Earlier this year, the punk rock band Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät, or PKN, represented Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest, making it all the way to the semi-final before getting knocked out. What makes this band’s ascent to nearly-claiming Europe’s top song-writing prize so remarkable is the fact that all four members of the group are developmentally disabled.
Essentially, PKN is the punkest band in existence.
PKN formed in a charity workshop for adults with developmental disabilities in 2004 and eventually debuted in 2009. The band’s song “Kallioon!” was featured in the 2009 film Vähän Kunnioitusta which gave them a great deal of national exposure.
As their fame grew, they became the subject of the 2012 documentary The Punk Syndrome. Their continued success led to them entering and winning Finland’s national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest. Their entry, initially to raise awareness for people with Down syndrome, sent them as their country’s representative to Eurovision. Incidentally, they were also the first punk band to compete in the Eurovision contest.
The band is so beloved that Posti, Finland’s postal service, issued a PKN postage stamp in May.
The band’s album Best of Greatest Hits is available as an MP3 download.
Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät embodies everything I’ve ever loved about punk rock, from being a voice for the socially rejected, to the indictment of virtuosity as a prerequisite for making powerful music, to the overall “fuck you, I’m me, deal with it, have fun or get lost” spirit—this band is truly transcendent, and their groundbreaking success gives us all a little bit more hope for humanity.
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