In the spotlight: Aksel
In the spotlight: Aksel Photo: Mona Salminen

In the spotlight: Aksel

With his song, 'Looking Back', Aksel was chosen to represent Finland in 2020. In light of the unfortunate cancellation of the 65th Eurovision Song Contest, we wish to highlight the impressive acts that were set to appear. This is 'In the spotlight', our feature honouring the artists that would have made up this year's edition of the world's largest live music event.

The Finnish public and an international jury chose Aksel in the final of UMK, Finland’s national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest 2020. People living in Finland were able to vote for their favourite entrant via televoting or through Finnish broadcaster YLE’s website.

Aksel amassed the highest number of jury points (73) and the most public votes with an overall total of 170. He competed against 5 other contestants: Catharina Zühlke, Erika Vikman, F3M, Sansa and Tika.

Who is Aksel?

"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?" As demonstrated in his quote, 22-year-old Aksel doesn’t allow his shyness to prevent him from performing in front of an audience and encourages others to do the same.

Aksel took part in The Voice of Finland in 2017 and was featured in the prize-winning megahit Jättiläinen (Giant) of Finnish artist, Pyhimys. In his spare time, Aksel enjoys listening to vinyl records and spending time with his dog Topi – to whom he also sings.

Finland's Eurovision 2020 representative AkselMona Salminen

READ MORE: Aksel's participant profile

Aksel wants to encourage people to seize the day with Finland’s song choice, Looking Back. He asks: "We set all kinds of milestones for our lives. Are they actually of any value, and does achieving them really make us happy?”

The sensitive song - that explores world-weariness, love and the feeling of inadequacy- is a result of the 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, who is also Finnish, has composed music for stars like Alma, Vesala, Julie Bergan and Isac Elliot, while Whitney Phillips has written songs for international artists, including Christina Aguilera and Zara Larsson.

Finland's Eurovision 2020 representative AkselMona Salminen

Aksel describes himself as "a singer, a giant, and everything in-between" in his Instagram biography. On a recent post, he advised his audience to check out the Eurovision Home Concerts on YouTube, where he performed an acoustic version of Looking Back, as well as a cover of Fairytale by Alexander Rybak, in Episode 2.

You can follow Aksel on the following social media platforms:

LISTEN: Stream Looking Back and other Eurovision 2020 songs on Spotify

Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest

Finland’s first entry in the Eurovision Song Contest was in 1961 with the song Valoa Ikkunassa, performed by Laila Kinnunen. In 2006, not only was it their first time in the top 5, but also their first (and only time) winning with the song, Hard Rock Hallelujah, performed by Lordi.

After Lordi's win, the country was so ecstatic that thousands of people gathered in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, honking car horns, waving flags and singing Lordi's song. The Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat proclaimed: "It's official: Hell has frozen over. Finland has won".

READ MORE: Finland's country page

Darude, alongside singer Sebastian Rejman, competed for Finland with the song, Look Away, in the Eurovision Song Contest 2019. They finished in 17th place in the First Semi-Final with 23 points.

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