19 June 2021
Fifteen years after their last album, Vanilla Ninja are back with their new single, Gotta Get It Right, and they certainly got it right with this grand reintroduction of the all-girl Estonian band renown for their powerful rock melodies and soaring vocals. Gotta Get It Right is the first single from their new album, appropriately called Encore, which is scheduled for release on 8th of October later this year.
It’s an even longer wait to see Vanilla Ninja as a quartet again, as their last album, Love Is War, released in 2006, only featured Lenna Kuurmaa, Piret Järvis and Katrin Siska. Triinu Kivilaan, who replaced original bassist and co-lead singer Maarja Kivi in 2004 when just 15 years of age, left the band at the end of 2005, as this phase of their career also marked a change of record companies after a bitter split with their existing German producer and label. That producer, David Brandes, is behind this comeback, bringing all four girls back together, and the outcome is already spectacular.
I love that Triinu gets the main vocals to stamp this as a full Vanilla Ninja revival. As much as Lenna will always be my favourite ninja and the voice of my soul, it was important to show Triinu and her unique and seductive voice as an integral and important part of the band. Of course, we hear Lenna during the bridge and ripping the choruses. My favourite section in the video is Lenna and Triinu back to back during the bridge and Lenna doing her trademark look-away smile at 1:38. It’s like she’s proud of hearing Triinu back. All four girls reprise some of their mannerisms from old videos and performances. Whether intentional or ninjas just being ninjas, it’s a nice touch.
Overall, the video succeeds by reintroducing all four girls as together again, showcasing their style, and giving each some individual spotlight. Gotta Get It Right itself hits the marks mixing subtle verses, a nice bridge and booming choruses in classic VN style, and that melody is so infectious. Also consider the one minute snippets of the two songs revealed 6 months ago, both with Lenna leading, that sound easily as good, and Encore promises to fully reprise the joy and exhilaration of a classic Vanilla Ninja album that many of us thought would never be experienced again.
Eurovision fans will recall Vanilla Ninja from 2005, in which the band, representing Switzerland, finished eighth with Cool Vibes. That song remains my all time Eurovision favourite and eventually led to a whirlwind change in my life of travelling to Estonia in 2008 to see them in concert, seeing Lenna solo in 2017, and so much other crazy stuff.
With Encore scheduled for October, that would make most of its songs eligible for Eurovision 2022 so we could see Vanilla Ninja attempt a return. For their native Estonia, they would need to go through Eesti Laul, which would be phenomenal in itself and might mean another trip for myself to Estonia. The band (as a trio) tried in 2007, finishing fourth with Birds Of Peace, while Lenna has had four attempts as a solo artist, finishing second in 2010 and 2012, fourth in 2014 and eighth in 2017. Piret, as part of Disko 4000, was seventh in 2010. The band also tried in 2003 with Club Kung Fu, only to be rated equal last by the judges in an era when the public had no say.
All four have become mothers over time. Lenna (now 35) recently added a son to her two daughters. Piret (37) has a baby daughter while Triinu (32) and Katrin (37) each have a son. Lenna has been most active with her music career, producing three solo albums in Estonia (Lenna in 2010, Teine in 2013 and 3X in 2018), and Moonland with an Italian production team in 2014. Triinu released a solo album called Now And Forever in 2008 and now lives in Switzerland.
Encore will be the fifth Vanilla Ninja album after Vanilla Ninja (2003), Traces Of Sadness (2004), Blue Tattoo (2005) and Love Is War (2006). The self-titled album is the only one produced in Estonia and features a mix of English and Estonian songs. All are superb with some unmissable songs and all have their own special place in my heart. Love Is War is my favourite and I estimate I’ve heard it over 3000 times. It’s that epic.
1 July 2021 – Update