Five acts from each semi-final proceeded to the live final using a combination of jury and public votes. In the final a 50/50 jury and public combination was chosen to select the top three, with the eventual winner, Elina Nechayeva, decided solely by the public in the final round. Elina's song, La Forza, was written by Timo Vendt, Mihkel Mattisen, Ksenia Kuchukova as well as Elina herself.
The top three of Eesti Laul 2018:
Celebrating it's 10th birthday, the 2018 edition of Eesti Laul was the largest yet and was held in the biggest indoor venue in Estonia - Saku Suurhall, where the Eurovision Song Contest was staged in 2002. The show was presented by Meelis Kubo and Ott Sepp (pictured below):
The 2018 competition was more complex and technically innovative than ever beforem showcasing new broadcasting techniques. Over 6000 people attend the dress rehearsal alone! The show was broadcast on both television and radio and over 100 journalists attended, with more than 20 coming from abroad.
Elina Nechayeva was born in 1991 and graduated from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in 2016 where she studied classical singing. Her song for the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, La Forza, is a dramatic number which impressed both the international jury and the Estonian public.
The finalists of Eesti Laul 2018
Estonia in the Eurovision Song Contest
Estonia first entered the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994 when the late Silvi Vrait took to the stage in Dublin with Nagu Merelaine. The early years of Estonia's participation in the competition were particularly successful. Between 1996 and 2002 the country finished in the top ten in six out of seven contests including fourth in 2000, winning in 2001 and finishing third in 2002. Estonia's win in 2001 was the first time since 1989 that a country had won for the first time.
After Estonia failed to qualify for five consecutive contests between 2004 and 2008, the Estonians overhauled their national selection in 2009 and Eesti Laul was born. The competition saw a reversal in Estonia's fortunes and the country went on to achieve its first top ten placing in the Grand Final for seven years. Perhaps more importantly for Estonian musicians, Eesti Laul has also become a launch pad for new talent in the country.
Last year Koit Toome and Laura represented Estonia with Verona. Koit represented Estonia in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1998 whilst Laura was part of the girl band Suntribe, Estonia's representatives in the 2005 edition of the competition.