Finland - Aaron Paraiso

The Finnish broadcaster YLE decided to do Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu (UMK) in the same format as in 2018, where an internally selected artist would present 3 songs. Of those 3, one will go on to represent the country in Tel Aviv this May.

On the 29th of January, the well known Finnish DJ Ville Virtanen (stage name ‘Darude’) was announced, along with Finnish singer Sebastian Rejman, as Finland’s representative this year. The songs were to be presented one by one at later dates.

On the 8th of February, the first song ‘Release Me’ was released. The general feedback received was fairly mild. I was hoping for a similarly catchy song like the very one, which brought him to worldwide fame - Sandstorm. This was far from that. Strike one!

On the 15th of February, ‘Superman’ was released. This one was received a bit more enthusiastically than the first, but it was still clearly not a Eurovision winner.

On the 22nd of February, ‘Look Away’ was released. By this time, there were many hoping (including myself) that they were saving the best for last. After much anticipation, Darude revealed a song, which in my opinion, was the best of the three. It still did not feel like a winning song, borderline qualifier at best.

Perhaps my expectations were too high. I don’t think Darude’s fame will help him at all either, since it normally doesn’t in ESC. That being said, an absolutely amazing performance in Tel Aviv could lift the song up to a new level, but it would have to be pretty great to do that.

On the 2nd of March was the UMK final. Darude alongside Sebastian performed their three songs. First up was ‘Release Me’. The stage had some cool light props similar to SuRie in 2018 but there wasn’t much else that stuck out about the performance.

Second up was ‘Superman’. This performance was a bit more interesting as they had people passing around balls of light (hopefully not containing kryptonite) to each other.

Last was ‘Look Away’. This is the song I personally wanted to get through, which is why I was glad they gave it the best performance. There was a very cool prop box with LEDs and a dancer on top with Darude inside. It was a lot more interesting to watch, as there was a lot happening on the back screen as well. It seems as though they themselves wanted this to get through the most.

In the end ’Look Away’ won with every single international jury member and the largest public vote, so it was a landslide win for the song. However Sebastian needs to step up his game as his voice sounds too weak for the song. We will definitely see them both in Tel Aviv, but whether or not they will be performing on the saturday as well is yet to be seen.....