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Who is who in Estonian music

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By Noora Karppi  •  29.01.2018

Estonians usually start to sing before they learn to talk, and music is something very dear for the whole nation.

To honour Estonian music and musicians, we want to introduce you to some of the artists and bands that local radio stations and the public cannot get enough of. Here’s a short introduction to Estonian artists. Find the ones that suit your taste and create yourself a new playlist.

Liis Lemsalu – Christina Aguilera

In 2011, when Grammy awarded star Christina Aguilera was coaching singers in the first season of the Voice, gorgeous Estonian singer Liis Lemsalu won the Estonian version of Idols. She is a popular performer and has claimed her spot among Estonian stars. Liis won the title of Female Artist of the year in Estonian Music Awards 2018. On the most popular TV-show in Estonia, “Su nägu kõlab tuttavalt”, Liis dressed as Christina Aguilera and performed Xtina's hit song Dirrty.

Erki Pärnoja – Steve Vai

Talented guitarist Pärnoja is part of ensemble Ewert and the Two Dragons and published his first solo album "Efterglow" in 2017. He won the hearts of Estonians, and the title of Male Artist of the year at Estonian Music Awards 2018 with his impressionist guitar riffs and instrumental skills. Who knows, maybe he'll win Grammys too, like his American colleague Steve Vai.

Trad.Attack! – Of Monsters and Men

Trad.Attack! has done the same for Estonian folk music what Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men did for indie-folk music a few years ago. Trad.Attack! has brought new life to traditional Estonian fold music and was awarded the title of the Best Group Performance of the year at Estonian Music Awards 2018.

Tommy Cash – Kanye West

Tommy Cash makes “post-Soviet-rap” and was titled as the “Kanye East” by Vogue. Tommy Cash makes the rules up as he goes and isn’t afraid to be controversial and provocative. Tommy Cash was born and raised in Tallinn in 1991. He is Estonian, Russian, Ukrainian and Kazakh descent. Estonian Music Awards 2018 chose Tommy Cash’s video “Surf” as the Best Music Video of the year.

Ewert and the Two Dragons – Coldplay

People who are fans of Coldplay usually also like Ewert and the Two Dragons, if not the best, for sure, one of the top names of Estonian indie-rock scene. Charismatic singer Ewert Sundja is our very own Chris Martin and these two bands could do amazing things performing each others' biggest hits. Ewert and the Two Dragons has gained recognition outside Estonian borders and is one of the few local acts that has sold out Saku Suurhall.

Karl-Erik Taukar – Ed Sheeran

Karl-Erik Taukar is Estonian sweetheart and musician. When Ed Sheeran has been awarded several Grammy Awards, Karl-Erik Taukar cleaned the table at Estonian Music Awards 2017.

NOËP – Martin Garrix

New Estonian artist that one should definitely keep your eyes on is, NOËP (Andres Kõpper). NOËP plays electronic indie-pop and performed already on the main stage of the Weekend Festival Baltic 2017. The Weekend Festival is the largest dance music festival in Scandinavia and Weekend Festival Baltic its Estonian edition. Other top musicians who performed at the same stage were Martin Garrix, Alan Walker, The Chainsmokers and Armin Van Buuren.

Daniel Levi – Bruno Mars

Daniel Levi and Bruno Mars are happy musicians, who spread good mood and joy. Catchy tunes and smiles fill venues where Daniel Levi or Bruno Mars perform.

Terminaator – Guns N’ Roses

Terminaator and it’s frontman, Jaagup Kreem, are the Guns N’ Roses and Axl Rose of Estonia. Terminaator started first came together in 1987. The sound and style of the band were influenced by Guns N’ Roses. In 1990’s Terminaator had one hit after another and the band has been part of Estonian rock scene ever since.

Ivo Linna – Robert Plant

Ivo Linna is the grand old man of Estonian rock and only one year younger than his English colleague Robert Plant, lead singer of legendary Led Zeppelin. Ivo Linna was the lead singer of the most popular Estonian rock bands in the 70’s and 80’s. He is a popular performer, continues to make music, and loved and recognised everywhere in Estonia.

Koit Toome – John Legend

Koit Toome was born in Tallinn in 1979. His career in music started early when he was just 16. Koit Toome talented singer, songwriter, musician and actor – just like John Legend. Mothers and daughters love these two.

Ott Lepland – Michael Bublé

Ott Lepland has won people’s hearts with powerful ballads. Besides musical style, he and Canadian colleague Michael Bublé have the same charming looks.

Maarja-Liis Ilus – Celine Dion

Talented Maarja-Liis Ilus has been one of Estonia’s favourites for several decades. In 1984, when she was just four years old, she already performed the main role in a musical film. Maarja-Liis is a popular musical theatre actor, singer and performer, best known for her amazing vocals, just like Celine Dion.

Smilers – Aerosmith

Estonian rock band Smilers has made 15 studio albums and dozens of hits during its 25 yearlong existence. One of the best known local rock ensembles has performed probably on every stage in Estonia and they still have the motivation and energy to go on, just like their "big brothers" in Aerosmith.

Getter Jaani – Selena Gomez

Getter Jaani and Selena Gomez are both former child stars who are now creating successful careers as singers. The transformation from cute and innocent childhood fame to grown-up stardom isn’t always easy, but these two made it happen.

Elina Born – Beyonce

Elina Born is the Estonian Beyonce with self-confidence and positive attitude. She rose to fame when she participated in the Estonian Idols competition in 2012. Elina sings in English and has represented Estonia in the Eurovision Song Contest with Stig Rästa in 2015.

2 Quick Start – Bad Boys Blue

2 Quick Start is the king of 90’s disco and dance music in Estonia. Just like Bad Boys Blue, their glory days may be in the past, but the public loves them, and any song from 2 Quick Start is guaranteed to fill the dance floors.

Ariadne – Ariana Grande

Ariadne is a singer from the new generation and for the new generation. She resembles Ariana Grande in sweetness and style.

Jüri Pootsmann – Sam Smith

Jüri Pootsmann won the Estonian Idols competition in 2015. After that, his star has shot to the highest top of Estonian musicians. Jüri represented Estonia in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2016 with a song that would suit perfectly for a new James Bond movie. Sam Smith performed the James Bond title song for movie “Spectre”.

Lenna – SIA

Lenna is singer-songwriter who rose to fame as a member of Vanilla Ninja girl group. Lenna’s style is pop-rock music. She’s an incredible artist, who creates music also together with Estonian top musicians.

Tanel Padar & The Sun – Foo Fighters

Raunchy guitars, drum solos, ragged voice and fan hysteria connect these two rock bands. Though Tanel Padar has now started his solo career, The Sun, is still part of Estonian rock history.

Kerli – Lady Gaga

Kerli is internationally successful Estonian artist. Born and raised in South-Estonia, she began her singing career in 2002. She rose to international fame with the hit song “Walking on Air” in 2008. She walks her own path and doesn’t feel the need to please others. Kerli is also the author of Demi Lovato song “Skyscraper”.