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UMK 2021 Odds Review

We now have all seven songs in this year’s Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu and it’s time for a little review of the betting market for what might be one of the season’s most anticipated National Finals.

I’m ruling out former Estonian representative Laura and Ilta from contention. While Ilta’s song is especially poignantly written I don’t see the wider appeal needed to take the crown.

The early money piled into Blind Channel, matching at short as 1.3 and pushing Finland temporarily to be shortest priced to win Eurovision 2021. Both are ambitious calls - this is one top drawer 2000s slice of rock music, and Finland is amenable to sending that in Eurovision, but that’s not enough for it to be so far ahead of the competition here. There’s a couple of reasons for doubt. A jury is involved in this show, albeit down from 50% to 25% this year, and there are more sincere songs in the show that may push this one down into mid-table in that part of the vote. Secondly, with the pandemic still raging more viewers will be watching and voting, meaning Blind Channel can’t rely on just getting their core vote out.

Betsson is offering 1.75 as best odds currently. This seems fair given what has been placed already, but that move was too strong.

I also note that YouTube and Spotify charts are dominated by Teflon Brothers x Pandora with the song I Love You. I worry about this in the same way as the above in terms of the jury vote - is it just too much of a throwaway bit of fun? The banal lyrics in Pandora’s chorus don’t help with that, and I question if adding a Swedish artist from a generation ago adds to any appeal. That said, the 2021 season does mean that many viewers are looking for fun, and this is the only bit of escapism in this show.

The 5.5 on offer with CoolBet is therefore very fair.

The rest of the selection is particularly melancholy, with three male ballads in the mix. Oskr’s Lie is a great song and should be getting more love, yet on streaming and YouTube seems to be at the back of the pack, and as a character he doesn’t seem to have the story to match the other two balladers who will get the focus of the media attention, so he may unfairly drift. If he does drift beyond 13s (from CoolBet), it might be worth a small outside bet.

I’m going to take Danny first. The 78 year old’s song, almost poetry, about his wishes for his funeral hits hard after the year we’ve had - and I have no reservations about saying this is my favourite song of the entire 2021 season so far, so sorry for the bias. Danny has been described by Finnish friends of mine as the Tom Jones of the country, and has tried and failed to get to Eurovision many times prior. His song is written by the same writer behind Cicciolina and the lyrics are as on point as that entry was last year. Danny did date Erika Vikman until last year (yes, that’s a 50 year age gap), and the blessing/curse of this is a tabloid obsession with his love life. Considering the song’s anti-commercial appeal, the stats for YouTube and Spotify are high, but the like/dislike ratio suggests this may be out of curiosity rather than voting potential.

The weird thing though is that with this year's songs having a generally sad theme throughout, perhaps something that digs that theme deeper may have a home where otherwise it might have felt strange - the mood is normalised by other songs in the competition. Weirdly, despite the deep Finnish language lyrics, I see more support for this from outside Finland than inside, and perhaps Danny’s tabloid history just stops the telephone numbers from being dialled.

30s are available on Danny as an outsider, but I wouldn’t sleep on YLE giving space and for Danny to dominate the media in the run up. This song needs the full story to be told, and it may get a chance to sink in.

I finally highlight Aksel, the winner of UMK last year, and with that there’s the possibility of the public feeling compelled to send him to be in Eurovision again. Hurt is better than Looking Back, giving more space for Aksel’s quiet tones and contemplation to stand out.

The song has the same issue as Looking Back did last year without a kick, either up or down in energy, to make the last minute end on a moment. But it will be interesting to see if he can comfortably win the jury again, and stutters enough televotes to be in the mix. Of the returning artists from Eurovision 2020 in national finals he is the one with the least loyal support and push to return to the contest, but he cannot be ruled out in this crazy year.

Given that, 6.25 at CoolBet might be worth covering, just in case YLE hit a tear-jerker of a postcard out.

This is a fascinating National Final with plenty of potential for an upset. Blind Channel might be a deserving favourite but the fun of Teflon Brothers, the sympathy vote of Aksel, or the sincerity and wit from Danny all have a chance to knock on the door. I think this national final is more wide open than the early odds suggest.

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