Estonia's national final - Eesti Laul 2021 Preview
The final of Estonia’s national selection show Eesti Laul is just around the corner, where the winner of the competition will become Estonia’s official representative at the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam in May.
The show will be hosted by presenters Grete Kuld and Tõnis Niinemets and it will take place at the Saku Suurhall in Tallinn. Estonian broadcaster ERR has revealed that some performances and the interval acts will be filmed 1 day before the final to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
This year’s edition of Eesti Laul is a showcase of some of Estonia’s most experienced musical performers. Eleven of the twelve Eesti Laul finalists have participated in a previous edition of Eesti Laul. Four acts (or one third of the finalists) have been the official representative of Estonia at the Eurovision Song Contest, with another act also performing for Estonia multiple times on the Eurovision stage.
Two rounds of voting will take place to determine the winner of Eesti Laul. The first round of voting will consist of 50% professional jury vote and 50% public vote. Any ties will be broken by the public vote - whichever act has a higher number of televotes will be ranked higher. The top 3 acts in this round of voting will proceed to the second round of voting (superfinal), where the winner will be decided entirely by the televote.
Here’s a breakdown of all of the songs which will be performing in the final in their official running order:
1. Egert Milder - ‘Free Again’
Songwriters: Kaspar Kalluste, Matteo Capreoli, Egert Milder
Singer-songwriter Egert Milder’s signature indie folk sound is inspired by his travels all around the world. He previously participated in ‘Eesti Laul 2020’ with the song ‘Georgia On My Mind’, coming in fourth place in the final with a total of 12 points.
2. Suured Tüdrukud - ‘Heaven’s Not That Far Tonight’
Songwriters: Koit Toome, Gevin Niglas, Karl Killing
Suured tüdrukud is Estonian for "big girls" and is made up of vocalists Kaire Vilgats and Dagmar Oja. Kaire finished in second place on ‘Maskis laulja’ (The Masked Singer Estonia) Season 1 as the Flower. Dagmar rose to fame on the Estonian TV talent show ‘Kaks takti ette’ (Two Steps Ahead) in 1999.
The duo are some of Estonia’s most experienced backing singers, having been backing vocalists in Estonia’s national selection shows for over 20 years. On the Eurovision stage, they have provided backing vocals for many of Estonia's recent entries including ‘Play’ (2016), ‘Verona’ (2017) and ‘Storm’ (2019), as well as Malta’s Eurovision entry in 2002, ‘7th Wonder’.
Kaire and Dagmar are also extensively involved with the Estonian Puppet and Youth Theatre, having performed in musicals such as ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Shrek’.
3. Hans Nayna - ‘One By One’
Songwriters: Vahur Valgmaa, Hans Nayna
Hans Nayna is a singer, songwriter and guitarist originally hailing from Mauritius. From his music featuring in a German series to performing at music market-festivals in South Korea, Hans has gained attention all over the world. ‘One By One’ marks Hans Nayna’s Eesti Laul debut. In an interview with the website eurovisionfun.com, Hans describes his entry as “an ode to people”.
4. Ivo Linna, Robert Linna, Supernova - ‘Ma olen siin’ (I am here)
Songwriters: Rainer Michelson, Robert Linna
Ivo Linna is a 71-year-old musician from Kuressaare, the only city in Saaremaa, the largest island in Estonia. Ivo Linna represented Estonia in 1996 with the song 'Kaelakee hääl', which he performed with singer Maarja-Liis Ilus. He finished in 5th place in Eesti Laul 2017 with 'Suur loterii'.
Ivo has been honoured with the Valgetähe teenetemärk (Order of Estonia), IV Class for his services to music in Estonia. He will be performing ‘Ma olen siin’ with his son Robert Linna and rock band Supernova, whose lead singer Rainer Michelson co-wrote the song with Robert.
5. Karl Killing - ‘Kiss Me’
Songwriter: Karl Killing
Karl Killing participated in Eesti Laul 2018 with the song 'Young' in collaboration with singer Karl Kristjan and EDM producers WATEVA. ‘Young’ came sixth in the final with a total of 11 points. Karl Killing co-wrote many songs in Eesti Laul 2021, including fellow finalist 'Heaven's Not That Far Tonight'. Before participating in Eesti Laul, Karl Killing was part of the boy band Beyond Beyond.
6. Uku Suviste - ‘The Lucky One’
Songwriters: Uku Suviste, Sharon Vaughn
Uku Suviste is the winner of Eesti Laul 2020, who triumphed in the competition with the song ‘What Love Is’, written by himself and Sharon Vaughn. He was due to represent Estonia at the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam last year before the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the event.
He returns to defend his Eesti Laul crown with 'The Lucky One', which is his fourth entry in the competition’s history. He previously participated in Eesti Laul in 2017 (‘Supernatural’), 2019 (‘Pretty Little Liar’) and 2020 (‘What Love Is’). Uku Suviste has also made a name for himself internationally, coming third in the music competition ‘New Wave’ in 2010, representing his home nation of Estonia.
7. Sissi - ‘Time’
Songwriters: Sissi Nylia Benita, Andrei Zevakin, Kelly Tulvik
21-year-old singer Sissi rose to stardom by finishing in second place on the seventh season of ‘Eesti otsib superstaari’ (Estonian Idol) in 2018. She previously participated in Eesti Laul 2019 with the song 'Strong', which came 4th in the final with a total of 14 points. Sissi is the daughter of Estonian Eurovision winner Dave Benton.
8. Jüri Pootsmann - ‘Magus melanhoolia’ (Sweet melancholy)
Songwriters: Jüri Pootsmann, Joonas Mattias Sarapuu, Jana Hallas, Aleksi Liski
Jüri Pootsmann became a household name in Estonia in 2015 after winning the sixth season of ‘Eesti otsib superstaari’ (Estonian Idol). He represented Estonia in Eurovision 2016 with the song 'Play', which finished in last place in Semi Final 1.
At the 2016 Estonian Music Awards, Jüri was nominated for five categories, winning ‘Male Artist of the Year’. He is also a radio presenter on MyHits, having been the morning presenter on the station since 2017.
9. Redel - ‘Tartu’
Songwriters: Kristjan Oden, Indrek Vaheoja
Redel is Estonian for “ladder” (a hint to remember this is that if you spell ‘Redel’ backwards and say it out loud, it sounds very similar to the English word ‘ladder’!)
The band is made up of 2 members of the Estonian metal band Winny Puuh, who gave us the iconic Eesti Laul entry ‘Meiecundimees üks Korsakov läks eile Lätti’, which came third in the final in 2013.
Redel’s Eesti Laul 2021 entry ‘Tartu’ describes how all of the cities in Estonia are wooden just like Tartu. The duo’s approach to Eesti Laul this year is best summarised by the quote in the description of the ‘Tartu’ music video, which reads as follows:
“Hello, say Redel. First video, enjoy. This was made with little effort, we advise you to do things with little or no effort, it's really comfortable. And enjoyable. You try! Eesti laul!”
10. Koit Toome - ‘We Could Have Been Beautiful’
Songwriters: Joonas Parkkonen, Koit Toome, Peppina Pällijeff
Koit Toome is a 42-year-old singer and actor from Tallinn. He represented Estonia at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1998 with 'Mere lapsed' and in 2017 with 'Verona' and is famous among Eurovision fans for his iconic facial expressions. He has also starred in musicals such as ‘Rent’, ‘Chess’, ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Hair’, as well as notably playing the lead roles of The Phantom and Raoul in ‘Phantom of the Opera’. Something you may not know about Koit Toome is that he is the voice of Lightning McQueen in the Estonian dub of Pixar's ‘Cars’ films!
11. Andrei Zevakin & Pluuto - ‘Wingman’
Songwriters: Andrei Zevakin, Henry Orlov
Andrei Zevakin is a 24-year-old songwriter, music producer, professional Bachata dancer and YouTuber hailing from Tartu. He previously participated in Eesti Laul 2019 as part of Xtra Basic with the song ‘Hold Me Close’ featuring Emily J. Pluuto is an 18-year-old rapper who has topped the Estonian charts with hits such as ‘Mesimagus’ and ‘Tsirkus’ to name a few, frequently collaborating with fellow Estonian rappers 5MIINUST and Nublu. Together they have teamed up for the rap song 'Wingman', which they wrote together.
12. Kadri Voorand - ‘Energy’
Songwriter: Kadri Voorand
34-year-old Kadri Voorand has been performing extensively from a young age. She has been described as a “brave and creative jazz singer” and a “master of vocal acrobatics”. She is a lecturer at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and has won numerous awards including the Republic of Estonia Culture Award (2017), Young Cultural Figure Award (2019) and Estonian Radio Musician of the Year (2019).
The following special guests will perform as interval acts in the Eesti Laul 2021 final:
Liis Lemsalu & Stefan
Liis Lemsalu is the winner of the fourth season of ‘Eesti otsib superstaari’ (Estonian Idol). She participated in Eesti Laul in 2012 (‘Made Up My Mind’), 2013 (‘Uhhuu’) and most recently, 2017 (‘Keep Running’). Stefan is also a familiar Eesti Laul face, having competed in 2018 as part of Vajé, as well as in 2019 and 2020 as a solo artist.
Mr Lawrence with Pitsa and Goresoerd
Get ready to rock and roll! Mr Lawrence is a rock band that was popular in Estonia in the 1990s. Goresoerd is a metal band whose music is “intelligent, vicious, tongue-in-cheek and extreme” according to their official website. They have played rock festivals in Finland, Lithuania, and their native Estonia, also touring independently in many countries around Europe including Latvia, Czech Republic and Slovakia. They are joining forces with rap trio Pitsa to give Eesti Laul viewers a show to remember.
Estonian broadcaster ERR has made an official Eesti Laul scorecard for viewers to rate the performances at home, which can be downloaded from their website here. For those who can’t read Estonian, the categories from L-R are: Music, Lyrics, Appearance (Visuals), Movement (Choreography), Stage Show, Total
Make sure you set your alarms and boil your kettles, Australia, because you will be in for a very early start! Eesti Laul will be broadcast on Saturday 6th March at 19:30 Eastern European Time (18:30 CET) on ETV or in the morning of Sunday 7th March for Australian viewers at the following times:
4:30am (ACT, NSW, TAS, VIC)
You can watch it here https://menu.err.ee/k/eesti-laul