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The History of Finnish Pop Music
by Alex Cosper (5/22/13)

The pop music of Finland has been shaped from traditional Nordic and Karelian folk music. This music also permeated in Russia and Sweden. Many of these early hits were performed with fiddles in a minor key. The accordion was incorporated into the Finnish mainstream during the big band era. A few classic dance rhythms that influenced popular music in Finland were polska and schottosche.

The 1950s American artist Elvis Presley performed in Finland, which helped fuel excitement for rock and roll. Finland became a participant in the Eurovision Song Contest starting in 1961. A few years later the surf craze was felt around the world, even in Finland with a song called "Emma" by The Sounds. Folk music started to spread at that time as well with traditional groups such as Finntrio or protest artists such as Irwin Goodman and Simo Salminen. In 1965 a song called "Letkis" by Rauno Lehtinen gained worldwide attention, putting Finland on the global music map.

Many musical events in America were mirrored in Finland. Following Woodstock, Finland began doing big rock shows starting with Ruisrock in 1970. That same year also marked the launch of Tavastia Club in Helsinki, which becomes a well known center for international shows. By the second year of Ruisrock it drew 100,000 people. A successful progressive rock band of this era was Tasavalian Presidentti, who toured beyond Finland, further raising the nation's musical profile. By the mid 1970s Finland went through a phase of cover songs while reviving traditional styles. There were still progressive artists such as Piirpauke, who merged Karelian music with jazz.

By 1977 punk music began to surface in Finland, as the Ramones visited the country. A string of punk music followed starting with the song "I Really Hate Ya" by Briard. The following year the Sex Pistols were banned from playing in Finland due to their reported obscene public behavior. In 1982 an original member of Briard resurfaces in Hanoi Rocks, who begin their rise from Finland to international success. The band broke up in 1985 a year after their drummer Razzle died in a California car accident. The first Finnish artist to achieve hitting the Billboard 200 album chart was Michael Monroe in 1989. By the early 1990s Raptori began to popularize rap in Finland with the hit "Oi beibi."

One of the most popular native acts of the early 21st century is Kotiteollis, who have won several Emma awards. Other well known artists from Finland include Anssi Kela, Jenni Vartiainen, Nightwish, Poets of the Fall and Soul-Captain Band. The most noted innovators of electronic music from the region have been Jim Tenor and Pan Sonic. Foik music resurfaced in the new century with Joose Kesitalo and Kuusumun Profeeta. Part of the folk movement has emerged a spiritual subgenre called "suomireggae."

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