#ESTONIA: Happy Independence Day!


Happy independence day to Estonia! As you’ll know, it’s a country that first attempted Eurovision success in 1993, and was the first former USSR nation to win. But more of that later. Here we take a look at some of its entries down the years.

The best place to start is right at the beginning. Janika Silamaa tried in 1993, but had to get through a preselection in Ljubljana. With the song ‘Muretut meelt ja südametuld’ (Whatever your mind and heart desires). She’d performed all eight songs in the fledgling Eurolaul. With the the top three of seven making it to Millstreet, Janika sadly came fifth. Here’s her performance at the Kvalikacija za Milstreet in Ljubljana.

Next we go to 1999. Depending on your views, Estonia performed the last song of the 20th Century. This honour fell to Evelin Samuel and Camille with the song ‘Diamond of night’. Evelin tried to win Eurolaul several times, and had been a backing singer in 1997. Here she is, with Camille on the violin, in Jerusalem. They finished sixth.

With the advent of the free language rule, broadcaster ERR has often sent songs in Estonian. The last one in this language to make a top 10 finish was from Ott Lepland in 2012. Rumour had it that Mr Lepland abstained from alcohol between the recently renamed Eesti Laul and the contest itself. Needless to say, he made up for it at the Baku after-show party. Here’s Ott’s performance that earned him a creditable sixth place.

Now to a song that’s not quite Estonian. In 2004 Estonia sent Neiokõsõ, a group of young ladies with a percussionist Peeter Jogioja, and the song ‘Tii’. It might look Estonian but it’s actually in Võro, which is spoken in the south of the country. That year was, of course, the first year with semi-finals and unfortunately it started a run of five years for Estonia without an appearance in the final. Still, ‘Tii’ was a fun entry.

Before the last pick, it’s time for a very recent fan favourite. Stig Rästa joined forces with Elina Born in 2015 to sing ‘Goodbye to yesterday’. There were high hopes in some quarters that this would do well. Those quarters might have been disappointed with a seventh place, as the intensity of those three minutes on stage made everyone sit up and take notice. This performance is still talked about today.

Finally, we have to finish with Estonia’s sole win to date. Tanel Padar had appeared as a backing singer for his then girlfriend in 2000. Dave Benton was an Aruban who had settled in Estonia in 1997. Together they made an unlikely duo. Even more unlikely was their Eurolaul win, sending them to Copenhagen. In Parken, no-one saw an Estonian win likely, so it was even more remarkable that ‘Everybody’ scored points off all-but-one country. Here they are with the acrobatic antics of 2XL.

What’s your favourite Estonian song? Is it here, or have I missed it out? Tell us what you think.

If you can’t get enough of Estonia, the highly anticipated Eesti Laul 2017 takes place on Saturday 4 March. We’ll be live-blogging it just for you.


Author: John Stanton

Source: Eurovision Ireland, Youtube

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