Prepare to be disappointed by the dead end that is Rockefeller Street Written by on June 18, 2011 | 8 Comments

Running up to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, a lot of fans rated Estonia’s entry from Getter Jaani. As with many songs in the history of the contest, the live performance struggled to match the confidence from the studio version. So I picked up Jaani’s debut album of the same name with the hesitation of someone who’s been caught out before by the sound engineer’s high quality post production skills.

Unfortunately, my instincts were right.

So let’s go with the title track, the track we all know from Dusseldorf, Rockefeller Street. As seems to be traditional with the album version of Eurovision entries, there’s an extended opening to help both with the atmosphere of the album, and to build up a sense of expectation. Beyond that, this is the same song I loved on the Eurovision compilation CD, and the same song that became a disappointment during rehearsals and the finals.

Okay, time to leave our comfort zone and hit Valged Odd, with male vocals courtesy of Koit Toome). The start is suitably electronic, and that continues throughout the song. To be honest the male lead vocals, coupled with a different treatment of Janni’s vocals had me checking I was still listening to the same album. Still, this wouldn’t be the first artists to have a Eurovision track that’s nothing like the rest of their repertory.

At least I can sing “Vol-der-mort” along to this one as an alternative lyric. I’ve had hours of fun singing some Harry Potter to that one, and it’s a good double bill with Eric Saade’s Melodifestivalen favourite, “Malfoy.”

More electronics kick off Robot, and a huge amount of processing on Janni’s voice gives it a Cyberman-esque tone, but leads to the first moment of doubt in my mind. How much of her singing on this album has been pushed through vodcoders, graphic equalizers and auto-tune. Because I remember the difference between the studio version of Rockefeller Street and the performance in Germany and I can’t help but wonder what the rest of the album would sound like live. There’s very little passion in this music, there’s nothing I can latch on to except questioning a lot of the artistic choices.

You want examples? The next track proves that people still write pop albums with deep voices chanting “Base, base, base, oh yeah!” Grammofon digs out some lyrics that really should have been left in the 80’s.

Must Klaver lets the production team slows down the temp and work their magic on the music – there’s a huge amount of pitch shift going on with the instruments. Parim Paev, which sounds quite triumphant in a Mike Oldfield way, is probably the clearest example of treating Gaani’s voice.

We’re not even half way yet everything sounds the same. There’s a bit of unique and quirky soundscaping to open each song, multiple layers of electronics, a voice comes on that sounds almost, but quite unlike, the Gaani that I’ve heard sing before, and then the genre of the song is worn on a rather cliched sleeve for four minutes.

Me Koik Jaame Vanaks has another guest artist providing air support, this is a slower number; followed by the “not slow to be slow but not fast enough to dance” forgettable number Saladus; Someone opens up a musical box to give Teater its distinctive opening before some cookie cutter dance rhythm which hints at some Abba-esque beats while the cyber voice treatment from Robot returns to Jaani… and on it goes.

Only one track sounds like Jaani, and that is the unofficial closer Alles Alguses (I’m not counting the three remixes of Rockefeller Street as pure album tracks). Taken on its own, this is a good showcase for her voice, but after an album of processed vocals and lots of studio tinkering, it feels false. How much can I trust what I’m hearing?

And that’s what I take away from this album. It’s all rather clinically correct and it ticks the boxes of what a modern song should be. Yet there’s no heart to the lyric, there’s no emotion, there’s no feeling. It’s audio wallpaper.

That’s not enough for me.

Rockefeller Street, by Getter Jaani, is published by Moonwalk and is available as .

About The Author: Ewan Spence

British Academy (BAFTA) nominated broadcaster and writer Ewan Spence is the voice behind The Unofficial Eurovision Song Contest Podcast and one of the driving forces behind ESC Insight. Having had an online presence since 1994, he is a noted commentator around the intersection of the media, internet, technology, mobility and how it affects us all. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, his work has appeared on the BBC, The Stage, STV, and The Times. You can follow Ewan on Twitter (@ewan) and Facebook (facebook.com/ewanspence).

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8 responses to “Prepare to be disappointed by the dead end that is Rockefeller Street”

  1. Anthony says:

    The only songs I like on that album are Parim Paev and Grammofon, the rest are a bit well boring and lack luster. Her first album Parim Paev is far better, shorter but better.

  2. Ewan Spence says:

    To be fair it’s shorter because it’s labelled up as an EP, Anthony!

  3. […] Geeter Jaani… sounds great on stage, pity about the album # […]

  4. Seán says:

    I have to agree. Estonia was my favorite going into the rehersals, but it sank like a stone over two weeks. Her album is really disappointing. Really she could have gone with a much more Pop-ish sounding album with a little electro throw in here and there.

    It’s a shame because she is clearly a good performer (outside vocals) and would have been great person to carry on from Lena. With huge disappointment that I had to cross Estonia off the top of my top 10 list after the semi final.

  5. Ewan Spence says:

    Agreed. Rockefeller the single was a great performance, really loved the staging in the National Finals, and they kept it for Dusseldorf. ANd it worked on the screens at home. But what happened to the vocals.

  6. Martin says:

    By “there’s no heart to the lyric”, do we need to presume you speak Estonian?

  7. Ewan Spence says:

    Martin, that’s actually a good point, and on the surface I see what you’re implying. But I’d counter that with “have you ever heard a sad guitar, or happy drums?” Any instrument can convey emotion, as can a voice – beyond the literal meaning of the words. Think of the choral choir in “Duel of the Fates” (yes I’m using a Star Wars soundtrack as an argument, email me later if you must). Think of the myriad voices that Mike Oldfield employs on an album like Amarok. A good vocalist can use the power and intonation to carry lyrics, not just the meaning.

    Solntse from Ani Lorak is a good album example of this. Not got a clue what she’s singing about, but I know how Ani is feeling. That’s what I mean by heart, and that’s what Getter is missing.

  8. Anthony says:

    I agree with you completely Ewan, I was listening to Solntse, now that has only one English track but has such a better feel and understandiung that Getter who’s album is Estonian and a bit more English but just does not have the same feel.

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