So Eesti Laul’s first semifinal happened last night in the most depressing sports hall ever.
Tartu, I know you are going for the European City of Culture in 2024, so here’s a tip: Plonking a bit of culture down in a big space does not a cultural event make! You need a shared cultural experience, not just a bunch of people milling around in a space where art is going on looking at their phone! Because that’s clearely what happened at Eesti Laul last night – a bunch of people just looking at their phones while artists tried to make do on a stage which swallowed them up.
Also, Eesti Laul, who starts their semifinal at 5 PM GMT? Some of us do have to work, you know. I ran home early and still missed the first two acts, and yet then spent the next THREE HOURS streaming Estonian television during the worst paced National Final programme yet. You guys make Lithuania look snappy.
None of the videos are up yet, but here’s the details on what happened:
1. Swedish import Victor Crone got through:
With a name like Victor Crone, I feel like he’s just biding his time as a heartthrob singer-songwriter before he can pursue his true career as a professional scarer of children.
Anyway, the ‘humanitarian aid’ (host’s words, not mine) gave a shaky performance of Storm. He’s going to have to work on this staging in the next couple of weeks if he wants to go to Tel Aviv.
2. True cinnamon roll Inger got through!
I’ve written before how much I love Inger and between her and Bilal, the year is shaping up quite nicely for ambiguously gendered teens. I hope her charm carries her through to a good result in the final – she was playing to what seemed like a home crowd in Tartu last night (indeed, her performance was about the only time people got excited.
3. Awkward boy next door Marko Karr lost:
I was rooting for him because he’s just so sweet. He looks like he should be giving a presentation on corn futures at a FFA conference, but instead he’s there singing about dancing and how the music will take over while standing stock-still on stage, surrounded by Tartu’s JV dance squad. Thanks, Marko! Come back next year!
4. My xtra basic jokes can continue
Xtra Basic is the worst band name ever. How can one be both xtra and basic – by ordering a Pumpkin Spice Latte while wearing glitter eyeshadow?
Anyway, this banger snuck through as the last announced element on the televote, so good to my favorite Chainsmokers knockoff.
5. Deeeeeep Waaaaater got points from the jury
I admire this song greatly because it’s literally just a chorus, a drum machine, an a great hat. And last night, Sofia turned the 1980s realness up to 11, looking like she had stepped out of the Estonian soap opera knockoff of Falcon Crest. While it won points from the Jury, it couldn’t sustain it in the televote, and got knocked out. I’m sorry, Sofia. I was looking forward to seeing what hats you’d bring us in the final.
6. The Swingers, Tanya and Birgit have a bigger fan base than I expected:
This jazzy ditty about the future of a female-presenting police state got points from both the jury and televoters. I still don’t think it’s going anyway, but apparently, all that appreciation for jazz that exists in Vilnius has come across the border.
7. Adios to ÖED
The only representatives (or so I thought) of the Keep Eesti Weird contingent were this duo, who took the stage in bright neon tracksuits and managed to recreate the snapchat special effects that made their original video so special.
(Czechia, this is how iPhone videos should be done.)
8. Ranele brought a glorious moment of WTF-erky
No visuals are yet available, so I can’t show you exactly what ridiculousness that Ranele brought to Eesti Laul, but it involved too much dry ice, a sequined gown with a tinsel wig, poor choreography with a disco ball, and hot men painted green. It was divine, and no one liked it except me, unfortunately.