Bienvenue! After sending through Ralfs, Valters, & Nelli and Martin Stenmarck, it’s time to dig into four new entries. Let’s go!
MiaMee presents the first of many ballads in The Winner Is… and she starts off subtly. “Fearful Heart” is certainly the most minimalist offering on the year, relying solely on a growing piano to build emotion, along with a few more experimental sounds, like the glass harmonica and galactic synths. Lyrically, it’s a simple plea to understand the end of a strong love, the lack thereof making her heart “fearful” at the prospect of emptiness. The staging was done simply, with MiaMee and her backings in brightly colored pantsuits and dresses, with soft lights in the background.
This is my Eesti Laul winner in studio. I absolutely LOVE the way it builds up to the point where the space sounds come in and it echoes the feelings of loneliness and hopelessness in the lyrics, which are the ones that are meaningfully simple that I really enjoy. Sadly, it sort of fell apart live. Her vocals weren’t as fragile, her accent stuck out a bit, and her outfit was totally ridiculous. Something dark and sheer, maybe with a bit of shimmer, would’ve been perfect for this song. Otherwise, it’s possibly the best song of the year. 100% fabulous.
Live: 8 | Staging: 7 | Lyrics: 9 | Music: 10 | Preference: 18
Total: 10.5 pts.
So now we have Curly, Moldova’s sole representative in The Winner Is…, with a dark ballad about abandonment. The melody is dissonant and empty, in a way, creating feelings of loneliness and tension about the protagonist’s next move. Aside from a few minor changes, this is pretty much the song’s entire structure. The lyrics reiterate the music, as Curly is cast aside by someone she loved and devoted herself to after being “their recovery” from something. Some phrases have dodgy English but it’s mostly on the up and up. Visually, this was striking, as the stage was black, aside from some green spotlights and an animation of a curly-haired doll with Ray-Bans that repeatedly expanded into the backdrop.
Here’s another song that sounded better recorded than live. Curly’s accent was firmly and detrimentally on display here, as well as some pitch problems toward the end. Some songs can be improvised and accentuated at points but “Your Recovery” certainly isn’t one of them. It sounded bad and drew away from the really intriguing staging. The lyrics aren’t that special but the strange composition is simply bewitching. I do enjoy it quite a bit, but that’s only in studio.
Live: 6 | Staging: 9 | Lyrics: 5 | Music: 9 | Preference: 16
Total: 9.15 pts.
And now we have yet another butchered song, although this time, it’s more a case of bad luck than any vocal deficiency. State of Zoe’s 80s-inspired number built up lots of appeal with its indistinguishable chorus, heavily vocoded and strained to perfection. However, the unmodified live vocals failed to create anything as interesting or fulfilling and it was a big letdown. The melody is layered and full, with many instruments coming together to create the stressed song. Lyrically, it’s a plea from one lover to another to end their relationship and “take [the stresses and pains]” away.
The staging was interesting, as the Eesti Laul stage looked much more deconstructed and intimate during this performance than any other on the night. Everyone looked good but the vocals were nevertheless shocking. Especially since lead singer Anneliis blew the previous arrangement straight out of the water. “Solina” was my favorite Estonian song going in, but it really took a beating when it crashed out in the first semi.
Live: 3 | Staging: 7 | Lyrics: 6 | Music: 8 | Preference: 14
Total: 7.8 pts.
It’s easiest to throw this, even by UMK standards, left-field entry into an “indie” pile, but Hukka ja Mama just don’t fit. “Selja” is a crazy-catchy Finnish-language number that uses various guitars as its base in an unconventional way. The song gets rockier as time passes, save for a short duet interlude where guitarist Hukka joins Mama for a verse. Talking of, the translation I’ve found is the most indecipherable piece of Google Translated babble I’ve every seen. Based on an interview with Hukka and the broken translation, it’s about loving a girl called “Selja” from afar and never sharing with her. It seems adequately whimsical, just like the performance and the artists themselves.
Out of the four somewhat rocky performances from Heat 2, this was by far the most competent and Mama was definitely the most on-point vocalist. Sadly, some mixing problems at the UMK final hindered this undeniably adorable performance. The fashion, colors, textures, and cake were the most randomly pleasing and satisfying things about UMK. Song-wise, it’s just fabulous, a total charmer that’s a surprise earworm. I love it and it’s a highlight of the highlight that UMK was for 2014.
Live: 8 | Staging: 9 | Lyrics: 8 | Music: 10 | Preference: 19
Total: 10.95 pts.
So Hukka ja Mama go to my final and MiaMee takes a place in the second chance round, joining Martin Stenmarck and Ralfs & Co., respectively. Of course, though, this is your time to play! Vote for your favorite now!