Sunday, April 26, 2015

Notes from National Finals: Eesti Laul 2015, Estonia

Saturday 21st February. Another Super Saturday, and another national final. The most "indie" of national finals started, as is now the tradition, with a performance of the previous year's winner.  And although I was no fan of Tanja's "Euphoria" oops I mean "Amazing", I was quite impressed with the sax-tastic remix/makeover of the song, which I thought was a vast improvement on the original. Maybe if they'd have sent this version last year I would have had a more favourable view of it. 

The acts were introduced, with big cheers for favourites Elina and Stig who have already topped the Estonian singles chart.  By the way, it's good to see that they are still using the instrumental section of Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up" as background music whilst the presenters were talking.  And then you have the postcards where they sing the artist name and song title. All of these add up to Eesti Laul being one of Europe's coolest national finals.  So let's get on with the songs!

Welcome to Estonia, where they have an endless conveyor belt of women with spectacular long shiny hair. Luisa performs song 1,"Minu päike" sitting on a swing and then she and her backing singers take turns to play on the climbing frame. Childish and twee yes but its not the worst.  You see, that's where Eesti Laul differs from Melodifestivalen: it's smaller but less calculated, less ruthless, more 'real'.

Song 2 is by Maia Vahtramäe.  "Üle vesihalli taeva" is pretty forgettable. It may be sung by yet another Estonian woman with fabulous hair but the song is as dull as her dress.

I don't really understand the postcards this year "Alasti tõde" but I am reliably informed on Twitter that it was pretty funny. It's not a patch on the Estonian clowns though!!

Song 3 is the night's big favourite "Goodbye to Yesterday" sung by Elina Born and Stig Rästa. It's in black and white but the staging is slightly different from in the semi final. But where's Elina? All together now, "she's behind you!" Not sure about the white shirt and big cummerbund but I suppose it matches the feel of the song. Vocally it's ok and I can't really see anything overtaking it.

Song 4 is "Idiot" by the Kali Briis Band. Well I really like this and they look as if they are having great fun. Love their wacky shirts. I think I might listen to this after the contest is over although it doesn't have Eurovision appeal. But it does include the cracking line "In my opinion you're just an idiot".

Song 5 is "Troubles" by Robin Juhkental and the Big Bangers. This is very different from "Siren" although he uses a similar camera technique. Imagine big band meets indie and that's somewhere near this.

Song 6 is sung by Daniel Levi - I wondered why the French singer who had a massive hit a few years ago with "L'envie d'aimer" was doing in Eesti Laul.  But it's not that one.  Well hello Estonian version of Daniel Levi, nobody told me you were this cute! "Burning Lights" is in with a good chance then he completely seals it with a stage dive and a bit of crowd surfing.

What I notice in this final is that everyone looks as if they're enjoying the experience. I can only watch and envy this, imagine a UK ESC final like this. No you can't, because that's an experience we are denied.

The 7th song is "Superlove" by Elisa Kolk aka the one which doesn't sound indie. Really hoping this doesn't win as right now we have too many interchangeable brunettes already. The song is OK but not my favourite.

The Blurry Lane look like an Estonian version of the Corrs but don't really have much else going for them. The song Exceptional certainly doesn't live up to its title.

Next up is my other favourite finalist, "Unriddle Me" by the brilliantly-named Elephants from Neptune is just great and again I will be listening to this long after Eesti Laul is over.

Unlike "This is Our Choice" by Triin Niitoja and John 4. It's certainly more commercial but a bit too 'Eurovisiony' and given Estonia's left-field reputation it would be a serious cop-out if Estonia was to send this.

The juries send "Goodbye to Yesterday", "Burning Lights" and "Superlove" (what, no "Unriddle Me"????)  to the superfinal, and it's "GTY" which is a resounding winner with 79% of the televote.

I'm delighted with this result as the song is one of the best to come out of national finals season in 2015 and is way better than any of the indistinguishable mid-tempo/ballads sung by interchangeable brunettes. I'm guessing though that the staging remains a work in progress until Vienna and then it will be make or break. If they get it right I'm predicting a definite top 10 place for Stig and Elina.

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