Eesti Laul 2016 – The Verdict

05 March 2016

Eesti Laul, already one of the most favoured national finals of many Eurovision fans, has somehow trumped itself from last year’s brilliant edition. It’s even more eclectic, more diverse and more interesting than ever before. Eesti Laul continually succeeds because its aim is to find the best song of the Estonian people, not the song that might win Eurovision, so it’s rare you see anything derivative or generic. Even though the winning song sometimes might fail that philosophy (like Tanja’s “Amazing” in 2014), it’s the finals themselves that always encapsulate it.

Eesti Laul 2016

The only liberty some EL songs might take – just like throughout Europe – is copying elements or styles from the successful songs of the previous year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Interactive graphics and artistic representation will be big in Stockholm, and that is seen in here in two songs in particular. Even then, those songs themselves are great, and arguably would have surfaced regardless, and presented just as well, such is the type of contest that is Eesti Laul.

The Big Five

As is becoming tradition with Mr Eurovision Australia, the magical number will be five as to the number of songs I’ll spotlight. These songs are a combination of personal favourites and those mentioned most often on social media.

01 Cartoon feat. Kristel Aaslaid “Immortality”

02 Laura “Supersonic”

03 Mick Pedaja “Seis”

04 Grete Paia “Stories Untold”

05 Go Away Bird “Sally”


The Failure

Gertu Pabbo “Miljon korda”

This was my second favourite from the entire contest and couldn’t even make the final! It’s such a beautiful song, and performed really nice. Probably being quite traditional and bit generic is the reason it didn’t qualify.


The Reject

Lenna “Suvehommik Setumaal”

This didn’t make it to Eesti Laul at all! Another beautiful song, and sung by my ultimate favourite singer of Lenna Kuurmaa. This is only speculation that it was rejected, because it was released in mid December, just a few weeks before Eesti Laul was confirmed. It’s odd timing. My theory is that since EL was so strong this year and Lenna would most likely fail to win again (she’s been second twice and fourth once), the organisers felt it better to relieve her of further heartbreak and give other artists a go. That’s fair enough, if I’m correct!


The Finalists

01 Laura “Supersonic”
02 Go Away Bird “Sally”
03 Mick Pedaja “Seis”
04 Grete Paia “Stories Untold”
05 Kéa “Lonely Boy”
06 Jüri Pootsmann “Play”
07 Kati Laev & Noorkuu “Kaugel sinust”
08 Cartoon feat. Kristel Aaslaid “Immortality”
09 Meisterjaan “Parmupillihullus”
10 I Wear* Experiment “Patience”

There’s not a weak song on this list, with 7 of them that I really like, and 3 that I love. Only one song I’d say has no chance to win. Of those I didn’t spotlight, I’d suggest checking I Wear* Experiment and Juri Pootsmann, which are well liked by many fans. All songs can be viewed on eurovisioon.ee or ERR’s youtube channel.

The Verdict

From the first moment I heard “Stories Untold” by Grete Paia, I was hooked. I was already a fan of Grete Paia before, loved her EL song “Päästke noored hinged” of 2013 in which she finished a close second (the winner, Birgit Õigemeel with “Et uus saaks alguse”, I loved even more), her song is even better this time, Stockholm will be my first ever Eurovision live, so her time is really right.

“Immortality” by Cartoon would be an interesting winner. Is there a rule governing the amount of time an artist must be visible to the audience on the Eurovision stage? I don’t even know if the vision at EL is indeed background graphics, or an overlay only seen by TV viewers.

Laura’s “Supersonic” is my next pick. If you hear a similar style to “Stories Untold”, yes, it’s the same song writer, Sven Lõhmus, also wrote Paia’s song in 2013, along with Estonia’s Eurovision songs of 2009 (“Rändajad” by Urban Symphony) and 2005 (“Let’s Get Loud” by Suntribe, which contained a young Laura). Laura’s dress could be a distraction – cheapening the song, and would be an early favourite for the Barbara Dex Award if she won EL. If you can look past that, Supersonic arguably is a more complete song than Stories Untold, especially that it has a proper bridge and builds well. It’s just not as catchy, and Laura’s not as accomplished a singer as Grete.

The danger will be “Seis” by Mick Pedaja. It has strong support on social media, and will obviously appeal to juries. EL has a 3-song super-final, from which the public decides the winner alone, so that might hinder it. Personally, I don’t see the fuss, and rate Go Away Bird with “Sally” – reminiscent of an old Australian rock song that I still can’t place – higher. I believe the super-final will be Grete Paia, Mick Pedaja and Cartoon, and pray that Grete emerges the winner.


The Final (live review)

Up at 4.30am for an Eesti Laul final that promises not to disappoint. The show opens with Elina and Stig reprising their 2015 Eurovision classic, only for it to be hijacked by the two hosts masquerading as louts, who put their own spin on the rest of the song. Even without understanding a word, Estonian humour can be so funny, and weird.

The draw often gives a guideline to the stronger songs, notably the first position, the last position, and positions in the middle. It was a surprise to see Kea at 5, while I expected Mick Pedaja quite late, not at position 3.

01 Laura “Supersonic”

There’s an echo in the hall that takes some adjustment for the ears, which doesn’t help Laura, whose vocals come across a bit weak, especially with the heavy bass. Still a great song. 8

02 Go Away Bird “Sally”

Not as good as the semi final. The styling has changed to “tough bitch” mode, and the overall presentation is nowhere near as artistic. It’s all wrong. 6

03 Mick Pedaja “Seis”

A quality presentation of a song of which I don’t quite get its appeal. Would it get the attention without the graphical effects? The crowd loved it. 6

04 Grete Paia “Stories Untold”

My favourite song is still my favourite. It’s a much better presentation than the semi, with a better outfit, camera work and stage effects. The long note leading out of the bridge was a good addition. Despite that, there’s something missing from it. It’s too understated among this year’s collection and they never quite worked out the bridge after the song needed to be shortened by 20 seconds to fit the 3-minute requirement. The storm effects were to serve two purposes of filling the truncated time for the bridge and for a visual moment. Better would have been a proper musical element and a moody, more artistic presentation. 8

05 Kéa “Lonely Boy”

Wow, this was a big step up from the semi. Far more powerful. A great finish to the song. 8

06 Jüri Pootsmann “Play”

Another that stepped up from the semi. Almost a totally new presentation. Popular with crowd. This was on the verge of the Big Five in the preview, and would have been in at the expense of Go Away Bird with this presentation. 8

07 Kati Laev & Noorkuu “Kaugel sinust”

Even as one of the weaker songs, this is still good. Another that’s improved from the SF. 6

08 Cartoon feat. Kristel Aaslaid “Immortality”

It would so cool if that really was dynamic motion capture. Kristel appearing in the motion capture outfit was a great way to connect the live performance with the creation of the actual video projection. A great song too. 8

09 Meisterjaan “Parmupillihullus”

Even though entertaining, it wears a bit thin. 5

10 I Wear* Experiment “Patience”

Violinists and the cellist doing backing vocals? I’m not sure I buy that. A bit understated compared to the rest. Otherwise, another top song. 7

Summary

Five songs are rated 8: Laura, Grete Paia, Kea, Juri Pootsmann and Cartoon. I guess that’s my top 5. The average score is 7, which is about as good as it gets for any Eurovision or national final. I’ve also long held a view that songs with a one word title are rarely bad. With 6 songs of that ilk in this year’s Eesti Laul, no wonder it rates so highly. “Parmupillihullus” looks like a multiple conjoined word and is excluded from the count. Of the 7 English songs, 5 are single word titles.

The Voting

There’s no way Grete Paia can make the super final. I expect it to be Mick Pedaja, Juri Pootsmann and Cartoon. I can only hope Laura, my second favourite song, can spring a surprise.

Earlier I learnt the Estonian expression for “shut up”. It’s “shut up”.

A clock appears and shows a countdown of an hour for the public to complete their voting. What will Eesti Laul do? What else, throw to the news! To think I thought it was only Australian commercial TV that was so cynical. Ordinarily I don’t submit to these tactics. Except, it’s Estonian news. It must be more interesting than the Australian obsession of consumer stories, traffic problems and cyclists not wearing a helmet.

It was looking like the Mick Pedaja show after the first four jury members all gave him 12 points. Then Juri Poostman and I Wear Experiment began their charge. Grete Paia finally gets 8 points for her one and only chance to smile at the camera. It’s interesting that Eesti Laul still allow public voting while the jury is still going! Wow, the final jury member gives 12 to Cartoon to see them snatch third spot in the jury race – on equal points with IWE. Surely the public will have Cartoon top 3.

Now to add the televote. IWE get low votes to knock them out of the super final. Down to the last four. Wow! Laura is named first into the super final. With Mick and Juri still to be announced, that’s not good for Cartoon. Juri is announced next. Mick or Cartoon? Kristel from Cartoon looks despondent. Wow! It’s Cartoon!! A good effort, Mick. He’s warmly congratulated by fellow artists. You can sense clear sympathy for him. The song probably didn’t quite have it. What sort of a name is “Mick” for an Estonian anyway?

It’s Laura, Juri Pootsmann and Cartoon in the super final. Cartoon is eliminated first. It’s down to Laura and Juri. Go Laura! Juri pals around with Stig Rasta, who co-wrote the song. Stig is looking for his second straight Eurovision. After a succession of dramatic pauses, it’s….. Juri! Drat, and double drat! Not to worry, it’s probably the right decision. A good song, well presented and with broad popularity. The flaw is in the system that only allows one Estonian song at ESC. They need 5 spots, and even then there’d be two hard luck stories. I just want to thank Estonia and all Estonian musicians for another classic Eesti Laul. You are amazing!

 

All songs from the Eesti Laul 2016 final and the semi finals can be viewed on eurovisioon.ee or ERR’s youtube channel.

Mr Eurovision Australia

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2 responses to “Eesti Laul 2016 – The Verdict

  1. Pingback: Stockholm 2016 – The Sad Five! | Mr Eurovision Australia·

  2. Pingback: Lenna Kuurmaa & Slingshot – Can my Eurovision dream come true? | Mr Eurovision Australia·

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