The media keeps wondering why Norma John an Blackbird failed to qualify for the Eurovision song contest 2017 final. Here and there pops up the idea that YLE should just drop UMK2018 (that is already in the planning with the first submission phase long gone), save the money and get Saara Aalto to do a X Factor UK like staging extravacanza for next year. Luckily no one's taking it with Norma John. They receive praise and consolances unlike for example poor Seija Simola back in 1978 when her until then flourishing and succesful career just died that night in Paris and she never recovered. Today, rumours tell, she's a bit bitter old lady living outside the spotlights in southern corners of Helsinki incognito.
But back to UMK. UMK stands for Uuden musiikin kilpailu aka Contest for new music. Sadly everyone has understood it stands for Contest for new artists. Or at least anyone with an ongoing career to speak of is taking part. Unlike in Sweden taking part in UMK or Eurovision is considered a bit shameful and something anyone should really do. Generally speaking.
Tuomas Kaseva has written for HS an excellent column about all this, Finland's failures must stop, let's copy Sweden, let's hire Robin (here in Finnish).
He points out UMK has provided now six entries, only Krista Siegfrids (2013) and Softengine (2014) have made it to the final. And this blogger asks: Has UMK produced any major hits in its six years of existance? No. Not really even the winners, except those two maybe.
He also points out the positive hulabaloo surrounding Melodifestivalen, it's a party for everybody, massive hit factory and artists are fighting to be part of it. In Finland? As I said, taking part in Eurovision is a bit embarassing and soon dropped from their CVs. And the mere thought of Finland's number one artist taking part in UMK is just out of this world. It's not going to happen with the current status of the things.
This said, everyone is on same line when in Eurovision for the others. You maybe a local superstar but for an average viewer you are on the same line with some random newcomer singing in tv for the first time. But should Finland send Sunrise Avenue, The Rasmus or Saara Aalto, maybe their name could bring a few extra votes? Where as Finns don't produce hits even to the domestic market in UMK, Sweden's Melodifestivalen does just that and the winners are international hits for years to come. Euphoria and Heroes are playing in Finland's bars and summer terrraces even this year.
This year UMK did take a step towards Melodifestivalen: the final acts were staged already for a big arena and ready to be moved to Kyiv, just like Norma John did. But at the same time YLE has promt to comment that some of those acts are impossible to bring to Kyiv as seen in UMK, as it would be too costly....
YLE also fails to promote and create hype around the winner. Raise your hand if you heard or saw Blackbird somewhere between UMK final and ESC previews? Thought so. Nowhere. YLE should actively push the song in every given opportunity, a bit like they do with succesful safe sex summer campagn called Kesäkumi. Those songs are usually top hits of the summer performed by the top names of the moment and top the charts, too.
Or like they promote now the Finland's 100th year song and dance campaign, the song being Robin's Hula hula that you can't miss on television and radio and is creating a real social media and media fuss. Come midsummer, the whole Finland has learned the choreography and will dance to it from south to north flashmob style. What if Hula hula would have been also our Eurovision entry?
I have a dream. It's a Finnish national final with names like Chisu, Robin, Jenni Vartiainen, Sunrise Avenue, Kaija Koo, Janna and other top selling names taking part and fighting for the ticket to Europe. Or if not that at least showcasing their latest single. Throw in some names like Laura Voutilainen, Jari Sillanpää with some random has-been looking for a relaunch and some unknow new fresh names. Like Melodifestivalen. Make it a hit factory. Send our biggest local names to the final.