Estonia’s ERR has unveiled the first set of semi-finalists of Eesti Laul 2021, and two former Eurovision stars are joining Uku Suviste in the race to Rotterdam.
Jüri Pootsmann, who represented the country in Stockholm in 2016, and two time-Eurovision veteran Koit Toome are back. They join Uku and nine other Eesti Laul semi-finalists. So far, the list includes previous Eesti Laul contestants Kéa and Tuuli Rand, as well as Mauritian singer Hans Nayna.
Eesti Laul 2021’s first 12 semi-finalists
On Wednesday, Estonia’s broadcaster revealed the first half of the Eesti Laul 2021 line-up. The rest are scheduled to be published on Thursday.
The first 12 names are:
- Uku Suviste – “The Lucky One”
- Gram-Of-Fun – “Lost In A Dance”
- Tuuli Rand – “Üks öö”
- Jüri Pootsmann – “Magus melanhoolia”
- REDEL – “Tartu”
- Kea – “Hypnotized”
- Hans Nayna – “One By One”
- Nika Marula – “Calm Down”
- Andrei Zevakin & Pluuto – “Wingman”
- Wiiralt – “Tuuled”
- Helen – “Nii kõrgele”
- Koit Toome – “We Could Have Been Beautiful”
Besides Uku, Jüri and Koit, the list includes some other familiar faces. Kéa tried her luck at Eesti Laul 2016 with her song “Lonely Boy”. Tuuli Rand had two songs in the 2013 final: a duet with Teele Viira and another as a part of the band Söörömöö.
Another two songs include Kristel Aalsaid as one of the composers. Back in 2016, she teamed up with Cartoon and came third with “Immortality”. At the time Jüri beat her, and so did Eurovision veteran and Koit Toome’s partner in “Verona”, Laura. Is 2021 the time for the 2016 contestants’ revenge?
The rest of the contestants include Mauritian singer Hans Nayna, who has teamed up with an Estonian songwriter for his song “One by One”. There’s also REDEL, whose song is called “Tartu”, just like Estonia’s second largest city. With all shows being held in Tallinn this year, perhaps Tartu will have its day in another way.
Uku Suviste tries again with “The Lucky One”
Last year’s Eesti Laul winner Uku Suviste may not have made it to Rotterdam due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but he’s back with “The Lucky One”. The song, once again, has been co-written by Dream Team member Sharon Vaughn and Uku himself. Will he be more fortunate this time?
Unlike other countries, Estonia made it clear rather quickly that Uku Suviste would have a spot in this year’s national final. Back in March, Uku explained he was “sad” and “sorry”, but he already confirmed he would “definitely” participate again.
His response was far more understated than that of songwriter Philipp Kirkorov. Mr Kirkorov, who had collaborated on Uku’s 2020 entry “What Love Is”, said the broadcaster’s decision was “not only insulting, but also annoying”.
Months later, Uku said that he thought the preliminary round — the open call for songs — “is the toughest one to pass”.
Indeed, a jury picks the 24 Eesti Laul semi-finalists without knowing the artists’ identity. Knowing how popular he is, that may feel like a drawback. Uku felt excited about being able to write a song without having to keep the selection process in mind.
Working with the Dream Team
Uku Suviste and Sharon Vaughn are the only people credited on “The Lucky One”. However, more members of the Dream Team have definitely been involved.
Back in September, the Greek creative director Ilias Kokotos shared Instagram footage of the Estonian star collaborating (via Zoom) with noted Greek composer and Eurovision maestro Dimitris Kontopoulos.
The story also tagged Dimitris’s collaborators Sharon Vaughn (“Waterline” and “Release Me”) and Philipp Kirkorov (“Scream” and “You Are The Only One”), and vocal coach Victoria Chalkiti, who had worked with Uku and Moldova’s Natalia Gordienko.
Jüri Pootsmann goes for Estonian
Back in 2016, Jüri Pootsmann took the Eesti Laul trophy with “Play”. His luck appeared to end there, as he came last in the Eurovision semi-final. Fellow Eurovision entrant Stig Rästa had composed the song. The result, however, was diametrically opposed to that of “Goodbye to Yesterday”.
Now his song is called “Magus melanhoolia” which roughly translates to “Sweet melancholy”. He has teamed up with Joonas Mattias Sarapuu, Jana Hallas and Aleksi Liski. Joonas is a singer as well, while Jana is a designer and lyricist, and Aleksi is a musician from Finland.
At least the song title is in Estonian. Estonia hasn’t picked a song in their national language since the back-to-back years of 2012 and 2013. Back then, Ott Lepland reached sixth place with “Kuula” and Birgit Õigemeel also qualified for the final with “Et uus saaks alguse”. Could “Magus melanhoolia” be next?
Koit Toome tries again
Koit Toome was one of Estonia’s first entrants at Eurovision back in 1998. After several attempts, he managed to get back to the European stage in 2017 with “Verona”. Laura Põldvere was his mate for the song, and they were heavy favourites ahead of the show.
Nevertheless, the tragedy was not only literary. The couple did not only lose their Verona. They also lost their spot in the final.
For 2021, Koit’s song is called “We Could Have Been Beautiful”. Does this relate in any way to his unfortunate elimination in the 2017 semi-final? Time will tell.
Who are you most excited for at Eesti Laul 2021? Do you think Uku can earn a second landslide victory in a row? Will Jüri or Koit make it back to the Eurovision stage? Let us know in the comments section below!