Aksel and his beautiful voice first came to the attention of the country when he took part in The Voice of Finland in 2017 and was subsequently featured in the award-winning local megahit Jättiläinen (Giant), by the Finnish artist Pyhimys.
22-year-old Aksel Kankaanranta is determined to show that being shy shouldn’t prevent you from performing in front of an audience. "People ask me why I want to appear in front of an audience of a million even though I’m shy. Why should that be a problem?" In his free time, Aksel listens to vinyl records and spends time with his dog Topi – to whom he also sings.
Aksel’s entry, Looking Back, is a song about world-weariness, love and the feeling of inadequacy. "We set all kinds of milestones for our lives. Are they actually of any value, and does achieving them really make us happy? I want to make people understand that they should seize the day," Aksel says, describing the song.
Looking Back is the result of a collaboration between Joonas Angeria and Whitney Phillips, as well as brothers Connor, Toby and Riley McDonough, who are behind the American pop-rock band, Before You Exit. Angeria, from Finland, has composed music for Finnish and international stars like Alma, Vesala, Julie Bergan and Isac Elliot. Whitney Phillips has written songs for Christina Aguilera and Zara Larsson, among other artists.
The Finnish public and an international jury chose Aksel in the final of UMK on 7 March 2020.