Wiwibloggs continues our new series looking at all the countries currently competing in the Eurovision Song Contest and why we love them — for all the right (and sometimes wrong) reasons. Today we are taking a stroll in the medieval old town of Tallinn while reminiscing about Estonia’s history in Eurovision.
Estonia first appearance was in 1994. Since then they have only missed one contest and even have one win on their CV. Estonia isn’t exactly known for taking the regular road when it comes to Eurovision and their national final — Eesti Laul — has become one of the most popular and most anticipated events of the national season. So let us take a look at ten reasons why we love Estonia at Eurovision.
1. The beautiful Estonian language
After the changes of the language rule that allowed countries to sing in whatever language they liked, English has been the dominant language at Eurovision. But we still get to hear the less widely spoken languages of Europe — and Estonian is just one of those. Estonia has sent three songs sung entirely in Estonian and one song that was sung in the Finnic-Uralic language Võro, a language originating from the southern part of Estonia. Of those four attempts, they even made it to the top ten twice, in 2009 and 2012.
2. They know how to bring sexual tension to the stage
It’s said that “sex sells” and plenty of Eurovision acts have attempted to bring sexy singers and dancers to the stage. But actual sexual tension between two people on the stage haven’t been that common. But the smouldering tension between Stig Rästa and Elina Born in 2015 was so palpable that people are still drooling over the act today.
3. The quality and variety of Eesti Laul
Estonia’s national final, Eesti Laul, has become one of the most anticipated national finals every year. That is mostly due to the incredible variety and quality that is found in this relatively small country’s music scene. We have had everything from goth rock to pop bangers, hip hop to schlager and country to comic book pop. Every year there is at least one weird song that seems to defy being pigeonholed as one particular genre. Meisterjaan’s entry in 2016 is just one of those songs. Just sit down, relax and try to figure out what in the world is going on.
4. They gave us this highly GIF-able moment
5. Not only can they sing, they can dance as well
In many ways, Eurovision is so much more than just a song contest — it’s about the whole package. And dancing is just one of the elements that fill up that package. In 2007, Estonia brought us former Dancing with the Stars contestant Gerli Padar, who showed us some fierce dance moves in her entry “Partner in Crime“. But they have also given us an unforgettable acrobatic modern-dance routine. Even though Tanja didn’t make it to the final in 2014, her dance moves sure were “Amazing”.
6. They gave us this dress
Y’all probably remember the big “Say yes to the dress” drama, where it seemed as if Estonia wouldn’t be able to use Elina Nechayeva‘s enormous projection dress in Lisbon. Thankfully that crisis was averted and as a result Estonia gave us one of the most extravagant outfits to ever appear on the Eurovision stage. Thank the fashion lord!
7. They are not afraid of a comeback
Estonia has not given us just one comeback, not just two, but three comebacks. First we had the two-year consecutive appearance by Maarja-Liis Iilus. In 1996 she got Estonia’s first top-five placing with her duet partner Ivo Linna, and in 1997 she came back as a solo act and snatched another top ten placing. In 2017 we got a double comeback, when former alumni Koit Toome (first appearance in 1998) and Laura (first appearance in 2005 as a part of Suntribe) got lost in Verona but failed to find a way out of there.
8. They don’t take themselves too seriously
Humour is essential to life and Eurovision is no exception, and Estonia sure has sent us some novelty acts. Some didn’t always bring the laughs like Estonia’s entry in 2008. Kreisiraadio showed up with the song “Leto Svet” where the lyrics were made up of up mostly random words in Serbian, German and Finnish and the staging included cardboard signs of food. But they have also sent some little less “slap-in-the-face” humorous acts. Malcolm Lincoln & Manpower 4, who represented Estonia in 2010, are a good example of a less obvious novelty act where maybe not everyone actually realised that it was really a joke. Malcolm Lincoln’s name might be the first clue though, as he got the name from a quiz show where a contestant got a little confused and thought that the first name of USA’s 16th president was Malcolm and not Abraham.
9. The bring that magical element on stage
Magic tricks are a solid part of show business and Estonia gave us the Abracadabra-realness twice. Well, it might have failed in the second attempt when Jüri Pootsman tried to “Play” us with his card trick in 2016 but instead ended up in the last place in his semi-final. However Getter Jaani was a bit more successful with her illusion in 2011. At least her scarf-to-stick trick got her to the final and to be honest, that trick left some of us gagging. How did she do that? A magician never reveals her secret.
10. They came so close to defending their crown
After their win in 2001 everyone’s attention was brought to the small Baltic nation of Estonia, the first of the former Soviet Union countries to win the contest. The host nation has a big responsibility to put on a great show for the rest of Europe, so trying to snatch that trophy might not always be the first priority. But Estonia walked on to the 2002 stage on home ground with one goal and one goal only; to keep that trophy in the Baltics. And they came so close, as their temporary immigrant from Sweden, Sahlene, ran away to the stars and made it to third place. But even though they didn’t win, they saw their neighbours Latvia win, keeping the contest in the Baltics.
Bonus! Keeping it in the family
Brother and sister Tanel and Gerli Padar have both represented their homecountry, although Tanel’s results were a tad better than his sisters. Also, Koit Toome and Maarja-Liis were in a long-term relationship in the nineties/noughties.
What do you love about Estonia? Do you think they have what it takes to win it all? Let us know in the comments below!