7 March 2018
As expected, Elina Nechayeva with La Forza blitzed Eesti Laul 2018, not only with her actual stage performance, also the result. She dominated both the jury and televote, and then the super final, to be one of Estonia’s most comprehensive national final winners ever. She scored 113 points on jury, ahead of Sibyl Vane on 86 and Frankie Animal on 85. On televote it was 37628 for Elina, ahead of Vaje on 5995, Karl & Karl on 5786 and Stig Rästa on 5714. Sibyl Vane ended up only 7th on televote and Frankie Animal 9th. That produced a super final of Elina Nechayeve, Karl & Karl and Stig Rästa, not that it mattered. It was a super final only in name, not in nature, with Elina taking 70% of the vote compared to 16% for Stig and 14% for Vaje.
It was mixed emotions for my favourite, Sibyl Vane. Ecstatic that they finished second on the jury, and then miffed they failed to reach the super final. Vaje and Karl & Karl were both a duo of cute guys so it reinforces the power of the teenybopper vote in these national finals. The indie-rock/pop of Sibyl Vane was never likely to gain a huge televote, even despite the energetic and infectious qualities of Thousand Words, and the excellent presentation. They kept it simple while updating the graphics so Helena didn’t appear upside down during the chorus as in the semi final (it was a bit too hypnotic). To finish 7th on televote, and even score less than the rubbish from Evestus, was way too harsh. One spot higher and it’s the super final.
Frankie Animal was in a similar category to Sibyl Vane, except with a mellow jazz/blues type of song, so second last on the televote was no surprise. The big surprise was Nika with Knock Knock finishing last on televote. While it seemed to lose a little impact in the big hall and Nika looked distracted at times, I had that earmarked for top 3 and never saw enough of a reason for it to finish so low. On jury Nika finished 7th. Overall last was Eliis Pärna & Gerli Padar with Taevas. Curiously they changed from English to Estonian for the final (usually artists go the other way), so Sky became Taevus (heaven), as they knew it would probably struggle. The presentation was always the problem, not the language, as the use of props like mirrors to separate a duo typically breaks the bond. Stig Rästa ditched the dorky violins from the semi final and got himself a dorky haircut instead, and was the direct beneficiary of Sibyl Vane rated lowly by the televote. The finishing second overall after the super final, he can’t complain.
The real sticking point with the results actually relates to the semi final allocations. The first 5 in the grand final all came from the first semi final. This was no surprise as it seemed 8 of the most popular songs were in this semi, including my top 7. The unlucky semi final 1 loser was definitely Etnopatsy with Külm, which surely would have romped in from semi final 2. They finished 6th in semi final 1 behind Vaje, who then went on to qualify anyway thanks to the televote wildcard for fifth spot. Interestingly, in semi final 2, Girls In Pearls with Spellbound finished fifth, only to be easily knocked out by Eliis Pärna & Gerli Padar in the televote wildcard after they finished 6th after the main voting. Eesti Laul has the best format and voting system; let’s just ensure there’s no repeat of the lopsided semi final allocation in the future!
“The song tells of a really big love, which lasts for eternity, and this is the kind of love that gives us wings, takes us to the sky, and guides us through all our life with positive emotions.”
To the winner, the glorious Elina Nechayeva. I really grew to love her and her song once I saw the semi final. Before that she was clear second to Sibyl Vane. If they couldn’t win, it had to be Elina, so there was definitely some relief the super final produced no crazy upset! Quite simply, her voice is stunning, and unlike some opera/pop crossover artists in the past, she manages to project a pure resonance so peerlessly through the entirety of the song. As someone that generally hates high-pitched sounds that you might expect from a soprano, I find her tone quite warm, not of the shrieking type. She’s so majestic, and the presentation is superb too. While we’ve seen dresses used as effects screens before, her use of it perfectly matches the song and is not a token inclusion at all. It’s a package not seen to this level before on the Eurovision stage, and she will likely be a strong contender in Lisbon. It also helps that she’s as stunningly beautiful as she sounds. The force is definitely with her.
My Top 5
Obviously I’ve just talked myself into rating La Forza as number one. It’s’ so close, and it’s really because she won Eesti Laul and that all focus will be on her now that I’ll agree with the jury, the televote, and so many other people, that she’s the best from Eesti Laul 2018. The only other change from the preview is relegating Eliis & Gerli for Frankie Animal.
1) Elina Nechayeva – La Forza
2) Sibyl Vane – Thousand Words
3) Nika – Knock Knock
4) Iiris & Agoh – Drop That Boogie
5) Frankie Animal – (Can’t Keep Calling) Misty