Finland’s viral Eurovision 2023 star Käärijä has spoken to NME about crashing the Top 10 singles chart with his entry ‘Cha Cha Cha’ – as well as the response to the competition, future plans and finding fans in the likes of Rammstein.
The singer’s track, fusing rap, metal, electronic and schlager music, proved a favourite among Eurovision viewers at the final of the Song Contest last Saturday (May 13) – winning the audience vote and racking up millions of streams online, but ultimately coming second to Sweden’s entry Loreen.
Now, ‘Cha Cha Cha’ has landed at Number Six in the UK singles charts – making it the first Finnish language song to ever land in the Top 10.
“It feels great – I wasn’t expecting that,” Käärijä told NME. “I’m just a stupid Finnish guy who did something crazy and then it went viral. I have to take the time to think about what has happened to me because it’s so huge.”
He continued: “I don’t know how this happened. There have to be some fans out there in the UK. We played a Eurovision pre-party in London and there were a lot of fans who wanted to see me for autographs and photos, but I didn’t know that I had so many out there. I just want to say thank you to everyone who supported me. This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Speaking of the moment when Finland topped the public vote at the competition in Liverpool and inspired some hope that they may win, the artist recalled: “It felt amazing. It was so crazy to see all the people chanting your name and the song – it was unbelievable. All artists have the same rules, and Loreen won and that’s OK. I’m just happy that so many people gave me so many votes and supported me.”
Was he expecting to come out victorious?
“I wasn’t waiting for that,” he replied. “When we made the song and released it the first time, of course we thought we were going to Eurovision to win. We thought we really had a chance. That’s all we wanted to do, but it hasn’t happened and I was sad, but now I’m OK.”
In and around Liverpool and at Eurovision parties across the weekend, many fans were seen aping Käärijä’s trademark style – including one hardcore fan who the BBC even mistook for the artist himself. “I saw that! I’m not sure how real that was, or if it was cheating,” the singer told NME.
OH MY GOD BBC North West Tonight interviewed a Käärijä fan thinking it was HIM pic.twitter.com/FweG13pwoz #Eurovision pic.twitter.com/cUwAEy85rO
— Scott Bryan (@scottygb) May 9, 2023
“It was so weird to see people wearing a homemade green bolero outfit or copying your hairstyle. I’m from Finland and all the way over in Liverpool, and there were people from Greece, Spain and everywhere doing the same.”
Käärijä has even picked up some famous fans since – including members of Rammstein, whom he drew some comparisons to from viewers online across the weekend.
“[British-Norwegian DJ and producer] Alan Walker messaged to say that he loved ‘Cha Cha Cha’ and to ask if I wanted to collab or something. The first time I heard that I was like, ‘Wow’, but then Rammstein’s guitarist showed me some love on Instagram. A friend sent me a screenshot, which was amazing because I’m a huge fan.”
While the win for this year’s victor Loreen marked her second win at the Eurovision Song Contest, Käärijä downplayed the chances of him entering again – instead lending his focus to building on his current momentum and penning some new music.
“I think I’m done with Eurovision. I’ll do it once,” he said. “This year was my chance to win and I won’t get another. I don’t want to be an artist that people only remember for Eurovision.”
He continued: “I have some new songs and demos but don’t know when to put it out yet just because ‘Cha Cha Cha’ is so huge and everyone knows who Käärijä is. I want to put out a new album, maybe next year, but I don’t know when.”
Can we expect any songs like ‘Cha Cha Cha’?
“Some of it is the same style,” he replied. “There’s some guitar music, some hard sound and some strong melodies. I don’t want to have all of my songs like ‘Cha Cha Cha’ because people get tired of the same thing. They want something new, but there will be some of the same elements coming.”
As for the immediate future, Käärijä said he was currently looking at booking a busy schedule of international shows and festivals.
“I have to sit down with my team and figure it out,” he said. There are 70 countries who want to see Käärijä so maybe I need to do some kind of European tour. I want to – I promise.”
What about Glastonbury? “Is it possible?” he laughed.
In other Eurovision news, this week saw winner Loreen announce a UK festival appearance at The Mighty Hoopla Festival in London.