I’m perhaps the only person in the Eurofandom who preferred Uku Suviste’s 2020 entry, a great big slab of cheddar titled “What Love Is.” Uku and his clenched fists somehow managed to elevate the most cliched of love songs into a surprisingly effective antidote to all the sadbois peddling their melancholy ballads. Plus, I admire how Uku blew his entire staging budget on candles and pec-hugging Henley shirts.
But this year? Well, Uku has turned his considerable vocal talents to…a sadboi ballad. It’s still got the same amount of cheese, but this year, it comes flavoured with a side of “Thank God I’m single.” In the hands of a girl group (like The Mamas), this would read as an empowerment anthem, but in Uku’s version, it just comes off as sour grapes.
What Uku hasn’t realised that, as a former holder of the title of Estonia’s Sexiest Man Alive, we don’t want to hear that you’ve been unlucky in love. Dude, you’re certifiably sexy. A national publication has affirmed your desirability. And while attractiveness doesn’t inoculate you from bad relationship experiences, I’d be more inclined to extend sympathy to you if you didn’t start the song blaming the other party for everything that went wrong. Your introspection boils down to, ”She was a crazy bitch; Laterz!”
Heck, I’d probably be inclined to give you more credit if there was a shred of authenticity in the lyrics. One reason I enjoyed What Love Is was the way Uku sold lyrics about the blueness of his lover’s eyes, and the way their skin was as soft as a cloud. These may be corny details, but they’re still details which enable the listener to gain some insight into the relationship.
Here, all we get is a generic, “You messed it up.” Uku, did she cheat on you with Tom Leeb? Take too long to get ready when you were going out? Yell at you for singing too loudly in the shower while she was trying to do work Zoom calls? If we’re going to have any sympathy for you, we need to know WHY you’re the lucky one, aside from that face, that body, and those pipes.
And that’s even before we get into the issues with you, Uku Suviste, as a person. You studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. You’ve spent an extended amount of time in a country and city that’s grappling with racial dynamics. Then in 2014, you appeared on the Estonian verison of “Your Face Sounds Familiar” performing a Ray Charles song in blackface. And yet, when asked about it – silence. DUDE. I don’t care if it was a common part of that show (it was) or if white Estonians can’t say why this is problematic (it is). You’re performing for a global audience at Eurovision, and it’s time to apologize. DO BETTER UKU, or we’re going to end up thinking the girl who got away was the lucky one, not you.