It’s time for the second semi-final of Eesti Laul this evening, so it’s on to our team to pass judgement on the competing songs. Which songs should be joining the six songs qualified for the final on March 6th?

Let’s see what Boris, Daniel, James, Melanie and Sean thought of the songs…

Sissi – Time

Boris – 6.5 – “Good points: This is better than Strong. “Time” actually has a hook! It has potential for emotional resonance. The not so good points: Said emotional resonance ain’t there in the studio version because, ironically, you’re not given *enough* time to take it all in. It’s close to being a good song but then trips right in front of the finish line. Still, a fun attempt. Upward and onwards, Ms Benton!”

Daniel – 7 – “We really out here with the soul and gospel, down to the organ sounds. I think this song will get high praise for the vocals and powerful delivery. This song, like a Sweden 2019, needs a strong visual staging to bring this song alive and really make sure that the soul element connects with a larger audience. This song does bring joy but it may be missing that last extra “woah” factor.”

James – 8 – “Dave Benton’s daughter returns to Eesti Laul, and this is a substantial improvement from her prior entry “Strong.” Sissi has made large strides since then to find her voice and stand out on her own, and the pop gospel of “Time” is a decent match for her strengths. “Time” can do with some tweaks – particularly some more fireworks in the vocals in the choruses, some clapping or percussive elements in the outro – but as an entry stands out. Plus, given what happened in 2020, Sissi’s lyrics should also help stand out with its “time is running out, I want don’t wanna waste more time” message.”

Melanie – 8 – “I’m really feeling this vibe from Sissi. Her voice is amazing and I really think this could do well in Eesti Laul. It gives me some kind of “coming together” vibe. It’s building nice to the chorus and the “I don’t want to waste more time” with her high note can be a moment, if she can deliver that also live on stage. Can’t wait to see this one in semi-final 2.”

Sean – 6.5 – “Hmm. I really liked Sissi’s first entry a few years back and felt it was deeply underrated. This is a little disappointing in comparison, although it’s going for a different feel. It’s a little basic for me but she’s the master of the soaring high note in Eesti Laul, and it’s another strong moment in the final third of this entry that could propel “Time” to a higher placing.”

Total = 36 (avg. 7.2)

Gram-of-Fun – Lost in a Dance

Boris – 10 – “The loss of old indie Eesti Laul is something I have vocally mourned here and elsewhere on the webs, so imagine my reaction to this pure undistilled showcase of indie realness. This *ANTHEM* evokes flawless, gorgeous 80s synth/new wave ENERGY. I… I honestly don’t think I can do “Lost in a Dance” enough credit with words. It’s a beautiful, touching, on trend indie pearl, retro yet forward-thinking, melancholic but uplifting, familiar and captivating, exciting and adventurous. It brings comfort where there’s darkness, lifts  you up when you’re down. I’ve listened to all the other EL songs twice. This song? At least a hundred times now. I am fully anticipating a Gram-of-Fun NQ, because d’uh it’s a BorisBubbles fave in a VERY competitive heat, and also the lead vocals are by Kristel Aaslaid, but songs such as these are why Eesti Laul used to be my favourite selection show. Thank you, Estonia. I will stay true to you and when all the lights are out, we tear ’em down!”

Daniel – 9.5 – “This is our Blinding Lights/Future Nostalgia bop and you know what, I am here for it. This song is a bop, a total bop. Well done, super fun with an empowering message and showing that musical inspirations can be used to create really interesting and powerful entries. I really am a big fan of how this song develops and creates a timely musical ambiance. I am excited to see if they can reproduce parts of their music video on the stage because it was very cool.”

James – 7 – “There’s been a lot of bad ‘80s throwbacks lately – particularly in new wave, thrash metal and synthwave – so I was a little trepidatious coming into this one, but Gram-of-Fun takes on early ‘80s new wave while putting a new spin on it rather well. “Lost in a Dance” is a little too simple and can get repetitive in its three minutes, but true to the performers’ name, they provide a little three-minute spot of fun.”

Melanie – 7.5 – “This is different but in a good way. Really like the beat and the voice from the singer. Just have the feeling that it’s too thin in the studio version. However, if they can play the instrument live and it got mixed well with her voice at the Eesti Laul stage, this could be a potential winner. I think this kind of songs really shines when it get played live instead of hearing it in a studio version.”

Sean – 7.5 – “Estonia really making sure the 80s are Coming Back in 2021! This is the most alternative of the throwbacks this year and I’m yearning for Eesti Laul to return to its indie years, so I do lean more towards this as a result. If M83 gave up the day job and decided to pioneer a five-piece Estonian shoegaze band, this is what that would sound like.”

Total = 41.5 (avg. 8.3)

Kadri Voorand – Energy

Boris – 8 – “A song that delivers on its very premise. Yes, I live for *intense* performances, and holy crap, this unplugged display of emotion Kadri manages to evoke in the VC is sublime. If all piano ballads aimed at *this* high level of energy, nobody would have a problem with them.”

Daniel – 8.5 – “Wow those vocals grasp you immediately between the raspy voice and the beautiful high notes. She is so emotive and gives life to the song. I think this is a beautifully composed song that merits an outstanding staging. Its structure is a bit unpredictable which I really appreciate, particularly with the almost-improvised way in which she plays the piano. I think that this song is a strong contender, and it must be noted by its great musicality.”

James – 7 – “File this under “Things I like that don’t have a hope and a prayer of making it to ESC.” Kadri’s a versatile, innovative jazz singer and pianist, and her song about misplacing energy in relationships where said energy should not be spent is more inventive than most break-up songs we tend to hear. Kadri tells a great story, puts in a great vocal performance with some surprising flourishes alongside some great piano playing at times, but the only way a song like this without a conventional song structure and no obvious hook or gimmick would qualify would be if Kadri did an Egert Milder and moved to Georgia.”

Melanie – 7 – “Everytime when I hear this song. I think it’s Lady Gaga instead of Kadri Voorrand. Their voices are kind of similar. Kadri has a powerful voice and the song completely rely on it. The song would be nothing without her voice. While this is the strength of her act, it’s also the weak spot of it. Can she also deliver this live? I really hope it, but I’m really scared about it. Nevertheless, a masterpiece from Kadri.”

Sean – 8.5 – “Kadri’s got a beautiful haunting voice and the sparse production of this ballad is really intriguing. Sometimes less is more, and the negative space of the inappropriately-titled “Energy” should create a captivating atmosphere on stage. What a surprisingly unique ballad this is!”

Total = 39 (avg. 7.8)

Helen – Nii kõrgele

Boris – 6.5 – “Poor Helen. ‘Suavely flailing your limbs around in a toiletpaper coat’ would have made for an exciting premise in the first semi. In the second semi, it makes her likable death fodder at best. Oh well.”

Daniel – 8 – “This might have some of my favorite visuals and I think that it has an interesting delivery. Overall I think that it has some strong appeals but it might be a bit slow-paced to be a full electronic pop bop but too fast paced to be an electro-ballad bop so it is stuck in this weird awkward middle space. I think that I like it but there is something that does not fit, maybe it is the way that it subverts expectations which itself is something interesting to note.”

James – 3 – “The Dutch will love this one with the O’G3NE-esque vocals in the chorus. That’s about all that’s remarkable about this rather forgettable entry. It comes off as antiseptic for a love song about the sensation of flying high and being in love. She recently did an interview where she talked about being married to a real estate developer, taking time off to raise three kids, and coming back to music after a decade long hiatus. Perhaps if she channeled that feeling of being a 35-year-old coming back from the cold and made the song more personal, she’d have a much more compelling entry here.”

Melanie – 4.5 – “I really appreciate the vibe they are trying to create, but somehow it just doesn’t work. Her voice is very dreamy but the beat is just too loud. It just doesn’t really fit well together. It also gets boring after listening to it for a minute. I just need something better than this to keep interested.”

Sean – 7.5 – “Helen really trying to channel ‘Sanja from UMK 2020’ vibes here it seems, although the song isn’t quite up to scratch with “Lover View”. But hey, it’s hard to match perfection! “Nii kõrgele” doesn’t exactly go anywhere, but to be honest I don’t care – sometimes it’s just enjoyable to go along for the ride, and this is a pleasurable, laid-back three minutes of synths and 808 claps.”

Total = 29.5 (avg. 5.9)

Redel – Tartu

Boris – 0 – “I heard this song once. That is one more time than I would have liked.”

Daniel – 4 – “Oh I can tell that this is going to be a journey. I mean, we do appreciate musical diversity. Um, well, that was something I guess. This is just not it but I appreciate that they are doing their thing and look like they are having fun doing so.”

James – 1 – “The song starts with what sounds like a power drill and it’s all downhill from there. The singer is the Winny Puuh vocalist from Eesti Laul 2013, and he somehow brought a more irritating song this time around. The lyrics are a list of towns that are wooden. This is one of those dreadful novelty songs that bring up the annual debate among ESC fans over whether or not novelty songs debase the contest as a whole. Most of my low scores have been for dirges that take themselves too seriously, and we do need a dose of fun, but this is a low rent, low effort parochial joke song that is wasting our time.”

Melanie – 5 – “The song would be great if it only would be 1 minute. After the 1 minute my ears couldn’t listen to it anymore. I can appreciate this attempt and the originality behind it, but my ears sadly can’t appreciate it.”

Sean – 9 – “The LEGENDS are back! Indrek and Kristjan of Winny Puhh fame’s reimagination as Estonian tribal electro-rappers is a joy to behold, and “Tartu” is as brash and in your face as their iconic 2013 performance, but in a very different way. The beat and flow of the words is surprisingly hypnotic and catchy and their charisma shines through the song. I’m sure this won’t get anywhere near winning, but I want a ticket front and centre to whatever the duo are going to offer us up on stage for this entry.”

Total = 19 (avg. 3.8)

Rahel – Sunday Night

Boris – 8 – “A *SERVE* of exotic couture and bitch-faced intensity, but there’s more to the song than an excellent A+ use of choirs. On the surface, it’s a pretty standard model upbeat ‘Own Yourself’ anthem, except it also profiles itself as an artistic student project, complete with awkward karate dance? And the general cadence of this song just pulls you in. This song has no rights to be this good and I am *intrigued* at what the live will bring.”

Daniel – 8.5 – “Oh that jazz piano is really doing something, and then the drop, wow this is highly intriguing. This is the song that takes funk and soul as inspiration and makes something very cool and then add those robotic dance moves and you have an extremely completing case for a winner. I think that this song is full of so many interesting parts that people might get overwhelmed but Rahel will be able to present it in a way that is extremely approachable.”

James – 6 – “This is the anthem for those women who post the “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best – Marilyn Monroe” meme on their social media. The track is as disjointed as you’d expect from a performer asking if her Mr. Saturday Night fun guy can handle the monsters that torment her on Sunday Night as well. There are elements of a good song here, including the funk and almost gospel-like backing voices, but the song needs an audio version of a corn starch slurry to make the disparate elements cohere. Rahel is a performer who needs a bit more of a polish, and I look forward to seeing her at Eesti Laul in a couple more years.”

Melanie – 6.5 – “Really pleasant song. The chorus is even catchy and got stuck in my head. The horns are a nice addition and makes it even stand out more. It just lacks something to really hit me. I just need something more to be really pleased.”

Sean – 8.5 – “Whoa, this feels so slick and modern! This has a really good tempo and builds to a really nice conclusion, and the constant sing-a-long gospel feel is uplifting and begs for the listener to join in. Definitely one for repeat listens this – well done Rahel for bringing an original take on pop music to Eesti Laul!”

Total = 37.5 (avg. 7.5)

So, how do the first six songs stack up against each other?

  1. Gram-of-Fun – Lost in a Dance – 41.5
  2. Kadri Voorand – Energy – 39
  3. Rahel – Sunday Night – 37.5
  4. Sissi – Time – 36
  5. Helen – Nii kõrgele – 29.5
  6. Redel – Tartu – 19

It’s Gram-of-Fun in first place at the moment. Will they hold on to top spot when the final six songs are reviewed?

Stay tuned later today as our team share their thoughts on the final six songs in the Eesti Laul semi-final!

Do #YOU agree with our thoughts on the songs? Have we underrated any songs? Share your thoughts with us below in the comments, on social media or on our forum HERE!

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