Review: “Eesti Laul 2023” Semi-Final 1 (Estonia)

Estonia will choose an artist and a song for Eurovision 2023 via their national selection “Eesti Laul 2023“.
20 artists will take part in “Eesti Laul 2023“.
10 artists will participate in each one of the 2 semi-finals.
This review will be dedicated to the first semi-final, which will be held on Thursday, 12th of January 2023.
As of the moment of writing this review, the running order is yet to be determined.
Therefore, we will go over the songs in the alphabet order of the artist names:

#1. Andreas – Why Do You Love Me?

It is a melancholic dreamy love ballad.
The song starts with a classic guitar stringing.
Andreas opened the singing part with a simple interpatition, he sings with a medi-low voice, sometimes almost speaking. The pre-chprus is softer and suggests a deeper production. He sings this part with a higher tone of voice.
The chorus is simple and radio-friendly, he gives us more vocals wisely.
The second verse begins in a similar way to the first one.
However, this time we can hear the female backing vocals supporting him.
The pre-chorus this time is longer and leads us to the second chorus.
The second chorus has a more interesting melody this time, which also includes keyboards and string elements. Sometimes the volume of the melody “defeats” his modest voice.
A short instrumental part comes after the second chorus.
The bridge of the song is emotional, and kind of “disconects” from the melody’s frame.
The song ends with another chorus, this time with humming and backing vocals.
This is one of the songs that aims to show us the “power of the silence”.
It is radio-friendly and riskless, for good or bad.
Andreas sounds like a young singer that still has to learn about his identity as an artist.
The final outcome is decent, but is it strong enough? I am not sure.

#2. Anett x Fredi – You Need to Move On

It is a mid-tempo jazz ballad.
The melody is based on piano playing and a slow drum beat.
Anett opens the song with her warm and mid-high voice.
A few seconds later, Fredi is joining with electric guitar stringing.
The first verse is quite long, but you can appreciate the melody development along with this.
Before the chorus, percussion elements are added as well.
The chorus continues along the same line, but this time we can hear Fredi as backing singer as well. The melody is slightly faster. This time Anett uses more vocal improvisations.
The second verse includes wind instruments and pre-recorded backing vocals.
The combination of the different instruments elevates the melody.
In general, this verse is faster compared to the first one.
The first peak of the song arrives at the limit between the second verse and the second chorus. The wind instruments are powerful, and Anett gives us a beautiful moment of her voice.
After the second chorus, comes an instrumental part that’s based on the bass guitar playing and some humming from Anett. The percussion beat also takes integral part of this last part’s production.
The song ends in a cyclic frame.
I am not sure how competitive the song it. Personally, I like this kind of music, and outside of Eurovision – this is an example of pieces I like to listen to.
Besides the bravery to give a jazz/soul ballad, I also appreciate the musical development along with the song and the high quality production.
This is a song that will be more appreciated by the jury, rather than the general public.

#3. Bedwetters – Monsters

It is a classical rock with funk pop elements
The song starts with a short introduction composed of cello and violin playing.
The lead singer has a pleasant voice.
The first verse is composed of drum beat and electric keyboard playing.
Sometimes, we can hear an electronic beat and digitally processed backing vocals.
The chorus is powerful and its melody is based on electric guitar and drums.
After the chorus, we can hear a short instrumental part which is based on massive electric guitar playing and powerful drums.
In the second chorus, the lead singer sings a little bit faster in a mid-low voice.
The chorus has all the characters of a rock hymn from the 1990’s or the 2000’s.
The bridge is much faster, more intensive, and less melodical.
The last part is a short version of the chorus.
This is the kind of rock music I like, and I especially used to listen to when I was a teenager.
It isn’t modern, but it is fine as wine.
The vocals are great and the production keeps you engaged along with the song. Well done!

#4. Ellip – Pretty Girl

It is a disco pop song with elements from the 1990’s music and influences from the funk music.
The song has a cyclic structure, which puts the chorus and the verse in questionable functions.
The song begins with an instrumental part composed of electric guitar and drums playing, alongside elevator music.
The first part of the song is the chorus which repeats the same sentence a number of times.
She sings it effortlessly with a lot of attitude.
Thereafter, we get the instrumental part again. The first verse arrives after: She sings it with a mid-high voice, a slow beat decorates the melody alongside keyboards playing.
As the pre-chorus starts, the guitar playing is back, as well as the drum playing.
This part of the song is more danceable.
The chorus comes back, this time with a secondary voice singing.
In the second verse, Eliip sings in a more free style, but still accurate.
she adds some manners, while the backing vocals support her.
The last chorus is performed with high backing vocals, while Ellip sings.
The song is uplifting and catchy. However, I wonder whether its catchiness is due to the fact it is repetitive.
This is a song I added to my playlist, but I am afraid it won’t be effective enough to do well in “Eesti Laul 2023”

#5. JANEK – House of Glass

It is a mid-tempo love ballad.
One of the song writers is Mørland, who represented Norway as part of a duo in Eurovision 2015
The song starts with an instrumental part, based on the piano playing.
Janek opens the song with a considerably high voice, the melody is being presented very slowly and grows as the vers continues.
The pre-chorus is performed in a lower tone of voice. The melody is based on slower piano playing.
The chorus is more powerful, he uses vibrato technique in his singing. His singing relies on breathing and the melody created a dramatic cinematic atmosphere.
The second verse has a different vibe – it is mid-tempo pop that relies on a mid-fast beat.
There’s a use of echo effect over his voice. String elements are added to the melody as well.
The second chorus relies on orchestra string elements.
The bridge of the song is the peak point of the song – the melody is more intense but still very elegant. Just before this, he moves to singing in a lower tone.
The song has excellent elements of orchestra instruments, alongside modern production.
Probably Mørland can’t make it wrong as a composer.
As a criticism, I’d say that sometimes it is just too melodramatic.

#6. Kaw – Valik (Eng: choice)

It is a hip-hop song with electronic production and rock influences.
The song starts with an electronic drum beat.
The first verse starts with a fast singing in the Estonian language, it sounds like speaking with tons of effects. The part that comes after gives more of his original voice, and the melody is easier to follow. The chorus is easier to “swallow” and already sounds like a radio-friendly song.
The melody is based on drums and an electric guitar.
The second verse has a similar structure to the first one, but we get more dimensions of his voice.
The second chorus is once again catchy and relies on the same components
The bridge of the song relies on heavy electronic effects that blur his voice.
The song is different from the other in the line-up, but I feel like the chorus is miles stronger than the verses.

#7. MERLYN – Unicorn Vibes

It is an electro pop song with hip-hop influences.
The song starts with an electronic beat that involves keyboard playing.
The first verse is performed in almost “spoken-word” or hip-hop style.
She sings it with a high confidence attitude. Towards the end of this part, we can hear some effects over her voice. The melody of the first verse is based on the same beat, but this time it has lower volume and slower rate. After the first verse, the chorus begins and she gives us more of her abilities as a singer. The melody is based on string elements and electronic production
There’s a short instrumental break after the chorus, where she also whispers “Unicorn”.
The second chorus is more melodical than the first one, but saves the same structure.
The second chorus comes again and it is catchy. The electric beat is getting stronger and louder.
The song ends with the chorus which decays as the song ends.
I would say that song is the mutual child of “Hvala Ne” (Slovenia, Eurosivision 2018) and “The Moon Is Rising” (Latvia, Eurovisino 2021).
It is a kind of guilty pleasure, and its sound and style will make it standout.
Although it is likable, it gives the vices of joke entry.

#8. MIA – Üks samm korraga (Eng: One Step at a Time)

It is an Estonian pop song.
The song starts with an instrumental part, composed by the piano.
Mia opens the singing part with her clear and stale voice, performed in a mid-low tone on voice.
The first verse is quite slow and a little bit melancholic. The short echo effect separated between the verse and the chorus.
As the chorus arrives, she sings louder and the melody becomes faster and it is uplifting.
Pop beat wraps the melody. She closed this part with a beautiful soft voice singing.
The second verse relies on keyboard playing as well, but it feels more contemporary and slightly faster. The second chorus is almost identical to the first one.
Thereafter, she brings a short instrumental bridge which is based on a fast keyboard playing.
The song ends with gentle singing.
The song isn’t bad at all, but it tends to be forgetable. Singing in the native language is blessed, but musically it isn’t strong enough.

#9. Neon Letters & Maiko – Tokimeki (Eng: Palpitation)

It is an indie pop with electronic production.
The song is performed in 2 languages: Japanese and English.
The song begins with a drum beat and thereafter digital keyboards are added as well.
The first verse stands for its electronic production. Maiko sings it gently.
The second verse starts just in the middle of one of the beats.
It is a little bit more rhythmic.
The chorus is performed in English, and it is much more catchy.
The electronic beat includes a drum in the background as well.
She sings it with a mid-high voice, with some backing vocals supporting her.
The third verse is more powerful, and the electronic production steps into a braver direction, almost indie house music. This is also where Maiko’s voice sounds the best, as she reaches a very notable point of height.
The second chorus once again performed in English, the melody is comforting somehow
Thereafter, there’s a short transition part that relies on guitar stringing and the effects of faded voice.
At the peak of the bridge, Maiko uses a very long note.
The song ends with multtuple vocalists singing.
The song sounds a little bit like a typical arcade or gaming soundtrack.
I am curious to see how it will be staged – if it is is too simple, it won’t be enough.
However, having too many elements on the stage will distract us.

#10. OLLIE – Venom

It is a rock song with influences of the 2000’s-2010’s music.
The song starts with acoustic guitar playing, Ollie’s voice is clear and raspy and his accent is wonderful. The melody of the first part is quite basic but memorable.
In the pre-chorus, the rate of the song is slower and he sings with more intention.
The first chorus gives us a soft rock flavour. Ollie’s voice is rapsie, but the melody is still based on classic guitar. However, the chorus ends with a long instrumental part, which is based on massive electric guitar and drums playing.
The second verse is more rhythmic and in some sense we can hear a different raspiness of his voice. The rest of this verse is performed in a softer way. Before the chorus it becomes stronger and more intense. He sounds good vocally along with the song. towards the end, he modes to shouting.
The song ends with guitar playing and fading singing.
It is a really good effort, but I wonder could it even go wrong with such a genre that a good voice and guitar playing usually nevigate you to succesee?

My Personal Ranking

  1. Anett x Fredi – You Need to Move On
  2. Bedwetters – Monsters
  3. OLLIE – Venom
  4. JANEK – House of Glass
  5. MERLYN – Unicorn Vibes
  6. Ellip – Pretty Girl
  7. Neon Letters & Maiko – Tokimeki (Eng: Palpitation)
  8. Andreas – Why Do You Love Me?
  9. MIA – Üks samm korraga (Eng: One Step at a Time)
  10. Kaw – Valik (Eng: choice)

My Prediction

6 artists will qualify from each semi-final.
Certain qualifiers, as I can see now before the live shows:

  • Bedwetters
  • Andreas 

2 Additional qualifiers will probably come from

  • Anett x Fredi 
  • Kaw
  • Neon Letters & Maiko

Who are your favorite acts?
Who would qualify for the final?
Will the winning song of the selection be one of the songs rom semi-final 1?

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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