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 .