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'Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu': 10 unmissable gems that didn't win in Finland

08 February 2024 at 14:45 CET
Isaac Sene competed at UMK in 2022 Nelli Kenttä
As broadcaster YLE gets set to hold the 13th edition of 'UMK' in Finland, we take a look back at some of the songs that have made a lasting impression, despite not winning the Finnish song contest.

It started in 2012 and it's taken place every year since then. Now, on Saturday 10 February, the Finnish song contest Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu (or UMK, for short) is back for its 2024 edition, with 7 new songs all geared up to take part.

In recent years, UMK has become bigger than ever; quite literally, in the sense that it has moved from a television studio into an arena setting. And the bar for commercial success is now set to a height at which every song competing can expect to make a high impact on the daily Spotify chart upon its release.

Ahead of UMK 2024, we've already had an instance where all 7 songs occupied the Top 20 in Finland at the same time. And before last year's UMK in 2023, there were no less than 3 of the 7 competing entries that had taken turns in claiming the number 1 position. 

With a track record like that, it's no wonder that some of the non-winners go on to make just as great an impression on the charts and hearts of Finland, as the UMK champions do. And so with that in mind, we're shining a spotlight on just some of musical gems that you might have missed, if you've not been following UMK in recent years. 

KUUMAA - Ylivoimainen

Participating at UMK in 2023 was just the start of this band's achievements throughout the year that followed. This song ended up going to number 1 on Finland's singles chart, with its parent album Hyvikset Ja Pahikset topping the album charts upon its release a few months later.

Both were nominated as Song of the Year and Album of the Year respectively, at the 2023 Emma Awards (the Finnish Grammys), with KUUMAA themselves going one further and picking up the award for Band of the Year. 

That's quite the incentive there, for an artist to take part in future editions!

Saara Aalto - Domino

In 2018, broadcaster YLE was so set on having Saara Aalto finally represent Finland at the Eurovision Song Contest, they held an edition of UMK solely dedicated to the talented singer who at the time had found international fame on the The X Factor in the United Kingdom. 

Saara performed three songs, with viewers at home voting on their favourite. We all got to watch Monsters head to Lisbon and secure Finland a place in the Grand Final, and we reckon its runner-up at UMK that year, Domino, would have done a mighty fine job of representing the Finns at the Contest too.

Satin Circus - Crossroads

UMK was somewhat of a different beast back in 2015, with 18 songs competing across three semi-finals for a chance to earn a slot in the final.

The runner-up once all of that had played out was Crossroads by Satin Circus; boys in a band with a song that was very much in the same vein as the winners of UMK one year earlier in 2014 - Something Better by Softengine, which had given Finland its best result of the decade at the Eurovision Song Contest.  

Erika Vikman - Cicciolina

If the lyric "Tai vuoksein itkis koko Argentiina, Jos on elänyt kuin Cicciolina" hasn't been living rent-free in your head since 2020, then you clearly weren't paying enough attention to UMK that year.

Or perhaps you were just too distracted by the dancing bears. They were very distracting, we'll give you that. 

Isaac Sene - Kuuma Jäbä

Bathed in pink and blue hues, and backed by androgynous dancing bodies with the views of their faces obstructed, Isaac Sene turned UMK 2022 into a PG-rated affair with his performance of Kuuma Jäbä. And clutching one's pearls wasn't even an option, given that he was wearing all of them! 

Two years on from his memorable participation and now Isaac gets to watch his little brother compete for the UMK trophy. Sexmane is in the 2024 lineup with his song MANIA.

Emma - Circle Of Light

In the 63 years since Finland started participating at the Eurovision Song Contest, we've never had a Finnish folk banger represent the Nordic nation. We came close in 2017, however, when Emma's Circle Of Light finished in 3rd place with both the jury vote and the televote. 

In the end it was the Finnish folk ballad that won over the Finnish folk banger, with Norma John's Blackbird now widely regarded as one of UMK's best winners of all time.

Cyan Kicks - Hurricane

In 2022, the band Cyan Kicks competed in UMK with the kind of turbo-charged, high-energy rock music that Finland does so well with at the Eurovision Song Contest.

On the night, Hurricane finished in second place behind another song that's the kind of turbo-charged, high-energy rock music that Finland does so well with at the Eurovision Song Contest - Jezebel by The Rasmus, which got Finland into the Grand Final in Turin. 

BESS - Ram Pam Pam

After its third-place finish at UMK in 2022, Ram Pam Pam went on to break the record for most weeks at number 1 on the Finnish radio airplay chart, was named by Spotify as the most streamed song of the year in Finland, and won an Emma Award (Finnish Grammy) for Song of the Year.

So that's kind of where the bar is set these days. No pressure on our 2024 bunch at all! 

Teflon Brothers x Pandora - I Love You

A performance that started off by placing a UFO inside a microwave could never be anything other than utterly explosive. And so it came to be that I Love You gave us everything from laser shows to pyro canons. Yes, pyro canons. A trinity of them.

In 2021, the song finished in a respectable runner-up position at UMK to Dark Side by Blind Channel, which would go on to give Finland its best result at the Eurovision Song Contest since Lordi's win in 2006. 

Benjamin - Hoida Mut

His playful performance of Hoida Mut at UMK 2023 was so well received, that broadcaster YLE has invited Benjamin back to host UMK in 2024, alongside Pilvi Hämäläinen and Viivi Pumpanen.

Despite being just 26, Benjamin celebrates 10 years as an artist in 2024. Hoida Mut became his latest Top 10 hit on the Finnish singles chart last year.