Helsinki, 26 February 2022

Hyvää iltapäivää, Eurooppa! We’re gearing ourselves up for another National Finals Saturday, but only one country will be picking its entry tonight: Suomi,  popularly known as Finland will host their annual selection show Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu, with a line-up of 7 established acts, one of which will represent the nordic nation in Turin next May.

As you can imagine, we at ESCUnited absolutely want in on reviewing this promising selection before it crowns The Rasmus as its winner (ahem). So without further ado, let’s introduce the reviewers for today and find out what our takes are on UMK 2022.

On today’s panel we find:

  • Boris Meersman, operating on a day-to-day “rant for his life” basis.
  • David Popescu, returning to spew more bile from his dank lair near the river Styx.
  • James Maude, unimpressed by your break-up songs.
  • Roy Postema, livestream squatter and youtube critter.
  • Sean Tarbuck, professional second fiddle.
  • Stefan Resimic, will we be seeing the the “music hater” or “bop lover” side, today.
  • Tyler Griffith, sliding through reviews via a toboggan.
  • William Carter, forever giving the friendly advice you never wanted, but are getting anyway.

As always, the opinions stated in this article belong to the person quoted and do not represent ESCUnited as a whole or the views of the other reviewers. 

If you want to listen to the songs click the banners.

Boris – 7

“The Rasmus are indisputably the biggest name in this line-up which has turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. It has cast the spotlight on them the second they were announced. However, with fame also come expectations and in that regard I find their song somewhat underwhelming. It baffles me that Lauri thought “Jezebel” sounded like A Eurovision Winner, when in reality it sits somewhere between the two Yohio entries from Melfest 2013/14 in terms of quality level. Dated Schlager Metal is not without its charms, and I like the overdramatic descriptive metaphors and washed-up rockstar with a feather in his hair aesthetic, but this offering Plays It Safe, which is a tad disappointing for a band that I know has the potential to deliver more.”

David – 10

“Apparently, these guys are the most well known among the participants… never heard of them myself, so no idea what expectations were. Anyhow… DAMN, this is rock for me! I absolutely love the composition, the instruments absolutely shine for me, easy and crazy catchy lyrics, bruh… I’m blown away here!”

James – 5

“It doesn’t sound like The Rasmus have evolved much as musicians since their mid-oughts heyday. Lyrically, the song is about some woman who stiffed the singer, with the usual cliches about heart breakers, leaving metaphorical scars, the biblical figure referenced in the song’s own title, blah blah blah. This sounds like a revamped B-side to their 2003 hit “In the Shadows,” and given what happened to Finland’s last early oughts superstar who entered Eurovision after his prime, perhaps it’s best if UMK passes The Rasmus by.”

Roy – 6

“They are the big name in this years show and probably the one to beat. The song however, could have been a whole lot better. I feel like they didn’t fully try to write the best song they could and that they hope that their name will be enough to carry them to the win. The song is okay, but some of these lyrics are horrendous. A Killer shark in heels? What? They can do much much better…”

Sean – 10

“It’s always a massive, massive risk for an artist of this stature to join the Eurovision race after some major hits years ago – just ask Darude. (Yes, I loved his song, but it just didn’t quite work out…) Luckily,The Rasmus capture all of the feeling of their early 00s hits that made them a household name, but show the maturity of their experiences in the industry over the years. This has fantastic instrumentation, a driving energy coursing throughout this song and an incredibly catchy quality to it. Plus, I’m expecting a strong live show. Bring The Rasmus back to the limelight, Finland!”

Stefan – 9

“Well it was about time to have them a chance at the Finnish national final. The songs just screams RASMUS and it’s no secret that everyone is keeping their fingers crossed for The Rasmus to win. I’m gonna be honest and I’ll say it’s not my favorite song in this years UMK, but it is without a doubt one of the best ones.”

Tyler – 6

“”Jezebel” seems like a pretty catchy song, and with The Rasmus being as experienced as they are performing, I think this could be a memorable experience. Because that’s what I’ll need to really back this song right now. Sure the song is catchy, but it’s just fine for me right now, and doesn’t have that special oomph to me other than name recognition (apparently). So yeah, I just think “Jezebel” is fine? I don’t get the hype around it, and I think Blind Channel are better than them for me at this point. I want to be wowed here!”

William – 7

“Musically, I might actually prefer this to “Hurricane”. Lyrically, this is much weaker than that Cyan Kicks’ song. Listen, The Rasmus are pros, and there’s zero doubt in my mind that they’re going to give us a hell of a show. This just isn’t that … exciting or fresh. I wouldn’t send this to Eurovision, but it’s not the end of the world if this ends up representing Finland in Turin. It will at least be an incredibly reliable performance. ”

Total: 60/80
Highest: 10 (David, Sean)
Lowest: 5 (James)
Average: 7.5

Boris – 9.5

“At this point I’m hardly phazed by anything absurdly gay, having been hardened in the metaphorical sense by Seann Miley Moore’s body and Basti’s untucked penis, but good heavens ‘Kumma jäbä’ is GAY and came here to PLAY. It is an unapologetically flamboyant masterpiece of pure unfiltered flirtateous disco, featuring literal huffin‘ and puffin‘ and moanin‘ as self-proclaimed ladies’ man Isaac discovers his queer side after running into ~the hottest piece of stud~ at the local night club. I hope they go literal with this staging-wise. It would be INSANE not to.”

David – 5

“I’m quite split here, there are good and bad things, promising beat which then remains and get boring throughout the song, great use of the language so it sounds softer and fitting with the music, yet also loses it’s interest since the music takes over, well produced but very simple in sound. I feel like I wanna enjoy it, but I end up getting bored.”

James – 8

“The song for those who think Michael Ben David’s entry for Israel is too subtle and not gay enough. The bassline running throughout is great and if the same sultry theatrics can be pulled off in the live version as in the music video, Finland could have a cult classic on its hands. However, beyond the bassline and Isaac’s writhing, there’s not too much else going on in this entry, so the staging will have to be spot on as one mistake will doom this entry.”

Roy – 7.5

“Cheeky, danceable and fun! Another great showcase of the Finnish language and a great popsong. My biggest fear is how good this will still be if it is performed live. I fear that a lot of energy and flow will be lost in the live performance. I would love to be proven wrong though and the song would make a great entry for Finland!”

Sean – 8

“The nostalgic synthwave/vaporwave touches in this one really give this a strong 80s and 90s flavour, but boy it works! A mix between electronic elements, retro RnB and futuristic sounds really allow Isaac to flourish, and this would certainly be a very different angle of Finland we don’t normally get to see. For the strength of diversity in genres and unpredictability it’d be great to see the Finns vote through a Finnish-language retro RnB track – and a good one to boot!”

Stefan – 7.5

“Does anyone know how to say “muy caliente” in Finnish? The song is such a BOP and it really does have huge potential being something atypical. Even if this goes to Eurovision it certainly won’t go unnoticed. The thing that would make me like it even more would be if it was in English.”

Tyler – 8.5

“We have no choice but to stan Isaac Sene, sorry, I don’t make the rules! There are some parts in “Kuuma jäbä” though that I can’t wait understand the lyrics because of the mixing, but other than the jarring notes at times, the song is a whole lot of fun and feels parts crazy, sexy, and cool, that I could see this being a hit. I get The Weeknd vibes from this, and I just really enjoy this song! Do I think the genre and presentation may turn off voters? Maybe. But that just means I can enjoy this song more to myself!”

William – 8

“HERE. WE. GO. This is one more in the long line of 2022 national final entries that are sonically stuck in the ‘80s, but who cares? This is a serve. Isaac is a fascinating creature. He’s equal parts Prince, The Weeknd, and Janelle Monáe, with a sprinkling of ‘70s rock androgyny … Yeah, I’m into this. I’d have NO issue seeing this go to Turin”

Total: 62/80
Highest: 9.5 (Boris)
Lowest: 5 (David)
Average: 7.8%

Boris – 6

“After a few listens Olivera dropped to my least favourite of the Finnish hopefuls. Vocally, Olivera is welcoming us to her keychain, ‘cuz she’s got bananies and avacadus. Lyrically, she pelts us with rhetorical questions that induce throbbing headaches. Musically, Olivera feels like the basic stock model you’d see when paging through the “Order Your Sullen Indie Girl Online” catalogue, especially with Cornelia and Markéta bouncing around in Sweden and Iceland respectively, both of which destroy the ever-loving memory of her.  Of course, the sheer idea of picking *that* as your song title just to troll the hell out of the religious nuts is notionally hilarious, but since there’s no resolution or catharis to be found in the song itself, it all rings rather pseudo-intellectual and hollow.”

David – 1

“I can’t enjoy this… I just can’t! This is horribly saddening and depressing. Is this what it means to be an atheist? To just live without a meaning and just be gone like that? I mean… I have issues as well, everyone does, but to have this song playing, just to remind that you’re… what? Completely worthless?”

James – 4

“This entry is in the “wants her cake and eat it, too” camp. She wants a thoughtful discourse on facing death, but she gives it a chorus that is clearly an attempt at trolling the faithful. It comes off as “How do people deal with serious issues, but at least I am not one of those idiots!” It’s a jarring tone, and I don’t think it works unless you’re in a very small subset of intolerable and tedious atheists who come off as strident as the evangelicals they happily deride. And her voice is one that only Satan could love.”

Roy – 3

“The message is dope and I love the wordplay of the title of the song. I do think that it might be a tad too much in your face though. Instrumentally, this song doesn’t really do anything unique and doesn’t necessarily do anything to enhance her voice or the lyrics. Her voice, not for me either. Summing all things up, this is just the weakest song of the bunch and the only one that would probably not do too well at Eurovision.”

Sean – 6

“I wasn’t sure what to expect from the title, but I’m definitely taken by surprise – these lyrics are so touching and powerful, and unusual for a song to address. This builds really well and would blend in seamlessly with the current radio rotations. But is that part of the problem? I’m not sure this stands out well enough from the rest of the music industry at the moment. It’s a decent listen all the same, just not really impactful enough musically for me.”

Stefan – 4

“When I saw the title, I had really high hopes, but then the song got released and my hopes were crushed. There are good ballads, REALLY GOOD ONES and bad ones. This is a bad one. But song itself has some quality. ”

Tyler – 8

“Never would have expected to hear a song about atheism in Eurovision, but here we are! There have been certainly songs even from last year that was religious, so it’s curious to see a song talking about the lack of religion, and I quite enjoy this conversation and think it’s a good one to have. Olivera delivers an almost philosophical performance even if it is a little simple, but I think her voice is unique enough to make me like listening to it anyway. I’m curious to see what the staging is like, and I hope it impresses me a lot more than from just the lyric video.”

William – 8

“Ah yes. The song that has everyone talking. Honestly, how often do the lyrics and thematic content of a Eurovision hopeful kick up so much conversation? Olivera deserves credit right off the bat for submitting a song this rich in metaphor and lush in melody. The lilt in her voice is lovely. I am ALWAYS a little nervous to hear how (mostly) female singers with this kind of vocal ‘affect’ perform live , but I think this whole package could be VERY cool on stage. There’s lots of potential”

Total: 40/80
Highest: 8 (Tyler, William)
Lowest: 1 (David)
Average: 5.0

Boris – 8

“Exclusive footage of Bess coming up with a strategy for her UMK entry:

It certainly was a fun few weeks when Queen Bess blossomed into this UMK’s resident Object of Gay Adoration until she had her flock stolen from under her by Isaac Sene. Regardless, I am very grateful I get to experience ‘Ram Pam Pam‘ either way. More national selections need amusing campy trashbops where the queenly protagonist imitates the sound of a machine gun after declaring she’ll plunder her boyfriend’s bank account for herself. 😇”

David – 6

“I’m honestly not a fan of the Finnish language, I find it rough and rarely interesting. This is one of the cases where I just don’t enjoy the given language to the music. I probably would’ve enjoyed an English version more, I eventually found myself lost listening to this one. Well produced, very professional, great energy and a lot of attitude from the artist, gotta give credit where credit is due… but I think I’d struggle with this eventually.”

James – 9

“Best use of onomatopoeia for 2022 goes to Bess, whose song title refers to differing heart beats of two lovers: one, as played by Bess, being a constrained free spirit who is not in sync with her unadventurous partner. This is camp and trashy, and Bess already has the outfits and the moves ready for Turin. Hopefully she is ace live, as we had a glam rock version of this in Norway this year and it bombed spectacularly in the live version. As all we have is the studio version at the moment, the moment says it’s fun, has a sense of humor, and has a great hook.”

Roy – 9

“I mean, it is doing insanely well in the Finnish charts for a reason..! This is easily the song that stuck with me the longest ever since it came out. It is catchy, memorable and it makes the Finnish language shine so wonderfully! For me, this should easily be the best choice for Finland at Eurovision this year!”

Sean – 7

“Finnish language pop has always felt severely underrated in Eurovision given its relative strength in the industry. Thankfully, Bess is bringing us a very serviceable pop track in a wonderful, unique language so bonus points from me for that! The song itself is not too revolutionary but the crisp production, singable structure and repetition work their usual wonders to give us a solid radio-ready pop track.”

Stefan – 10

“It took me less than a minute to put this song on my main playlist. Opposite the Isaac’s song, this needs to stay in Finnish. And if his song is a BOP, Bess’ is a BOP squared! Huge potential, for both vocal and stage performance. It’s no secret anymore it’s one of my main favourites”

Tyler – 8

“Not quite as infectious as “Cicciolina“, but still quite catchy and a banger that I can shamelessly enjoy, “Ram pam pam” is a very fun song that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to! The performance could crash and burn, but it could also be glorious if they go for the biker punk vibes that leads into an actual rumble on stage. Wouldn’t be mad if this won the selection, and I just think this would be a fun choice for Finland to go with rather than the rock bands they’ve sent in the past.”

William – 6.5

“Bess has lots of attitude, and the song is mostly on her level. It’s a little … familiar? There’s nothing unexpected here, and I personally often need that in songs like this. I’m looking for an extra ingredient, a new twist, a bit of innovation. But a really solid electro pop number is not an easy thing to pull off, so props to Bess and her team for delivering the goods. The staging will need to be spot-on. ”

Total: 63.5/80
Highest: 10 (Stefan)
Lowest: 6 (David)
Average: 7.9

Boris – 9

“I bet James is already foaming at the mouth at yet another meandering break-up song <3. I love this one though. Younghearted really live up to their name, and deliver a lot of heart and freshness to their simple yet effective indie rock ballad. The ethereal rhythms and clear vocals, alongside the tense guitar riffs are a soothing balm on a damaged soul ravaged by horrible selections and evil invasions alike.”

David – 3

“I’m struggling, the song does have a lovely build-up, despite being a bit slow in it. Yet, it’s very hard for me to connect with the Finnish language, I can’t really find a hook in the song, melody hard to remember… I’m honestly left without a proper impression, 3 minutes gone, just like that.”

James – 7

“I don’t normally like this sort of relationship confessional, but this is a more mature (in tone, not age) take that I feel I can get on board with. The staging for this one will be tricky, starting with its intimate acoustic guitar only start to the outro, where our protagonist realizes that the best course of action for her distant ex is to just delete his number from her phone and never call him again. There are some more bombastic choices at this selection, and will be at Eurovision, so a clever staging that tells the female singer’s story in a subtle way is required.”

Roy – 7

“I am not going to lie, this one took me a bit to warm up to. In the end I decided that also this would make a great entry for Finland. My initial issue was that it stayed a bit too long on the same energy-level. I do still stand by that, but I think that they can play with that quite a bit in the live-performance. In the end this is another song where one of the most beautiful languages in Europe gets another amazing showcase and it sounds incredibly nice!”

Sean – 6

“I was hoping for a little more than this one, which just feels a little plodding for its three minute duration. I feel like there is some kind of lyrical content lost on me from this one, which wouldn’t really bode too well when performing to Europe. But hey, there are some bright parts to this, and the final 30 seconds make for a lovely crescendo to a pretty laid-back guitar ballad.”

Stefan – 6.5

“It’s something we all have heard a bunch of times, in movies, TV shows, on the radio… Yes it’s cute, nice and listenable, but we need something bold, especially after Blind Channel. Maybe in couple of years they should try it again. 2022 just isn’t their year”

Tyler – 6.5

“I think I would like “Sun numero” if the song was longer (which I recognized as not possible, don’t @ me!), as the guitar solo at the end feels too late and too short at the end of the song for me to really start digging into it. I like the story and the lyrics behind the song, but the structure of the song feels more unique than the usual Eurovision song format. Which is fine and can work sometimes, but I don’t think it’s served very well here. This song is overall just fine to me and I wish it was longer to flush out more of its ideas and instrumentation.”

William – 5.5

“This is very sweet and gorgeously sung. There’s a lot of production in this studio track, so I’m having a hard time predicting how it will sound live. Could go a lot of different ways. Ultimately, I don’t connect to this song as much as I want to. It’s over the three minute limit and still feels truncated.  I dunno … This song is a wait-and-see for me. ”

Total: 50.5/80
Highest: 9 (Boris)
Lowest: 3 (David)
Average: 6.3

Boris – 6.5

“I struggle with explaining why I’m only lukewarm on Cyan Kicks. Musically there’s nothing wrong with ‘Hurricane’. It’s a  perky little rock track with youthful (but not juvenile) lyrics and fresh charismatic performers, not quite unlike a certain Italian glam rock band. Likewise, I find ‘Hurricane’ to be a little bit jaunty and noisy, too much to my tastes anyway. I won’t downvote them because the song IS good and the live could win me over like Måneskin’s did, but right now I’m not fully feeling it yet.”

David – 8

“There’s a reason why Finland is seen as the home for rock music, here we have a well done and absolutely beautifully produced pop-rock song. This is incredibly well done, but quite soft in the rock category. A drum or an electric guitar solo could’ve been insanely good and spice the instrumental up. I could also see this losing it’s juice and power if heard too often, so the interest is not fully there.”

James – 8

“This alternative rock anthem bridges modernity with the early-oughts effectively, which undercuts a certain UMK rival’s entry by being better than the act that clearly inspired them. And as with modern alternative rock, they effectively meld pop to increase the potential fanbase without alienating too large a chunk of the rock fanbase. For all the pedigree in the songwriting team, this does hit the mark. It may be a little too slick for the Måneskin stans or rockers who like their rock with a little more mess and less gloss.”

Roy – 6

“Initially I was quite hyped for this song, but the longer I listened to it, the more that hype started to diminish.. A friend of mine made a great comparison for the song. If you have ever watched WWE (Yes, I also had a weird period in my youth I guess) you will know that there are different levels of importance for Pay-per-views. This song would be the opening song for a PPV that is of low importance like f.e. Fastlane. After hearing this, I never looked at the song the same anymore. It’s fine, but the selection has better.”

Sean – 7

“Should have come to expect rock songs for Finland’s selection this year given the success of their own in Rotterdam and Italy’s victory, so here’s the first! This is very synth-laden which would normally be a nice mix but this feels like a song stuck between two approaches; either go all out on the heavy metal side or beef up your electronic elements. This feels a little washy between the two, but as Eurovision hopeful tracks go this is definitely alternative enough for me and could be an interesting pop-punk favourite in Turin.”

Stefan – 10

“This was the first UMK song that got published and back then I was like, DDDAAAMMMNNN, if whole UMK is packed with songs like this, we are in treat. I would dare to say this is my main favourite and that it has bigger Eurovision potential than Jezebel. What ever happens I will be listening to this song for years to come…”

Tyler – 6

“”Hurricane” is a bit of a “whatever” kind of song in that it tries to rebel and give the middle finger to the man and all that, but it also feels pretty tame to me at the same time. Like labeling yourselves as heavy metal but then you really aren’t at all. This song doesn’t really go anywhere for me that’s interesting, and seems familiar to stuff I listened to from a decade ago, but that was better back then to me. I think the performance could be a lot of fun though, but based on the studio, I need to see more. There is a decent amount of potential to it though and I could see myself liking it though, so this seems like an appropriate score.”

William – 7

“I love that Finland can always be counted on to have one of these in the mix. What other country is giving us totally credible metal entries? “Hurricane” is maybe a little TOO similar to what Blind Channel was serving last year? But, then again, Finland could do a lot worse than making these types of songs its thing. Cyan Kicks have a ton of energy, and the song is propulsive. Wouldn’t be a bad choice at all, and Finland knows how to work with this material”

Total: 58.5
Highest: 10 (Stefan)
Lowest: 6 (Roy, Tyler)
Average: 7.3

Boris – 7.5

“An aged rocker passing the torch on to the next generation. Should I downvote this because it’s uncompetitive? Eh. Cliché ‘Elämä kantaa mua‘ may be, but that’s precisely what made it so likeable to me. This is to Finnish Rock what Ivo Linna’s ‘Suur loterii’ was to Estonian Schlager: A charming swan song and where the retiring legend is pulling all the tricks from his bag for one final time; this time in the form of a serviceable poprock song with schlager undertones and copious references to his preferred make of motorcycle. It’s cute if nothing else.”

David – 7

“Looks like you’re never too old for rock n’ roll. I might be harsh when it comes to connecting with a Finnish song, but I find it working really well here, having no clue what is said and still feeling like I get it. Of course, this is a bit soft rock, but it’s an enjoyable tune and you can really only respect this effort, far from the strongest, but still great.”

James – 6

“Do people still give a crap about Harley Davidson? The bike or the metaphor of freedom on the road? Sure, you look like a dork cruising Route 66 on a Vespa, but generations after the boomers have figured out ways of traveling and metaphors for individual freedom that don’t involve a giant, burdensome bike that blows out your eardrums. I get the national selections want to invite one of the old guard, but this is not exactly a last tango with dignity with the red dyed hair, leather and dodgy motorcycle references. To see how it’s done, check out Gianni Morandi’s superb “Apri tutte le porte” from Sanremo 2022. It came in third, and from now on will be my gold standard for referencing swan songs.”

Roy – 7.5

“This song is just insanely fun. A veteran act done in the best possible way. Poppy with a rock-edge, an awesome voice, unapologetically fun. Wonderful really!”

Sean – 6

“Another of the older generation of Finnish music legends is in UMK this year, with Tommi bringing bilingual stadium rock to the selection show. It’s all a bit U2 beige in stages, and doesn’t really win any originality awards for me. All being said, this is an enjoyable listen with some angsty vocals and a charismatic performer.”

Stefan – 5

“Yes, he is a legend in Finland and he will attract some target audience. The song may be an ode to his life, but in competition like we have this year, he should be honoured to be selected to participate at UMK. Essentially his song is not bad, it just looks/sounds compared to other six.”

Tyler – 5.5

“”Elämä kantaa mua” is the sort of Dad Rock song that skews even older, possibly to the 65-year-old father back home who actually wants to ride a Harley Davidson motorcycle with a worn leather jacket. Basically what I’m saying is, I think my dad would like this song, and I think that’s fine! To me though, it feels outdated and not something I’d willingly listen to. I have no idea who Tommi Läntinen is, but I also can’t help but think he can put on a show for the older UMK viewers. So good luck!”

William – 5

“OK. Maybe this sounds a little dated. But I love anytime we get a more … seasoned rock ‘n roll voice at one of these national finals. There’s so much character and grit in Tommi’s vocal, and he seems like the kind of entertainer that can only be forged through years of professional experience. I’m looking forward to watching him perform live, even if the song itself is only so-so.”

Total: 49.5
Highest: 7.5 (Boris, Roy)
Lowest: 5 (Stefan, William)
Average: 6.2

The Verdict

  1. BESS“Ram Pam Pam” (79%)
  2. Isaac Sene“Kuuma jäbä” (78%)
  3. The Rasmus“Jezebel” (75%)
  4. Cyan Kicks“Hurricane” (73%)
  5. Younghearted“Sun numero” (63%)
  6. Tommi Läntinen“Elämä kantaa mua” (62%)
  7. Olivera“Thank God I’m an atheist” (50%)

As you can see, our panel liked BESS the most, who wins the poll with a narrow 1.5 point difference over Isaac Sene. Established metal band The Rasmus completes the podium with a respectable score of 75%. With four acts scoring an average above 7 and nobody scoring below a 5, we can conclude that this year’s UMK is pretty good. Let’s see which of them can win it tonight.

Do #YOU agree with our panel? Which act do #YOU can to see in Turin? Let us know in the comments, on social media or on our forum HERE. Alternatively, join the discussion on our Discord HERE

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