Preview: Estonia’s “Eesti Laul 2013”
One of the five (!) nations to choose their song for Sweden this weekend will be Estonia, who will hold the 2013 edition of the Eesti Laul Final this Saturday. Tallinn’s Nokia Concert Hall will once again play host to ten strong acts from a broad spectrum of genres, all anxiously waiting for a professional jury and public televote to award one participant a trip to Eurovision. At least four acts are returning to the Eesti Laul stage, while six are newcomers. Let’s take a peek at this year’s acts, shall we?
- Rolf Roosalu – “With U”
- Liisi Koikson & Söörömöö – “Üle vee“
- Rasmus Randvee and Facelift Deer – “Dance“
- Elina Born – “Enough“
- Põhja-Tallinn – “Meil on aega veel“
- Kõrsikud – “Suuda öelda ei“
- Birgit Õigemeel – “Et uus saaks alguse“
- Teele & Tuuli & Ula – “Ring the Alarm“
- Winny Puhh – “Meiecundimees üks Korsakov läks eile Lätti“
- Grete Paia – “Päästke noored hinged“
There are quite a few familiar names on this list to followers of Eesti Laul. Rolf Roosalu (previously known as Rolf Junior) will be performing in his 6th consecutive Eesti Laul, and hoping to break his high-water-mark of third place. Kõrsikud features Jaan Pehk (alias Orelipoiss), who has taken part in two National Finals on his own, and made it to Eurovision proper as part of Ruffus in 2003. Birgit Õigemeel, the first winner of Estonia’s rendition of “Idol”, competed in the National finals of 2008 and 2012. Finally, Teele Viira, another “Idol” alum, faced off against herself in last year’s competition, as “City Nights” went up against Pop Maniacs’ “I Don’t Know” (which also featured Rolf Roosalu! Are you confused yet?).
Birgit and Teele aren’t the only two veterans from Estonian “Idol” taking the stage this year. Rasmus Randvee and Elina Born took first and second place, respectively, in the most recent season of the show. Considering that the last three National Final winners from this country came from the Idol circuit, Rasmus, Elina, Birgit, and Teele might be names to watch.
These songs are Estonia’s Top Ten, but there were a few notable entries that fell at the Semifinal mark.
- Last year’s bronze medalists, Tenfold Rabbit, went a a bit Mumford and Sons with “Balance of Water and Stone“, and we finally got to see the accordion that lead singer Andres Kõpper mentioned in “Oblivion“. (And yes, that is Malcolm Lincoln’s Robin Juhkental singing backing vocals.)
- Newcomers Flank (made up of some of the members of Eesti Laul 2010 alums Groundhog Day) was a fan favorite with their electro-alt-rock number “Missing Light“. Like Tenfold Rabbit, however, Flank failed to qualify from the semi, even despite support from the professional jury.
- Also falling at the Semifinal hurdle was Liis Lemsalu, another “Idol” winner. Last year, she wowed the crowd with her neo-soul entry “Made Up My Mind“. She tried to follow in the same vein with “Uhhuu“, but sadly didn’t meet the same level of acclaim from the public vote.
I feel like I say this yearly, but the consistent depth and diversity of Estonia’s talent pool belies the country’s small population of only 1.3 million. (Out of countries participating at Eurovision this year, only San Marino, Iceland, Montenegro, Malta, and Cyprus have fewer citizens.) Out of the eighteen times that the country has sent a representative to Eurovision, eight of them have cracked the Top Ten. Since switching to the Eesti Laul format in 2009, four out of five Estonian entries have qualified for the Finals.
It’s also heartening to see that over half of the songs that we’ll hear on Saturday are performed in Estonian (or, at least, that’s what I think Winny Puhh are singing in…). Interestingly, in recent years, Estonia has actually tended to fare better on the scoreboard when they send songs in their native language than when they switch to English.
This year’s Eesti Laul roster is incredibly diverse, going from ballad to rock to pop to rap to folk to punk and back again, so anything can happen. Who’s your pick?