ESC 2010 Reviews: Moldova
Moldova is another one of those nations that I frankly knew little about until I started paying attention to Eurovision. A former Soviet republic scrunched up between Romania and the Ukraine, it’s considered to be the poorest nation in Europe. Despite this, however, Moldova is the land of great wine, mămăligă, and unexpectedly great Eurovision entries.
Moldova’s first foray into the ESC was back in 2005, when ska-funk band Zdob şi Zdub made a splash with “Boonika Bate Doba (Grandmama Beats the Drum)“, featuring a drum solo by Lidia Bejenaru, the Boonika herself. Supposedly, the band decided to cut a member from their Eurovision line-up in order to make sure that Lidia had a place on stage, as there can only be six people on stage at once. Making it all the way to a 6th place finish (and coming in 2nd during the semifinal), “Boonika Bate Doba” still stands as Moldova’s highest placement in Eurovision, and possibly their most memorable entry. A friend and colleague of mine was living in a small town in Moldova at that time, and she tells me about how excited her host community was to see their hometown boys doing so well on the stage in Kiev. For them to not only hear their language and see their traditional costumes on stage, but also to make such a huge impression on the scoreboard…it was a big deal!
Two years later, right on the heels of Finland’s victory with “Hard Rock Hallelujah”, Moldova sent a rock song of their own, Natalia Barbu’s “Fight“, making it back into the top 10. However, when they went the smooth-jazz route the next year with Geta Burlacu’s “A Century of Love“, they failed to make the finals for the first time.
Last year, they decided to step the energy back up with the wonderfully manic pop-folk number “Hora Din Moldova (Dance of Moldova)” by local star Nelly Ciobanu. Although they only made it to 14th place, they received a full set of 12 points from Romania and Portugal.
This year, Moldova’s keeping the energy high with “Run Away” by The SunStroke Project featuring Olia Tira.
This one’s a bit weird for me. Between the violins in the beginning, the disco-pop beat and vocals, and the random saxophone throughout, “Run Away” sounds like it’s coming to us from three decades at once. It’s undoubtedly fun and upbeat, and it will be the first song performed in the first semifinal, but that’s often a disadvantage as voters might not remember the first song out of the gate. This one may be a tough sell, and if it makes it through to the finals, I doubt it will reach Zdob şi Zdub or Natalia Barbu territory.
Oh, and just as a side note, Moldova is also the nation that brought us this:
(No, not Gary Brolsma…he’s from New Jersey. But the band that sang “Dragostea Din Tea”, O-Zone, hails from Moldova. And now you won’t be able to get it out of your head. Sorry!)