Live: Eesti Laul 2014 first semi-final

This evening Eesti Laul kicks off in Estonia with the first Semi-Final. Broadcaster ERR collected a number of 188 submissions this year and with help of a professional jury, cut the selection down to just 20. In each round 5 contestants will advance to the final on 1st March through a combination of jury and televote.

This year the competition sees many familiar names return, from Sandra Nurmsalu from Eurovision 2009 to Lenna who represented Switzerland with Vanilla Ninja in 2005. Among a number of others – 4 of whom will compete tonight. Stay tuned with us to find out more and who will potentially carry the Estonian flag to Copenhagen!

The broadcast begins at 20:45 CET here, as does our liveblog.

Tonight’s lineup:

  1. Tanja – Amazing
  2. The Titles – Flame
  3. Wilhelm – Resignal
  4. State of Zoe – Solina
  5. NimmerSchmidt – Sandra
  6. VÖÖRAD – Maailm on hull
  7. Super Hot Cosmos Blues Band – Maybe-Maybe
  8. August Hunt – Kus on EXIT?
  9. Kõrsikud – Tule ja jää
  10. Lenna – Supernoova

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Welcome to Eesti Laul! Our hosts for the evening usher us into the show. Thanks for joining our blog here. We hope you’re in a great mood for Estonian music today.

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1. TanjaAmazing

Straight into the show with a returning contestant, Tanja. She has quite the unique performance to kick off the show by dancing whilst she sings. And it’s not just a quick routine in the chorus; it’s a contemporary routine throughout the number. difficult to believe she has not run out of breath yet! Considering, the vocals are quite good, if not strained occasionally due to moving about the stage so much. Strong way to begin the evening.

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2. The TitlesFlame

As the following act, these guys don’t hold water. The melodic techno-beat overpowers the lead vocalist. It’s unfortunate because we can hardly hear the lyrics for the music. Whether it’s just too loud or he’s simply not a strong singer remains to be seen. The stage is washed in red and few lights flash around, and just like that it’s over. A bit of a sleepy performance. Doesn’t look as if The Titles stand a fair chance this evening.

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3. WilhelmResignal

A pretty blonde girl in a red dress accompanied by classical guitar, a ukulele, and a few others on stage. The tune of Resignal is a touch of folk with an easy beat and sweet almost-Mediterranean tune from the guitar. The melody has good contour as the song progresses, leading in a positive direction. The audience gives a solid applause and we resume with the possibility that Wilhelm may qualify, even if it’s early to say.

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4. State of ZoeSolina

Simply a great way to begin a song with that melody and the chilling blue-white lights display in sync with the beat. This melody has a hazy club feel. It’s quiet but compliments the vocals. Progressive, a little jazzy, bit tech with some swag. And the vocals are on point, as well. Everything in this performance is balanced. The only thing lacking is perhaps energy – the hazy atmosphere hangs a little too heavy. Though easily fixed if State of Zoe should advance this evening.

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5. NimmerSchmidtSandra

4 guys, black suits, red shirts, blue lighting, Estonian language – this entry could have been pulled straight from the 1980’s wave of music. The drums are typical of that era as is the ringing synth keyboard that carries the melody. Singing in Estonian was a smart choice. The lyrics blend nicely with the music – if only we knew what he was singing! Something about Sandra ‘s all I know. Another good attempt so far, to say the least. What will televoters think?

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We’re in quick succession this evening at Eesti Laul. Half way through the performances already and now the judges are introduced. There is a fair number, probably around 10 or so.

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6. VÖÖRADMaailm on hull

And we’re onto rap, pop, and light dubstep. Something of a bad recreation of Montenegro last year, but this time with gothic clowns who emerge from a box positioned center stage. Soon an acrobat in pink joins the circus and the song carries on. The vocals are severely lacking and the dubstep set in place to bring up the rear don’t do the song justice. Interesting reactions from hosts and audience alike. Will be surprising if we see them again.

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7. Super Hot Cosmos Blues BandMaybe-Maybe

Is sha-la-la-la still an acceptable inflection? The song isn’t bad, but not “super hot” either. Dressed in black, skull&bones, leather fringe – “would you be my baby” the lead vocalist sings in a flat twang. It’s not country but somewhere lost between there and rock, it seems. There is no real energy in their performance as everyone stands with flat feet positioned around the stage. The atmosphere is a confused cold rather than bluesy, which is what they seem to have been aiming for.

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8. August HuntKus on EXIT?

Refreshing after the last couple of songs. August Hunt is a returning name to the competition. Kus on EXIT? is sung in Estonian, giving them an edge with the dance music. The members form two lines on stage: three vocalists up front, three musicians at the back. They’ve coordinated some fancy-footwork; it’s not bad. If they make it tonight, the vocals will need to be cleaned up, as they deflate on a climax. Otherwise, pretty fair performance.

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9. Kõrsikud – Tule ja jää

Another familiar name at Eesti Laul apparently. These three older gentlemen have the crowd waving their phones in the harmony. A mid-tempo acoustic song with a variety of percussion and strings among a few other things. It’s definitely a nice song to sway to, but lacks a serious driving force. The vocals here also require a bit of cleaning. It’s in question whether or not it is one of those songs that simply fade into the mix or that could turn around and surprise the audience.

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10. Lenna – Supernoova

Last of the evening! And seems they’ve saved the best for last. We’re all familiar with Lenna from Vanilla Ninja’s entry for Switzerland in 2005. Her voice immediately crisp and clear above the others this evening. With a band surrounding her, she keeps it simple wearing jeans a  sheer polka-dot top. The song is guitar driven with nice accent from the drums and keyboard. The entire room is shrouded in blue and the light-show balances the darkness. It’s a good tune and well structured, song-wise. No huge climax, but that seems to be the trend this evening.

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And the voting is off to a start. Quick recap!

What would the evening be without a trio of clowns singing Rockefeller Street? And Kuula and some other tunes. Not sure what the clown-fetish is this evening, but whatever floats your boat, Estonia. In the meantime, if you’re able, don’t forget to vote for your favorites.

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Jury results: t0p 5

Tanja

Wilhelm

Super Hot Cosmos Blues Band

Kõrsikud

Lenna

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Preview of Semi-Final two next Friday. The songs look much more promising from the clips!

And in the meantime, the voting has come to a close.

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Results! The 5 advancing tonight to the final are:

Kõrsikud

Wilhelm

Tanja

Lenna

Super Hot Cosmos Blues Band

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Thanks for joining us this evening! Don’t forget to follow next Friday for the Second Semi-Final and the week after that is the finale (1st March).