7 March 2021
Uku Suviste was more the relieved one than the lucky one after winning Eesti Laul 2021 with The Lucky One and securing his place at the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam. Considering he truly was lucky to win Eesti Laul, his relief was immense, and it took prodding from the hosts for him to finally let out a giant roar in celebration. It would not have been this lucky for him if not for yet another crass intervention by an international jury. These so-called experts had Uku only 8th after wielding their obnoxious and pointless power, only for the Estonian public to recover the situation and launch him into the super final. Even then, it was a near miss, with the top three songs all on 15 points, and the next two on 14 points.
It’s the second Eesti Laul win in a row for Uku Suviste and it means he finally reaches the Eurovision stage after two denials. The first was finishing second to Victor Crone (who was similarly saved by the public after the international jury placed him 9th) in 2019, and the second was after the event was cancelled last year. Third time lucky as they say.
Sissi won the jury vote with her uplifting song, Time, and finished second in the super final. The public only ranked her 8th in the first round of voting, so her results were an inverse of Uku’s. Jüri Pootsmann was the other super finalist after the jury ranked him 4th and the public 3rd. The jury’s second and third choices were Andrei Zevakin & Pluuto and Karl Killing, respectively, while the public had Koit Toome as their second favourite. Uku and Koit were always the dominant two expected to win, with Pootsman the distant third option. Why you would include such an international panel with their warped views to ruin your national song contest, it’s mystifying. That hip-hip Wingman gibberish from Andrei Zevakin & Pluuto? Come on!
Eesti Laul organisers say they can’t find enough Estonian experts sufficiently detached from the artists to form a local jury. If so, forget trying to ensure they are totally neutral, or don’t bother with them at all. Estonian music should be adjudicated by Estonians, not some clowns in London, Boston and Oregon! Besides, locals are used for the jury in the semi finals, so the fixation on neutrality can’t be that high. It’s perverse, and now after 3 years of this system that nearly resulted in two outrageous travesties, it needs to end. The only solace to this system – and it’s a strange one – is the public can vote while the jury scores as revealed, so they can react directly to any insanity they observe.
01 Uku Suviste – The Lucky One (42) (3+12)
02 Sissi – Time (73) (12+3)
03 Jüri Pootsmann – Magus Melanhoolia (59) (7+8)
04 Koit Toome – We Could Have Been Beautiful (43) (4+10)
05 Andrei Zevakin & Pluuto – Wingman (63) (10+4)
06 Kadri Voorand – Energy (44) (5+5)
07 Suured Tüdrukud – Heaven’s Not That Far Tonight (34) (2+6)
08 Karl Killing – Kiss Me (61) (8+0)
09 Redel – Tartu (17) (0+7)
10 Hans Nayna – One By One (47) (6+0)
11 Ivo Linna, Robert Linna, Supernova – Ma Olen Siin (18) (0+2)
12 Egert Milder – Free Again (24) (1+1)
(jury raw points) (jury score + televote score)
01 Egert Milder – Free Again (3)
02 Suured Tüdrukud – Heaven’s Not That Far Tonight (7)
03 Hans Nayna – One By One (6)
04 Ivo Linna, Robert Linna, Supernova – Ma Olen Siin (5)
05 Karl Killing – Kiss Me (6)
06 Uku Suviste – The Lucky One (8)
08 Sissi – Time (7)
09 Jüri Pootsmann – Magus Melanhoolia (3)
09 Redel – Tartu (1)
10 Koit Toome – We Could Have Been Beautiful (8)
11 Andrei Zevakin & Pluuto – Wingman (4)
12 Kadri Voorand – Energy (8)
(my score out of 10; average 5.5)
Egert Milder did the same as last year, except this year’s song was much inferior. He’s one that should never have made the final. Hans Nayna – great song, nice voice, just got buried a bit. Ivo Linna – again, we’d see him do this sort of song before, and even with the addition of his son, it was never enough to swing big votes his way. Karl Killing, given his pretty boy looks, surprisingly did better with the jury than the public. Of course, the public’s attention went elsewhere when appraising the pretty boy solo acts.
Redel was an unwanted guest, while Koit Toome was too bland for the international jury despite his lovely and superbly sung song. Andrei Zevakin & Pluuto were actual unwelcome guests, as they were isolating at home after at least Andrei caught the coronavirus. A bit difficult to know if it was one or both when your knowledge of Estonian is limited to about 20 words. Anyway, a substitute performance was used, which is the perfect demonstration of how Rotterdam 2021 will be handled. If an artist suddenly can’t attend, or even tests positive for COVID-19 in Rotterdam, then either the contingency performance recorded at home or a rehearsal or semi final performance in Rotterdam will be used.
Suured Tüdrukud – Heaven’s Not That Far Tonight
Seventh is a reasonable result for the “big girls” Suured Tüdrukud with their big voices and their powerful disco-themed entry as they clearly enjoyed their time at the front of the stage, and still fulfilled their backing vocal duties, most visibly for Sissi and Koit Toome. Koit even reciprocated the favour by appearing for them during their performance. Only at Eesti Laul!
Kadri Voorand – Energy
I had to spotlight Kadri Voorand as her vocals are just sublime. I was willing her to make the super final, especially after she scored well early with the international jury, only for her end up mid-rank with both them and the public.
Jüri Pootsmann – Magus Melanhoolia
Not sure the attraction of Mr Yawn-Fest, so feel free to indulge yourself.
Sissi – Time
Had Sissi won, it would have been a huge story, as her father is Dave Benson, one half of the winning duo for Estonia at Eurovision 2001. I didn’t mind Sissi’s entry, Time, much preferring it to her previous effort, Strong, in 2019, where she finished fourth. She has a pretty, soulful voice, and the camera loves her. Outside the impressive choir sections, the song just didn’t resonate that strong compared to some of the others for me, so consequently didn’t give it too much attention.
Uku Suviste – The Lucky One
Last and certainly not least, it’s the ultra lucky one, and the ultra deserved one, Uku Suviste. Interesting that he made significant changes from the semi final, changing his grey shirt to an open neck white shirt with a loose black tie, and adding footage of him in a pool. Sterling stuff.
About Uku Suviste…
Born in the Estonian town of Võru, multi-talented Uku Suviste is a singer, pianist, composer and music producer. The entertainment industry flows through his veins as his father is a TV producer,and his mother a classically trained singer.
In 2018 he set his sights on international success and took part in The Voice (Russia), landing himself on the team of Ukrainian Eurovision icon Ani Lorak, and making it all the way to the semi-finals. The following year Uku competed in Eesti Laul, taking the silver medal with Pretty Little Liar before winning the contest in 2020 with What Love Is.
Readers of renowned Estonian magazine Kroonika voted Suviste ‘Estonia’s Sexiest Man’.
It was a curious Eesti Laul in this COVID-19 world. I’m not sure the point in masks and face shields when they are ripped off when interviewed just inches from a host. Even the super finalists formed a gaggle with the hosts (without masks or shields) when handed tulips and sharing Dutch hotdogs and beer, defeating the purpose of social distance protocols the rest of the time. Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden have all rejected sporadic mask use, while relying on social distancing. Exceptions when hosts are interviewing is likely because everyone involved has tested negative beforehand. If Eesti Laul were trying to set an example for the public, they’re setting a bad example. If there’s doubt about COVID-19, masks should be on at all times, especially when social distancing isn’t possible, while wearing masks doesn’t mean you can ignore social distancing, or shake hands with other artists like Ivo Linna did. Best to dump the game of pretend and present your show as thought it’s a safe environment and everyone is negative.
The event suffered in this COVID-19 world too. Vocals seemed to echo a bit on the large stage without an audience (other nations have kept the stages smaller and enclosed), song quality was patchy, performances were mostly staid (including the winner) and, ignoring the international jury’s attempted sabotage, the result was predictable. Uku’s biggest challenge was always reaching the super final. From there, the Uku momentum with the public would always ensure victory.
12 March 2021
Full Split Results
It shows the difference between a local and international jury when Koit Toome dominated the first semi final, winning both the local jury and the public vote. In contrast, the lamentable international jury in the final could only rank him seventh. For the winner, Uku Suviste, both juries rated him eighth in the respective second semi final and the final. Uku relied on massive public support to boost him into the final, then into the super final, and onto victory. He almost doubled the next best in the final (Koit Toome) and nearly got 50% of the entire 3-song super final vote. The other main notes are Sissi had to rely on one of the public wildcard spots to reach the final after initially finishing seventh, while Suured Tüdrukud were very popular with the public when running Uku a close second in the second semi final – 6291 to 5370 votes – and receiving the fifth most votes in the final. For some of my favourites that missed the fina, Gram-Of-Fun were close in sixth (Sissi leapfrogged them), while the likes of Kristin Kalnapenk, Nika Marula, Tanja, Heleza and Helen finished in that range between seventh and tenth.
All images courtesy of ERR.