VAJÉ - “Laura (Walk With Me)"
Two boys. One with a guitar, and one sings. It's a light dance pop number, actually, not far removed from the 1,000,000 trop house songs you hear on the radio. But it has a sleepy, late evening feel to it. The performance has an oddly creepy gimmick with the singer's hands and body being touched by an arm and hand behind a screen. Presumably this is the same dancer who comes out during the middle bit of the song as the guitar-wielding boy flails around largely off-camera. There's a locked in audience for this sort of thing, but while a superior example of its form, I don't much care for it.
IIRIS & AGOH - “Drop That Boogie"
Another very contemporary entry, somewhere in the middle of Ina Wroldsen and Tove Styrke, with the minimal bleeps and blurts being a bit like Lorde's first record. The singer has a distinct squeaky voice that makes her stand out. She straps on a guitar towards the end and at that point loses a lot of her stage presence as she's rooted to the spot. I don't think it's melodically very strong but it has a terrific sound. The song ends fairly abuptly and maybe you can have too much use of bright pink lighting, but the singer's voice has enough character that after listening to all of the songs I can still hear her, which I think helps come voting time!
ETNOPATSY - “Külm"
This is the kind of quite lovely, ethereal sort of thing that I like and Eurovision voters treat with complete disdain. It's a very un-Eurovision like piano folk song with some slightly jarring doubled beats popping in every so often. I mean, yes, it's formless and aimless but the harmonising is lovely.
SIBYL VANE - "Thousand Words"
This is a somewhat proper rock band looking performance in a fake-indie-but-actually-not way. The most important thing about the song is that Sibyl is wearing a superb, wide-brimmed red hat. The riffs chug pleasantly in the verses but the "say. a. nother. thou. sand. words" rhythm of the chorus is unconvincing. Like it was meant to be a shy, fey little Sarah Records indie pop thing and it's got louder than can handle.
ADEN RAY - "Everybody's Dressed"
Bizarre staging alert! Is he singing inside a very small bathtub, or a very large ramekin or gravy boat?, It's hard to tell in the blue lights. Then the backing singers come, possibly to drown him in the small bathtub, but then he gets out. The song is a bit, no, a lot of a wet blanket, as it's ponderous with not much of a melody but an aimless booming beat behind it because... reasons? "I have never felt so blessed/Everybody's dressed/Everyone say yes" is certainly an unusual lyric. Nothing involved in this production makes any sense whatsoever.
TIIU x OKYM x SEMY - “Näita oma energiat"
It's a party rap song. The female rapper uses almost the exact same flow Nicki Minaj used on "Super Bass in one of her verses" and the backing track is trying to get in on some hot Sunstroke Project disco action. In fact if you told me this was a Moldovan entry I would believe you. It has to be said that it isn't a lot of fun to listen to, though.
STIG RÄSTA - “Home"
Ah here's the 900 pound gorilla in the contest. His slightly square but nonetheless handsome face is nice to see. It's a much more straightforward guitar-led ballad than "Goodbye To Yesterday", or last year's "Play" which he also wrote - strums and strings before a big sweeping chorus. Think "Me and My Guitar" if it had a big cheesy lurch into chorus-land like "We've Got The World Tonight". But it's much better crafted than either of those songs to these ears. I mean, it helps that Stig is so damned cute, like Louis Tomlinson's older brother, though this is more in Niall Horan's area. I will however dock it a bit for the bit where he suggests that after he builds them a home, they will "watch a little GoT".
MILJARDID - "Pseudoprobleem"
An actual rock band, with a song particularly dominated by a bassline that someone thinks is funky. The very dry sound of this brings to mind the Young Georgian Lolitaz from a few years back, only these guys can't even strike a cool pose. The lead singer's awkward foot swivels are what I was looking out for in preference for trying to find a melody of note in this one.
DESIREE - “On My Mind"
The studio version of this is pretty good, though all the effects and backing vocals are a bit cluttered. With a bit of a re-tweak you could easily imagine this as a hit single in the US. Even better, on stage she has a bit of a Dua Lipa look about her, but her live performance was very disappointing. There is a good tune in here but Desiree couldn't find it on the night, which is a pity as otherwise this looks the part.
ELINA NECHAYEVA - “La forza"
If your idea of an ideal Eurovision entry is "Suus" from Albania a few years back, you'll probably want to fly to Estonia to vote for this. It's got a majestic string sweep and big drums and a girl who crushes the big notes. The last note could turn a medium sized stadium into rubble. The staging is really good too, her dress appearing to turn into a liquid under the lights. If this were to make it out of this and into the contest itself, I feel like it would be a guaranteed top 10 for Estonia.
The Estonian televoters have chosen pretty well, going for four songs that wouldn't sound out of place outside the contest (Sibyl Vane strikes me as a step below the others, but you could imagine it on, like, an iPod commercial) and one that's an eye-popper and an ear-popper. In fact, I'd expect any of them - except for Sibyl - to qualify pretty easily should they be selected, making up for Estonia's last-place disappointment in 2016 and failure to qualify in 2017.
VAJÉ - “Laura (Walk With Me)"