Estonia: Eesti Laul 2018 songwriting camp draws Koit, Juri, Ott and Aminata…as Kerli hits the studio


With the Eurovision 2018 season slowly revving up, various countries have launched preparations for their national selection shows — including Estonia, who will stage the 10th anniversary edition of Eesti Laul next year.

Despite its victors crashing out of the semi-final for two consecutive years, Estonia’s national selection is still attracting a lot of attention.

Even though the 2018 song submission rules were only announced at the end of September, ERR have revealed that the first two songs were submitted all the way back at the end of August. They came from a Swedish team. Unfortunately, in their eagerness, they didn’t quite meet the requirements for the show — namely having Estonian residents comprise half of the songwriting team, and filling in the necessary participation form. An old Estonian proverb — quoted on the Eesti Laul Instagram account — seems apt: “There’s a bit of bureaucracy behind every song”.

But there’s also a lot of work, as seen by the convergence of artists and composers at a recent songwriter camp organised by Music Estonia and the Estonian Song Academy. The fourth edition of the camp occurred between the 24th and 27th of September in the Viinistu Art Hotel, which is located inside a picturesque seaside fishing village in the Lahemaa National Park.

The aim of this edition of the camp was to create up to 16 songs to be submitted to Eesti Laul 2018. However, none of the songs produced during the camp will get a free pass into next February’s semi-finals. They’ll have to survive the cull — conducted by a special jury and organised by the state broadcaster.

With some of Estonia’s top artists and producers involved with the camp, it’s likely that we could see some of these songs hitting the Eesti Laul stage. Last year’s addition of the camp resulted in Rasmus Rändvee’s “This Love”, Liis Lemsalu’s “Keep Running” and Laura Prits’ “Hey Kiddo” being selected to participate in the 2017 contest.

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Posted by Eesti Laul on Monday, September 25, 2017

So who was involved? Sixteen Estonian artists and producers gathered at the camp, most notably three former Estonian Eurovision entrants, Koit Toome (1998, 2017), Ott Lepland (2012) and Jüri Pootsmann (2016).

Former Eesti Laul entrants Lenna Kuurmaa (2010, 2012, 2014, 2017), Liisi Koikson (2013) and Maian (2017) were also present. Producers with previous Eesti Laul writing contributions include Liina Saar (2013), Priit Uustulnd (2013, 2014, 2016), Martin Saaremägi (2015) and Allan Kasuk (2016).

Recognising that international ears can bring fresh perspective to composing Eurovision entries, the camp involved eight songwriters from Finland, Latvia, Denmark, England and the USA. Eurovision fans will be happy to hear that the Latvian representative at the camp was none other than Eurovision 2015 entrant Aminata Savadogo. After penning two successful Latvian entries, and an entry for Lithuania’s Eurovizijos atranka 2017, Aminata seems keen to spread her love to the other Baltic nation.

Check out ERR’s video report of the songwriting camp to see Koit, Aminata and the others in action — and please take particular note of Koit’s wonderful use of a wardrobe as a make-shift studio (when life gives you wardrobes, make a Eurovision hit!).

Kerli and Rasmus Rändvee in the Studio

Although some of next year’s Eesti Laul entries may result from the songwriting camp, the majority will likely still come from other artists’ submissions. Therefore, just like for Melodifestivalen, we’ve kept an eye on social media to spot any previous Eesti Laul entrants who are currently in the recording studio.

And we’ve spotted two biggies in the form of 2017 superfinalists Kerli and Rasmus Rändvee. Both came close to winning the ticket to Kiev, but lost out to Koit + Laura in the final televote.

Kerli won the first round of voting in this year’s grand final. So with no mention of the superfinal in the Eesti Laul 2018 rules, perhaps she’s contemplating a return in order to snatch the crown that so many thought should have been hers…


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The deadline for entries is 3pm sharp on 1 November. However, we’ll have to wait a little longer to find out if any of the songs from the camp, or those of other artists, make it into the semi-finals. These songs will be made public on the ERR website on December 19th and 20th (so add those dates to your diary).

Are you excited for Eesti Laul 2018? Whose song from the songwriting camp are you most looking forward to hearing? And do you want either Kerli or Rasmus to make a return? Let us know in the comments below!

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