Once again we are back with more national final reviews! This time it’s the second semi-final, ahead of tonight’s show in Estonia. Which song did our editors think would be the frontrunner?

Sünne Valtri – I’ll Do It My Way

James – 8 – “I can’t say I see the combination of sequins and campfires too often, unless RuPaul has started running summer camps that I don’t know about (Camp Tuckitin? No? One can dream.). And “leave sparkle behind everywhere you go” is a winning sentiment, even if the track is perhaps a little too adult contemporary. This may be the year a traditionally safe sub-genre is the risky choice, and pairing Pride with something Shania Twain would do may just work.”

Jordan – 5 – “This isn’t bad. I think Sünne has a good voice but unfortunately in a strong selection like this, it kind of blends into the background and becomes a bit forgettable. I feel a bit bad saying that as I feel Sünne is a very competent performer, but the harsh reality is that the song just isn’t good enough.”

Sean – 3 – “Is this some poor attempt at a mildly Schlager pop song? A key change a minute into the song is certainly jarring, and again later in the track, but this is vanilla and bland with some pretty poor clichéd lyrics, and certainly not suited for this Estonian selection. Perhaps pop purists will vote for this one, but I can’t see this going through.”

Total – 16

Iseloomad – Kaks miinust

James – 8 – “Sounds like one of those northern soul/classic rock hybrids you hear playing at a pub on a Saturday night in Brighouse, West Yorkshire. And that is why I like it, even with its clunky “shoo-be-doo-be” lyric dropped in like a tweaker throwing a Sainsbury’s shopping trolley into the canal. I suspect most on our panel will hate this. If Eurovision goes for two auld Irish fellas reminiscing about the auld rock ‘n roll they loved as teens, then this ode to butterfly knife fights behind the bins (not what it’s actually about – that’s the Brighouse vibe after listening to this after one tinny too many) has a shot. Probably not, though.”

Jordan – 4 – “There isn’t anything objectively wrong with this entry, but I feel in a strong field like Eesti Laul this year it fades into the darkness. The band have some charisma and the song is nice when you listen to it, but I forget it as soon as it goes off. I don’t think this will be a contender to represent Estonia in Eurovision this year.”

Sean – 6 – “Much like Laime Pilnīga’s entry over in neighbouring Latvia, Iseloomad bring some lo-fi, raw rock to this year’s Eesti Laul. There’s some nice elements of uplifting shoegaze and hazy beach rock, and it certainly seems like these guys have just come for the music and to have fun. It’s a little basic, sure, but this is an enjoyable laid-back song.”

Total – 18

Lumevärv ft. INGA – Milline päev

James – 7 – “A catchy, if pedestrian, dance song. This should do well with the other members of the Eastern European contingent should it make it out of Tallinn. I enjoyed this one, but I prefer some of the more American influenced numbers. Give this young woman something a bit more unique and she could crush Eesti Laul 2020.”

Jordan – 4 – “This just isn’t for me personally. It’s not the type of music I normally listen to. She has a good voice but beyond that there isn’t anything here that would appeal to me personally. It’s not awful though.”

Sean – 6 – ““Milline parv” is an enjoyable dancey tune, although there’s not much else to really wax lyrically about with this track. It’s not something that’s original and they won’t be able to replicate the choir that adds interest to the official video, but it’s a cool uptempo bopper of a track, and Inga certainly seems to believe in the track which helps massively with the impression of a song like this.”

Total – 17

Sissi – Strong

James – 6 – “Dave Benton’s daughter Sissi Nylia Benita tries Eesti Laul for herself (Benton performed with Tanel Padar and 2XL on Estonia’s winning 2001 entry “Everybody”), and she is more or less successful with a slightly funky number. Her deep voice is certainly different from the rest of the contenders, but for a song called “Strong” the track is slight. Another great singer who needs a stronger song.”

Jordan – 6 – “This girl has an absolutely amazing voice. There is an excellent tone and depth too it. Sadly, she is let down by a rather mediocre song in my opinion. It doesn’t really go anywhere. The chorus is basically her singing “oh” continuously. It’s a wasted opportunity for me. But she definitely gets points for her amazing voice!”

Sean – 7 – “There’s an almost complete absence of production in this song, and to the untrained ear such as mine it seems like there’s not many elements to this. But perhaps that’s the point; Sissi has a great unique vocal and there’s a pure feeling about this one. A lot about this points to me not liking this, but against my better enjoyment it leaves a smile on my face. Is that not what this is all about, anyway?”

Total – 19

Cätlin Mägi & Jaan Pehk – Parmumäng

James – 2 – “This semi-final has two novelty songs – a fun one and another one that taxes your patience. Guess which one this is. Magi’s mouth harp playing may have its fans but combined with both Magi and Pehk’s vocals the harmonies are not pleasing. This is just an avant garde headache, and though Pehk kind of looks like Mark Addy, I can’t recommend this.”

Jordan – 0 – “In my eleven years of being a Eurovision fan this is probably one of the worst songs I’ve ever come across. There is nothing good about this song what so ever. I almost gave up reviewing this as I couldn’t stand listening to it. I’m sorry if you like this but this is just one of those songs I cannot stand.”

Sean – 5 – “Now this is pure Eesti Laul. If you looked up what Eesti Laul was in some sort of cruelly bastardised Eurovision dictionary, this song would be the description. It has an enchanting rhythmic folk feel to it which feels more Estonian than most songs in this selection, and although I can see it irritating some people to the point of hatred, I appreciate this for a daring submission.”

Total – 7

Kadiah – Believe

James – 7 – “The “all y’all make a video” concept for Eesti Laul 2019 works in Kadiah’s favor, even though with the introduction I thought I was watching the start of a “found footage” horror movie. This song is also the opposite of “Cold Love,” in that this is pure sentimentality. But there’s little mistakes here and there. The video, and any stage demonstration, has the potential to topple over into self-indulgence, and she needs to work on her pronunciation of “me” as it is grating.”

Jordan – 8 – “Oh my god… Her voice is stunning. I really like this one. She is so innocent and gentle, and she makes me believe every word she is singing. I get some people may find this one boring, but I feel this is sweet. The song is there or thereabouts but Kadiah is the true star here. She is amazing.”

Sean – 7 – “Not sure why the trend for breathy female vocals has continued but I like this one. There’s a clear story about her journey growing up and aspiring as a musician which many people will identify with, and it has a purity and honest quality to it. One of the YouTube comments compared her to Ieva from last year, and I have to agree that this has a similar homely feel to her entry.”

Total – 22

Kaia Tamm – Wo sind die Katzen?

James – 7 – “Okay, this is a novelty song I can get on board with. It’s like a German version of the The Bloodhound Gang singing about cats. It sounds like Kaia Tamm is having fun with this retro synth-pop novelty, and unlike the Latvian novelty songs, this one works and doesn’t feel half-assed. Does it deserve to go to Tel Aviv? No. As a song it’s too basic, though from two videos we’ve seen we know Tamm should pull off a good stage concept. Unlike some novelty songs of the past (Scooch’s execrable “Flying the Flag”), this one guarantees a good time, and if Kaia does go to Tel Aviv, she will probably garner a cult following regardless of end position.”

Jordan – 0 – “Once again… we have a song I cannot stand listening to. This song is beyond ridiculous. I get the producers of the show wanted variety but come on… This could not have been better than some of the other entries that were submitted. This is just terrible on every level and shouldn’t go anywhere near Eurovision. Sorry to be blunt but that is what I feel.”

Sean – 7 – “This certainly caught the eyes of many when the songs were revealed. The harder techno German style is unusual but seems befitting of such an eclectic and open selection like Eesti Laul. I’m not sure why Kaia Tamm has actually decided to make this song, but f*** it, why not? Embrace the strange, and pray for a similarly mad live performance! I wouldn’t be surprise to see this make the EL final.”

Total – 14

Kerli Kivilaan – Cold Love

James – 7 – “Chill modern pop delivered cleanly and crisply. And that may be its problem. Lyrically, it’s about a woman who gives her all to a man who gives her the cold shoulder. The threat to tattle to his mother about his cold love is an odd touch. I like it, and Kerli is a good singer with presence, but it’s a little too clinical.”

Jordan – 8 – “This is so good! She has a beautiful ethereal voice and the chorus has a hook that makes it memorable. Yes, it is a bit simple and may come across as a bit boring love, but I feel Kerli’s excellent voice can carry it. I really like this. Another front runner for me.”

Sean – 6 – “A different Kerli to the one we all know, but this is a pleasant surprise. Kerli has a great voice for this song which is a catchy indie-pop tune. Not necessarily one that could stand out from the crowd (and I fear this may be the downfall of this track) but individually it is an enjoyable three minutes and another solid addition to this selection.”

Total – 20

Grete Paia – Kui isegi kaotan

James – 5 – “Greta is back, but she is back with a song so dull I doubt she’ll be third time lucky at Eesti Laul. Slick, yet safe and forgettable. If they send this song, and it should be popular at Eesti Laul, it will get buried in the Semi-Final in Tel Aviv.”

Jordan – 7 – “I think this will definitely be a Eurofan favourite. A pretty woman singing an up-tempo song in Estonian. However, for me it doesn’t quite hit the heights other songs in this selection do. It’s still good but I feel other songs outshine this one and I can’t really explain why. It’s a shame really.”

Sean – 4 – “Grete is back once again, but this song passes me by. Nothing really to see with this one. It’s a standard but well-put-together pop track and kudos for using Estonian, but I’m struggling to pad out this review with anything else if I’m honest!”

Total – 16

Lacy Jay – Halleluja

James – 5 – “Now this is just pandering calling your song “Halleluja” in the year Eurovision goes to Israel. Lyrically, it’s obnoxious, but I guess they had to resort to not so subtle references and the cliched “I’m coming home” trope over such a dull track.”

Jordan – 7 – “I like this. Lacy has a great voice and the song has a good melody. However, I feel like Lacy will have to perform this very well live to sell the song. I don’t know if she can hit all those big notes. I may be wrong, and I hope I am but for now I’m quite cautious about this entry.”

Sean – 5 – “There’s a little bit of vocal modulation in this one which will be interesting live, but Lacy brings a powerful vocal to this plodding acoustically-based song. This could really soar when performed live or also sound shrieky – I’m hoping it won’t be the latter.”

Total – 17

Around The Sun – Follow Me Back

James – 6 – “On the plus side, it’s the best Eurovision song that heavily references social media, in this case Instagram. It’s a pleasant enough indie-pop song, but it could backfire as despite the platform’s popularity, no-one likes being reminded of living their life on Instagram (even if it is truly representative of the life being lived) and the lyric “hoping that you’ll follow me back” comes off as narcissistic and insincere. Plus the legality of naming Instagram will give Estonia an unnecessary headache to deal with before Tel Aviv (see also: Monetta, Valentina).”

Jordan – 8 – “Some people will think this is silly, but I really like this! This has a rather innocent quality and screams youth. I hope they are able to perform this well live as I feel this could be a dark horse if it’s performed well live. I do worry that they won’t be able to keep the Instagram lyric, but this is a good song and deserves a place in the Eesti Laul final.”

Sean – 8 – “This is great! Following on from Frankie Animal last year we have another female-fronted indie band, this time with a warpy, twisty electronic element to them. “Follow Me Back” is another modern love song for the digital age and suits the production techniques on show here. Whether their infectious rhythm will get the Estonian viewers bouncing along will be another story though.”

Total – 22

Uku Suviste – Pretty Little Liar

James – 3 – “Oh joy, a break up song. Why do people think we need this at Eurovision? This is whiny and bitter. Oh, some girl lied to you once? Boo hoo. Very nasally singer and contains very unpleasant sentiments. As Uncle Rick once told me, “you get back in your Camaro, crank up the Warrant, and you find your next Cherry Pie!” Unless it’s country, I have very little patience for songs by young men whining about some girl who slighted them, let alone 36-year-olds with the resume he has. Not to be mean, but this sounds like something Eliot Roger would have played repeatedly.”

Jordan – 8 – “I am in love with this guys’ voice! He has such power and strength in there. It’s really arresting! The song is good but doesn’t quite live up to the potential of the stunning voice. However, I would still not object to having this at Eurovision. Very good.”

Sean – 5 – “I think Uku’s going for a dramatic, dynamic, bombastic ballad to close out the semi and make the goosebumps come and the hairs stand on end, but this certainly leaves me cold. Don’t get me wrong, he has a good voice for this type of thing, but I personally feel like he’s built up some hype for what is a very flat song.”

Total – 16

Let’s have a look at what this all means translated into points…

  1. Kadiah – Believe – 22
  2. Around The Sun – Follow Me Back – 22
  3. Kerli Kivilaan – Cold Love – 20
  4. Sissi – Strong – 19
  5. Iseloomad – Kaks miinust – 18
  6. Lumevärv ft. INGA – Milline päev – 17
  7. Lacy Jay – Halleluja – 17
  8. Sünne Valtri – I’ll Do It My Way – 16
  9. Grete Paia – Kui isegi kaotan – 16
  10. Uku Suviste – Pretty Little Liar – 16
  11. Kaia Tamm – Wo sind die Katzen? – 14
  12. Cätlin Mägi & Jaan Pehk – Parmumäng – 7

So we have a tie! It’s Kadiah and Around The Sun who take top honours from our team, with Kerli Kivilaan close behind with 20 points in third. Will these three be joined by Sissi, Iseloomad and Lumevärv ft. INGA later this evening though? We don’t have long to find out!

Who do #YOU want to represent Estonia in 2019? Share your thoughts with us on our forum HERE or join the discussion below and on social media!

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