First Listen: Estonia came to “Play”, y’all

Estonia builds on its Eurovision momentum from last year by choosing “Play” by Juri Pootsmann for Stockholm. Are we all in for Tallinn?

2016 is becoming an alumni-heavy affair, both on the stage (Kaliopi! Donny Montell! Team Bosnia!) and with the songwriters. Estonia’s song “Play” was written by their representative from last year Stig Rasta. Like next-door neighbor Latvia, the previous year’s rep won’t be on the stage, but they are still making their presence known with another flippin’ amazing song. Juri Pootsmann gets the privilege of performing this track:

Okay, so this First Listen series is supposed to be gut reactions to songs after one (maybe two) play on Youtube on watching a national final. This song is easily at the top of the list of most frequently played tracks on my various devices. The retro vibe of the song hits so many points of the soul timeline, from late 60s to that one month in the early 80s when Brits were tapping into the genre to now with Mark Ronson’s aesthetic.

My concern with “Play” is Pootsmann’s performance. The above video from Eesti Laul (Estonia’s selection process) is an improvement over the official music video for “Play” — the performance in the latter felt flat and not as engaging while the former takes advantage of television being a closeup medium. My concern is that Pootsmann will need to have a more commanding presence once he is on the Globe stage. I would hate for the song to suffer because it gets swallowed by the venue. I trust the Estonian delegation will come up with a stellar performance, as they were one of the few countries to do so with last year’s wonky stage.

Now if you excuse me, I need to play “Play” seven thousand more times.

About the Author
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv