my predictions for the first Estonian semi a week ago were a complete fiasco. Not only did Estonia surprise me by voting the perhaps weakest song of the lineup into the final, but also by dropping my second favourite of the semi altogether.
I don't know if it is me or them, I was also silly by not predicting Kõrsikud despite being convinced they would be among the final five.
Anyhow - that was then and this is now. This week we have ten new songs, fighting it out for the five final spots in the final. And I have just a little a clue about what the Estonians will like and vote for as ever. So this could be an exciting night in many ways.
(And what about the interval act? Will we have the same abundance of happy but slightly scary and disturbing clowns singing happy buy disturbing versions of recent Eesti laul entries?)
1. Norman Salumäe - Search
The lead singer of August Hunt - wrongfully rejected by experts and televoters alike last week - also has a solo song in the running. More subdued and less energetic, and perhaps not special enough to stand out.
2. Lauri Pihlap - Lootus
A pleasant slice of Estonian r'n'b by a singer who is no stranger to the eurovision stage, having provided backing vocals for Tanel & Dave in 2001 as well as for Birgit last year. A good song, but it would have needed some kind of drama or climax at some point to be more memorable.
3. Nion - Muud pole vaja
This is precisely the kind of song I want in any national final: an energetic pop song with an electric touch in the arrangement. At the same time it is the kind of song that needs a very strong live performance and given last week - where several of my favourites underperformed - I dare not hope Nion will deliver. But I really wish they will prove me wrong.
4. Maltised - Elu
Gentle, folksy, catchy and enjoyable. It would be a genuine shock if this one didn't make the final cut tonight, and in the final it will certainly eat a lot of the points Kõrsikud would have had otherwise.
5. Sofia Rubina - City Lights
Excellent vocals in a dance track that is perfectly fine but completely lacks any kind of hook or element to make it memorable.
6. MiaMee - Fearful Heart
Another very quiet little song - impeccably sung but a tad too undynamic. This could be the one to put the expert jury in a spin, but it sounds more like an exquisite album track than a single.
7. Traffic - Für Elise
An Estonian equivalent to Train offering an upbeat and original number with a certain country flavour must be in with a chance in the end. Must be a sure qualifier tonight.
8. Maiken - Siin või sealpool maad
Maiken was a backing singer for Ines in 2000 and is back after a few quiet years, possibly singing better than ever. This ballad gives her vocal chords something to work with but is still pretty uncatchy.
9. Sandra Nurmsalu - Kui tuuled pöörduvad
I must admit to never finding "Rändajad" as special or captivating as many other seem to do, but Sandra is an outstanding performer with a presence and radiation few can match. She will probably breathe a lot of life also into this song that possibly promises a bit more than it can finally keep.
10. Brigita Murutar - Laule täis taevakaar
Finally - a surprise. Sounds like an old-fashioned German schlager covered by a country band. The outcome is catchy but odd and could puzzle quite a few people in the audience. Hit or miss, but I think this one will make it into the final. Perhaps not by a big margin, but still.
Tobson predicts: Sandra, Traffic, Maltised, Maiken, Brigita.
I'm sure about the first three, then I am merely guessing. I would gladly see Nion in the final instead of Brigita, and perhaps the jury would prefer MiaMee. And I would never completely discard the chances of Lauri Pihlap either.
Anything could happen. And there could be more clowns.
You can hear the songs on the Eesti laul webpage.