Yesterday Estonian broadcaster ERR revealed the entry requirements for its long-running national final Eesti Laul, promising even more competing acts. But among all the changes, fans have made it clear they still want to see the sort of acts that Eesti Laul is known for: ones that are a bit unusual.
Eesti Laul debuted in 2009, replacing the previous national final Eurolaul. Eesti Laul became known for its eclectic lineups, especially some of the more unusual acts. We are taking a look at ten of the most leftfield acts to compete at Eesti Laul in the past decade.
1. Meisterjaan – “Parmupillihullus” (2016)
Eurovision is known for embracing unusual musical instruments, but in 2016 Meisterjaan took things to a whole different level with his ode to the jaw harp. “Parmupillihullus” bought a mantra-like feeling to the song, combining quirky music and Meisterjaan’s deep and mysterious vocals. “Parmupillihullus” placed fifth in the grand final.
2. Chalice & Maagiline kuues – “Nelikümmend” (2009)
Eesti Laul debuted in 2009 and it was right in there with an unusual act. Rapper turned singer Chalice teamed up with the vocal group Maagiline kuues. Chalice accompanied the performance by playing an organ, which sometimes sounded like a ’90s cellphone ringtone. The performance may have been unusual, but it placed seventh in the grand final.
3. Alvistar Funk Association – “Make Love, Not War” (2017)
“Make Love, Not War” was a treat for geography fans. While the band played some funky grooves, the lead singer chanted the names of the countries of Europe. This included a strangely seductive uttering of “Georgia, Ukraine…” Sadly the Alvistar Funk Association’s geo-tastic grooves were not enough to qualify for the grand final. It placed eighth in its semi-final.
4. Malcolm Lincoln and Manpower 4 – “Siren” (2010)
Sometimes an unusual Eesti Laul entry makes it all the way to Eurovision. In 2010, Malcolm Lincoln — frontman Robin Juhkental joined by vocal group Manpower 4 — performed the quirky “Siren”. The song had almost not been part of Eesti Laul 2010 — it was a last-minute replacement when another entry was disqualified. The luck of “Siren” didn’t continue at Eurovision, where it placed 14th in its semi-final.
5. Armastus – “Young Girl” (2013)
Before he took up the jaw harp and became Meisterjaan, Jaan Tätte Jr was part of the group Armastus and they had a really creepy sounding song. Their 2013 entry “Young Girl” opens with the alarming lyric “Once I met a young girl / I wanted to penetrate her… world”. The song goes on to express a desire for the “young girl” to “smile forever”. The unsmiling Armastus made it to seventh place in their semi-final.
6. Cartoon & Kristel Aaslaid – “Immortality” (2016)
EDM trio Cartoon teamed up with singer and dancer Kristel Aaslaid for the melancholic “Immortality”. They did something a little different with the staging, combining cartoons and dancing. For most of the performance, Kristel hid off stage, while a cartoon likeness performed the song. Kristel appeared at the end wearing a lit-up ping-pong suit and danced along with her animated doppelgangers. The song made it to the superfinal, where it placed third.
7. Indrek Ventmann – “Tempel” (2018)
Indrek Ventmann’s song “Tempel” was a simple, repetitive song, evoking a meditation mantra and it came with masterful staging. Indrek sat on stage singing the song, keeping a Zen-like calm while all around him were the distractions of modern life. Selfies, money, smoke, groping, grooming, phone calls and a Koit and Laura coffee mug were all offered to him. But Indrek was cool and didn’t give in to the temptations of the material world. The song placed eighth in its semi-final.
8. Kerli – “Spirit Animal” (2017)
Kerli had long been a fan favourite for Eesti Laul and when her 2017 song “Spirit Animal” was revealed, Estonia became a contender to win Eurovision. While the song itself wasn’t so unusual, Kerli presented it with wild staging located somewhere between a deep dark forest and outer space. The song made it to the superfinal where it placed second to the unstoppable “Verona”.
9. Mick Pedaja – “Seis” (2016)
In 2016, Mick Pedaja did something different with “Seis”. It was a still, haunting, atmospheric song, very different from typical attention-grabbing national final entries. And Mick wasn’t even interested in working his camera angles. During the performance, he stood in the darkness, as his body became a projection screen. The moody performance became a strong fan favourite and finished in fourth place in the grand final, narrowly missing out on making the superfinal.
10. Winny Puhh – “Meiecundimees üks Korsakov läks eile Lätti” (2013)
Of course this had to be on the list. Winny Puhh showed up to the Eesti Laul grand final with a hairy-faced lead singer, backing vocalists with strap-on microphones and rotating drummers. And they generally caused chaos. The group placed third in the national final, but arguably had the most success of any Eesti Laul 2013 act, as they were later invited to perform as part of the runway show for the American fashion designer Rick Owens.
What are your favourite leftfield Eesti Laul entries? Do you think Estonia should send an unusual act to Eurovision? Tell us what you think below!