Review: “Eesti Laul 2023” Semi-Final 2 (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 second semi-final, which will be held on Saturday, 14th of January 2023.

A review of semi-final 1 is available here

#1. Alika – Bridges


It is an emotional ballad.
One of the writers is Wouter Hardy, who was involved in the writing of The Netherlands 2019 and Switzerland 2021.
The song starts with a short instrumental part, composed of piano playing.
Alika opens the song with her crystal clear and stable voice. The first verse relies on a uniform piano playing, where the emphasis is on her voice. The first chorus ends with a melodical fargile humming that is used as a tranition between the first verse and the chorus.
The first chorus is quite short and “calming”, we can hear the humming from the previous part fading in the background. In this part, the piano playing is a bit faster.
The second chorus is performed in a quarter tone lower. The melody is richer, and includes some orchestra elements like strings (cello?). Her voice is warmer and you can feel her dedication to the text. The second chorus is powerful, she sings it with a convincing tone and we can hear the humming in the background.
Thereafter, arrives the bridges of the song. It starts on a long note, with intense string elements playing that decayed and replaced by piano playing.
She moves into fragile and gentle singing, then again the cello comes and she brings a last long note.
It is a high quality James Bondish ballad. The production wraps it with the required dramatic colors.
Alika is a great singer and the song is made of winning material.
I think this can bring Estonia to a very high place in Liverpool.

#2. Carlos Ukareda – Whiskey Won’t Forget

It is a mid-tempo pop song.
The song starts with guitar and keyboard playing.
Carlos opened the singing part with quite a standard form. He sings in a mid-high tone.
The chorus is performed in a higher tone, but the melody is still simple and acoustic. We can hear some backing vocals towards the end of the chorus.
The second chorus is almost similar, but with a different rhythm in the production.
He gave us a little bit more in the second chorus.
The bridge is faster and sometimes it is hard to understand the lyrics behind it.
He uses vocal improvisations in the last part of the song.
To be honest, I wasn’t impressed by the song.
It felt too radio-friendly and riskless. A song we could have received from Justin Bieber.

#3. Elysa – Bad Philosophy

It is a mid-tempo dance-pop song with wide influences from the 1980’s.
The song starts with a sampling of electric keyboard playing and then a drum beat joins.
The singing part begins with a considerably low tone of voice and some effects over her voice like reverb. The beat is quite modest at the beginning.
In the pre-chorus, the instruments play a bigger role and she sings with a thinner voice.
The chorus relies on a slow electro beat and keyboard. However, this part of the song is still restrained, beat wisely.
The second verse is similar to the first one, she sings with a lower voice and some effects over her voice. This time the beat has a greater presence.
The bridge almost lacks production, but this simplicity gives us a change of direction in the song.
The bridge ends with the entrance of electric guitar that afterwards transfers into a guitar solo.
The last part of the song is once again the chorus.
I have been waiting so long for this song to explode and it didn’t happen.
I think the writers could have made a better effort with the lyrics.
Not bad at all, but feels like missed potential.

#4. Inger – Awaiting You

It is a disco pop song.
The song begins with a simple guitar stringing and clap sound that samples into a beat.
Inger starts the singing part by almost whispering, the clap effect and the guitar/ukulele stringing keeps on. Pre-chorus is performed in a higher tone and we can hear Inger’s authentic voice.
At this point, we realize the song becomes more upbeat.
The chorus is uplifting, the beat is enjoyable and Inger sings faster. The beat from the introduction repeats again, but with a different key.
The second verse is mainly characterised by the drum beat. Some of the lines are cut between different musical bars.
The uplifting and catchy choros come again. The sound of DJ’s booth is more dominant this time.
The vocal peak comes with a higher tone of singing that is closed by a long note.
The last chorus is performed with guitar playing. The song ends with humming and the beat slowly goes out.
I think this is Inger’s best effort at “Eesti Laul” so far.
Inger’s voice is divisive, but in this song where the majority of singing isn’t too challenging, it sounds better.
The song heavily relies on the same beat, so those who don’t like it, won’t be its biggest fans.
The chorus is catchy and uplifting, I wish some of these emotions could reflect in the verse.

#5. Linalakk & Bonzo – Aeg (Eng: Time)

It is a simple lullaby ballad.
The song starts with an instrumental part of guitar playing.
The first one to sing in Bonzo, who has a very deep and low voice.
Thereafter, Linalakk starts singing. Her voice is high, soft and gentle.
In some senses, their voices are the opposite of each other.
They sing the chorus together and create harmony together. In the chorus, the musical bars are longer and we can hear more of their vocal abilities.
After the chorus, we can hear an instrumental part which combines electric guitar together with classic guitar.
They sing the second verse together, and the atmosphere is more romantic.
Then again, we get the chorus – this time with richer production.
There’s something calming in the melody. I feel like the strength of this song will come from their vocals. However, it doesn’t create too much interest.

#6. M els – So Good At What You Do


This song was written by Stefan (who represented Estonia at Eurovision 2022) and Stig Rasta (who wrote a lot of songs for the “Eesti Laul”, and represented Estonia at Eurovision 2015 as part of a duo).
It is a mid-tempo indie-pop song.
The song starts immediately with singing. The melody is based on guitar playing, keyboards and a unique percussion beat. M els has a distivtive voice.
The first 2 verses are performed in a mid tone of voice.
In the pre-chorus, she sings with a pleasant falsetto. In this part, the melody is based on guitar playing.
The chorus starts with the percussion instruments. We can also hear echo effects and fading nale backing vocals. She sings it effortlessly, due to her strength as a volcalist.
In the third verse, the rhythm is a little bit different, and the chorus continues directly.
She uses a higher tone of voice in the part before the chorus and then we get additional chorus.
The bridge is quite acoustic and relies on the classic guitar. We can hear female backing vocals on the last chorus.
The percussion elements create a frame for the song’s structure.
The song succeeds in being modern and radio-friendly, but still not a cliche.
The singer’s voice is unique and combines well in the production.

#7. Meelik – Tuju (Eng: mood)


It is an Indie rock, performed in Estonian and English.
The song starts with drum playing, and later on guitars are added.
They sing the first vese quite quickly. The melody sounds like the soundtrack of an American movie or even music from the 1970’s.
The chorus presented a fusion of English and Estonian with “Tuju (instead of fo you) know what I mean”. This part repeats again and again. And this is more or less the majority of the chorus.
The rest of the chorus relies on bass, guitar and electric guitar playing.
Sometimes, the melody defeats their voices.
Some vocal harmonies are added towards the end of this part, and give it a different direction.
The second verse starts with backing vocals.
This verse is quite long. The instrumental part is the bridge of the song, in which the melody changes.
The song ends with the last chorus, where we can hear several different vocalists.
On the one hand, the combination of languages helps here, but still something about it feels forced and too repetitive.

#8. Robin Juhkental – Kurbuse matused (Eng: Funeral of Sorrow)

It is an Indie-jazz song.
Robin Juhkental is the musician behind the project Malcolm Lincoln, who represented Estonia at Eurovision 2010 with “Siren Song”.
The song starts with the keyboard playing. Thereafter, a soft drum beat is joined as well.
The first verse opens with Robin‘s well known voice, he uses a mid-high voice.
The way words are broken into musical bars gives it a strange but inspiring feeling.
The drum beat gets stronger along the first and the second verse.
The chorus breaks conventions, and suggests a different path from the verses.
The melody turns into a punky indie piece, with several effects.
His voice sounds better in the chorus.
You can really hear a “movement” on the keyboards and this is what puts the melody as a non-trivial one. The effects are based on digital control keyboards, bass guitar and create a mysterious atmosphere. In the second chorus, we can hear some backing vocals as well.
The song ends with the effects disappearing and the drum beat taking over.
One can tell that the song creator is a talented person.
However, there’s some non-catchy and maybe too “underground” about this.
I am not looking for another radio-friendly song. However, there’s a threshold for accessibility that this song doesn’\’t meet

#9. Sissi – Lighthouse

It is an emotional ballad.
The song starts with a humming.
The melody is based on piano playing.
The first verse is performed in a mid-low voice. The rate is condierably slow, which permit us to listen to the words carefully.
The second verse is performed in a higher tone, and the production brings an additional dimension with more instruments. As the second verse progresses more, the tension gets higher.
She outcries the last line.
The chorus starts with a gentle soft voice, and the production is held back.
We can hear her breathing between the phrases. The chorus suggests a great message, but still at this point it is very calm.
The third verse relies on the piano as well, but this time backing vocals are part of the package as well. The production is modern abundant.
This time, the chorus is more “kicking” with string elements and drum beats.
Sissi sings with a strong voice that is even more powerful than the instruments.
A short solo guitar breaks the song, and Sissi decorates it with some improvisations.
The bridge of the song starts with a very thin and modest production, thereafter we can hear the guitar and the guitar again. The song ends out of the blue
Sissi gives a very personal interpretation of the song: On the one hand, it is very soft and fragile, on the other hand it is emotional and almost rough.
As a listener, I feel like I have been part of the process and this is what music is about.

#10. Wiiralt – Salalik (Eng: Secret)


It is a rock-blues song with influences from the 1950’s and the 1960’s music.
The song starts with guitar playing and wild west atmosphere.
The singing part comes with a lot of effects, like duplication of voice, reverbing and backing vocals. Something sounds like the sound of a radio with a high amplitude track.
The electric guitar and bass guitar takes over the melody.
Between the lines, we can hear classic guitar as well.
The word “Salalik” repeats a lot of times.
The second part of the song stands for its rocky vibe. You can hear the smokey voice of the lead singer. A really nice guitar solo accompanies the melody.
The last part of the song includes some different accords.
This is Wiiralt’s best effort in “Eesti Laul”.
However, I can sum up all this song with massive use of guitar and the word “Salalik” to fill the lyrics. I would have appreciated more bravery.

My Personal Ranking

  1. Alika – Bridges
  2. Sissi – Lighthouse
  3. M els – So Good At What You Do
  4. Robin Juhkental – Kurbuse matused
  5. Elysa – Bad Philosophy
  6. Inger – Awaiting You
  7. Carlos Ukareda – Whiskey Won’t Forget
  8. Meelik – Tuju (Eng: mood)
  9. Wiiralt & Ultima Thule – Salalik (Eng: Secret)
  10. Linalakk & Bonzo – Aeg

My Prediction

The certain qualifiers will probably be:

  • Alika – Bridges
  • Sissi – Lighthouse
  • M els – So Good At What You Do
  • Elysa – Bad Philosophy

2 additional qualifiers will come from:

  • Inger – Awaiting You
  • Carlos Ukareda – Whiskey Won’t Forget
  • Meelik – Tuju (Eng: mood)

Who are your favorite acts?
Who would qualify for the final?
Will the winning song of the selection be one of the songs from semi-final 2?

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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