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Estonia: Eesti Laul Semi Final 2 Preview

The second semifinalists’ songs were presented today with equally high expectations given the names in the lineup. Fortunately those expectations were met meaning there’s a potential Eesti Laul winner in each semi-final.

RasmusThis Love is a ballsy blues/pop song with some cracking layers in the arrangement – loving those dirty bass stabs here. The problem, however, is that there’s too much on offer; there is no obvious hook or take away moment. The song also peaks way too soon leaving the last minute feeling rather long. Staging will be the key here, if Rasmus brings plenty energy and confidence to the live performance then he could be in with a shot.

We Ride With Our Flow is nice, but Angeelia’s song doesn’t really go anywhere. Likewise for the likes of Daniel LeviAlmost Natural and Liis Lemsalu, though to lesser degrees. Koit Toome & Laura’s Verona does at least stand out as something that could make the journey to ESC. Both Alvistar Funk Association and Antsud have been placed on the unsuitable pile. As has Close To Infinity, which has a sort of niche Siren appeal but with a more grating American frat boy confidence and douchiness, owing to Ian Karell hailing from Pennsylvania.

The initial reaction to Kerli’s song was to burn it with fire, but I’ve grown to love it. It’s like a more stompy, electronic Only Teardrops-cum-Rainmaker during the chorus. The Eastern influenced production is fantastic with the sophisticated Chinese Erhu flourishes against those futuristic synth pulses. The Gaga-worthy chorus has the potential to explode on stage, so on that basis it has to be respected.

Who’s your favourite from semi-final 2?

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38 comments

  1. The mostly likely 1,2,3 for me in this semi is Kerli,Liis and Daniel if we assume the jury vote Koit and Laura down to dilute their strong televote (as they should for such a poor entry).Rasmus almost had a great song,but it didnt quite make it.
    We might end up with the old Estonia classic super final.Someone different In Kerli up against safe middle of the road Elina or Lenna.History says the safe act wins,but could this year change it?.I expected a strong EL this year given the acts and effort put in,but it has lost its soul a bit.

  2. Kerli’s always been the one I had my eye on in the line-up, not just the semi-final. While DurhamBorn has claimed her popularity within Estonia isn’t enormous, Kerli has a strong international fan base and a long-standing partnership with Visit Estonia as well. Her entry is typical of her latest releases but I think I might have preferred her to enter Feral Hearts, which has more light and shade to it – but let’s see what happens.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qx4bBuD2TX8

    You can’t tell much by the song alone as Kerli is a very visual artist and a solid live vocalist – she’s one of those gothy new age occulty types of girls and takes herself quite seriously… Wiwibloggs claims Kerli spent an extended period living in the forest to become inspired for her new material. What that says to me is that she’s got the money from her previous successes to pursue such fantasies and shouldn’t be underestimated as a performance artist.

    Considering most of this year’s EL has a lot of radio-friendly entries, you could argue that splits the televote apart thereby giving a song like Spirit Animal a better chance. It will be interesting to see how this affects the line-up of the super final, especially if the juries throw their weight behind Kerli as an ambassadress for Estonia. Do we know for sure they still intend to have three acts there?

    • Im pretty sure its three acts for the super final and 100% televote Ben.They put it to three from two to try to dilute the safe acts votes,but it hasnt really worked out that way so far.Like you say how the televote splits could decide who makes that super final,and who makes it is crucial.
      Laura and Koit are both very popular so the jury might have to keep them out for starters or they could still win with a pants song.The producers did say they have learned from their mistakes from last year,so perhaps they will do their best to get Kerli over the line.She does have the best package in a weak set of songs.It will be interesting to see how Nordicbet price this up.

      • So DB, if their sole reason for making the super-final a three-way contest is to split the votes of the safe acts, do you think this means there is a strong desire at the Estonian broadcaster to have a musically alternative winner of EL and try something bold at ESC?

        • Yes,i think that is the aim Ben,or at least make the super-final open to such a winner ie Kerli this year im sure you allude to.As we all know EL is diverse,and the juries/super-final model is a good way of making sure you keep out unsuitable acts at the same time as the viewing public being happy at the end.This year will be a big test of the model though.Laura and Koit might win the televote,and Liis might do very well along with Elina.Im interested to see how the producers play Kerli in this scenario.My old way of calling it says Laura wins with Liis or Elina doing well.If Kerli is to win,she will need the producers (and the juries) help probably to push her and hold the others back a bit.Hopefully shell will turn up and give us his thoughts,he is an excellent judge of how an EL might/will play out.Interesting year isnt it,have the sands changed or not at EL?

          • Laura and Koit won’t win. She hasn’t managed it before with better songs, why would she win now with this?
            I’m open to Liis or Elina winning but their songs haven’t really convinced me. What do you think is so special about them?

            I do think Kerli is gonna walk EL this year to be honest. Yes her song is alternative and that tends not to cut it but I think Kerli is the accessible Lady Gaga (in terms of star power) kind of alternative.. not an indie amateur with a diamond in the rough sort of song.

            I think they’re splitting the votes going towards the safe acts but simultaneously they’re concentrating all the alternative music votes to just Kerli. Nothing else in the line-up this year that’s cool and different. I think it’s a pretty open and shut case, like it was with Stig and Elina in 2015.

          • I dont know who is going to win yet,and i agree Kerli has a very good chance and should be favourite,but as a gambler its working out what is that chance?.Certain?,80%,50%30%?.I hate Laura’s song and Liis can do better,but if you look at what words were trending in Estonia the week after the EL songs were released Laura and Liis were in the list,Kerli wasnt.Laura won the televote in her semi last year and was 2nd in the televote in the final beating Cartoon who have a huge international following.This year she has Koit with her who is very popular in Estonia in his own right.That might deliver a winning televote score even with a poor song.I say might,they could flop as any entry always can,and also be kept out of the super final anyway by the jury if the producers have learned how to manipulate.A lot will depend on the jury and if the Estonian public decide to vote to send someone who is an international star or not.If you think Kerli is certain there is £100 at 2.3 on Betfair.You can also lay Laura at 7.0s theres £50 there as well.
            If i was betting on it id want Kerli and Laura green with room to add whoever stood out in the semis and if the prices wouldnt give me that i wouldnt bet.

  3. Much better semi. Rasmus, Liis and Kerli the strongest for me. Spirit Animal has some great moments but I think it suffers the most from the “a bit too much going on” syndrome.
    Listening to them in order, This Love was the one that stuck with me the most and I agree Rasmus has an outside shot.

    Superfinal prediction in no particular order but can’t call a winner yet.

    Kerli
    Elina
    Rasmus

    (Liis the other to threaten in my view)

  4. Before looking at the other comments my own top 3 in Semi 2 (in no order) were Liis, Kerli and Daniel – which I see coincides with Durham Born. The first two I could see doing well on a Eurovision stage. Daniel’s is more of a modern chart friendly song (as is Karl Kristjan and Maian from Semi 1) – but I have a sneaking feeling that this sort of song might go down well at this year’s Eurovision as a reaction to last year’s result (i.e. if you want to succeed this year don’t field a sombre song about some terrible historical atrocity or for that matter interact with or clamber over an LED screen). I agree that Koit and Laura may do well in Eesti Laul owing to the Estonian public’s apparent preference for more conservative acts. By the way, my own personal favourite was Close to Infinity – but as this is a betting site we need to put personal preferences aside and try to be objective.

    It is another strong semi. Eesti Laul has far more strength in depth than any of the other national finals where we know the songs. Looking over both semis there are probably about half a dozen entries which I would be happy to see the UK fielding at Eurovision!

    • When i first saw the names this year Eurojock my thoughts were Kerli would be made favourite by the bookies and hyped by ESC fans who know she is a big star,but Koit and Laura would shock everyone outside of Estonia and beat her in the super final because they are both very popular.I would of backed for that as well if there had been markets assuming Koit and Laura werent opened as favourites so there was value.However i expected they would have a much stronger song than Verona.I still wouldnt be shocked if they won or came 2nd to Kerli.Like Ben said it all comes down to who the jury holds back out of that super final.If Kerli does beat Koit and Laura or another safe name in the vote off you could say the last three curse had been broken.If not,business as usual.
      Shell might appear and give us his thoughts about how things might play out,a very good judge of EL.

      • Durhamborn, other than Elina Bjorn I had no idea who any of the acts were – my predicted EL contenders were based on a couple of listens and an objective (as possible) judgement as to what might go down well at ESC (Which admittedly is not necessarily what will succeed at Eesti Laul)

        My thoughts on Kerli’s song were similar to Gav’s – on initial listen not really to my taste but enormous potential for staging to elevate it. Now I know she is a star, I’m even more convinced this will be in the EL top 3. Koit and Laura’s song isn’t the best but it is still good in a dated sort of way and ticks a lot of Eurovision boxes. If, as you say, they are popular in Estonia and the televote favours a more conservative type of song – then this could well be a super final contender.

        The difficulty with betting on this year’s EL is that there are so many songs that are potential winners. Performance and staging will be key to separating out the genuine contenders from the also rans.

        In terms of what might do best for Estonia at Eurovision I would say (subject to live vocal, performance and staging), Kerli, Karl Kristjan and Maian and Liis.

  5. Just thought I’d chime in, and offer my impression of the lineup.

    The first thing that came to mind after running through them all was how much of a comedown this is from 2015. It really was a golden crop, with some fantastic alternative material along with decent enough radio songs. Apart of me wonders why there isn’t a Mick Pedaja or an I Wear Experiment in there. Perhaps they thought Estonians are just too close-minded to give off-kilter acts like themselves a chance. Where last year, I reckon a good 8-9 songs would have been fit to represent Estonia, with this lot, there’s really only two, possibly three at a push.
    A note to self I’ve made for this NF season is to not come to any major conclusions before I’ve seen live presentations. So far with Eesti Laul, we’ve got 2/3 of what the public and juries are going to voting on; the singer and the song. That leaves a good 30% for the performance aspect that’ll either push an act over the line or have them come up short.

    However there are a few acts that I think could have challenged for victory, but who just haven’t given enough to make up the deficit. The first is the Koit & Laura duet. Awful song, I can’t imagine how that entry could possibly be recovered. Liis Lemsalu & Daniel Levi could both have mounted a challenge. I’ve heard their songs at least three times. Can’t remember how either of them go. The ensemble act entering “Have you now” isn’t bad, but it’s a bit slow, doesn’t build up into anything. Ditto Carl Phillip & Lenna.

    I’m inclined to think the winner will likely come from one of either Kerli, Rasmus or Elina, although I wouldn’t go so far as to tip one of them at this stage. There’s been some fanfare over Kerli’s participation. Didn’t know who she was. After some googling, I found out she’s acclaimed internationally, and has a sizeable following. Also learnt she co-wrote Demi Lovato’s ‘Skyscraper’ which peaked at no.2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Regarding ‘Spirit Animal’, I’m not quite hearing an Eesti Laul winner. I get that it’s new age-y but it still sounds like a rather disconcerting 3-minutes. It doesn’t bring out any strong emotion. Audiences, particularly in Estonia, just want something comfortable, easy on the ears and eyes, but Kerli isn’t likely to provide either. She wants to challenge her audience, not comfort them and that may be her undoing. However, I think the juries will be impressed and there’s tremendous scope for an innovative presentation, if her past performances are anything to go by. For those reasons, she’s still in the running.

    ‘This Love’ was another that caught my attention. It’s a lot more daring and evocative then most in the selection and to echo Gav, a strong, lively performance could put it in contention.
    I know the reception’s been lukewarm, but Elina and her song strike me as being the closest thing to a competent Eurovision entry here. Strong hook, lots of personality, and importantly someone who’s been there and done that. ‘In or Out’ is a nice little ditty, almost Lena-esque to bring out the old cliché. In a selection with lots of either drab and obscure entries this upbeat tune might just be the one that clicks with people. I do agree though, that if chosen, it may need a revamp. The verses are a little dead and the sax needs to either be more more prominent or just axed entirely. Overall, I reckon we’re in for another close contest.

    • Daniel, you and some other contributors have said that the quality of this year’s Eesti Laul is disappointing. I bow to your (and their) much superior knowledge of EL. I can only say that having listened to the songs available from other national finals – and in particular having waded through the 26 Georgian entries – the quality and variety of songs seems fine to me.

      Unlike most contributors here I am not really ‘getting’ the Rasmus song. I can more understand the positive predictions for the Elina Bjorn entry. However, if it does win EL I could see a similar fate to Juri Pootsmans ‘Play’ awaiting it at Eurovision.

    • I have thought for a while Black n Blue that Liis would take an EL sometime and her song nearly gave her a chance this year,but it seems to just lack something and go nowhere.Like you say though its important to see things live because she could lift it yet,she is talented enough.
      I agree Laura and Koit’s song is horrid,even more so to EL purists.I was rubbing my hands when i saw them together in the hope i could get some bets on them thinking Kerli would make them a false price and they would walk it this year.I was shocked by the song to be honest.Then again,its almost so bad its retro.Id still be tempted to back them to win if they were around 5s.Laura only got 6 jury points last year, but made it into the super final due to her televote (2nd) being higher than Cartoon’s.Koit is just as popular as her so together they are still dangerous, even if they dont deserve to be.There is a good chance the jury mark them lower than 6 this year though to keep them out of the last 3. Kerli will get the jury 12 points i expect and make the super final whatever the televote is.

      • The thing about Cartoon is that they got 8 from both the jury and the public. There’s definitely room for an off kilter act in the superfinal, and that will be Kerli. As for the markets, I don’t see there being much value on the outright. Kerli will be insanely low. Top 3 market will be more tempting.

  6. Betfair have put up an exchange market if anyone wants to put any prices into the book to see if it can get any liquidity going.

  7. Just an open question for all; which of either Daniel, Rasmus, or Carl-Philip has the best shot at making the superfinal?

    • Its a really tough call,but id be tempted by Rasmus.The jury vote might go his way.Id of said Daniel was certain,but his song is pants.Carl might not match Rasmus’s jury appeal.Tough though for any of them to make the superfinal.

  8. Here is a YouTube playlist of all live performances so far on Estonian breakfast TV. Should be updated as they go.

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqIsQfkMMkOaVPS50fCw1cj9MiE9L9Ntj

    • I noticed this year Ben they are all singing live on them,other years they have mostly been lip sync.Ariadne has a nice clean vocal,i think we might see more of her in future.Nordicbet should price up soon,if their odds compiler has learned his/her lessons Laura will open 2.5 favourite,the dreams of 5s iv put to bed.Liis Lemsalu has the most popular song in Estonia at the moment,just its not her eesti laul one.

  9. Unibet have priced up and as expected have Laura 2.0s favourite (worse luck),Kerli is 6.0s and the only real surprise from the odds compiler is pricing Ariadne at 2.5.

    • Durham, given the dated nature of their song, why do you reckon Koit & Laura such strong favorites in the market? Is it really only down to the popularity of the performers?

      • I didn’t like Verona at first, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s one of the best produced songs in the lineup – the verses and chorus all deliver impact. I do get the dated feel though, but feel the hookiness of the song more than compensates for this.

      • Mainly because Laura is hugely popular.She was second last year on that fact alone.This time she has Koit with her,who is nearly as popular as Laura.Think loved by every housewife in Estonia.Thats a huge televote draw.I was rubbing my hands when i saw the line up.If bookies had priced straight away im pretty certain they would of priced Kerli favourite and Laura at 5/6s instead,and that would of been fantastic value.I also have a site i use in Estonia.I have used if for years and it has a very good record of showing the likely acts to do well in the televote.(For instance Birgit was very strong in it the year she won,as were all other winners).I dont want to share it in public for obvious reasons.Its also showing that Liis would of been a very big threat if she had a better song(or one easier to not naff up live).Shes trending even higher than Laura,just not with her EL song,where Laura is trending 2nd to Liis with her EL song,and 3rd with another song.Kerli isnt in the top 20.Liis EL song is down in 15th.
        Of course as gamblers what matters is price and 2.0s is too risky for me on Laura because of the jury/super final set up.Kerli is probably a fair price or slightly short as well.Iv got a little bit of Liis at 18s and 20s as she was going to be my cover on a dutch bet on Laura/Kerli.
        Il not be getting involved at the prices now.
        Oh and i hated Laura’s song at first,but putting fan boy hat on,i love it now.Ridiculous and dated,yet so hooky its insane.Ironic if she wins with this yet lost at the start of her career with Sunflowers.

  10. DB, would you say Lemsalu has gained popularity very recently? I’m asking because she failed to qualify twice now already with poor televote results (in ’13 and ’15)
    Regarding Verona, one only has to look at Sandra Nurmsalu’s result in 2014 to find precedent for Eesti juries completely killing off a Lohmus composition and they haven’t been kind with his other entries.
    They’ve switched from the 1-10 to 8-10-12 points system though, which might help Verona over the line if it were to win the televote’s 12.

    • Good to see you Shell.Yes i would say Liis has gained popularity this last year.Sinu ees did very well for her.However there is a big risk she wont be able to deliver Keep Running live.There is a chance for a disaster staging wise and it isnt as good as Sinu ees.I would fully agree on the juries maybe stopping Laura (or more like you say Lohmus).However they tried that last year and she still made the super final.Thats the key question to who wins.Can the jury keep Laura out of the super final and get Kerli (and any others that work live) into it.The producers might also do their bit to boost people like Kerli and hold back Laura.
      Its all about price isnt it.If i could of got 5s for Laura id of taken their hands off ,but at 2.0s,no thankyou.
      Do you think Kerli is value in the 4.5s range?.It smells like a market to avoid for me.

  11. http://menu.err.ee/v/eestilaul/399b55a0-b5e0-436d-903d-850f9795224e/eesti-laul-2017-kerli-spirit-animal

    Kerli’s ERR performance.She is getting some very good advice if thats the sort of look shes going for.Has someone lent her the book “How to win an EL”?.Ben?.The tarty has gone replaced with an elegant forest elf.Kerli of Lothlórien.Pretty obvious she has some serious staging in mind here.She might as well just say Laura,Ariadne,Lenna,Elina, thanks for warming the crowd up,but iv arrived now.What a fascinating EL this is going to be.

    • Based on that vocal I’m totally up for some esoteric kerli bubblegum goth in Kiev, to be honest.

    • I mean, the second I saw Kerli’s name in the line up I was like “Right. Estonia’s coming to play.” No point overthinking it. If Laura was really that popular she’d have already gone to ESC with a previous, better song, and Koit doesn’t worry me either. Kerli’s got this sewn up.

      • She really is popular though Ben.Remember Urban Symphony?.Laura beat them in the televote, gaining seven times the votes of the third placed Traffic and was only kept out of the super final by the jury.2nd in televote again last year.We all know Kerli is the one to beat and should win,but as a gamblers we have to consider who might beat her to keep our capital intact,and if anyone will it is Laura.

  12. How do we think Spirit Animal is going to make the 3 minute cut? My thought is that if they cut the first half of the opening instrumental along with the second half of the first chorus, it would fit. There’s a few other ways of going about the edit, but I think it’s crucial that the electro-erhu climax is kept because it really packs a punch.

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