Eesti Laul 2022: Quarterfinal #3 Reviews and Rankings

After Estonian week for QF2 it’s now English week at Eesti Laul, meaning that the final week will have six songs in English and four in Estonian to round it off at twenty songs each. So far, I think this format has worked well for broadcaster ERR, and I’d be happy to see it return next year.

Audition for a spot on a spaghetti western soundtrack, maybe? Well-executed, not a style of music I particularly listen to but it’s a solid song.

deLULU “Music Saved My Soul”
Difficult to work this one out — a lot of elements I liked, but it didn’t seem to fit together that well. There were a few moments when I thought the song was going to shift in a particular direction but it more or less stayed at the same pace, which was disappointing.

Goodreason “Three Days Ago”
A strong entry which needed a better hook to really make it stand out. The build was nice, and I liked the idea of transitioning from synth drums to a drum kit, but then the “real” drums didn’t drive the song as much as the synths did, so oddly what should have been an energising last thirty seconds fell short of living up to its full potential.

Elina Nechayeva “Remedy”
Nechayeva’s voice is obviously front-and-centre in this slow burn ballad which holds a lot of tension before a medium-sized lift towards the end of the song. And then there’s a scream all the way up to the top of Nechayeva’s range (jury catnip I guess) which still feels out of place even when after several listens. It’s a very strange last twenty seconds.

Lauri Pihlap “Take Me Home”
I know we’re focusing on the songs at this stage, and the videoclips are just window-dressing, but the budget for this one clearly didn’t give Pihlap much room for manoeuvre. It doesn’t help that he seems uncomfortable with his dance moves. The song itself is overly generic with too much repetition in the lyrics. Not much for me here, I’m afraid.

Levvis “Let’s Talk About”
Driving synths and breathy vocals with risque lyrics — sounds like a recipe for success, right? Unfortunately, you need some musical variation as well; within the first minute you’ve heard pretty everything you’re going to hear music-wise, so the song runs out of steam not too long thereafter. This means that the song relies too much on its lyrics, which isn’t enough to be a competitive song.

Merilin Mälk “Little Girl”
Solid pop song carried by an engaging piano line which underpins the song. Mälk’s vocals fray a bit as she tries to hit higher notes, but there’s a good about of layering of different instruments: always something new to listen out for and it’s certainly a song that can sweep you away.

Anna Sahlene “Champion”
Uplifting empowerment-for-all anthem which contains sections well-suited to a live performance, including an a cappella clap-along. Beyond that, it hits all the kind of notes and expresses the kinds of sentiments you’d expect from this kind of track. It’s not something I’d vote for or listen to much, but this has a broad appeal and I’d be surprised if this didn’t make it to the Eesti Laul final.

Alabama Watchdog “Move On”
This week’s rock entry is my favourite of the rock songs so far. The singing style in particular reminds me of Franz Ferdinand. Generally speaking, synth-rock is a sub-genre that always attracts my attention, and this band has mixed the sounds together quite well. “Breaking the truth” is one of the more awkward refrains I’ve heard lately though.
EDIT: I was not aware of the issues around Alabama Watchdog’s 2020 entry — this is the first year I’ve followed Eesti Laul at an earlier stage than the final. I have adjusted my rankings accordingly.

Shira “Under Water”
One-paced R&B-influenced track with strong vocals and a catchy refrain, but musically there’s just not much there. From my reviews so far, you can see that for a song to do well in my personal rankings, there really has to be a sense of musical progression.

My ranking (actual qualifiers in bold):

1) Goodreason “Three Days Ago”
2) Merilin Mälk “Little Girl”
3) Levvis “Let’s Talk About”
4) Elina Nechayeva “Remedy”
5) STEFAN “Hope”
6) deLULU “Music Saved My Soul”
7) Anna Sahlene “Champion”
8) Alabama Watchdog “Move On”
9) Shira “Under Water”
10) Lauri Pihlap “Take Me Home”