This week marks 100 years since the original founding of Estonia as a sovereign nation. A host of events and celebrations will mark the centenary, so what better time to throw back to three minutes of television that encapsulate the proud, stubborn and authentic mindset of this Baltic nation.
On their own terms
Estonian duo Malcolm Lincoln reached the roadblock of 14th place and non-qualification in Oslo 2010, but they left the stage with reason to be proud. Showing scant regard for the ‘rules’ of Eurovision, Estonia played this edition very much on their own terms, with an entry that stood out by miles from the rest of the selection. Some viewers and voters ‘got’ it, many didn’t, but respect to Malcolm Lincoln for playing the game on their own terms. And hats off to Estonia for giving them the opportunity to take to the Eurovision stage, by offering passage through the Eesti Laul gauntlet.
Lyrics such as “My life has been lame, has been lame so far” are not what Eurovision acts typically reach for if your aim was to enthuse voters to pick up the phone. But Siren meshed together melancholy, frustration, hope, and optimism – unusually actually offering some food for thought. Thank you Estonia, and here’s to the next 100 years.
This week’s guest star
Mart Normet is the Estonian Head of Delegation and has been since the 2009 contest. As the former Head of Entertainment at Estonian Public Broadcaster ERR, he was part of the team that helped shape Eesti Laul into what it is today. He will step down from this position after the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest – unless Estonia wins.
Mart’s opinion on Siren, and then some…
In 2010 we had our second edition of Eesti Laul and Lenna was the clear favourite to win with her fantastic pop song Rapunzel. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was the song that was going to win. When it got to the superfinal, I asked our voting coordinator about the results and he told me “53/47” and I said “Wow, Lenna isn’t winning by as much as I thought,” – Imagine my surprise when he told me that no, the fresh young upstart Malcolm Lincoln going to win!
I think that Siren is definitely one of the most interesting songs that has ever been performed at Eurovision. I absolutely love it and think it’s an incredibly special song.
I remember how much fun the whole group was. On the red carpet they did the silly walk from Fawlty Towers and I just remember the whole thing feeling really joyous. We even had our little moment of anarchy on the stage. The moment at the end of the song where the backing singer collapses technically broke the rules since we didn’t do that in any of the rehearsals!
Unfortunately for Robin (lead singer of Malcolm Lincoln), he is a very spontaneous performer and the nature of Eurovision requires a lot of technical rehearsals. By the time we got to the live performance, he had lost a lot of the passion and spark it takes to deliver a great performance and we failed to qualify.
Still, that’s the nature of the game. I will always love this song and I remember our time in Oslo very fondly.
What the others had to say
Simon, you disappoint me! Of all of Estonia’s songs…this is definitely not one of the best. The song itself is very basic and the feeling that it gives me is a really weird one, almost creeped out but not quite. I don’t understand what Malcolm Lincoln were thinking when they made this song. It passes and you forget that it ever even happened. If it were me, I would’ve instead gone for Sahlene, Elina Born & Stig Rästa, or my personal favourite from Estonia, Tanja. These were all standout songs, more than I can say for Siren!
Some years ago this song was one of my last places, maybe due to the eccentric performance, or probably because it does not correspond to the “eurovision style”. After listening the song several times I started to like it a lot, and I can perfectly understand Simon’s choice and can also understand why the juries ranked him 9th in his semi-final. I don’t think they had a better option in their national final.
However, even though I can understand Simon’s choice, I don’t think it is even close to being one of the best Estonian entries. I would definitely choose one of their pearls in the 90’s, such as “Kaelakee hääl” in 1996, or “Keelatud maa” in 1998. I can’t also finish without mentioning the masterpiece they sent in 2009. This are their best entries according to my personal taste, but as I said, I also like “Siren”, and it would have been a deserved finalist in 2010.
I’m sorry Simon, I’m not a fan either. The lyrics might be regretful (more that than melancholic, the way I read them) and optimistic, they are not that original, and there were darker songs in 2010 (eg. “Sweet People”). And musically speaking, only the chorus catches my attention, and it’s still not that incrdible.
As for Estonia in general, I’m usually a fan of both the country and Eesti Laul. Songs like “Kuula”, “Goodbye to Yesterday” or “Rändajad” deserved their Top 10 rankings and even more. And “Everybody” is not a bad winner. But my favourite song from Estonia is “Play”, which was perfect in Tallinn, and unfortunately went very wrong in Stockholm.
Not sure what think of this song. I listened to it few times now to try to make up my mind. I don’t dislike it, the thing is I kinda forget that I am suppose to listen to it and give my opinion. Not necessary a bad thing in general, it means it has this nice flow through it. But it’s a interesting act and fine song and the “shooting” at the end was funny and just for that it should have advanced to the final.
Siren in my head
Yes, I can hear it again
Is it just the beginning
Or is it the end?
Next week it is Tom’s turn to share a song with us. The country he has chosen is Bosnia and Herzegovina, but you’ll have to wait a week to find out which song he is throwing us back to.