23 July 2015

Urban Symphony: Rändajad: 2009

Sandra Nurmsalu / Urban Symphony
Sandra Nurmsalu of Urban Symphony

It Should Have Won

Estonia: Rändajad (Nomads/Travellers)

It seems almost sacrilegious to suggest that another song should have won Eurovison in 2009, bearing in mind that Norway's winning Fairytale recorded the highest score since the beginning of the contest.

In fact, Alexander Rybak's composition soon became a runaway train, bulldozing its way through the competition, not only in the Eurovision finals but also at Norway's pre-selection contest, Melodi Grand Prix 2009.

Urban Symphony: Strong Contenders

Nevertheless, there were several strong contenders for the crown, particularly among the Top 10 finishers. Think Yohanna or Jade Ewen, even Patricia Kaas or Hadise - all compelling competitors. But there was an even brighter gem nestled among those names on the final scoreboard: from Estonia, Urban Symphony.

Led by Sandra Nurmsalu, this four-piece female outfit defies the usual genre pigeonholes, but classic-crossover is probably their best description. They comprehensively won the 2009 Eesti Laul - the Estonian pre-selection show - and were deservedly a part of the Top 3 in the second semi-final in Moscow - catapulting the country into the Final for the first time since the introduction of the semi-finals.

Rändajad: Too Cool for Eurovision?

Urban Symphony Estonia
Urban Symphony
The song that got them there was Rändajad, an atmospheric composition which recounts perpetual treks through harsh, hot deserts - reportedly an analogy of life and its hurdles.

Complementing its modern electronic sounds are cellos and violins.

However, unlike Alexander Rybak, Sandra and co did not wield their instruments like weapons. Instead there's an exotically cool authenticity in the group's musicality, enhanced by Sandra's calm, yet hypnotic, Estonian-language vocals. While you may not understand what she's singing about, her tone draws you in to the song, as does its spellbinding melody.

Urban Symphony Performing at Eurovision 2009

Despite its many merits, Rändajad could only manage sixth place with a score which amounted to just one third of Rybak's winning score at 129 points. Disappointingly, the United Kingdom awarded it 'nul points', the song warranting so much more.

In spite of that, the tune has become one of the more memorable of recent years and demonstrates how magnificent the Eurovision Song Contest can be at its best.

What do you think?

Above image by Daniel Kruczynski (Urban Symphony) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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