With a feeling of handing my homework in late, I push on with the last few national finals. This time I look to the Baltic again, where two weeks ago Estonia chose their representative for May’s Eurovision via their pre-selection show “Eesti Laul”.
Believe it or not, Estonia have been present for nearly 20 years of Eurovision, and became the first of the ex-Soviet republics to win the contest in 2001 with the unfavourably remembered “Everybody”. Their 3rd place result when Tallinn hosted the contest the following year rounded off a period of success over the 90s. Since then, qualification has been rare (mostly their own fault), but their periods in the wilderness have been punctuated by well-deserved top 10 finishes in 2009 and 2012.
They will want to keep up the momentum after Ott Lepland’s successful (and handsome) entry last year. Being well-placed, with friends in the ex-Soviet neighbourhood, and their quasi-Scandinavian attitude playing will with the Nordic audiences, they just need the right song. 20 hopefuls filled two semi-finals, with 10 progressing to the final. A 50/50 televote and jury vote decided the top 2, with a very tightly-fought televote deciding the ultimate champ.
Teele & Tuuli & Ula – Ring The Alarm
Oh I like this! Drums, crazy slut outfits, way to make a first impression, Estonia! Dirrrrty pop! I LOVE that “Ring the alaaaaarm” bridge, what a climax.
It’s very current, even if it’s pure Eurotrash. That electro production really is something brilliant. Why did this come 10th? Injustice!! OK this might be a bit rough around the edges, but God knows we’ve seen enough ballads this year.
Are they speaking in tongues for the middle-eight? Just when I thought I’d heard everything! Trash but amazing.
Rolf Roosalu – With U
I love these title card intros! Hmm doesn’t really feel like a laser-show moment does it? Of course lasers improve everything, or at least distract from a pretty average ballad.
He is rather handsome, and sings really nicely. That lighting really is a bizarre addition though, it’s like he’s singing a heartfelt ballad from his futuristic laser prison.
He’s got some nice pure falsetto notes, even if he sounds a bit shaky in places. It’s not a killer melody really, but perfectly nice. WHY THE LASERS? I just can’t get my head around that!
Elina Born – Enough
She looks familiar, was she in Eastenders? Wasn’t entirely expecting that midtempo sort of chorus, I have no idea how to describe it. She’s got a nice voice, even if she seems to struggle to produce much volume outside her normal range.
It’s quite nice, some of the production flourishes sound really interesting. This doesn’t really reach a big payoff though. That chorus is quite catchy, but the melody is just a bit bland. Enough!
Rasmus Rändvee & Facelift Deer – Dance
Facelift Deer? WTF? Oddly all the English-language tracks seems to have come bottom, with this being the highest. It is rather tenuously English, I can’t understand what he’s singing. The fresh-faced frontman seems to have got the girls frothing anyway.
Can’t say I’m getting much out of this, it’s a shouty college band track. At points it’s dangerously tempted to steal the bass hook from “Seven Nation Army”. Not really enjoying this one, sorry!
Põhja-Tallinn – Meil on aega veel
Is that an old ABBA clip out of focus? Oh no, it’s the Estonian version of Bellefire. Never mind. Oh good, someone’s rapping. It must be difficult for a language that’s just an onslaught of vowel sounds!
It has as much effect as a rap-heavy track has on me normally (i.e. politely waiting for it to end). The backing singers have the burden of melody placed on their fair heads, which they nominally manage to bear. They are just an odd bunch though, like they’ve just walked off an 1980s set of Blockbusters. No thanks!
Liisi Koikson & Söörömöö – Üle vee
Speaking of an onslaught of vowels, is it raining umlauts? She’s got a lovely voice, and so pretty! *dies*. For a while I’ll overlook another sub-pat midtempo intro.
OMG she’s so wonderful. The song is a bit of a dud, but her voice is just gorgeous. Is that Elizabeth Banks on backing? The backing singers do a good job of falsetto harmonies and swaying as if their lives depended on it.
It’s all a bit 70s cheesy listening, but bless her heart for brightening my day with her existence.
Kõrsikud – Suuda öelda ei
Don’t like the look of these guys, the have a whiff of Ravaillacz about them. Or maybe just (more) overweight Blues Brothers.
It’s a bit twee, all unexpected falsettos, glockenspiels and gentle acoustic folk music. The lead guy looks a bit smug. It’s a bit of a non-starter, though that chorus is quite pleasant. I can’t tell the Estonian bits from the “la lee loo, la lee laa”. Maybe that means something. Either way, I’m not in a rush to hear this again. This really came 4th?
Winny Puhh – Meiecundimees üks Korsakov läks eile Lätti
Winny Puhh? Seriously?! This ought to be good. WTF is this?Is that a giant penis on drums? So much about this is bizarre – the outfits that look like a cross between burglar disguises and Power Rangers, that’s a good place to start.
Then there’s the song. Is it a song? It’s a relentless surge of noise like a punk subliminal message, with some strobe effects and a shrill chattering lead singer. I honestly don’t know WHAT is going on here. I think the cameraman is having a seizure.
There’s something hypnotically catchy about it, can you imagine the stunned silence in Malmö arena (and around Europe) after this finished? If anything it gets more chaotic and manic for the last leg. JESUS CHRIST, Communism really fucked up Eastern Europe didn’t it?
Grete Paia – Päästke noored hinged
Isn’t that Terese whatsername from Melodifestivalen with her hair up? A piano-based ballad, what’s the betting she’ll stand up for the chorus? Ooh, light-up piano! Ooh, another ill-fitting laser light show!
The first verse passes without much trouble, leaving into a rather unexpected dubstep electro chorus. I can’t hear any piano … stand up! It’s a bit of a lumpy song, trying to cram two types of song into one, and somehow managing to avoid a catchy melody along the way. Maybe her microphone is up too loud, it’s just quite migraine-inducing shouting at times, very monotone.
OK she got up, that’s more like it. Strobe warning! I like where this was going, but something’s just not connecting for me.
Birgit Õigemeel – Et uus saaks alguse
After winning the first part of the final despite coming 2nd in the televote, Birgit heroically managed to win the head-to-head despite it being televote only. I guess this must be a grower. That’s a nice dress, is this going to be a ballad?
Nice hair. She’s certainly got a good voice for it, I like her lower register. It’s a bit of a country chorus isn’t it? It’s got some weight behind it, that’s not bad. I’m waiting for the killer hook though, don’t leave us waiting too long.
That second chorus is an improvement, with the backing singers too. I want more melodrama, I want a money note! She’s really making the language sound gorgeous though.
Hmm, I don’t see this as a big hit, it needs to break through that ceiling and throw in some glory notes, or it’s as forgettable as Belgium last year, rather than bringing the house down like Spain did. Sorry Estonia, I don’t think it’s your year…