For reasons that elude me, the punk rock era seemed to pass me by. My sons who are far more in tune with the music scene that I have ever been would probably suggest that most music post around 1975 has escaped my attention. Whilst I wouldn’t totally agree with this assertion, I suspect that it has more than an element of truth.
Last night on the television news, punk rock, which I had thought confined to the annuls of history, once again gained a small position of prominence, and this time I must say I did take some notice. Listening to the music I can’t say that I was tempted to rush out and order a copy of what I was hearing, but I was interested in the band giving the performance.
Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät are a four piece band from Finland. Their members Kari Aalto (vocals), Sami Helle (bass), Pertti Kurikka (guitar) and Toni Välitalo (drums) met through an organisation called Lyhty based in Helsinki and first gained attention when their song Kallioon! was featured in the Finnish film Vahan Kunnioitusta (Gimme Some Respect), about a girl with learning disabilities and her efforts to lead an independent life.This year the band was selected to represent Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Aina Mun Pitää, (I Always Have To).
What makes this band unique in the history of this competition is that all four of the musicians have learning disabilities and came together through a club that makes provision for young people with special educational needs. The band has been together for a number of years and have played venues all over Finland and also in the USA, Canada, Germany and the UK. They have achieved a popularity in their home country and have now had considerable publicity around the globe.
I had never hear of Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät (usually just referred to as PKN) before watching the television news yesterday evening, and as I say, having heard them perform I cannot pretend to understand their music, but there was one aspect of the news item that I found very interesting. A number of people “on the street” in Helsinki were interviewed and asked about the band. In particular they were questioned about whether the band’s rise to prominence was justified by their performance, or if they were simply a curiosity because of the musician’s learning disabilities. Without exception, those interviewed were affronted at this suggestion, stating that the band was original, talented and entertaining to watch. Aficionados of punk music declare that this band have something to say and should be heard. Let’s hope that they have an opportunity to reach a wider audience.
In order to represent Finland in this annual musical extravaganza Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät had to gain the majority of votes from the Finnish public In doing so they defeated a number of well established and popular musicians. It would appear that the Finnish nation has got behind this group and have high hopes for their future. This punk band have defied the odds and become part of the establishment.
Whether or not the band succeeds at the Eurovision song contest, it would appear that they have gained the respect of a wider public for their performance and talent. What they have done is simply seen as “mainstream” (can that term be used in relation to punk rock?) Personally, If I want to relax to some Finnish music I am still likely to reach for Sibelius or Leif Segerstam, but perhaps these musicians are forging a path for others by having the confidence, the ability and the support to be able to demonstrate their talents to a wider audience.
You can watch Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät below (still not my kind of music – I must be getting old!)