Estonia has been hit or miss in recent years, with the occasional Top 10 finish sprinkled among non-qualifications. Set to represent Estonia this year was Uku Suviste, who had previously tried to represent Estonia several times. He succeeded with the song What Love Is, but would it have been love at first listen for the Eurovision viewers?
Anita (Eurovision Union)
Song and Vocals
When I think of Estonia at Eurovision, I think of a nation that isn’t scared to send something a bit different. Eesti Laul used to be a treasure trove of alternative music, with the occasional pop banger. As time has passed, I think Estonia has lost their touch. What Love Is is perhaps the best example of Estonia losing their touch, after a mediocre national selection.
The first impression I had of this song is that it is completely outdated, and sounds suspiciously like Sergey Lazarev’s ballad from last year, Scream. Unsurprisingly it’s the same songwriter and producer. I also thought Scream was a bit outdated, but Sergey has the Eurovision star quality, so he somehow managed to pull it off at the contest.
Unfortunately, What Love Is ticks all of the boxes of a song that I’m bound to dislike. It’s intensely cliche and it’s far from memorable, and unfortunately the live vocals were also not that great. Knowing what Estonia can offer, this feels like a lazy choice. I’m genuinely surprised at how much of a landslide Uku’s win was, winning the Super Final with almost 70% of the vote, over the much better song by Anett x Fredi, and the fan favourite Jaagup Tuisk.
Performance and Act
Perhaps it was the stage performance at Eesti Laul that secured Uku Suviste such a convincing win, but even so, I don’t necessarily think it was that great. I like the touch of the candles on stage, that’s something we haven’t really seen at Eurovision, or not to that extent (correct me if i’m wrong). Other than that, I feel completely uninspired by the performance. I suspect at Eurovision the performance would have had the same concepts, just elevated to the scale of Eurovision. Perhaps they had something up their sleeve, but of course, now we won’t know!
Next Up: 2021
Although he wasn’t my top pick for Estonia this year, it’s still unfortunate to see that Uku will not automatically represent Estonia at Eurovision next year. The broadcaster will continue with a national selection, and given Uku and his history at Eesti Laul, it feels likely we will see him return. If the quality of songs returns to Eesti Laul in 2021, he may have a hard time recreating that voting landslide. Let this be a challenge to really work hard on creating a song that is contemporary and memorable.
Look, it’s probably a fair assumption that now that this review is out there, I won’t be listening to this song again. It’s a shame, as Estonia often puts forward likeable songs, even if some of them fail to qualify. I felt fairly confident that we wouldn’t have seen Estonia in the final this year, likely playing out as Verona did back in 2017. In terms of ballads, there were far better choices in the second semi-final.
Song and Vocals
Estonia was ranked low with the bookies, and the main problem was the composition of the song ‘What love is’. It is filled with cliché-lyrics and build-up, and the live vocals by Uku Suviste were not always convincing. He was the clear televote favourite, perhaps based on other aspects of his performance and looks. But the jury did not favor him.
Performance and Act
Uku already said that big changes were planned to his stage performance. But I don’t know if the biggest issue was in that area. Opening in dark, playing with the stars and finishing on a golden lit stage. I think there was not a lot wrong with that. Uku knows how to find the camera’s and the camera likes him.
Next up: 2021
I was not impressed by the Estonian entry for Eurovision 2020, but still it feels a bit hard that Uku was told he wasn’t automatically their artist again in 2021 very soon after the cancellation of Eurovision was made public.I can understand why, when I look at Eurovision as a competition and Estonia wants to get the best possible result. But emotionally, I feel it was a bit rough. Uku has been offered a pass to take part in Eesti Laul again. If the quality of the songs are higher in 2021, odds are he won’t win it again.
Uku Suviste looks like a true performer and the camera loves him. His vocals and the song were not good enough to be very successful at Eurovision. Estonia has the chance to come up with an entry with much more potential in 2021. Probably with another singer, because the chance that Uku wins Eesti Laul again is very small of course.
Additional Scores from Eurovision Union and ESCDaily editors:
Average Score: 4.7/10
What do you think of What Love Is? Follow our Eurovision 2020 reviews here.