Moldova’s Eurovision 2020 Entry

It’s almost as if Moldova heard this year’s Eurovision entries from Belgium, Norway, and Poland and said, “Oh, you think your relationships are messed up?”

Natalia Gordienko first represented Moldova in 2006, teaming up with Arsenium to perform “Loca.” Two years later, she received an Artist Emerit award from the government of Moldova. Her song “Prison” was co-written by Philipp Kirkorov and Dimitris Kontopoulos, longtime fixtures of our Eurovision Songwriters page. The lyrics are by Sharon Vaughn, who we wrote about in our review of this year’s Estonian entry. We should probably make her a fixture of our Eurovision Songwriters page, too.

Our first reaction to “Prison” is that it reminded us of Azerbaijan, because it sounds like a cross between “Hour of the Wolf” and “When the Music Dies.” It also has Kirkorov’s signature bounciness in both the melody and the rhythm, even though it’s a dramatic doomed love song.

Natalia needs to work on her connection to the story of “Prison” before she gets to Rotterdam. Her performance at O melodie pentru Europa 2020 felt disconnected with the lyrics. The staging leans into the song’s utter desperation, yet Natalia sings with a flat, pure vocal tone. She could be singing about a particularly overcast day as much as a bad romance. We need to feel your existential pain!

Even if she does somehow leave her heart on the floor of the Rotterdam Ahoy arena, we still can’t imagine a lot of general enthusiasm for this dire little dirge.

Reviews of the Rest of Eurovision 2019

Eurovision rehearsals are about to begin and we weren’t able to complete full reviews of all of this year’s entries in time. So let’s take a deep breath and cover all the rest in one go!

Finland: Darude feat. Sebastian Rejman – “Look Away

Darude had a global smash hit 19 years ago with “Sandstorm.” Now he’s representing Finland at Eurovision. We mock the United Kingdom when they do stuff like that and we see no reason to spare Finland our snark. Especially when the U.K. nostalgia acts send better songs.

Belarus: Zena – “Like It

Zena offers up a slightly generic, but still quite enjoyable pop song. We… well, you know… like it. Not sure if it’s going to do well for Belarus, but with the right staging, or at least the right Belorussian staging, maybe it could surprise us.

Serbia: Nevena Božović – “Kruna

Nevena is a veteran of Moje 3, the Barbara Dex Award-winning act from 2013. She’s back with a bland ballad, but she made it soar at Beovizija 2019. We expect more vocal fireworks in Tel Aviv. And better costumes.

Belgium: Eliot Vassamillet – “Wake Up

“Wake Up” reminds us of “City Lights.” We didn’t like “City Lights,” but it seemed like everyone else did. We like “Wake Up,” but it seems like no one else does. Go figure.

Georgia: Oto Nemsadze – “Sul Tsin Iare

Oto brought a wide-eyed intensity to his performance of “Sul Tsin Iare.” It worked for the judges and the people of Georgia, but we can’t say it’s going to work for the rest of Europe.

San Marino: Serhat – “Say Na Na Na

San Marino has sent disco songs for three of its last four entries because this one time, die hard Eurovision fans convinced them that’s what we want. Maybe we should tell them that we like other genres too.

Armenia: Srbuk – “Walking Out

Srbuk looks a lot like my mom did when she was 18 and I’m struggling to get past that.

Ireland: Sarah McTernan – “22

We are not particular fans of Meghan Trainor’s oeuvre, so anything that resembles her output is not going to rank high with us. But at least it’s not another earnest ballad.

Moldova: Anna Odobescu – “Stay

Moldova is following up successive classic Eurovision contributions with a song that we will probably forget about shortly after the Song Contest is over. Sigh, it’s hard to generate memes every year.

Austria: Pænda – “Limits

“Limits” is a great song to listen to at 3 A.M. when it’s gently, but audibly raining outside and you’re feeling a little sad and need a good cry. That’s usually not the atmosphere Eurovision provides, which may hurt Austria’s chances.

Lithuania: Jurijus – “Run with the Lions

Jurijus is this dreamy guy singing an anthemic song about believing in yourself and dreaming big. It’s a pleasant three minutes made better by Jurijus’ inherent likability.

North Macedonia: Tamara Todevska – “Proud

“Proud” is an old fashioned ballad about empowering girls to believe in themselves and dream big. It’s a lovely three minutes made better by Tamara’s vocal star quality.

Israel: Kobi Marimi – “Home

Israel is happy to have won Eurovision and is also not interested in winning again this year.

Moldova’s Eurovision 2018 Entry

Get ready to break open a bag of DoReDos in Lisbon this year.

Eugeniu Andrianov, Marina Djundiet, and Sergiu Mita formed DoReDos in 2011. They made it to the group final on the Romanian edition of X Factor in 2016 and were one of the winners of the Russian New Wave festival in 2017. Their New Wave performance caught the attention of Philipp Kirkorov, who co-wrote “My Lucky Day” with John Ballard. Kirkorov and Ballard previously worked together on “You Are the Only One” and the Tolmachevy Sisters’ “Shine” (because at Eurovision, you have specify which “Shine” you mean).

DoReDos made two previous attempts to represent Moldova at Eurovision in 2015 and 2016. Watching their earlier performances, they have a signature sound characterized by tight three-part harmony and we could sense that they had potential if they could just find the right song. And boy is “My Lucky Day” the right song for them. It tightens up their folk-influenced style and makes it pop. This was the first fully cohesive package DoReDos has brought to O melodie pentru Europa and they were justly rewarded.

Our only quibble with the song is that it sounds like a love duet being sung by a trio. The lyrics are about love at first sight, and it feels a little odd for the three members of DoReDos to be singing them. Unless the song really is meant to be about a menage a trois. “My Lucky Day,” indeed.

Moldova’s Eurovision 2017 Entry

SunStroke Project will once again grace the Eurovision stage after winning O melodie pentru Europa 2017 with their song “Hey Mamma.”

Do we really need to do a bio of SunStroke Project? It’s the Epic Sax Guy and his buddies. Come on now!

Anyway, at Moldova’s national final, SunStroke Project’s “Hey Mamma” tied with Ethno Republic & Surorile Osoianu’s “Discover Moldova.” The former won the televote and the latter won the jury vote, and the tie was broken by the public vote. (Are you reading this, Spain?)

Now, what made SunStroke Project’s previous Eurovision attempt so glorious was its utter lack of self-awareness. It was an unexpected delight.

The problem with their latest Eurovision attempt is that they are sooooooooooooooo self-aware. You can’t force a meme, guys. It just happens. Moreover, it’s not that a great song and that sax riff gets a little annoying after awhile.

But you know what? It is fun. It is a lot of fun, and goodness knows there is always room for a little more fun at Eurovision. We just love Sergei Yalovitsky’s vocal tone. Saxophonist Sergey Stepanov gets all the glory, but Yalovitsky is the unsung hero of SunStroke Project. (We think a lot about these things.)

So even if “Hey Mamma” is no “Run Away,” it has done us good and will do us good and we say god bless it.

Eurovision 2016 Round-Up: Leap Year Edition

It’s a good thing it’s Leap Year, because we need an extra day to process all of the songs chosen for Eurovision this weekend!

Finland: Sandhja – “Sing It Away”

Donald Trump is going to be the Republican Party candidate for President and Sandhja’s European jazz festival closer is going to represent Finland at Eurovision and I do not understand the world anymore.

Hungary: Freddie – “Pioneer”

We are Eurovision hipsters, so A Dal is of course our favorite national selection competition these days. There were eight songs in the A Dal final, and we felt that the four super finalists would ably represent Hungary in Stockholm. Coming out of the semis, we thought Freddie would not only finish top 5 at Eurovision, but even take the crown. His performance in the final was a bit rougher, so we’re not quite ready to proclaim him the champion yet. But his husky voice and rugged good looks may make him very popular in Sweden.

Continue reading “Eurovision 2016 Round-Up: Leap Year Edition”

Moldova’s Eurovision 2015 Entry

Moldova has selected Eduard Romanyuta with “I Want Your Love”:

Eduard Romanyuta is a Ukrainian singer who has performed mostly in Ukraine and neighboring Eastern European countries. He competed in Ukrainian national selection shows from 2011-2013, finishing as high as 3rd in 2013. With Ukraine sitting out this year, Moldova presented an opportunity for Romanyuta to raise his profile.

The song has been a controversial choice for Moldova.  Romanyuta speaks no Romanian, and during the Moldovan selection he spoke with the hosts in English. After winning, he switched to Russian, which did not sit well with many Moldovan fans. Beyond Romanyuta’s national indifference, many close observers (including Eurovision veteran and fellow competitor Pasha Parfeny) accused Team Romanyuta of buying the vote. Moldova has never had a reputation for holding a democratic selection process, but this year the accusations of corruption and general shenanigans reached a fever pitch. The seams were showing, it seems.

Taking the song and artist on their own merits, “I Want Your Love” is unoriginal, derivative of early 2000s pop. The verse is verbatim Liberty X’s “Just a Little,” and the music production is Britney Spears circa “Oops I Did it Again.” In an half-hearted attempt to make it feel more contemporary, the chorus uses a melody similar to Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty.” Romanyuta’s boyish tenor is well-suited to the pop dance genre and he’s a good enough live singer, but the Moldovan staging included a lot of dancing that drew his pitch off, so that’s a worry. Romanyuta’s image is Kid Rock, which, given the genre, is kind of weird.

Leonard Cohen it ain’t, but I can’t help but like it. “I Want Your Love” is a song I want to sing and dance along to. It’s unintentionally cheesy, and it makes me laugh, a guilty pleasure that I’ll be enjoying for many years to come.

Moldova’s Eurovision 2014 Entry

Cristina Scarlat’s “Wild Soul” is this year’s Eurovision Song Contest entry from Moldova:

This is Scarlat’s third attempt to represent Moldova at Eurovision. She came in third last year and 11th in 2011. She has also been a vocal coach for Moldovan Junior Eurovision acts. “Wild Soul” was composed by Corneliu Bucataru and Ivan Akulov with lyrics by Lidia Scarlat, who is not only Cristina’s niece but also the current lead singer of Cuibul, this year’s interval act at the Moldovan national final.

Lyrically, “Wild Soul” is made up of angst-ridden teenage poetry: “What am I/I’m a human/What am I/An emotion/Time and space can lie to us while we sleep.” “The world can play a joke on each of us any time.” “Mercy/I have no feelings of mercy.” Gack. At least the dull, repetitive melodies and plodding arrangement support those lyrics well. It’s all a bit of a dirge.

Scarlat brings some gravitas, and she sells the whole package pretty well. However, the staging from the Moldovan national final did her no favors. The costumes, the choreography, that bendy mirror thing… everything but the remote control drones needs to go. “Wild Soul” is a song that demands a diva turn, and all that other stuff around Scarlat are just annoyances. But it’s a smart bet that Moldova will figure this out and put in the work to stage it more effectively. Pity she can’t lose the song too.

STRAY OBSERVATIONS: Poor Boris Covali. This is the second year in a row he’s won the televote, only to be spiked by the jury. Maybe he shouldn’t have switched songs?

Moldova’s Eurovision 2013 Entry

Moldova has decided, and it’s Aliona Moon with “A Million.”

Hurrah, another power ballad. And a repetitive one at that.

Because it’s Moldova there were several visual gimmicks at the national final which were so over the top that one can only presume they will persist until Sweden. Aliona copies Sabina Babayeva’s light up dress, which itself was copying the “girl on fire” dress in The Hunger Games. Last year’s Moldovan entrant Pasha Parfeny (who wrote the music to “A Million”) makes an appearance on piano. And the staging has its share of Indian-diety-with-multiple-arms choreography, as well as a backdrop with planets, stars, and fire (the triple crown).

Forgive us if we can’t get our enthusiasm up. Moon’s soprano voice is thin and her English pronunciation questionable. The lyrics, which manage to reference both the Mayan apocalypse and Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, are dismal.

Still, it is better than “Loca” (Moldova 2006).

UPDATED 18 MARCH 2013: Clearly the Moldovan delegation reads our blog. It was announced today that Moon will be performing Moldova’s Eurovision entry in Romanian. The song is now called “O mie.”

Moldova’s Eurovision 2012 Entry

Pasha Parfeny has been selected to represent Moldova at Eurovision with his song, “Lăutar”:

Parfeny sings, “This trumpet makes you my girl,” yet they didn’t stage this with a trumpet player? Come on, Moldova! Rethink this for the big show. You could even bring in Sergey Stepanov from SunStroke Project in to act as Epic Trumpet Guy. He’s obviously got a sense of humor about his internet fame.

Anyway, this reminded us of Natalia Barbu’s “Let’s Jazz” from last year’s Moldova final. There’s a sort of trumpety, moonshine-soaked 1930s vibe to both songs. If anything, Parfeny’s song is a bit more accessible. It has a strong hook for a chorus and is a little more lushly orchestrated. Parfeny is a good-looking guy in a “Colin Ferrell meets Dante from Clerks” way and is a likable performer. Overall, it’s a perfectly agreeable way to spend three minutes of your time.

This year’s final, by the way, was quite mad, with an overt rip-off of “Hora din Moldova” called “Welcome to Moldova,” the disappointing return of 2008 Moldovan representative Geta Burlacu, and a song called “Moody numbers” by the vocal jazz group Univox that is unfortunately not up on YouTube or Vimeo yet even though it was more insane than the old guy dressed up like a vampire singing a rock song and the rapper with the back-up singer who sang about eating flowers and tissues. I mean, that’s pretty insane, right?

Moldova’s Eurovision 2011 Entry

Of all the bands that I would expect to have an influence on a Eurovision act, Oingo Boingo would be the last on my list. Thank you Moldova for smashing my expectations by voting to send Zdob şi Zdub to the ESC with their song “So Lucky”:

Zdob şi Zdub is almost a breath of fresh air, given how dead serious this year’s Song Contest was shaping up to be. Except the song is a tuneless mess.

But on the plus side, Scott Thompson is the apparently lead singer! And there’s a woman on a unicycle! And they’re all wearing Fang den Hut hats! Wahnsinn!

Fang den Hut!

(Incidentally, Zdob şi Zdub represented Moldova in 2005 with “Grandmamma Beats the Drum“)

UPDATED: Zdob şi Zdub refers to their hats as kushma hats.