The shock of seeing my old friends at Estonian television make such an un-watchable preview didn't wear off easily, but now I calmed down and decided to give the songs a go in their own right.
1. KREISIRAADIO - Leto svet 0/5
Sad but true, but this is our winner, most probably. Kreisiraadio have a weekly show on ETV and possibly they are really funny there, or at least on occasion. Add the growing Estonian sentiment of being misunderstood in this contest, and you have a televote runaway victory. Problem here is that "Leto svet" is neither funny nor melodic, so what is there for the international audience to like? And joking around with Russia... Isn't there enough tension between Russia and Estonia as it is? And isn't it enough with one Russian parody in the contest (hello Malta)?
I just can't credit that this is written by Priit Pajusaar, the man who gave us "Kaelakee hääl" and "Diamond Of Night". He should be thoroughly ashamed of himself, and move into the Old Composers Home, maybe in the room next to Ralph Siegel's?
2. SKA FAKTOR - Real Big Money 2/5
Everything sounds good after our opening effort, but there is also something truly cute about ska from Estonia. The singer is a charming young man that pushes his song forward all the way to the chorus, where the entire song hits the wall. There is no chorus in sight, whatever direction you choose to look. By the end of the song, the lack of chorus seems to bother also the band, and they decide to open the tap on full. The result is a lot noisier than anyone wanted them to be, and the whole performance becomes a mess. If they would get their act together it would be good - as it is now, it is doomed to scare loads of televoters away.
3. ROLF JUNIOR - One On One 3/5
As Nina previously guessed, I also think Rolf wishes he was Mika, or at least his best friend. They could play house and throw great tea parties, I suspect. Just like the ska competitor, this starts out very promising with laid-back vocals, a spaced-out backing group (I just LOVE the fairy godmother) and the first chorus in the running. Little by little, the performance goes a bit out of hand, and by the end, where all the hocus pocus with rabbits in hats and dancers with flags threaten to take over, I am not sure whether this is seriously meant or a parody of something else. Clean up the act, get rid of the surplus garbage and that could do the trick. (I would find it wise to drop the silly beard as well, but that is just a matter of personal taste, I suppose.)
4. TAAVI PETERSON - Question Man 1/5
In connection to this song, I would like to point out that next year will see the 40th anniversary of the release of "Space Oddity" by David Bowie. What I am trying to say in a polite way, is that this is nothing new. It has been done before. And often way better. Fifteen years ago, 75 % of all Britpop band sounded like this as well. And they had better songs. And they were in tune, most of the time. When Taavi finds his own thing to do, he could be a really interesting name in the national rock scene, but this song is not the right vehicle for him. Next one, please.
5. KRISTJAN KASEARU & PARADISE CREW - Üksinduses 2/5
Kristjan is obviously a gifted young man, and it is clear to anyone with eyes and ears that he is more comfortable in his mother tongue than he was with that silly song in English last year. This song is a grower that gets better everytime you hear it, but in the international bash, that is a disadvantage. Most of the voters will see you once only before casting their votes, and that will leave Kristjan out in the cold. I heard it several times, and I remember liking it, but could not remember the chorus to save my life.
6. BIRGIT ÕIGEMEEL - 365 Days 3/5
We heard this one before, didn't we? The classical big, bombastic ballad with an accomplished singer, ready to belt it all out in order to knock our socks off. This one is simple, but effective, and Birgit is giving it her all. Probably she will be the only hope of the people who would prefer to see anyone win but Kreisiraadio, and could gain a lot of support for that as well.
This would be a proud choice, even though the heyday of the big ballad may have come and gone in the ESC already. My real problem is the grammatically incorrect set of lyrics. Can't they have some English teacher proof-read them an suggest changes? Where is Maian Kärmas when Estonia needs her?
7. LUISA VÄRK & TRAFFIC - It's Never Too Late 2/5
In 1957, the Germans sent Margot Hielscher to Eurovision with a song about how wonderful telephones are. Now, 51 years down the line, an Estonian dance orchestra decided to pick up the thread and praise the wonder of communication. How happy you get when you hear your favourite ringtone, is the message here. Get another lyricist, for crying out loud.
That slight criticism aside, there is something likeable around this entire package. Anonymous and chanceless as it may be, I also find it somehow endearing, mainly thanks to the charming male vocalist.
However - if you do love duets, you have to be prepared to do a bit of acting. If you stand five metres apart and look in different directions, not even the emotionally challenged will believe you are in love.
8. SUPERNOVA - Stefani 1/5
I love 60's pop, I just have to mention that first. It is fresh-faced, happy, carefree and completely without irony. And it is made in the 60's. Nowadays, when people try the genre, it almost always ends up ironic. And I hate it.
This is OK, I guess, but too silly for me to waste any time on it, though. The best thing about it are the dancing grannies on the background projection, they are dead cute.
9. IIRIS VESIK - Ice-Cold Story 3/5
The most challenging song musically also happens to be the best one in the field. (Kreisiraadio is not musically challenging, it is just an insult towards taste.) Iiris owns a remarkably voice, and she floats around like a mixture of Thumbelina and Amélie Poulain. Dark, aggressive, somewhat strange and not totally likeable for everyone on a first listening, I guess. Probably doomed to end up in 7th place or so. But I like it. And in this, not the strongest ever edition of Eurolaul, anything that can rattle the cages a bit is welcomed by me.
10. LUISA VÄRK & MARGUS VAHER - God Inside Your Soul 1/5
"If god was laying by my side / To love and care and be my guide"? What does this mean? In Bed With God?
Apart from the interesting lyric, this song also provides the vocal clash of the year, as Luisa and Margus seem to have all harmony structures in the world against them. It all sounds strained and forced, and you can't wait for these three minutes to be over.
I would think most people who believe in God would find him worthy of a better song than this one.
KREISIRAADIO - Leto svet
It is not what I want (that should be fairly obvious after reading the review), but I think this is a make-or-break year for Estonia. I think they will send Kreisiraadio and come back with more scolding than ever. And hopefully that will inspire them to get better songs. Considering how many good songwriters there are in that small country, it is unbelieveable how the overall quality of Eurolaul dropped in recent years. Time to get back on track, people.