In yesterday’s Selecţia Naţională, Romania decided to send Mandinga to Baku. “Zaleilah” won the audience televote and came second with the juries.
Written by Costi Ioniţă, a well-known Romanian producer, “Zaleilah” is a breezy party song with lyrics in Spanish and English. It’s got a hook that reels you in and transports you to a place of warmth, happiness, leisure, good times. Lead singer Elena Ionescu is charismatic as all get out and is a great front for the band. Meanwhile, the rest of the band just looks like they are having loads of fun onstage. The positive energy that radiates from them reminds me of Flor-de-Lis, but unlike Flor-de-Lis there’s nothing campy about Mandinga–just joy. It’s also worth noting that they blend bagpipes, accordion, and saxophone and make it work as a cohesive unit. In short, Mandinga’s live performance is solid. I like this a lot.
The Romanian national final had its share of hit-or-miss moments, but the entries were generally of good quality and the show was well-produced. Electric Fence won the jury vote and finished 2nd overall with the intense ethno-pop number “Şun-ta.” Dreamy Cătălin Josan finished right behind with “Call My Name,” a lost number from High School Musical. But best visuals on the night had to be from Tasha with “Say My Name,” which featured a guy bending laser beams with hands, achieving a Darth Maul effect.
Obviously Finland need look no further for that gimmick to place front and center. Done and done.