Review: “Eesti Laul 2022” – Semi-Finals (Estonia)

As in recent years, Estonia will select an artist and a song for Eurovision via “Eesti Laul“.
This year, the format of the national selection has been updated.

40 songs were presented to the public earlier (at the end of 2021).
National Selection starts with 4 quarter-finals.10 different artists competing in each quarter-final.
With a joint decision on public voting and jury voting, 5 artists from each quarter-final advanced for the next round: the semi-finals.

Therefore, 20 artists will take part in the semi-finals.
8 of them qualified thanks to jury selection and the other 12 qualified thanks to the public vote.
It is still not known which artist will take place in each semi-final.
In this post, I will review the 20 songs.

#1. Alabama Watchdog – Move On [Jury Qualifier, Quarter-Final 3]

It’s a rock song in the style of 1980’s and 1990’s music.
The song starts with an instrumental section, composed of bass guitar, drums and electronic keyboards. The lead singer sings it with self-confidence. The first verse has a constant structure, which includes bass solo and dance beat alternately.
The bridge is all about rocking, and the punky beat disappears.
In the chorus, we can hear the lead singer accompanied by lower tone backing vocals.
After the chorus ends, we get another occurrence of the bridge with richer production.
It ends with an instrumental part and one last chorus.
Vocal wise, that sounds great. The atmosphere is faithful to the general vibe the band tends to give.
However, it doesn’t feel competitive enough.
I have some problems with the structure of the song as well. There is only one verse and it is very long. On the other hand, we don’t get any more verses afterwards.

#2. Andrei Zevakin feat. Grete Paia – Mis nüüd saab (Eng:What Now?) [Public Qualifier, Quarter-Final 2]

It’s a hip-hop urban pop song with some Latin motives.
The song starts with guitar stringing and kind of an urban beat. It starts with an upbeat chorus, and then we move on to the verses.
The melody is quite basic, and it also includes some Latin elements. Andrei‘s distinctive voice is kind of another dimension in the song.
Grete’s part is so tiny that she is kind of a backing vocalist, and not a featured artist.
However, her parts are nice and somehow reduced the areesive performance of Andrei.
Sadly, it was Grete‘s weakest effort in the history of the Estonian selection, and I’m saying this as one that loves her songs.
It is a nice radio-friendly song, but it is too monotonous. I’m not a big fan, even though it has something refreshing and modern in it.

#3. Anna Sahlene – Champion [Public Qualifier, Quarter-Final 3]

It’s a schalgaer pop song.
The melody is based on dynamic production that grows as the song lasts.
Anna opens the song with her soft but powerful voice. She performs it with a high tone of voice.
From time to time, we can hear some drum beats. The verse has a linear rate.
The first verse ends with the same line as the chorus opening line.
At first, it seems the chorus has an acoustic scent, but in its second half we get an uplifting beat.
The second verse is a little bit more rhythmic than the first one, we can even hear 3 seconds of violin (why not more). This time, the chorus is upbeat to begin with.
The bridge is unplagged and includes choir singing and some impressive long notes by Anna.
The song isn’t bad at all, but something feels too basic here.
I don’t want to be mean, but it smells like a “Melodifestivalen” rejected act, even though it isn’t

#4. Black Velvet – Sandra [Public Qualifier, Quarter-Final 4]

It’s a dance pop song with influences from the 1980’s.
The song starts with a short introduction that’s taken from the chorus.
The melody is based on keyboards and drums. In the first verse, we can hear the low and smokey voice of the lead singer. There is a light dance beat that is included in the verse.
In the pre-chorus, we can hear the other members of the band as well, they add to the vocal variety as they sing in higher tone.In the pre-chorus and the chorus, the sounds are built on longer sounds, and vocally it sounds better. Chorus melody is based on guitar and drums.
Thereafter, the second verse arrives but there’s some disappointment in it. It just doesn’t grab you out. The pre-chorus preceded the bridge where they all sang together.
For me, the final product is dated, and not as a successful throwback. In addition, I find the chorus and pre-chorus much better than the verses. In some parts, it felt like the verses were intended to fill the song.

#5. Boamadu – Mitte kauaks (Eng: Not For Long) [Public Qualifier, Quarter-Final 1]

It’s a rock&roll song, performed in Estonian.
The song starts with an instrumental section, composed of bass, guitar and drums.
The first verse comes with a massive hard rock attitude, including a smokey and powerful voice.
In fact, sometimes it is hard to hear the singer, as the volume of the guitars and drums sometimes overcome his singing. The first verse is very short, and very quickly we get the chorus.
The chorus has a catchier music line, the lead singer gets some help from the other members of the band. The second verse is short as well.
After the second chorus, we get a more calm part, where we can hear the soft sides in the lead singer’s voice. This includes the instrumental section and some vocal improvisations.
It has its own kick, but at the same time there is no development in the song.
It starts aggressive, continues and ends in the same way.
Isn’t it a rock song we all have heard (maybe in other languages) before?

#6. Elina Nechayeva – Remedy [Public Qualifier, Quarter-Final 3]

It’s a spiritual inner ballad.
Elina opens the song with her high and fragile voice. To start with, the melody is minimalist (gentle keyboard playing) , and the emphasis is on her voice. In the second part of the first verse, we can hear an electric guitar that decorated the melody. Before the chorus, we can hear violin playing.
The pre-chorus is based on soft stringing on an electric guitar. Towards its end, she uses higher notes. The chorus is minimalistic and based on piano, guitar and violin.
Immediately after, we get the second verse. At this time, pre-chorus has a stronger basis for melody, with more “bravery” in the guitar playing.The chorus is performed with a soft and pleasant voice.
The chorus is emotional, and especially when it comes to the peak point. At this point, Elina yells with her operatic voice.
I find the song exciting, and full of emotions.
I appreciate the fact that there is something restrained in the majority of the performance.
I believe it could have been even better with the addition of dark elements to the song.
The final outcome was decent and catchy.

#7. ELYSA – Fire [Public Qualifier, Quarter-Final 4]

It’s a Latin dance-pop song.
The song starts in an almost acoustic atmosphere, in this part the melody is simple and basic.
Towards the end of this verse, we can hear guitar stringing and Castanets playing which hints at the characteristics of the song.
Pre-chorus is built on a light beat that becomes stronger as the chorus arrives.
In the chorus, we can hear the singer in a thin and high voice. She uses long pronounciations of the words (especially “fire”). The beat now gets another dimension of drums and guitar sound. This part is the catchiest part of the song. It isn’t a coincidence that we see her in the video clip surrounded by dancers. The chorus relies on 2 sentences – more or less – but it is still effective.
The second verse feels a little bit like a filler, or in other words I feel it is there just to make the song in the suitable length. She sings one sentence and is accompanied by backing vocalists.
At the last part, we get again the chorus with a stronger beat.
I think the song is decent and very catchy. However, it resembles so many other things.
I think the team behind the song could have invested more thinking in the lyrics and the arrangement of the song. Having said this, it is refreshing to see a song of this kind competing in the Estonian selection.

#8. Evelin Samuel – Waterfall [Public Qualifier, Quarter-Final 1]

It’s a dreamy ballad. The melody is based on piano playing.
Evelin has a distinctive voice and she sings it easily. The first verse has a “raw” character and the focus on her voice. In the second half of it, we can hear some guitar playing.
In the pre-chorus we can hear accompanied by backing vocalists.
The chorus is uplifting and cheers the listen’s soul, even though it isn’t rhythmic, but it gives a place of hope. The line continues from the first verse. However, the hythm presents only in part of the chorus, and later on fades and gives Evelin a place to expose her vocal abilities.
On the bridge, she uses a high tune which sounds excellent. We can hear some string instrument (violin / cello) in this part. Afterwards, the melody becomes a little bit more rich.
The song ens with an acoustic part.
The song is decent, reminds me songs “ABBA” songs.
Evelin stays faithful to her own style. For some moments, it lacks of sharpness.
Sometimes, the song sounds a little bit dated.
However, it grew on me and I appreciate it.

#9. Helen – Vaatu minu poole (Eng: Look at Me) [Public Qualifier, Quarter-Final 2]

It’s a dance-pop song.
The atmosphere of the song reminds me of 1980’s music, however, it is still contemporary.
The song starts with an instrumental part that’s composed of piano and guitar playing.
She enters with singing almost effortlessly, while a frequent beat wrapps the melody.
In the pre-chorus, we can hear more of her voice, and the rate is a little bit slower.
Just before the chorus, a dance pop exlpdes into the melody. The chorus is catchy and uplifting, she sings it with mid-high tone, while backing vocalists with low tone accompany her.
Thereafter, the second pre-horus appears (and it is very short), we get onc again the chorus that’s based on the dance beat and gentle guitar playing.
After the chorus, there a section that includes 2 sentences that repeats themselves.
I love the charrful and happy vibes of the song.
This effort is better than Helen’s song from 2021. The chorus is catchy, and in general the song is easy to remember (even though it isn’t in English). I don’t think the song will be a challange to perform, but we should be careful with comnibining dancing and singing.

#10. Jaagup Tuisk – Kui Vaid (Eng: If Only) [Jury Qualifier, Quarter-Final 1]

It’s a cinematic dark pop ballad.
The song starts with an instrumental part, composed of the piano and violin with impressive production. The introduction sounds like a mysterious soundtrack from a horror movie.
The singing part has a slow rate and it feels like a story-telling.
In the chorus, the melody is a little bit “raw” and sounds like an orchestra piece.
The second verse starts immediately after the chorus. The cinematic section still fades and pours some drama into the listeners’ ears. We can hear a combination of 2 melodies into one piece. As musm as they are different, they live together in peace.
The second chorus includes some falseto backing vocals, alongside singing in mid-high voice, afterwards he sings it all in falsetto voice. As the bridge arrives, the tension in the song arrives at its peak, the melody cuts the lines in a special way. Backing vocals decorate the singing that is once again performed professionally. The song ends out of the blue.
I find it unique, dark and different. Jaagup is an excellent performer. Production is brilliant and the composition isn’t trivial. Well done!

#11. Jyrise – Plaksuta (Eng: Claps) [Jury Qualifier, Quarter-Final 2]

It’s an Estonian rap song.
The song starts with a trumpet playing. Not too long after, the first verse arrives. The trumpet is still present in the melody, but its volume decreases. Jyrise sings the first part in a fast speaking, as it should be in rap. I have some doubts about how memorable the first verse is.
In the chorus, there is a female backing vocalist that supports him. The chorus is much more catchy and uplifting. As promised in the song’s title, you can hear clap effects in the chorus, together with a beat and wind instruments. The second verse arrives, and it is very similar to the first one. After the second chorus, the bridge comes in. On the bridge, he sings together with the female backing vocalist. The clap sounds continue on this part as well, the backing singer sounds great and even has some impressive moments. The chorus arrives for the third time, and afterwards there’s an acoustic section with drums playing, where he sings more silently until stop singing. Drums playing finalize the song.
The song is catchy, and while some listeners might find it similar to Jason Derulo or Mikolas Josef‘s style. I feel like the song lacks spice. The chorus is on point, while some more energy is required in the verses. Perhaps a less tight production of the verses would have helped.

#12. Kaia-Liisa Kesler – Vaikus (Eng:Silence) [Jury Qualifier, Quarter-Final 2]

It’s a ballad.
The song starts with piano playing. Kaia-Liisa enters the song with a mid-low voice, and as the first verse progresses, cello is added to the melody. She uses some techniques to express her feelings. We can hear some backing vocals. In the second half of the first verse, the piano dominates the melody. As the chorus begins, we can hear the cello. For the first time, the chorus is minimalistic and yet full of emotions. The second verse is much more powerful. THe composition is stronger and the singer uses longer notes and keeps on changing the way she sings it (in a good way, to give more colors of her voice). Her voice reaches its peak before the second chorus. The second chorus is built on a stronger production and it is more catchy.
The bridge starts in a fragile way, and little by little it gains power. We can hear a violin towards its end. The song ends with one more chorus and then a whisper.
I think the song is emotinal and unique. Kaia does a wonderful job with her vocals.
The Estonian language adds a lot of value to the final outcome.
I hope it will have a meaningful staging, maybe with sign language.

#13. Maian – Meeletu (Eng: Crazy) [Jury Qualifier, Quarter-Final 1]

It’s a modern Indie-pop song with Latin elements.
The song starts with a pre-recorded singing part that is blended into a light electro beat.
The beat, together with electric keyboards, creates a festive but dark atmosphere.
The pre-recorded sung part continues into the pre-chorus. For this part, Maian uses a higher tone of voice, and the production wears another layer. The chorus has a faster rate, and we can hear some backing vocalists with her. The chorus is catchy and memorable. On the one hand, it is similar to the verses, but on the other hand it suggests a new direction.
One of the surprising moments comes in the second verse, which is performed in Spanish.
Recorded vocals reach an interesting color, and her singing becomes faster and in some ways includes more passion. This time, the chorus relies on a rhythmic beat.
The melody of the song changes when the bridge comes in. The melody becomes very simple, but effective, and her voice delivers plenty of emotions. She sings it with high notes and a soft voice.
The beat that joins builds the song from the sketch.
The song haunted me for the first time. The genre is special, and it is different from all the other songs in the line-up. The combination between Spanish and Estonian is brilliant. Her voice fits the song, and I’m very impressed by the production.
If she performs it well enough on stage, it can be a unpredictable dark horse.

#14. Merilin Mälk – Little Girl [Jury Qualifier, Quarter-Final 2]

It’s a pop-soul ballad.
The song starts with a simple piano playing. Merilin enters the song with a young and fragile voice.
In the first verse, she sings almost effortlessly, while the production is thin.
When the pre-chorus arrives, the speed of the keyboards is accelerated. She breaks some of the sentences in a way that serves the melody. She uses some vibrations in h er voice.
Before the chorus, we have a short pause. In the chorus, her singing is much more powerful and emotional. The melody is more airy, even though there is more tension in her singing.
Towards the end of the chorus, she is back to the simple singing from the beginning.
The second verse is shorter than the first one, and we can hear the keyboards playing more clearly.
The pre-chorus is identical to the previous one, but this time ends with ticking of a clock.
Thereafter, the emotional and powerful chorus comes again, this time with a more sophisticated production that is based on wind instruments. The last part of the song is another occurrence of the chorus.
It is a romantic ballad that fits the romantic comedy genre of movies. It is radio-friendly, and for some reason reminds me of Dami Lovato’s songs. I think the song is decent, but I’m not sure how authentic it is.

#15. Minimal Wind ft. Elisabeth Tiffany – What To Make Of This [Jury Qualifier, Quarter-Final 4]

It’s a lounge jazz song with some blue elements.
The song starts with stringing on bass guitar. The song opened with the chorus. Elisabeth enters the song with a sensual singing alongside the guitar playing. The production is bare and gives a place of respect to the musical instruments. After the first verse, we return to the chorus.
Between the different parts, we can hear instrumental transitions. Elisabeth did a wonderful job with her interpretation of the text and accurate vocal performance. In sione parts, we can hear female backing vocals. The guitar solo is beautiful, even though some of us can define it as a cliche.
The song is personal and emotional. It tells the story of one that falls in love and doesn’t know how to communicate it to the other side. it has a cyclic structure that could last forever.
It is an A team quality song, but at the same time have no chance to win the selection.

#16. Ott Lepland – Aovalguses (Eng: In The Light) [Public Qualifier, Quarter-Final 4]

It’s a pop-rock ballad, performed in Estonian language.
The song starts with an instrumental part composed of piano playing.
The melody is quite constant in the verses and shows several colors of Ott’s voice. Before the chorus, the melody takes a sharp turn. The song gets the dimensions of mystery and darkness. Ott’s voice reaches its peak, as it is a little bit scorched and with incredible volume. He uses some long high notes to express his emotions, as we can hear keyboards playing and the sound of “whispering wind”. Afterwards, the whole song sticks to the style of the chorus. Surprisingly, he succeeded in reaching an even higher level with a modulation on the bridge.
After the bridge, we get another verse in more calm vibes. The melody at the end relies on some wind instruments, but ends with the same accords from the beginning.
Ott sings it with the perfect combination of softness and toughness. His voice storked the accord, but sometimes he chooses to lose control of it (in the best possible way) and design the whole meaning of the song in another way.
I find the song magical and even captivating. We can trust Ott that he will perform it perfectly on stage. The timeline for the song isn’t constant or cyclic. I appreciate the choice to perform in Estonian as well.

#17. Púr Múdd & Shira – Golden Shore [Jury Qualifier, Quarter-Final 4]

It’s an Indie- electo dance-pop song.
The song starts with an instrumental part composed of electric keyboards.
Joonatan Siiman is the one to open the singing part. He has a gentle voice with a little bit of raspiness. The first verse is built on fast dance pop beats from the introduction.
Thereafter, Shira took the lead. For her part, the rate changes, as she has a different voice pitch. The chorus is catchy and we have a repeating of several words in the lyrics. Their voices complete each other in a good way and both blend into the electro-dance beat. The chorus is uplifting and well produced. Afterwards, we have a short instrumental part. In the second chorus, the beat is weakened, and the melody is quite simple but effective. Shira uses some vocal improvisations and she sings the pre-chorus alone. In the second chorus, the beat is still absent, we can hear some guitar playing.
In the last part, it comes back. The song ends with the beat from the introduction.
The song is catchy, a decent EDM we’ve all waited for. Shira and Joonatan are excellent vocally. The beat wraps the melody just in the right place. I’m curious to see it live, the staging will play an important role in the performance of such a song.

#18. Stefan – Hope [Public Qualifier, Quarter-Final 3]

It’s a country pop song.
The atmosphere in the clip and in the song itself reminds me of the wild west.
The melody is based on classical guitar playing, with a reduced set of accords.
Stefan uses a lower voice. The first verse is based on the guitar playing and some whistles
The song is decent, but I’m not a big fan of the genre.
The pre-chorus is short and a little bit slower. The chorus is powerful and sounds like a hymn. Stefan‘s voice sounds the best in this part.
The second verse has some more sound effects, it is slightly faster than the beginning of the song.
The second chorus is longer and includes some vocal improvisations.
We get another part after this, just to be a connection between the 2 occurrences of the chorus.
Observing the recent choices of Estonia, it seems as a contender to win.
American country pop is an acceptable music genre, I don’t see how it is related to Estonian music industry, but Sweden has done the same at Eurovision 2015 and managed to win

#19. Stig Rästa – Interstellar [Public Qualifier, Quarter-Final 1]

It’s a mid-tempo synth pop song with influences of the 1980’s music.
The song starts with a drum beat, electric keyboards and synth effects.
The first verse is based on keyboards only, Stig sings it with a lot of air and mid-hich tone.
You can hear him doing backing vocals for himself (in pre-recorded form).
The pre-chorus is a little bit faster, and is performed in a higher tone of voice.
In the chorus, the synth beat returns. The melody includes guitar as well.
The chorus has 2 identical halves. There’s no doubt it is effective and memorable.
The second verse is less challenging vocal wisely. It is performed in what I call speaking-singing. The pre-chorus is shorter this time. The chorus arrives, and at this time he uses mi-high voice to perform it (not not high). The bridge let me down, it started with no peak and only after a few socends began to be a little bit more interesting. The song closes with the chorus.
The song is decent, there’s nothing bad about it. My problem is that it takes 0 risks.
It reminds me of some British boy band songs or comeback songs of ex-boy band members when they started a solo career.
Playing too safely with no curves or edges disappoints me.

#20. Triin Niitoja & Frants Tikerpuu – Laululind (Eng: Songbird) [Public Qualifier, Quarter-Final 2]

It’s a romantic ballad.
The song starts with a piano playing. We can hear violin playing as well.
Frants is the first one to sing, he has a soft voice and a calming way to deliver the text.
In the pre-chorus, we can hear both of them singing, while Triin is the lead singer.
Her voice is more powerful, and they combine well together. Towards the end of the chorus, she sings with high and this voice. This continues in the second verse, which she performs. The second verse sounds more special. I really love her voice in this part. They sing the chorus together once again. There are no surprises in the melody. In this chorus we can hear more of Frants.
The bridge relies on diverse piano playing, but it is forgotten as we have the chorus.
It’s a classic romantic comedy song that we can hear in American movies, but it isn’t because the language is Estonian. The song is decent and vocally sounds excellent. My only issue is that the song is quite predictable and kitchy.

My Personal Ranking

  1. Maian – Meeletu
  2. Ott Lepland – Aovalguses
  3. Jaagup Tuisk – Kui Vaid
  4. Púr Múdd & Shira – Golden Shore
  5. Minimal Wind ft. Elisabeth Tiffany – What To Make Of This
  6. Elina Nechayeva – Remedy
  7. Helen – Vaatu minu poole
  8. Kaia-Liisa Kesler – Vaikus
  9. Merilin Mälk – Little Girl
  10. Stig Rästa – Interstellar
  11. Triin Niitoja & Frants Tikerpuu – Laululind
  12. Stefan – Hope
  13. Alabama Watchdog – Move On
  14. Evelin Samuel – Waterfall
  15. ELYSA – Fire
  16. Anna Sahlene – Champion
  17. Jyrise – Plaksuta
  18. Andrei Zevakin feat. Grete Paia – Mis nüüd saab
  19. Black Velvet – Sandra
  20. Boamadu – Mitte kauaks


I see 4 potential winners:

  • Stig Rästa
  • Stefan
  • Ott Lepland
  • Elina Nechayeva

Probably, 3 of them will end up as super-finalists.

I think this edition of “Eesti Laul” isn’t one of the greatest.
Some good songs were eliminated in the quarter-finals. While in other cases, I couldn’t believe that those 40 songs were the best to pick out of the submissions.
Also, at a certain point, it seems like there will be a fight between well-known names, not between good songs necessarily.

What’s your favorite song in “Eesti Laul 2022“?
Who do you think will win the selection?
What do you think about our review?

Doron Lahav is 30-year-old, who lives in Israel. Doron has been watching the Eurovision Song Contest since early 2000s. Doron works as a Data Scientist and shows interest in singing and writing.

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