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Estonia: Eesti Laul Semi Final 1 Preview

Eesti Laul has kicked off slightly earlier than in previous years, but Estonian broadcaster, ERR, took the opportunity to publish all songs for the first of two semi-finals. Semi 1 will take place on February 11th.

Estonia has once again put together a good, varied mix of contemporary and classic songs. Here’s my thoughts on the high and low points:

Ariadne gives us a delicate electronic pop song that doesn’t reach the places it needs to to compete at the sharp end of this contest. Nice, but could be forgotten. Carl continues that theme with a decent, chartable Maroon 5 sounding song, but it lacks that all important distinctiveness to hit home.

Elina Born returns with another Stig Rasta song. In or Out is catchy with its Avicci country elements and muted trumpet flourishes (or are they Sax?). It’s stylish, sophisticated  and should feature in the top-5.

Karl-Kristjan’s Have You Now is the most relevant and on-point song in the selection and seems to borrow inspiration from The Chainsmokers, a worldwide no.1 and multi-platinum hit. Laura Pitts also tries to capture the young crowd, but Hey Kiddo falls desperately short. Likewise, Leemet Onno promises a Hurricane, but barely causes a few leaves to rustle – this Americana sound should appeal, though.

Lenna Kuurmaa’s Slingshot has a great warm chorus that wouldn’t sound out of place in a 1980s boy meets girl teen flick. Some of the lyrics are a tad cliche, but the uplifting cheesy feel should see it progress to the final. Staying with cheese, a national selection wouldn’t be the same without a generic dance song. Uku might look like he’s Estonia’s answer to Brad Pitt, but he’s given us the music equivalent to Steven Seagal.

Who’s your favourite in semi-final 1?

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About Gavster

Owner & Chief Editor   I’m a qualified designer and the official geek in the crew, dedicating most of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.


  1. Eesti Rahvusringhääling have put a lot of effort in this year and its showing,so well done to them and i hope they stick to the format going forward.
    Semi 2 has a lot of big names,but a few here have thrown down the challenge to them.Ariadne has a lovely little song.The problem is her lack of experience could add to the going down the memory hole Gav mentions.Carl is also very inexperienced,and that could be telling.
    The two that interest me the most are Elina and Lenna.Elina’s song suffers from a few problems,the sax (or trumpet) seems cheap,and the refrain goes on forever without a big climax.That can be overcome though live as Elina is a superb singer and there is good staging potential.
    Lenna is a quality artist who went off my radar this year a bit.However she has somehow brought what is an old style ballad underneath and made it quite contemporary.Lenna tends to sing with a band on stage and doesnt push the boat out on styling.That would be a big mistake here.If she stages Slingshot alone with intimate cameras through the verses giving way to colour and light and pull away shots during the strong chorus i could see her winning the jury in this semi (or going close).Get that staging right and depending on how strong semi 2 really is,the last three super final might be just in reach.
    Looking forward to see what semi 2 has to offer,and the big names in there.

  2. I thought Uku was marginally better than is given dues for in this preview, it brought Clean Bandit to mind a bit for me, but I can see what you mean in that it’s not breaking any new ground. I spotted the Chainsmokers inspiration in Karl Kristjan et al’s song too but I feel like it’s switching itself around a bit too much and isn’t easy enough on the ears to do as well as Gav thinks. See how it goes though.

    Disappointed with Lenna and Elina, both rather uninspired tracks IMO. Leemet Onno looks and sounds like Paradise Oskar and Olly Murs musical lovechild. Double bass, suspenders and trilby hats come to mind and I think this is distinctive enough to challenge for the ticket to Kyiv, but I’ve got my eye on someone in the second semi-final.

    • Kerli Ben?,She isnt very popular inside Estonia so to be fair to her she will need the best song to win,as it should be.The key for me is what Koit Toome & Laura have.A safe Romeo and Juliet might beat Kerli in the superfinal even if she got there if the public go for the safe conservative act like they usually do,even if they throw in Laura on a balcony.The make up of the superfinal is as ever crucial and the jury might have to keep Koit and Laura out (if the song doesnt deserve it) to stop them winning.
      Im also interested in seeing what Liis Lemsalu has.She is getting a good team around her and her last single did very well.Hard EL for her this though with so many strong female vocals.
      I do think Lenna or Elina could make the superfinal yet.Tough year indeed,but very interesting.

      • Semi 2, Koit and Laura have a shocker of a song,really poor,im surprised they dare enter such rubbish.One super final place open for someone else as the jury should destroy them, even if the televote is deaf.

  3. This is a strong semi – with 7 of the 10 songs having some prospect of qualifying for the national final and going to Eurovision.

    After a couple of hearings of each song (without looking at anyone else’s comments), like you Gav, I thought Have You Now was the best of the bunch. It feels modern and chart friendly. It also lends itself to Eurovision staging – think a more contemporary, credible and less cheesy version of Monika and Vaidus (Lithuania 2015). Problem is the band has two guys and in the staging it may look like the second guy is playing gooseberry.

    Ariadne is the other most contemporary sounding track. It is really good, but may just be a bit monotone for Eurovision.

    The safe choice in this line up is Lenna Kuurmaa. Her song ticks all the Eurovision boxes. If anything the chorus slightly lets it down. ‘We’re in a slingshot’ sounds a rather contrived lyric, a bit like ‘I’ll be your Icebreaker, Lighthouse etc’. If ‘Slingshot’ qualifies for Eurovision along with Finland’s ‘Arrows’ it will be a commentators dream.

    For me, the other stand out song is Carl-Phillip’s Everything But You. Yes it’s boyband but boyband done well – Ireland and Denmark take note.

    Hurricane has artistic merit, while Supernatural is good but dated. For me Elina Bjorn’s song was a bit of a disappointment but with her name and the Stig Rasta connection it can’t be ruled out.

    In such a strong, relatively even field, staging, performance and vocal are going to be everything. At this early stage Eesti Laul is much harder to call than say the Swiss or Finnish national finals.

  4. So Koit and Laura evidently don’t have the support of the jury in tonight’s semi final. Can’t say I’m surprised really.

  5. http://etv.err.ee/v/meelelahutus/eesti_laul/videod/dc855652-64e9-4bc6-9b88-d86c047bbcec/2-poolfinaal-kerli-spirit-animal

    Kerli’s as polarising as expected. Really dunno what to think of this, the juries loved it and it should be respected. But a contender if chosen? Maybe too much glitter? 🙂

  6. As expected,jury go for Kerli and Laura goes through anyway by probably winning the televote.I actually thought both struggled tonight and were poor in that studio.Kerli will make the super final through the jury,Laura has a harder job as the numbers might fall wrong for her if the jury mark her bottom 4,the door is open for someone else yet.I was glad Liis made the final,about time.If there is a shock to reach the super final it might be Ariadne,she has strong televote support.Poor EL really,nothing that will do much at ESC.

  7. Managed to lay a load of Estonia at 20.0 throughout the week. I think that Kerli is massively overrated, it isn’t a patch on the likes of I Feed You My Love and Love Injected etc., plus I don’t find her very voteable.

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