruohonen is a singer-songwriter from Turku. He is mostly recognized by bands like in ‘Journalist’ and ‘Trafic Island’. Talented multi-instrumentalist grew up in a musical family. He has written, played and produced his songs on his own and with his brother in Finnish and in English.

It’s a singer- song writer classic ballad. The song is opened with a piano playing. Oskr is singing with a special cutting of the words. He is singing the verses in a mid-low voice. However, the chorus is much powerful and being performed in a higher and emotional voice. From that point, the song isn’t only a basic ballad anymore, but a kind of pop-rock song. The ending of the chorus is faster until its last phrase. The last phrase of the chorus makes the verse after to be a direct continue to the chorus.
So it is actually can be non trivial to put the finger on the accurate moment where we encounter the verses again. The second has the same production and melody as the first verse. The only difference is a not felt weal beat. The bridge is effective with the singer singing the starting of new line while the backing vocals are focused on the previous line.
The production is quite predictable and classic. The song can be definitely be played on radio stations.
The song is pleasant, but I feel that it can be a little bit generic. The advantage of the whole package is the singer himself which is talented, no doubt . With the proper staging, it can do better than excepted.

#7.Teflon Brothers x Pandora – I Love You

It’s a dance pop Schlager. The song is performed in 2 languages: Finnish and English.
The opening is in a disco style. The first verse is being performed in a rap genre. The music can be classified as an ole video games music. Pandora is singing the chorus and the bridge in English.
The instrumental section is catchy. The electronic production is more dominant in the second part of the song. At a specific point, the song is just too repetitive an it made me losing the interest in it .
My main problem with the song is that is dated and non -attractive is a specific way. I would have expect more from the combination between Pandora and Teflon Brothers.

My Personal Ranking

#1. Ilta – Kelle mä soitan
#2. Laura Põldvere – Play
#3. Blind Channel – Dark Side
#4. Aksel – Hurt
#5. Oskr – Lie
#6. Teflon Brothers x Pandora – I Love You
#7. Danny – Sinä päivänä kun kaikki rakastaa mua

My Prediction

I think that there are 2 competitors that might fight for the winning. As I see it now (without being able to watch live performances) : Blind Channel
or Ilta

Doron Lahav is 28 years old guy who lives in Israel. Doron watches Eurovision Song Contest since early 2000s. Doron works as a Data Scientist and also shows interest in singing and writing.

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