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Estonia: Eesti Laul Final Preview

The Eesti Laul semi-finals concluded at the weekend with the two hot betting favourites, Kerli and the duet, Laura & Koit, qualifying from the more competitive second heat.

Yesterday, a supposedly random running order was published:

  1. Liis Lemsalu – Keep Running
  2. Koit & Laura – Verona
  3. Whogaux & Karl-Kristjan feat. Maian – Have You Now
  4. Lenna Kuurmaa – Slingshot
  5. Daniel Levi – All I Need
  6. Elina Born – In or Out
  7. Ivo Linna – Suur loterii
  8. Rasmus Rändvee – This Love
  9. Ariadne – Feel Me Now
  10. Kerli – Spirit Animal

Betting favourite, Kerli’s Spirit Animal, provided us with a fabulous spectacle of kitsch and glitter. If you’ve been longing for some nostalgic Eurocheese with a modern touch, Kerli absolutely delivered. The betting market initially reacted nervously to Kerli with a slight outright price drift; perhaps due to some subpar vocals in the latter part of her energetic performance. The expert jury had her in their top-4 regardless and she’s currently the most viewed performance from heat-2 on youtube, which has since reassured the market.

Laura & Koit’s Verona failed to make the jury top-4, but presumably bagged a very strong televote result, which helped them to qualify direct without the need of the newly installed second round public wildcard qualifier. The super-final in Eesti Laul will be 100% televote decided, so one must respect the duo’s chances should they get there. In fact, 2013 Eesti Laul winner, Birgit, followed a similar path, finishing second to last with juries in her semifinal, so hope is not lost for our Verona. One could argue the song is too dated for 2017, but in recent years we have often seen the Estonian public opt for the safest option over more original and contemporary entries. Verona’s classic presentation in evening attire could do very well, especially with a fair share of the grey vote in contrast to the edgy Kerli. The Estonian public may also remember that the last time they sent a duet to Eurovision they finished 7th, and could decide to stick with the formula that served them well in 2015.

Like last year, three entries will make the super-final, and according to the betting market, Elina Born’s In Or Out and Rasmus Rändvee’s This Love should have a good chance to find themselves in the top-3. Both are credible and competently performed entries that should attract some jury love. It remains to be seen if either has enough televote power to upset one of the two hot favourites.

Ariadne is an inexperienced newcomer with a cute little song that managed to chart in Estonia’s itunes and spotify charts. For a short time she was seen as a dark horse. Her presentation in heat 1, however, appeared very static, presumably resulting in a low jury score, as she only qualified via the second round wildcard vote. The fact that she couldn’t crack the combined televote & jury top-4 in the weaker heat makes me wonder how she could possibly make the top-3 in a tougher field without drastic changes to her stage presentation.

Jury Top4 (Heat 1) Qualifiers (Heat 1) Jury Top4 (Heat 2) Qualifiers (Heat 2)
Elina Born Elina Born Kerli Kerli
Carl Philip Ivo Linna Daniel Levi Laura & Koit
Karl Kristjan & Whogaux Karl Kristjan & Whogaux Liis Lemsalu Liis Lemsalu
Lenna Kuurmaa Lenna Kuurmaa Rasmus Rändvee Rasmus Rändvee
Ariadne (Wildcard) Daniel Levi (Wildcard)


The final will be held on March 4th. In the meantime, there’s a lively Betfair exchange market open and potentially some great value to be exploited.

Who do you think should represent Estonia in Kiev?

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About Substantshell

Fake Social Media Expert   I'm Shell. I'm here for giving mediocre betting advice and writing very mediocre comedy editorials.


  1. Thanks Shell.I actually thought Laura and Kerli were poor in the semi,though im sure both will improve on the better stage for the final.From a purely Roman watching Christians being fed to lions standpoint i hope Laura and Kerli do make the super final,because i want to see if Estonian’s have moved forward from always going for the safe act,or not.
    Glad to see Liis make the final as well.Very tough semi with Laura and Kerli.I think there is an EL win in her maybe at some point with the right song.
    I think Elina might be a challenger for the super final.If Laura doesnt make it,she would still be a threat to Kerli.
    Iv got a (very) small book on this,greens in order,
    1 Laura,2 Elina,3 Kerli,4 Ariadne 5 Liis

    • Your book looks good, DB. As always, champion of freeruns. Rasmus not a challenger in your opinion?

      • Yes i think he is,but i dont have him green,the red is two kebabs and a pint of lager,its a very small book as i was worried trading around two favs to commit much.The fact he beat Daniel was very strong for him,and again in a tough semi.There is a chance he gets top 2 with the jury,as thats what i think he got in the heat.
        Its a shame we couldnt access the qualify bets here,it would of been 9 out of 10 landed.

  2. I think there’s potential in a shock result and that Laura & Koit won’t make the superfinal given that the semi juries didn’t rate them clearly. If you remember 2014, the Eesti Laul jury aren’t shy to discard big-name favourites if they don’t take to the act, IMO they would need to finish no lower than 5th on the jury vote to sneak into the superfinal providing that the jury don’t mark down other contenders as well.

    • You are referring to Sandra Nurmsalu in 2014, I suppose? Ironically, also a Sven Lohmus compostion, if I remember correctly. There might be a pattern here, with some people in the industry not exactly fans of his work. Nurmsalu did ok with juries in that semifinal though, so I guess it always depends on the set of jurors we’ll get.
      Jury scores for Lenna Kuurma and Lemsalu have always been pretty pretty solid. No idea if it’s name bonus or just superior vocals.

  3. I wouldn’t exactly call Verona dated, and it’s pretty cool. Lacks the cheese factor of some of the other songs. Kerli is the wrong side of edgy. It’s just random noises thrown together, and the live performance both vocally and visually was amateur.

    The running order speaks volumes, and we could see another Gabi Toth with Verona in not making the super final. But if Verona makes the super final, I think it wins.

    If Estonia pick the right song here, they could have a VERY good May.

    • I think the votes are 12,10,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 this year so that might help the televote winner if they score low with the jury.Depends how the scores fall.I think Laura has to win the televote to get into the super final.She also probably needs Kerli 2nd to push the other strong jury songs down into the 8s on the televote.I think Laura might get the 3 from the jury.There is a good chance only 1 point will separate 3rd and 4th.There is a chance she gets the 1 or 2 though and that would probably be curtains.

  4. In essence…..music can never be truly original anymore. Look to what Netherlands did in 2014 with The Common Linnets. Basically…it’s pure American country….and one of the recognizable sort. Think Kenny Rogers ft. Dolly Parton or Grant & Forsyth (also backing vocalists for Ireland in 1993). But Europe loved it.

    The same goes for Koit Toome (ESC 1998) & Laura with their catchy song “Verona”. It’s a wonderful 1980’s throwback, but manages to stay fresh and original. No one, really no one can make a plagiarism case for this. The song is reminiscent of A-Ha, Modern Talking and some more moody ballads from ABBA (“The Winner Takes It All”). But we know Eurovision isn’t solely about the studio version. Staging-wise this looks magnificent. A bit like Estonia 2015. But in this particular case I think it won’t get accused too much of being ‘a clone of something’. Simply because the 1980’s are long and far gone. Vocally it’s superb as well.

    The advantage of a duet? Your judgement gets a bit blurred as to who sings better: the male or the female. Laura is an OK-singer, but Koit ‘A-Ha’ Toome really lifts it up.

    I think Koit Toome & Laura will win. Kerli is great too, but I think it’s slightly too ‘alternative’, whatever that means in Eurovision.

  5. “In or Out” is the kind of song that works a bit better with a girl band like O’GENE.

  6. My thinking is along the same lines as Stephen that if Laura&Koit make the super-final they’re quids in. Kerli looks like the obvious winner, with the best song and brilliant staging, but the question is how big a base does she have in Estonia? Although the running order plays to her advantage, has she been given the pimp slot because she deserves it or because she needs it? With Elina&Stig a few years ago, I thought they were being thrown under the bus with the 3 slot, when in fact having seen the huge semi-final voting numbers they got , it was clear they’d have won from any position and there’s something telling me that may be happening again with Laura&Koit, although I hope to be proved wrong.

    • I highly doubt it, looks more to me they’re being thrown under the bus, the producers probably looked at that semi jury result and decided it wasn’t worth trying to help them.

      Also Kerli getting the pimp slot can be justified with the thinking “well she got an early slot in the semi, it’s only fair”.

  7. ive took a small punt at Laura&Koit. Kerli is tooooooooo cheesy, isn’t it?

  8. I’ve no idea who is going to win. All I would say is that Laura and Koit were not my personal favourites going into this, but they were the only act who absolutely nailed the staging in the semis. On first listen, Gav, like me, did not rate the Kerli song too highly but rightly pointed out that this could soar on a Eurovision stage with the right staging. However, the Eesti Laul presentation did not soar, and at the moment I would have to say that Laura and Koit are Estonia’s best bet for a top 10 finish in Kiev.

  9. I’m still quite confident in Kerli winning this. The “random” running order suggests favouritism towards her while also recognising Koit and Laura are the biggest threat. She might not be a big deal at home but she does have many fans abroad and ERR know this. There’s also her partnership with Visit Estonia which could offer extra PR potential.

    Koit and Laura’s televote is obviously quite powerful and the juries will have to mark them down quite harshly as well as a bit of a staging hatchet job by producers to make them seem underwhelming to televoters if they won’t be in the superfinal.

    If they do get there, then they will be dangerous, but even then Kerli has something else going for her which hasn’t been covered in this preview. She’s the only edgy, bold, indie-ish act in this final. Estonia notably sends the safe option from a line-up that often offers lots of cool, diverse music, and it splits the vote.

    This year is different because safe songs by popular artists are the majority, so anyone wanting to vote for something bolder only has one realistic choice. A smattering of hipster votes might go to Whogaux and Rasmus instead, but Laura & Koit, Lenna, Elina and Liis are all fishing for similar audiences.

  10. Verona is a masterpiece and probably the winner here. Kerli might be a good fit for Eurovision 2002 but now definately not. I support Elina but the song is simply not good enough to win.

  11. Well im going into the final with my smallest book ever on an EL ,no green is over double figures.

    Liis ++
    Elina levels
    rest –

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