Eesti Laul, Estonia’s national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest, is coming up on January 12. Coming out of a 2022 season that saw Estonia finish 13th in the grand final, can the beloved Baltic nation make some Eurovision magic?

Here were are at semi-final 2! Members of the ESCUnited team have reviewed and rated this year’s entries on a scale of 1 to 10. As we finish our four-part review series, here’s what the team thought about semi-final 2. Read on to find out who our overall winner is for the season!

M els – “So Good At What You Do”

  • Boris — 9 — “Well, Rosa Linn scored a world-wide radio hit, so Estonia must have thought: ‘let’s try that too’? Except better? Yes, I actually like ‘So good at what you do’ much more than ‘Snap.’ It’s catchy! It’s fun! It’s very easy to get into after a few listens! It also doesn’t sound DMGP. I keep listening and wishing for more! Stefan co-writing this makes perfect sense. M els is very much a female solo version of Vajé, and Stefan Airapetjan’s guiding hand is very present to those who vividly remember “Laura (walk with me)”. I think most pundits are overlooking this one. Even if M Els were to not win (and I’m fully aware she won’t), it’s songs such as these (if staged right) that will help EL regain its international prestige even if the Estonians themselves choose to foolishly not care about them.”
  • David — 4 — “I appreciate the compliment the song is giving, and therefore I shall just be honest and spit my thoughts out as they are. I like the beat and the composition overall, it’s honestly catchy, but it barely changes over the time, and the lyrics really feel empty and almost pointless to the song. It’s interesting and all, but my focus just gets lost eventually.”
  • James — 4 — “Sadly this is not a song about M els staring up in wonder at a hot carpenter having finished some cabinets or installing a washing machine. No, it’s a boring and clichéd break-up song where it’s not clearly defined what the object of her affection is so good at doing except that he/she’s hurting her in a generic way.”
  • Luca — 9 — “This song has such an effortless cool to it. I loved the blues rock-inspired, indie pop style. M els’ voice reminds me a bit of Elle King and Lana Del Rey in a way that really hits right!”
  • Tyler — 7.5 — “I quite liked this! It was a nice blend of poppy and indie for me, and this is one of those times that I wished the song was longer. The reason I’m only giving it a 7.5/10 is because the ending of this song feels quite abrupt and just died for me just as I was at the heights of really liking this entry. I’m excited to see how this is performed, as I’m not sure how well it would translate to the stage.”

Meelik – “Tuju”

  • Boris — 8.5 — “Heavens bless Tenfold Rabbit, who arched back into their Indie Rock era with their postmodern take on “Ça plane pour moi”. “Tuju” is THE throwback to early 2010s Eesti Laul for me, and it’s refreshing to hear its specific quirky sound again, by a band who competed during said time period (under a different name with songs in a different genre, but still.) “Tuju” is an addictive ride and while it will NEVER win EL, or even qualify from its semi, its catchy hook is already engraved into my cortex for posterity. TUJU TUJU TUJU NO WADDA MIIN?”
  • David — 2 — “I honestly do not know what these boys mean, should just kept it all in Estonian, since the few English sentence becomes a huge bother for me. Overall, it feels like I’ve time travelled when listening to this song, and I don’t even know to where in time exactly. Maybe more like, just left somewhere randomly in time. Anyhow, the composition also becomes a bother quite fast, and easily repetitive.”
  • James — 6 — “If The Presidents of the United States of America – the goofballs behind “Lump” and “Peaches” – were a Britpop band in the 1990s, they’d sound like these hipsters. Lyrically, they’re just singing about hoping they have a cabin in the woods because the love making is going to be loud. In appearance and temperament, these guys come off as dweebs, but you have to give them credit for thinking they can loudly satisfy a lover instead of the usual Eesti Laul trope of a guy endlessly moaning that his lover has left him.”
  • Luca — 7 — “Definitely an underrated bop! This Estonian-language, high-energy indie track stands out from the rest and reminds me of the music I started listening to when hipster culture was at its best in the early 2010s.”
  • Tyler — 7 — “This is meant in the nicest way possible, but Meelik sounds like Anti Social Media from 2015, but with more energy. And that’s a very good thing! “Tuju” and “Valik” provide similar experiences for me, as they both give me a sense of positive nostalgia with my music choices, and I can see myself quite enjoying the live performance! Not sure if this has legs to win Eesti Laul, but “Tuju” is still an energetic and fun song that won’t bore people at the very least.”

Robin Juhkental – “Kurbuse Matused”

  • Boris — 7.5 — “This is my favourite Eesti Laul since Tomi Rahula took over, and this is largely due to the combination of bouncy pop tunes and good indie tracks. Robin is the KING of the latter category. I know “Kurbuse Malthused” is not everyone’s thing but I love getting lost in its dreamy warren that appeals to me and I alone. Robin just doesn’t give a FUCK and has nothing left to prove, and an attitude that confirms his status as an Eesti Laul Titan. ”
  • David — 2 — “I’m getting some classic jazz vibes out of this. However, if we can even consider this a jazz song, then surely this is the first time I ever hear Estonian jazz… and yea, it’s just not for me, or at least this one just ain’t. I actually find it cool and clever, but my interest is just not there at all, I need some life… as in a lot MORE life.”
  • James — 3.5 — “This is a three minute vibe and doesn’t really go anywhere. The track title – loosely meaning funeral sorrow – is misleading as the track is nowhere near as gloomy as it implies. But it’s not really pensive either, nor is it bright and bubbly and implying an ironic usage of the title. Now I have mentioned songs like “Tokimeki” running the risk of being blown out by louder tracks, but “Tokimeki” is like Pantera’s “Becoming” compared to this.”
  • Luca — 6 — “Such a dreamy, mesmerizing song with well-written lyrics. It just crawls a little too slowly for me, but I adore the sound and production of this song!
  • Tyler — 8.5 — “Super fun song! Well, maybe fun isn’t the best word to describe this song, but rather the vibes are really nice. I’m a bit biased, because I know Robin did “Siren” back in 2010, and “Kurbuse matused” feels like a spiritual successor to that entry. And it’s quite good! I’m expecting the staging to be eccentric and while this entry isn’t to everyone’s tastes, it’s to mine, so it gets a high score! This song is just weird enough to keep my interests and enough for me to back as a good entry for Estonia.”

SISSI – “Lighthouse”

  • Boris — 4.5 — “Okay, we need to address the Sissi Issue. Sissi is a highly talented live vocalist who sings from her heart and injects a lot of soul in any song she performs. She is an untalented songwriter. “Strong” and “Time” were disappointingly average, and “Lighthouse” is cut from the same plain-Jane cloth. I struggle, both with paying attention to “Lighthouse” AND with coming up with adjectives (positive or negative) to describe it. It’s fucking anonymous. I thought you didn’t want to waste more time, Sis? “Lighthouse” does NOT have an identity that distinguishes itself from the rest of the music I’ve heard this month aside from “Oh, this is the Sissi song”. Even the guitar solo and the string build-up feel strained, not because they add value (they don’t), but because they tick the boxes of ’what a song should have’ at these intervals. Idem re: the abrupt ending. The second Sissi realizes that she should join forces with a more talented songwriter (Stig, Anett Kulbin, Kristel f*cking Aaslaid), she’ll actually be potential winner. Right now, she’ll have to content herself with finishing lower middle of the pack in the finale. Such is the lot of those who refuse to learn their life lessons.”
  • David — 3 — “There is actually a lot of quality in this song, but there also a huge bother, which absolutely drags it so much down, and that’s the lyrics. Overall, lyrically this REALLY doesn’t work for me, I don’t feel the symphony nor harmony there, it all becomes random words. I can hear the message, I can hear the words, but the delivery just ruins it for me. Honestly, this could’ve been a song I could enjoy, but instead, I’m left bothered, what an absolute shame.”
  • James — 6 —  “The lighthouse being snuffed out is an apt metaphor for Sissi and a critical flaw for one trying out for an international song contest. She sorts of lacks the charisma and individuality that would get fans excited in droves. She hasn’t really forged a unique point of view or sound for herself, and all we get every year she’s at Eesti Laul is a three minute pop performance from an able vocalist, but on a track that any competent vocalist can sing on. She’s been here several years now and I am no closer to being able to define who she is than when she first showed up.”
  • Luca — 6 — “I love Sissi’s voice, but always wish the songs she sent to Eesti Laul were more interesting. This is a step above her past entries, and definitely my favorite ballad among this year’s entries, but overall, not as memorable as I hoped for it to be. Still, I think it will make for a beautiful and powerful live performance!”
  • Tyler — 7 — “‘Lighthouse’ is pretty much just an okay song to me 🙂 I liked the metaphor the song uses and Sissi sings the song well. It’s just that this song for me isn’t memorable to me yet. I remember liking the instrumentation and her musicality, but when asked to point out the quality that makes this song a sensation, I can’t find it. The music video is beautiful and Sissi will give a good performance live, so I hope the performance changes my mind!”

WIIRALT – “Salalik”

  • Boris — 5 — “Just Wiiralt doing Wiiralt things.”
  • David — 2 — “I would probably describe this as Estonian country-rock. It is quite… something, but also feels very much like nothing. I’m not exactly left with a desire to listen to this anymore than needed, and there’s just nothing left. I’m actually more left in some sort of grey-zone and don’t really know what to think or say afterwards.”
  • James — 7.5 —  “Wiiralt returns with another Baltic take on American country rock. They do it well, so I can’t really complain. And I won’t. Scandinavia and the Baltics have taken on country over the years and it’s been enjoyable hearing each group within the region add their own flavor to what most music fans dismiss as an obnoxious American genre. One day we’ll hear one of these unique groups bring it to Eurovision, but I think there’s a few too many other rivals at Eesti Laul 2023 for it to be Wiiralt’s day.”
  • Luca — 5 — “I’m not a big country fan, but form time to time, I make some exceptions! This was nice to listen to for sure, but ultimately, I didn’t feel a strong connection to it and it didn’t leave a huge impression on me.”
  • Tyler — 3.5 — ” I don’t dislike “Salalik” because it’s from a different genre than what we normally see at Eurovision, that being rock reminiscent of Cage the Elephant. Well, that’s kinda why I don’t like this song, because it’s too much of “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” by that same artist, whoops! I didn’t find anything really about this song that I thought was original other than singing in Estonian, so a low score this gets!”

Total group score for semi 2:

  1. Elysa – “Bad Philosophy” (6.9)
  2. M els – “So Good At What You Do” (6.7)
  3. Alika – “Bridges” (6.1)
  4. Meelik – “Tuju” (6.1)
  5. Robin Juhkental – “Kurbuse Matused” (5.5)
  6. INGER – “Awaiting You” (5.3)
  7. SISSI – “Lighthouse” (5.3)
  8. Linalakk & Bonzo – “Aeg” (5.1)
  9. WIIRALT – “Salalik” (4.6)
  10. Carlos Ukareda – “Whiskey Won’t Forget” (3.8)

Total group score overall for Eesti Laul so far:

  1. Bedwetters – “Monsters” (8.4)
  2. Neon Letters & Maiko – “Tokimeki” (7.7)
  3. Elysa – “Bad Philosophy” (6.9)
  4. M els – “So Good At What You Do” (6.7)
  5. Ellip – “Pretty Girl” (6.6)
  6. OLLIE – “Venom” (6.5)
  7. Kaw – “Valik” (6.2)
  8. Alika – “Bridges” (6.1)
  9. Meelik – “Tuju” (6.1)
  10. MIA – “Üks Samm Korraga” (5.7)
  11. Anett x Fredi – “You Need to Move On” (5.5)
  12. Robin Juhkental – “Kurbuse Matused” (5.5)
  13. INGER – “Awaiting You” (5.3)
  14. SISSI – “Lighthouse” (5.3)
  15. Janek – “House of Glass” (5.1)
  16. Linalakk & Bonzo – “Aeg” (5.1)
  17. WIIRALT – “Salalik” (4.6)
  18. MERLYN – “Unicorn Vibes” (4.1)
  19. Carlos Ukareda – “Whiskey Won’t Forget” (3.8)
  20. Andreas Poom – “Why Do You Love Me” (3.2)

And with that, “Monsters” is the ESCUnited team’s #1 Eurovision song! Who do #YOU think should represent Estonia at Eurovision 2023? What are your favorite Eesti Laul entries this year? Let us know in the comments below, our social media, our forum, or Discord.

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