This year's UMK contestants revealed – who will be the next Käärijä?

The successor to Käärijä will be chosen to represent Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest at the UMK event on February 10th. This year's seven contestants include second-time-runners Cyan Kicks (pictured) and alternative soul rocker Jesse Markin.

The annual music contest UMK, organized by Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle, has gained popularity in recent years both nationally and internationally – and become quite a spectacle that not only provides participants with the opportunity to compete for a spot in the Eurovision Song Contest but also offers a significant boost in profile.

Following Käärijä's success in Eurovision last year, the upcoming UMK night is anticipated to be grand – and the competitors have now been selected: taking the stage with their brand-new songs are (in order of release date) Cyan Kicks, Sexmane, Sara Siipola, Jesse Markin, Windows95man, Sini Sabotage, and Mikael Gabriel & Nublu. Listen to all of the songs in the updating Spotify playlist embedded under this story.

Finnish rappers take over UMK 2024

Helsinki-based alternative rock foursome Cyan Kicks, known for their blend of heavy rock, pop melodies, and electronic sound elements, is participating the contest for the second time after securing the second place in UMK 2022 with the song "Hurricane." They released their fresh competition track, "Dancing with Demons," on January 11th. Jesse Markin, who rose to prominence in 2019 with his debut album Folk, is considered a veteran in the Finnish hip hop scene – although nowadays he has redefined himself and combines genres and styles in his music. His competition song "Glow" will be released on Jan 16th.

A newcomer of sorts, Windows95man, who emerged from home videos that started to circulate on Youtube world-wide around 2013, is competing with the song "No Rules!” (the multidisciplinary artist, also known as Teemu Keisteri and Ukkeli additionally plays italo disco in the group PEU). Rapper Sexmane (birthname Max Sene – clever, right?) is currently one of Finland's most popular artists – the success of his recent album, Sextape II, was solidified as nearly all of its songs secured positions on the Finnish Top 50 chart following its release – whose song "Mania" will be hitting the airwaves on Jan 12th.

More rappers take the spotlight, as Mikael Gabriel and his Estonian colleague Nublu, both successful artists in their respective countries, release their joint UMK song "Vox Populi" on Jan 19th. Also representing the local hiphop scene, Sini Sabotage gained fame in 2013 with her hit song "Levikset repee", and now makes a notable comeback with her UMK song "Kuori mua", out on January 18th. Lastly, up-and-coming artist Sara Siipola, known for her r&b-tinged pop songs and befitting voice, will release her competition song "Paskana" on Jan 15th.

Finnish artists demand Israel barred from Eurovision

Last year's UMK competition featured Eurovision representative Käärijä, along with Keira, Benjamin, Robin Packalen, Lxandra, Kuumaa, and Portion Boys. In 2022 the acts were The Rasmus, Olivera, Isaac Sene, BESS, Tommi Läntinen, Younghearted, and Cyan Kicks.

The UMK show will take place at Tampere's Nokia Arena on February 10th, and the winner will represent Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö between May 7th and 11th.

Finland's participation in the 2024 Eurovision song contest has also caused a lot of discussion and concern in Finland. More than 1,400 music industry professionals have signed a petition demanding Yle to boycott Eurovision if Israel is allowed to participate in the song contest, which has also been prominently reported abroad. One of the contestants, Jesse Markin has already stated in an Instgram video reel, that he will not participate in Eurovision song contest, if Israel is allowed in the song contest, in case he wins the UMK competition.


2024 UMK contestants

The playlist will be updated as new songs are released between Jan 11th and 19th.