Eesti Laul II: The Wrath of Song ({{commentsTotal}})

We are halfway through the first round of Eesti Laul, the gateway to the country's representative to the Eurovision song contest in Copenhagen in May. ERR News editors have weighed in with their take on tonight's ten, but don't be scared off by the Olympic-scale negativity, tune in yourself at 21:45 to ETV tonight.

Tonight's five winners will face off with the other advancing semifinalists in the grand final on March 1st. 

As it did last week, ERR's news staff continues to let its hair down, and give you their view of Estonia's chances given their estimation of the second half of the semifinal field.

The first number after the comments (on a 10-point scale) are how much the editor liked the song in question. The second number is a estimate of the song's suitability for the Eurovision contest, a Eurovision-Suitability-Score (ESS), if it were to advance.

What are your picks for tonight?

1. Search – Norman Salumäe

SA: Probably the most minimalistic of the Eesti Laul entries. One guitar, one block of wood, no talent. (2, 2)

KK: “But I keep crying, I won't stop trying, but I keep crying , I won't stop...” Will you at least stop singing? Thank you. (3, 4)

JML: The August Hunt soloist is intending to attract tears from the listener. Not sure if the melancholy nature of the song or the god-awfulness does this better. (2, 3)

2. Lootus – Lauri Pihlap

SA: This particular singer dressed in his video looks a lot like the Mormon missionaries wandering throughout Estonia. Unfortunately, I can't invite Lauri to meet me in a bar for a beer so he'll go away. (3, 3)

KK: Looks like the lyrics of this homespun tribute to Justin Timberlake’s tributes to Michael Jackson were written in the hope that they’d prove a self-fulfilling prophecy, but the poor boy actually looks quite worried. (3, 5)

JML: An interesting mix of chapel music and boy-band ballad for a nation of non-believers and rough men. Not really suitable for the Eurovision, Eesti Laul veteran Pihlap should know. (2, 2)

3. Muud pole vaja – Nion

SA: It's never promising when your band's drummer spends most of her time rattling a tambourine. But the lead, at least, has some stage presence, and the song, at least, has a heartbeat, which is probably more than can be said for Nion's chances. (4, 2)

KK: Another computer-generated thingy, different software this time. Not annoying enough to be memorable, therefore, unlikely to succeed. (2, 7)

JML: Would have been a hit ten years ago. Sadly for Nion, music has moved on. (3, 7)

4. Elu – Maltised

SA: It is high time that the rest of Europe undergoes an Estonian rite of passage - the experience of a night of drunken karoke on a Tallinn-Helsinki ferry. This act might be as close as Eurovision ever comes. (4, 4)

KK: In terms of a smashing success, it's more Engelbert Humperdinck than the Olsen Brothers, I fear. (3, 4) 

JML: Another novelty band, a father and his two son-trio who will draw support from older viewers. The pensioner in me says the song has a nice melody and tempo, I'll stop here; there is enough negativity in the world. (5, 6)

5. City Lights – Sofia Rubina

SA: Sure, you've been told that disco is dead, but Sofia Rubina is here to prove all you haters wrong. In her video, the omnipresent backup singers of Eesti Laul are replaced by potted plants, which is a bonus in this editor's estimation. I guess we could do much worse than this danceable tune about the city lights of Tallinn. And I think it has been empirically proven in this song contest that we often do. (5, 5)

KK: You have to love the way she always seems to be so happy and bubbly, but the song, especially the production, is too smooth and house-y for Eurovision, too thin for anything else. (5, 4)

JML: Comes with a sticker of approval by Finance Minister Jürgen Ligi – one singer, one dj with a computer, nothing else. Total cost 56 euros. The song? Will be played by clubs on Thursday evenings. (4, 6)

6. Fearful Heart – MiaMee

SA: One woman, her invisible band, and a repetitive chorus line. “Oh I wonder, oh I wonder” if this has a chance. No, it doesn't. (3, 2)

KK: Apart from the chuckle-inducing baby name of the artist, this actually stands out with a certain crisp sound. The Liisi Koikson clone may be too delicate for Eurovision, though. Hiring, say, Metsatöll for purely decorative (or intimidating) purposes may increase her chances. (6, 5)

JML: The song keeps you waiting for a great chorus, three minutes later you relize the whole song was a chorus and you have lost three minutes of your life. (3, 2)

7. Für Elise – Traffic

SA: This tune gives me cognitive dissonance. It’s light, it’s upbeat – when the main beat kicks in I feel a need to yell “Road Trip!” But the lyrics seem to involve a broken house, a dead flower and a girl hiding in a bed. In that way, I guess it displays the true Estonian heart. (4, 6)

KK: A poor man’s Ewert and the Two Dragons. Not exactly the fast lane, amirite? (3, 7)

JML: One of the favorites, a folksy sound, yet modernized. Some resemblances of Mumford & Sons. (6, 7) 

8. Siin või sealpool maad – Maiken

SA: Probably the best-written lyrics of a song I’ve heard in Eesti Laul this year, backed up by a decent singing performance. But will it attract the phone voters? Probably not. There’s a reason that the Clazz jazz bar in Tallinn shut down this month. (6, 4)

KK: A nice throwback to the variety song collections of 1960s and 1970s every Estonian household still has on vinyl, it has a pretty nice melody. She may not have the quite inexplicable appeal of Ott Lepland, but still, could be a contender. (6, 5)

JML: A ballad of the slowest kind. Easy to imagine a young women looking out of the window, standing next to a fire place, snow-covered trees outside. Easy to imagine the UK giving it four points, but none from any other nation. (4, 3)

9. Kui tuuled pöörduvad – Sandra Nurmsalu

SA: I went to a concert some years ago in the Tartu Botanical Gardens, starring Eesti Laul royalty Sandra Nurmsalu and Laura Põldvere, who were backed up by Estonian and Brazilian bands. It was quite possibly the worst concert I have ever been to; a total clash of musical styles. After it was over, the standing-room only audience sat in silence like it had been nerve-gassed. I had the same reaction after watching this entry.

Nurmsalu has a certain international following after her Eurovision finals performance of “Rändajad” in 2009 with Urban Symphony. Her ethereal, witchy performance turned a lot of heads. There was some thought that Nurmsalu would do even better as a performer and artist with a little age and experience. Well, we have our answer.

Under the Svengali-like songwriter Sven Lõhmus, Nurmsalu has far from flowered. Instead we have this song, where she’s become a lyrical flower child; kidnapped by dirty hippies and sent to sing barefoot in a commune. Oh, how “Rändajad” seems a Golden Age now. (1, 4)

KK: She is pretty and everyone loved "Rändajad" and they could’ve used an asphalt core drill and nails on the blackboard to accompany her and no one would mind because it’s Sandra! And Sven Lõhmus! So it must be good! Oh mercy! (0, 9) 

JML: Received much media hype, but it seems by default. Stands out as the general quality of competition is low, and doesn't have a catchy tune, which is a must for the Eurovision. I wasn't in Estonia in 2009, so I don't know what the other editors are on about, for me she is a hippy in the era of hipsters. (6, 4)

10. Laule täis taevakaar – Brigita Murutar

SA: Not a ground-breaking tune or act, but a nice, upbeat song, and I didn’t feel dirty after listening to it. That can be asking a lot during Eesti Laul. Deserves to advance. (5, 3)

KK: Upbeat, unpretentious and catchy, but lacking that essential camp quality that would bring Europe to its knees. Maybe add some autotune and a techno beat, just in case? I mean, looking at Sandra, a dog's breakfast seems to be de rigeur this year (5, 6)

JML: The first impression is that it is a song for pre-teens. As liking Maltised has left me feeling old, I think I'll skip a second impression. (2, 3)


Final Predictions

SA (Scott Abel): I would have shocked to know that I was going to write this last week, but it appears the first-half of the bracket was stronger, with a lot of "KILL IT WITH FIRE" acts seemingly on tap tonight. But who knows what will happen in front of a live audience? I dismissed Super Hot Cosmos Blues Band until they put on a show last Friday. Maybe someone with chops will rise to the challenge tonight.

KK (Kaisa Kaer): Almost makes one miss Vöörad - this bunch takes themselves awfully seriously. Lenna will probably win the Eesti Laul but not make it in Copenhagen. Very slim pickings indeed. 

JML (Juhan-Markus Laats): Most of tonight's winners will make the finals due to past merit. Hopefully the musical karma will end there and a peformer from the first semi-final will head to Copenhagen. We are having a really bad Olympic games; we really deserve a good Eurovision run.

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