Home / News / Estonia / Estonia: Jüri Pootsmann – Play

Estonia: Jüri Pootsmann – Play

In what was a wide open Eesti Laul this year, the Estonia public resisted the staging gimmicks and went with the early favourite, Jüri Pootsmann. Jüri will perform in semi-final 1. The following review has been written by regular commenter, Ben Gray. The Estonian public have continued their long trend of providing us with a selection of contemporary, bold and alternative songs only for them to end up choosing the safest song by popular artists. It's almost hard to believe a country that could give us Eesti Laul is ultimately decided by normal human beings with normal tastes. Third placed Cartoon essentially…
Song Appeal
Vocal Strength
Staging Potential
Likely Televote Appeal
Likely Jury Appeal
Cohesiveness of Package

Game Over

The melancholy, radio-friendly 'Play' may end up with a result that instead straddles the middle of the scoreboard, just like it does the road.

User Rating: 4.19 ( 30 votes)

In what was a wide open Eesti Laul this year, the Estonia public resisted the staging gimmicks and went with the early favourite, Jüri Pootsmann. Jüri will perform in semi-final 1.

The following review has been written by regular commenter, Ben Gray.

The Estonian public have continued their long trend of providing us with a selection of contemporary, bold and alternative songs only for them to end up choosing the safest song by popular artists. It’s almost hard to believe a country that could give us Eesti Laul is ultimately decided by normal human beings with normal tastes.

Third placed Cartoon essentially conned Estonia for votes by dressing the vocally abysmal Kristel Aaslaid in a motion capture suit. Having worked with motion capture tech myself, I can tell you that it couldn’t possibly have been live, and that’s before you notice Kristel’s movements weren’t even in sync towards the end of the performance. Embarassing.

Of course, honorable mention has to go to the mesmerising Mick Pedaja and I Wear* Experiment, who both created a benchmark of musical quality, relevance and artistic value for Eurovision that may not be reached again for quite some time, the latter instead cast away with a paltry 3 points from the public.

Anyway, the long standing market favourite, Jüri Pootsmann, beat Cartoon and Laura, a.k.a. “Estonia’s Cheryl Fernandez-Versini,” in the superfinal to win the golden ticket to Stockholm. Stig Rasta, who represented Estonia in 2015 alongside Elina Born, is the writer here, and it certainly shows. Jüri channels the cool melancholy of ‘Goodbye to Yesterday’ into ‘Play’, which is arguably more instant than its predecessor, but lacks the interest of Stig & Elina’s overall package that was contained within its lyrics and the charismatic performance.

Jüri is a recent winner of ‘Estonia Seeks a Superstar’, their version of ‘Pop Idol’, so his domestic popularity helps to explain his victory in Eesti Laul. His deep and rich voice gives him a distinctive edge, but his stage presence is less Estonian preppy emo and more Christian Grey of Fifty Shades fame. In a year of Eurovision which is exceptionally lacking in exciting entries, Estonia isn’t going to make anyone gag, but neither will Jüri be whipping the competition.

As a song, ‘Play’ has a distinctive flavour and is easy and familiar enough for juries and the wider public to get into. It should therefore not have too much trouble qualifying from the semi final. But, in the final, Estonia face a problem of turning off televoters with blood-red stage graphics featuring Jüri looking at you like a serial killer. It makes Iceland’s smoke and ravens seem soft and eerie in comparison.

Scary themes turning off televoters has precedent in Hungary’s 2014 entry, ‘Running’ by Andras-Kallay Saunders, who could only manage 10th place with the public compared to a lofty 4th with the juries. Granted, Jüri isn’t singing about domestic abuse, ‘Play’ is a song about taking a chance on love, which seems bizarrely unfitting with the rest of the package. In the world of Eurovision betting, we often talk about the disadvantage of scary, aggressive women with angry songs in Eurovision. This was defied by Nina Sublatti last year, who, instead of softening up, portrayed herself as a gothic feminist heroine. It’s going to be interesting to see if Jüri can show us whether appearing villainous can hinder male performers as well.

In conclusion, since the inauguration of Eesti Laul, Estonia’s contributions to Eurovision have either sunk or swam. The melancholy, radio-friendly ‘Play’ may end up with a result that instead straddles the middle of the scoreboard, just like it does the road.

Can Estonia qualify this year?

Make sure you follow the ESCtips FaceBook & Twitter accounts!

About Gavster

ESCtips Owner   I’m a qualified designer and dedicate a lot of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.

17 comments

  1. I like this very much. The obvious problems are the second verse and the dark staging, but qualifying is not a problem with the second half draw imo.
    Top 10 is the ceiling in the final though.

  2. Once again the two safest songs finished first and second as expected in an Eesti Laul.Laura must be wondering how she could come second to a undertakers apprentice,always the bridesmaid Laura.
    At ESC this might come across as far too cold.They are trying for a retro look,but im not sure that will engage the televoters.A good team though so they might be able to make it work.

  3. Love this! And we shouldn’t judge staging too much, “Goodbye to Yesterday” looked awful in the NF performance and had a magnificent transformation at Eurovision. I’m sure they will come up with something good.

  4. The song itself is very good, but his performance and the staging is far too intense for what is supposed to be a happy love song, it might just put voters off. Juries will like it though.

  5. I quite like this. With the right staging I think it could do well.

  6. Absolutely stunning this entry. For the most part because it is already quite an impactful total package:

    –> The Adele-like soul ballad is reminiscent of ‘Hello’ and ‘Skyfall’. A bit dark yes, but also helped by a soulful and unforgettable melody. Moreover, the build-up is great.
    –> The instrumentals are truly wonderful. As if producer Paul Epworth himself mixed the song. The bells, the orchestration: Impactful.
    –> The singer, Jüri Pootsmann, is charismatic and totally suitable for this particular song. He has a nice deep and emotional voice and with a Tom Jones-like attitude this young kiddo knows to find the camera.
    –> The staging is actually quite finished on here I think. They decided to capture Jüri on camera like Julio Iglesias: half ‘en face’, half ‘en cire’, with spotlights fully litting the right side of his face. It suits the song.
    –> The LED-visuals have a bit of a James Bond main titles look to it.

    I think ‘Stay’ will do better than many people think in here. Already a quite impactful total package. TOP 10 candidate for sure.

    Do not forget that the best songs in the mix are mostly from male solo artsist. Latvia, France, Russia IMO are the real contenders. And if you add Sweden’s Frans to this mix, then we could get quite an interesting competition.

  7. Great review Ben.Im glad you highlight how EL seems to work every time.Really edgy,risky,quality songs that get turned over, and in the super final popular artists with safe entries win. Jüri and Laura were favourites as soon as they entered because of this.Follow the TV show Laula mu Laulu and you will pretty much know who those artists are.They changed from a 2 super final to a 3 to try to dilute this a bit.A shame half the EL field couldnt represent other countries this year.

  8. I don’t think Estonia, Hungary and Netherlands can all qualify. There are large differences obviously but I think they’re on similar ground overall. Given the second half draw, Estonia should manage it, however I don’t think it will do great in the final. The guy has a good voice but the song doesn’t really show it off enough to do well with juries whilst the staging isn’t great and does have a dark feel which doesn’t fit with the tempo of the song in my view and it is quite forgettable overall. 15th- 19th in the final I’ll guess.

  9. Great review. I enjoyed reading and i agree with everything you wrote.

  10. Our dear Gavster talked about the darkness of the staging and Jüri looked like a serial killer. I find those remarks a bit over the top to be honest. Some recent TOP 10-ers were equally criticised by Gavster. Think about the clinical empty staging of Norway last year or Stig’s rather tepid and tired looks. Despite some problems with either the televote or the jury’s, one has to look at the potential final 50/50-result (50% televote and 50% jury). And looking at that, both Estonia and Norway had absolutely no problems entering the TOP 10. Despite a very insanely crowded 1st half running order draw, full of potential succesful entries.

    Some other ‘darker’ examples of Eurovision entries that I found rather easy-to-predict for a (lower) spot in the TOP 10 were: France 2009, Ukraine 2010, Germany 2011, Italy 2012, Hungary 2013, Netherlands 2013, Norway 2014. And indeed also Norway 2015 and Estonia 2015 belong to that list.

    My advice to Jüri: Keep the staging like it is. Yes, it’s rather dark and moody. But so were the main title sequences from the recent James Bond films (Adèle’s ‘Skyfall’). And people loved it. They told a story. And to me Jüri also tells a similar story that makes the total package work. On top of that -and I haven’t heard some comments about that- the song itself is entirely ‘2016’. It’s the music of now. It’s instant, cinematic and totally trendy. One can’t say that of Russia this year (Although they will score another TOP 5).

    Estonia for me is a certified qualifier at this stage, and a TOP 10 score is entirely realistic.

  11. Ah no? I thought you were writing these reviews @Gavster :-). Sorry then. Curious what you think of my comments. Would love the British to send something like that to Eurovision.

    • I’m not very patriotic at Eurovision, so my reviews are based on impartial judgement, which is why I can make money from betting on the event. Things can change at rehearsals and I’m often the first to admit a change of mind.

  12. My comments weren’t intended for the sake of patriotism. With the many examples I mentioned, I do not really understand that remark. Solely talking about Estonia I think it has a better chance to do well at Eurovision than you wrote down in your review.

    I agree though that the final rehearsals can change though. But usually some of the more streamlined National Finals, like Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, Melodifestivalen and Eesti Laul more or less use (parts) of their staging concepts fot the Eurovision Contest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close
Show Us Some Love ♡
Please Like & Follow ESCtips.com
Social PopUP by SumoMe