Post Mortem: Estonia

post mortemPost Mortem – In our next look at the countries that did not make it through to the grand final this year, Eurovision Times contributor Jane looks at the fortunes of Estonia’s Jüri PootsmannJüri sang ‘Play‘, with music by Stig Rästa, Vallo Kikas, Fred Krieger and lyrics by Stig Rästa, Vallo Kikas, Fred Krieger.

It seemed like the dream team: 21 year old Jüri Pootsmann, fresh from winning Estonian ‘Idol’ and ‘Best Male Act 2015’, teams up with Stig Rästa and the writing team behind Estonia’s successful 2015 Eurovision entry ‘Goodbye To Yesterday‘, wins Eesti Laul and heads for Stockholm with the sophisticated pop ballad ‘Play’.  So how come Estonia crashed out of Semi-final 1 in last place with a measly 24 points, the worst ever result for an Estonian song?  Did ‘Play‘ deserve such a harsh result?

Jüri Pootsmann

First let’s look at the votes Estonia did, and didn’t, get in Semi-final 1.


  • In summary, Estonia was not given an especially rough ride by the juries, but kept slipping out of the points when placed mid-to-lower table.
  • Estonia was awarded a total of 9 points from 6 juries, and finished last in the jury vote.
  • 7 juries placed Estonia in 11th or 12th position, well off last place but not high enough to score.
  • Only 1 country out of 20 (San Marino) placed Estonia last.
  • Looking at individual jurors, 40% of jurors placed Estonia in their top 10, indicating that they would award points.  Unfortunately in several countries these were offset by one or two jurors bringing the score down enough to take Estonia out of the points zone.
  • Only 4 jurors out of 99 placed Estonia last.


  • In summary, the Estonian entry failed to connect with the public and this is reflected in the poor televote results.
  • Estonia was ranked 16th out of 18 countries in the televote, and only 3 countries gave points, Finland (12 points), Azerbaijan (2 points) and Moldova (1 point).
  • Half of Estonia’s total 24 points came from the Finland televote.  Finland are close geographical and cultural neighbours and the top score of 12 points for the televote is not a surprise.  Without it Estonia’s result would have been an even sorrier sight.
  • 4 countries placed ‘Play‘ in their bottom 3 for the popular vote.

sf1 2016 results
Pre-show analysis and expectations

Jüri was a popular performer and before the semi-final Estonia was expected to qualify by most of the press and fans, although some expressed doubts about the casino staging, double breasted suit and cheap looking card trick.  Song quality was never in doubt, and the retro pop ballad style was considered a strength by Jüri, because it stood out.

The intention was to create a playful interplay between Jüri and the audience, using sparkling eye contact; and to use the stage technology to create a big space: the Bond Casino concept.  (1st press conference.)


Jüri was reported as having some vocal problems during the Jury Semi-final, which may explain in part his low score from the juries.

During the televised show tweeters commented on some negative features of the production:

  • I’m getting “I look nice on the outside but at home I microwave cats” vibes from you #EST
  • #est reminds me of an intimidating babyfaced Ken doll
  • It feels wrong when someone who looks 12 is singing seductively to me
  • Singer or serial killer
  • #EST I feel like I’m trapped in a deck of cards

The reaction was not good from the public, Jüri came across as creepy, and the contrast between his youthful looks and the retro staging was awkward.

In hindsight there was a lack of awareness by the Estonian team about the retro styling.


Estonia’s poor result did not come from poor song quality, although reports are there were vocal problems in the Jury Final.  Juries on the whole marked the song mid-table, but rarely high enough to break into the points.  The retro staging and Jüri’s performance seems to have been the biggest factor in stopping people picking up the phone and voting.

Review: Jane Taylor

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99 comments on “Post Mortem: Estonia

  1. Off-topic: Congratulations to Bob Dylan who turns 75 today :-)

  2. Happy Birthday to ESC who officially turns 61 today :) :

  3. Off topic. So far Iveta Mukuchyan had the best feedback after the performance in ESC and she made great PR of herself inside the country. I may say she even shadowed Sirusho and Aram Mp3 who ranked better!

    • I believe it was your most professional esc package to date!
      What Aram Mp3 should have delivered, if he hadn’t been too nervous…

  4. On another note, this article has a very interesting table of viewing figures for the final across Europe (and Australia). They add up to 53 million, but of course the table does not include most of the Balkans as well as the post-soviet states like Russia, Ukraine, the Baltics and the Caucausus apart from Georgia. It is impossible to know the final number without Russia’s huge population at least. But of course the EBU’s way of adding up figures for all three shows (even though the audience for the semis and the final hugely overlaps) to come up with the perennial “200 million” number, is also too much “greek statistics” for my taste…


    Apart from the obvious case of Sweden, the final did phenomenally well in Holland, Austria, Flanders and Cyprus where Douwe Bob, Zoe, Laura and Minus One managed to pull in viewers with their performances. Poland and Israel posted some very good ratings as well. In the rest of Europe the market share was in the 30% to 35% range, with most of the big-5 around or exceeding it and even France coming close to reaching it – Italy of course still doesn’t reach half these numbers. Apart from Italy, the most abysmal numbers come from Hungary – they graphically show how much lack of support Freddie was struggling with…

    As for countries who did not make it to the final, Iceland and Finland have some incredible numbers to show and they both buck the trend of Norway and Denmark who tuned out this year. Greece and Slovenia also did rather well considering, and I suspect their numbers are representative of the wider balkan region. I can only guess (since they are not featured in this table unfortunately) that Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia did even better.

    • Also worth mentioning are the australian numbers which are rather bad for a nation of 25 million, even taking into account the time difference (407 thousand watched the prime-time rerun – the audience for the live broadcast at 5am was closer to 300 thousand). Especially since they were among the favourites this year. Numbers that really don’t cry out for another “special invitation”…

      • Here are more figures.http://wiwibloggs.com/2016/05/24/eurovision-2016-viewing-figures-204-million-ukraine-win/142631/ I agree on Australia!The numbers are rather unimpressive and there’s a small decline compared to last year.

        • We should also note that even though Italy’s ratings are still very low, they are way higher than last year, thanks to RAI1 taking up the broadcast.

          Spain on the other hand lost two million viewers this year. It is a colossal loss that can even impact the overall numbers. They are understandably tired of underperforming and it seems that the switch to english this year wasn’t even supported by the domestic audience, much less abroad…

          Perhaps the organisers should focus more on parts of Europe like the Latin south instead of chasing chimeras like Australia and China? Both Italy 2015 and Austria 2016 massacred by the juries largely on language grounds does not send the right message.

          • Spain has no one to blame but themselves.Their finals are usually bad.The 2 times they sent average,big female ballads they landed in the top-10.

          • I’m so glad France showed up and is on the rise… Spain is worrying, Italy is just being Italy… EBU should focus on not harming these historical countries who have a good musical scene instead of trying to cover up the figures with inviting countries…

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