Koit Toome and Laura have won the the 2017 edition of Eesti Laul, the Estonian national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest. They won a mix of jury and viewers' votes with their performance of Verona, in a spectacular live show from Tallinn's Saku Suurhall.
The national final of Estonia, Eesti Laul 2017, finished minutes ago at the Saku Suurhall in Tallinn where 10 acts competed to represent Estonia at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. The song that got the victory is Verona performed by Koit Toome and Laura.
Koit Toome was catapulted into the spotlight as a member of the group Code One. In 1998 he represented Estonia in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Mere Lapsed, where he finished 12th. He has continued to have a successful career on stage and television. In 2007 he won the Estonian version of Dancing with the Stars and has released several albums.
Laura represented Estonia in the Eurovision Song Contest as part of the girl group Suntribe in 2005 when the competition was last held in Kyiv, Ukraine. Laura has participated in the Estonian national selection several times over the years and last year she finished second with Supersonic. She has released several albums and singles since 2005.
After a first round of voting, with both jury and public votes, three of the acts were chosen for a superfinal (in bold):
In the superfinal it was all up to the viewers and 55% of them voted for Verona performed by Koit Toome and Laura who won the ticket to Kyiv. Kerli finished second and Rasmus Rändvee 3rd.
Former Eurovision Song Contest participants not only included Koit Toome and Laura. Lenna Kuurmaa (with Vanilla Ninja for Switzerland in 2005), Elina Born (duetting with Stig Rästa in 2015) and Ivo Linna (in a duet with Maarja-Liis Ilus in 1996) were also in the running tonight. The interval act featured 2015 Eurovision Song Contest winner Måns Zelmerlöw.
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.