Eesti Laul is always a highlight of the Eurovision season, and tonight was no exception. Sure, I would have liked Jaan Pehk actually performing, rather than showing up as a songwriting credit on Traffic’s “NASA,” and I would have loved to have Mimicry in the final with their terrific “The Destination.” I’d even have liked Malcolm Lincoln back, even if this year’s “Bye” is no “Siren.”
But Eesti Laul 2012 offered a number of delights. Andres Kõpper fought off a cold to bring proper icy distance to Tenfold Rabbit’s “Oblivion,” this year’s “too cool for Eurovision” Estonian number. POP Maniacs threw together complex harmonies and slick choreography to the ridiculously catchy pop number “I Don’t Know.” Ex-Vanilla Ninja Lenna went to the super final with her James Bond in Tallinn track “Mina jään.”
However, the day went to Ott Lepland, who will be performing “Kuula” in Baku on Estonia’s behalf:
This reminds Jen of Barry Manilow, sort of a slowed down “Can’t Smile Without You” with a touch of Niamh Kavanagh’s “It’s For You” thrown in at the top. It’s lushly orchestrated, and Lepland is good looking and has a nice voice. It definitely looked like a crowd favorite from a performer that Estonians have known since he won Eesti otsib superstaari in 2009. (Two other Superstaari winners, Birgit Õigemeel and Liis Lemsalu, also vied for the trip to Baku).
But I fear for this one, because it’s in the second half of the second Semi. It definitely doesn’t hold up against Slovenia’s “Verjamem,” and while it is a better song than Croatia’s “Nebo,” it doesn’t crescendo the way Nina Badric’s entry does. I’m not sure there’s room in the Final for all three songs. Draw may turn out to be important for all three, and if “Kuula” precedes its rivals, it could get lost in the mix.
I’m confident Lepland can deliver a strong performance, given the composure we’ve seen from him thus far. We’ll have to see if that will be good enough to see him through.