Staying in the Baltics, we move on to the land of bogs, singing revolutions and Skype. It’s Estonia!!!
Estonia first participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994. This year marks their twenty-second participation. They were the first former Eastern block country to win the contest, when Tanel Padar, Dave Benton and 2XL claimed victory in 2001 with “Everybody”. Last year, Jüri Pootsmann came last in semi-final 1 with “Play”, Estonia’s worst result ever.
The Estonian broadcaster, Eesti Rahvusringhääling (ERR), organised the ninth edition of Eesti Laul, often called “Alternative Melodifestivalen” by Eurovision fans. This format saw Estonia qualify for the final in 2009 after five straight non-qualifications and three top 10 placings. Twenty songs competed over two semi-finals. In each semi-final, a jury (50%) and public voting (50%) chose four finalists. The public then chose a fifth finalist from the remaining songs. In the final, voting was conducted over two rounds. In the first round, a jury and public voting chose three superfinalists. In the superfinal, public voting alone decided the winner. With 55% of the superfinal vote and over 20,000 more votes than second place, Koit Toome and Laura were awarded the Estonian ticket to Kyiv.
Koit Toome was on January 3rd 1979 in Tallinn. He started his music career in 1994 as half of the duo Code One. After a string of hits, the duo split in 1998. The same year, Koit Toome launched his solo career by representing Estonia in 1998 with “Mere lapsed” (Children of the sea), finishing 12th. He has released five albums in total, both as part of Code One and as a solo artist. He has also played main roles in several musicals in Estonia, such Marius in Les Misérables, Chris in Miss Saigon, Tony in West Side Story and Raoul in Phantom of the Opera. He will play the role of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables from November onwards in Vanemuine in Tartu. He also provided the voice for Lightning McQueen in the Estonian dub of “Cars”. He is the best-selling male Estonian singer of all time.
Laura Põldvere, or simply Laura, was born on August 30 1988 in Tartu in eastern Estonia. Her big break came in 2005, when she represented Estonia as part of the group Suntribe with “Let’s Get Loud”. They finished 20th in the semi-final. She has released two full albums and one compilation album. She has tried to represent Estonia as a solo artist on four occasions, in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2016. Laura is also the current president of the Estonian Jazz Union and the most successful Estonian female artist of the past decade.
Their entry for Kyiv “Verona” was written and composed by Sven Lõhmus, who wrote Estonia’s entries in 2005, 2009 and 2011.
Eesti Laul was on fire this year and was packed with great songs and this was one of the stronger ones. Koit and Laura are both powerhouse vocalists and their vocals in the chorus are superb. I have a problem with the song though. It seemed to have been pulled straight out of the 90’s and the amount of cheese is just about appropriate for Eurovision. Nonetheless, the song is sounds contemporary despite having a 90’s throwback vibe and both singers give so much life to the song. I hope they manage to find their way out of Verona actually get to Kyiv. Find a man that stares at you like Koit stares at everything.
What Could Have Been
I wanted to change this one to “What Should Have Been” but y’know, consistency. Eesti Laul always has a strong selection of songs but they missed a potential winner by a country mile. Kerli was robbed. ROBBED!!!! “Spirit Animal” is just so edgy and out there. It does not make excuses for being a little different and full of raw energy. Maybe Estonia just couldn’t handle Kerli’s shamanistic, moonchild realness. It’s really a shame. I think they just passed up their second Eurovision victory.
Is there a happy ending or tragedy in store for Koit and Laura? Leave your comments below. Stay tuned tomorrow for another Eurovision preview and a little surprise!
(Sources: eurovision.tv, ERR, YouTube)