Review: “Eesti Laul 2021” – Grand Final

As usual, Estonia will select their artist and song for Eurovision via “Eesti Laul“.
24 songs are included in the line-up, but only one will be Estonia’s song for Eurovision 2021.

The 24 artists were allocated into 2 semi-finals. The allocation will be revealed later on.
Semi-final 1 was held on the 18th of February 2021.
Semi-final 2 was held on the 20th of February 2021.
The Grand Final will be held on the 6th of March 2021.

Each semi-final included 2 rounds of voting. In the first round, 50% jury voting and 50% public voting determined the top 4 acts that qualify for the grand final.
In the second round of voting, the 8 remaining artists fought for another 2 spots in the final. The voting was determined only by public voting.
12 artists will compete in the final. In the first round of voting, 50% pubic voting and 50% jury voting will decide who are the top 3. In the second round, the public will choose their favorite to win.

Estonia went through a varied history at Eurovision. From ending in Top 10 in the years 2009, 2012, 2015, 2018 to unsatisfying in 2014,2016,2017 or ending in the bottom (2013, 2019).
What will Estonia’s fate be like at Eurovision 2021?

In this post, I will review the 12 finalists of “Eesti Laul 2021

#1. Egert Milder – Free Again

It’s a country singer song writer ballad. The guitar stringing is the central element of the melody. The singer tells a story in the lyrics: he wants to be free again and he is missing the past.
I can see that song also as “Covid-19” influenced.
In the live performance we can see Egert on the center of the stage, playing a white guitar with drums player, a keyboard player and 3 backing vocalists.
However, I find it really generic and basic. Vocally it wasn’t bad at all, but nothing special happened.
It will be the 3rd time Egert competing in “Eesti Laul” as a singer: In 2015 he was part of a duo and didn’t qualify for the final. In 2020′ he performed “Georgia is on my mind” and ended in 4th place in the final.

#2. Suured tüdrukud – Heaven’s Not That Far Tonight

It’s a disco-pop song. The song sounds like it was recorded in the 1980’s. This is a meeting between 2 divas that just came to celebrate. behind the song we can find 3 authors that 2 of them are competing here as performers: Karl Killing and Koit Toome.
It’s catchy and have different character comparing the other 23 songs in the running.
The 2 singers can sing easily but with a dated song like this.
In the live performance, the stage is dark at the beginning. They both wore glittery black dresses. The lights that come after are with disco motives. Vocally, the two of them were just flawless.
The presence of the backing vocalists on the stage is a good decision.

#3. Hans Nayna – One By One

It’s a Gospel Pop song. The introduction is promising, thereafter the melody is getting weaker while we can namely hear Hans voice. The chorus is catchy and stronger than the rest of the song. Nevertheless, there is something unoriginal and pretty predictable in the song.
In my opinion, the song can be revamped by adding a strong drop or an interesting break in the melody.
Hans has a warm and stable voice which puts him in the first line of performers in this national selection.
However, I found the live performance slightly underwhelming. It seems that Hans is lost on the stage, the dancers get more attention than they need to. At a specific point, it becomes boring.

#4. Ivo Linna, Robert Linna,and Supernova – Ma olen siin (Eng: “I’m here”)

Ivo Linna was part of the duo that represented Estonia at Eurovision 1996 and ended in 5th place in the final. Ivo Linna collaborates with his son Robert and the duo Supernova.
It’s a rock-pop ballad with influences of the 1990’s music. The introduction is quite acoustic with drums and guitar playing. The first two verses are being sung by Ivo alone with his typical raspy voice. The verse is much stronger and we can hear other vocalists alongside Ivo. The addition of other vocalists gives the song a unique dimension of softness. The combination of the violin with drums is good but the violin should be more dominant. The second part of the song starts with singing by one of the Supernova duo. The smokey atmosphere in the song is becoming stronger while the use of bass playing is wider.
The production was excellent and the vocalists made a good effort. My only concern is that the public may tag the song as dated and therefore will prevent them from voting for it.
Live performance starts with a focus on Ivo, singing with an accurate voice. The players are on the back. We can only see the shadow of Robert Linna in the first half of the song. Vocally, it was impressive and the vibes were very similar to a successful rock performance. The staging is quite simple but it fits the song.

#5. Karl Killing – Kiss Me

Karl Killing arrives this year not only as a performer but a composer/ writer of 3 songs (his song, Heleza‘s song and Suured tüdrukud‘ song). Karl competed in “Eesti Laul 2018” when he finished in 6th place in the final.
It’s a classic singer-songwriter acoustic ballad. The first verse is performed with guitar and the production is quite simple and thin. The song sounds to me like a typical commercial music. It has nothing bad, but it’s generic and lacks uniqueness. In addition, I felt like I’ve been “treated” with that massive use of “Kiss me” in the lyrics. the backing vocals elevate the value of the song.
I can see the Estonian public vote for it, but it won’t be a contender for the winning.
The live performance was pretty basic, just like the song itself. The atmosphere is romantic – intimic .
But it led me to think the song is forgatable.

#6.Uku Suviste – The Lucky One

Uku Suviste will try his luck for the 4th time in “Eesti Laul“.
In 2017, he performed “Supernatural” and didn’t qualify for the final.
In 2019, he ended up as the runner-up with “Pretty Little Liar”.
In 2020, he won the national selection with “What Love is“, but didn’t manage to represent Estonia due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This year, Uku is bringing us an electro-pop song. The song starts with a mysterious atmosphere. The style reminds me of Russian Pop from the 1990’s. I’m not sure that I’m good with the rhyme.
The chorus is much stronger. There is a use of computer processed vocals.
The beat is being built gradually until the chorus where it is exploding.
Uku sounds good in the song, but the final outcome is a little bit too dated for me.
Uku gave a powerful and effective performance to this song. Vocally, it didn’t disappoint me. The only remark I have here is that the staging included too many elements: chains, video effects, blurness, messy lights and more. However, those are things that can be easily fixed.

#7. Sissi  Time

Sissi is the daughter of Dave Benton, who was part of the duo that won for Estonia at Eurovision 2001. It will be her second attempt to represent Estonia. In 2019, she performed “Strong” and ended in the 4th place in the final.
This year she is competing with a gospel – soul ballad. The opening is relying on her warm voice alongside the piano playing. The chorus arrives early, but its first occurrence is modest and not bombastic at all. Thereafter, the song accumulates power and beat. The backing vocals have been chosen and put wisely. The third part of the song starts almost as A-Capella.
Sissi knows how to move on stage and it can help her a lot in delivering the message behind the song.
In the live performance, she sings with self confidence, it starts simple and little but it grows as the song continues. The presence of backing vocalists is important and in fact it elevates the value of the song. I woldn’t imagined a better concept for staging.

#8. Jüri Pootsmann – Magus melanhoolia (Eng: Sweet Melancholy)

Jüri Pootsmann comes back to “Eesti Laul“, after he had won in “Eesti Laul 2016” with the song “Play“.Jüri represented Estonia at Eurovision 2016, but failed to qualify for the grand final, ending last in his semi-final.
This time we are getting a song in the Estonian language. It’s an indie pop with wide influences of R&B. The verses are relying on drums beat effect with a basic melody and are performed in a low voice. On the bridge, he uses a higher voice in a passionate interpretation. The chorus includes computer processed voices as well as falsetto. Thereafter, we have a repeating on the structure of the song. The song is developing interestingly in a sense that the listener can feel he is going through a process. It’s one of the good songs in the running!
Live performance with a dark stage and monochromatic background. Each time, a different part of Jüri‘s face is lightened. The song uses the advantage of pre-recorded vocals. In the second half of the song, the singer takes the risk of singing the high notes live.

#9. REDEL Tartu

The song is named “Tartu” after the second biggest city in Estonia.
The duo have already participated in the national selection in 2013 as “Winny Puh” and ended in the 3rd place in the final.
After having a troll act last year with the name “Kapa Kohi-LA“, this year we will have “Tartu“.
It’s an urban rap song with a very noisy and unpleasant introduction. The experience is even worse than drinking poison. It seems like the song has something like 10 words in the lyrics. I don’t see any chance that their over-produced vocals will work on stage.
It’s a contender to be the worst song of Eurovision 2021 season.
The live performance included psychadalic elements. A lot happened on stage: there was a ladder, fur dolls, pyrotechnics and more. Vocally it was even worst than I’ve thought. I still don’t think it should have ever qualified for the final of “Eesti Laul 2021”

#10. Koit Toome – We Could Have Been Beautiful

Koit Toome comes back to “Eesti Laul“. The singer represented Estonia on 2 different occasions: In 1998 as a solo singer (12th place in the final) and in 2017 as a part of dual with Laura Põldvere (didn’t qualify for the final).
This time, Koit is competing with a singer-songwriter’s emotional ballad. The piano is playing in the main element of the song. His singing if full of air and it seems a little bit like it was recorded in the presence of vocal coach (it’s not surprising since the singer himself told that he took some singing lessons in order to be able to sing this song).
In the chorus the drama is growing. He uses falsetto and in general sings in high vocal.
The song is catchy but it sounds like some boy-band songs from the early 2000’s.
I’m not sure that the singer and song have a perfect match. However, it’s an unpredictable and good effort. Well done!
For the live performance, to be honest I was very disappointed. Koit’s voice was shaky and the high notes weren’t performed properly. The part that starts at 2:17 is the weakest one vocal wisely.

# 11. Andrei Zevakin & Pluuto  Wingman

It’s a rap song in the Estonian language. The melody is based on guitar and dominated by the modern production. Another element in the song is the special effect that changes the singers voices.
The second part of the song also includes trumpet playing. On a specific point, it seems like the video clip is critical for the ability to focus on the song.
The live performance was problematic for me. The staging was messy, I didn’t like the “behind the scenes” concept of Andrei Zevakin. Vocally, it wasn’t powerful enough.

#12. Kadri Voorand – Energy

Kadri competes in “Eesti Laul 2021″, after she has been one of the jury members in “Eesti Laul 2017“. It’s a jazz soul song. The video clip shows Kadri singing while playing on the piano and it may be a hint for her staging idea. The singer has a stable, warm and excellent voice alongside impressive English. The song is quiet simple but it’s effective. The production is putting the singer in the center. It’s a radio-friendly song that can succeed at the Eurovision Song Contest.
The chorus is a direct continuation to the verses. The chorus is a little bit slower than the verses.
You can feel that Kadri is not only a singer, but also a story-teller. Along with the song, she is showing versatile vocal abilities. A-Capella in the end is the best way to close the song.
The song is excellent and it can be a huge jury favorite. However, to increase its uniqueness, I would suggest to include a slightly more complicated production.
The live performance was just excellent. I had goosebumps, hearing how accurate and powerful she was. Kadri‘s vocal range is impressive and she just sings easily. It was one of the most impressive vocal performances of Eurovision 2021 season. Some may see staging as pretty basic, but it can always be improved.

My Ranking

It’s a diverse national selection that includes plenty of music genres: Pop, Rock, Jazz, Funk, Indie, Rap and more. However, the majority of the songs can be defined as radio-friendly but not as potential Eurovision acts. My full ranking will be as follows:

  1. Kadri Voorand – Energy
  2. Sissi – Time
  3. Jüri Pootsmann – Magus melanhoolia
  4. Ivo Linna, Robert Linna,and Supernova – Ma olen siin
  5. Uku Suviste – The Lucky One
  6. Suured tüdrukud –Heaven’s Not That Far Tonight
  7. Koit Toome – We Could Have Been Beautiful
  8. Hans Nayna – One By One
  9. Egert Milder – Free Again
  10. Karl Killing – Kiss Me
  11. Andrei Zevakin & Pluuto – Wingman
  12. REDEL – Tartu

My Prediction

It seems to me that the battle will be between Koit Toome and Uku Suviste.
My prediction for the super-finalists is: Koit Toome, Uku Suviste and Jüri Pootsmann

Doron Lahav is 28 years old guy who lives in Israel. Doron watches Eurovision Song Contest since early 2000s. Doron works as a Data Scientist and also shows interest in singing and writing.

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