Punk band comprised of members with Down syndrome makes it into Eurovision semi-finals

Last month we told you about PKN (Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat), the punk band who was completing with 17 other bands in order to represent Finland in the semi-finals of the wildly popular (in Europe) Eurovision Song Contest. The band members, who all have Down syndrome (and a few also have autism), use music to raise awareness about Down syndrome and mental disabilities as a whole. PKN were hoping to bring even more awareness to their cause via the massive exposure their entry into the Eurovision contest would provide.

Well, guess what? The band beat out the competition and will be representing Finland in the semi-finals, which is set to take place on May 19 and 21. The finale is scheduled for May 23.

In addition to being the first band with members with Down syndrome to compete in the contest, PKN is also making history by being the first punk band to grace the Eurovision stage.

“Every person with a disability ought to be braver,” singer Kari Aalto told Finnish broadcaster YLE. “He or she should themselves say what they want and do not want.”

Given how far the band has already come in their pioneering campaign for Eurovision victory, the members of PKN have plenty of bravery to spare.

Here is the qualifying performance of the song “Aina mun pitää” from Saturday night, via Consequence of Sound. The song translates to “I Have To” and is about struggling with the mundanities and chores of every day living.

“We don’t want people to vote for us to feel sorry for us, we are not that different from everybody else — just normal guys with a mental handicap,” bassist Sam Helle told The Guardian.

BBC News reported that at 5:1 odds, the band is the third favorite to take home the top honors, placing PKN behind Italy and Estonia’s entrants. However, not all the countries’ entrants have been selected yet. Plus, a win would be a major coup for Finland, since the country frequently finishes last place and hasn’t won since 2006’s bizarre heavy metal entry Lordi, in which the band performed dressed up like monsters.

Still, even if PKN doesn’t win the contest, what the members have accomplished is already remarkable as far as raising awareness to their cause is concerned.

“We are rebelling against society in different ways, but we are not political,” Helle told The Guardian. “We are changing attitudes somewhat, a lot of people are coming to our gigs and we have a lot of fans.”

If you can’t tune in to Europe’s grand Olympics of pop music, it’s not a bad idea to check out the award-winning 2012 documentary on PKN titled “The Punk Syndrome.

[h/t Consequence of Sound]