Yesterday the Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — travelled to Estonia, where we wandered around Tallinn’s Old Town, before gathering at a local cafe. There we discussed Jüri Pootsmann‘s song “Play”. Did we want to play along? Or were we calling a time-out? Read on to find out!
Jüri Pootsmann – “Play”
Deban: Dreamy-pop veiled with silky sex — totes j’adore! Pootsmann’s voice penetrates the soul and the song smoulders with clever production values. The key change at the bridge provides enough sensory variety without departing from its core. Yes, Stig Rasta composed this, but Pootsmann gives it life!
Kristin: Stig has done it again! For me, “Play” is slightly better than “Goodbye to Yesterday”, and it has everything to do with Juri himself and his deep and seductive voice, along with the rhythm of the song, and its sultry yet mesmerising beat. I just want to say: “Thank you Stig and Juri, and thank you Estonia”. This is one of strongest entries this year, and hopefully Estonia will see another top-ten result. At least you’re in my top ten.
Angus: Estonia burst out of the gates early in the year, but “Play” has been falling back since. Jüri’s vocal is super strong and emotive, but during the lower registers the song verges on boring, before it is pulled back into a big balladeer chorus. The staging needs more than colour changes to give it real power.
Bogdan: It wasn’t my favourite song of the Estonian selection (I will never forget Mick Pedaja’s extraordinary performance of “Seis”), but I can’t deny the qualities of “Play”. Jüri’s performance is layered and complex and, despite uneventful staging, the singer managed to convince me of what he was singing about. But still, a middle-of-the-road entry, inferior to Stig and Elina’s brilliant “Goodbye To Yesterday”.
Padraig: In some parallel reality, Michael Bublé and Draco Malfoy had a sordid love affair and Juri Pootsman was born. To be fair, it’s probably a touch harsh to put the Estonian singer in the same category as Bublé. Pootsman’s voice possesses a unique timbre that sets him apart from your typical crooner. If only he knew what to do with it. For on “Play” he completely loses perspective. In his bid to capture the dark and moody nature of the song, he ends up coming across as sinister and creepy. The stage show in particular is the stuff of horror movies. If he had a song more like his current single with Cartoon he’d qualify with ease. But as a spawn of Slytherin he’s borderline at best.
Denise: Juri is making me scared. They way he’s looking into the camera, like he sees right through your soul. He has the same rawness in his voice as Justs and Freddie, but the songs are really different so each and every song will stand out. “Play” is really good, but what do you want with a songwriter like Stig?
Robyn: “Play” is one of my big favourites for 2016. I love how seductive the song feels, with the staging making Jüri seem like a lounge singer in a 1960s bordello. He has a great voice, so smooth and expressive. I’m not totally convinced by the staging at Eesti Laul, but given that Estonia usually has good staging game, I’m expecting it to fully come alive in Stockholm.
Mikhail: This song is simple, but at the same time astonishing. Jüri becomes some kind of dark master — he gives you chills, tears into your soul, manipulates you, lures you, captivates you — all by looking at you through the camera. When Hovi Star sings “You hypnotise me”, it’s definitely about Jüri. And the song just adds something to the atmosphere. It is dark, mystical and it really plays with your mind.
Mike: When Jüri Pootsmann looks into the camera he makes me feel guilty I am watching him that closely while he performs. This song is a masterpiece and I doubt there is anyone in Estonia or wherever who could perform this song better than Jüri. If the Estonians stage this song as well as they staged their entry in Vienna, it will be a really strong outsider for the competition and we might have to travel to Tallinn next year.
William: Composer Stig Rästa loves throwback sounds and “Play” is doused in them, serving 1960s cool-cat realness. At Eesti Laul, Jüri reflected those sounds with his mod styling and his porn star voice, which is deeper than the ocean and sounds like it has been soaked in testosterone for several decades. Boring, dull, uninspiring — it does absolutely nothing for me. Let the ’60s live in the past.
Judit: Jüri has a George Ezra-feeling — a baby face with a man’s voice. This song is a slow poison — maybe you don’t fall in love the first time, but I bet you will adore it in May. Well done, Estonia! Simple but awesome!
Patrick: Jüri is a really mysterious person both visually and vocally. The song is very radio-friendly, carries a nice melody and good lyrics, and is delivered with a dark, fantastic voice. He knows how to work the camera, how to to move and everything seems on point. Unfortunately with a bad draw it may get forgotten. Let’s hope the staging in Stockholm gives this even more lift. I hope Estonia will do well again!
In the Wiwi Jury we have 40 jurors but only have room for 12 reviews. The remaining 28 scores are below.
William C: 8.5/10
The highest and lowest scores are dropped prior to calculating the average score. This is to remove outliers and reduce potential bias. We have removed a low of 2 and a high of 10.