Kerkko Koskinen (born January 7, 1973, in Espoo, Finland) is a reluctant star of Finnish popular music. He was the bandleader, songwriter, pianist and key founding member of the popular band, Ultra Bra, before embarking on his solo career.
Ultra Bra was formed in 1994 in order to perform in a song contest sponsored by the Democratic Youth Union of Finland. Initially considered a lark by student-intellectuals, the band decided to continue making music after winning the competition. Their first EP, Houkutusten kiihottava maku ("The Exciting Flavor of Temptations"), was released in 1995 and, soon after, the band was signed by the major Johanna label. Their first album, Vapaaherran elämää ("Life of a Free Lord"), was released in 1996 and was selected the album of the year by at least one influential music magazine. Koskinen composed all the songs and performed on keyboards. Their second album sold in triple-platinum figures, and the third and fourth followed suit. The group disbanded at the height of its popularity in 2001, and Koskinen began his solo career the following year, almost simultaneously to Scandinavian Music Group, which was formed by four other members of Ultra Bra.
His 2002 debut album, Rakkaus viiltää ("Love cuts"), featured a group of likeminded stars and was promptly bought by fans looking for more of the Ultra Bra sound. Koskinen had flirted with soundtrack composition earlier, but plunged into it headfirst soon after the first album was released. He won the Finnish "Oscar" equivalent in 2003, the Jussi-Award, for best original song for the film "Nousukausi." His sophomore album, Lolita, followed in 2005 to middling reviews and lukewarm sales. Musically it remained interesting, if not masterful, but merging the classic poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca and others with an eighties pop sound was perhaps ill advised. Koskinen has never been revered for his vocal talents, so his third album, Agatha (2007), which he composed and arranged for the UMO Jazz Orchestra, was as such perhaps the best move Koskinen could have made. Inspired by the writings of Agatha Christie, it was an entertaining, if somewhat derivative, slide into the spy-jazz circles inhabited by such masters as Lalo Schifrin and Henry Mancini. ~ JT Lindroos