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Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu (UMK) 2018 Odds

Which song wins Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu (UMK) 2018?

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Former X Factor finalist Saara Aalto is heading to Eurovision in 2018 – but contrary to rumours, she’s not going to be doing it for the UK. Because Saara – who finished second to Matt Terry in the 2016 X Factor final – will be flying the flag for her native Finland at the contest in Lisbon next May. She revealed the news on her Instagram page, after teasing a big music announcement – amid rumours the BBC had approached her to represent the UK in next year’s pan-continental songfest.

The Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle says it has selected pop star Saara Aalto to be Finland's representative at next year's Eurovision Song Contest in Portugal, and that the Contest for New Music (UMK) will not involve a qualifying competition performers this year. This is the first time that Finland's artist has been chosen through the invitation. Elsewhere in Europe, the procedure is relatively common.

Instead, Aalto will perform three songs composed for her in a televised event in March of next year, according to UMK. "Of these three individual songs the viewers and international juries will get to choose the best one to be performed in the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in May in Lisbon. The selection process will be broadcast live from Espoo Metro Areena on the 3rd of March," the statement reads.

According to UMK producer Anssi Autio, the main goal of changing UMK into a vote about songs rather than a singing contest is to get better results at the actual Eurovision contest.

"We believe strongly that luminous Saara Aalto who is building an international music career is our secret weapon to success. We are putting all our best efforts into having three captivating songs and shows to choose from, with the best one staged in May in Lisbon," UMK producer Anssi Autio said.

Aalto gained domestic fame after placing second in the reality TV singing contest The Voice of Finland in 2012. Twice, in 2011 and 2016, she had participated in the selections to represent Finland at Eurovision but finished second each time.

"I know that this journey is going to be fantastic regardless of the results of the actual competition. I'm of course jumping right in with the attitude that I can win the Eurovision Song Contest – or at least finish in second place! That's something I've been great at, no doubt about it," Aalto jokes.

The artist, born in Oulunsalo (located in the center-north of Finland and twin with Matera) on May 2, 1987, comes from a family of artists of varying degrees. Knowing the spirit of competition environment from the earliest age and the most important of them is the Golden Stag International Song Contest (also known as Cerbul de Aur) in 2004, where she represented her country even without collecting the podium. For knowledge, this Romanian competition also saw two Italian winners: Linda Valori (third in Sanremo 2004) in 2005 and Antonino (ex Amici) in 2009.

Historically Finland has rarely done well at ESC and has only won the longest-running annual international TV song competition once. The monster-costumed metal band Lordi made Eurovision history in 2006 when it became the first hard rock act and the first Finnish entry to win the contest, with its song "Hard Rock Hallelujah".