Romania has decided: it’s Mandinga!
Also selecting their song this past weekend, alongside Sweden, Portugal, and Serbia, the Romanians held their Selecţia Naţională in Bucharest. Fifteen songs fought it out for the right to represent Romania in Baku, and hopefully keep their streak of qualifying to the Finals every year intact.
Following a 50/50 jury/televote, it was the Latin-flavored pop band Mandinga who won the night with their song “Zaleilah“:
They received maximum points from the public televote and ten points from the jury. Performed in English and Spanish, the song is already a certified hit in Romania, having been released back in mid-September (well within accordance with the EBU’s rules) and performed during the Romanian Music Awards and the local X-Factor finale. They even have an official music video of the track out, which was filmed in Dubai a few months ago (check out the Epic Bagpipe Guy!). In some ways, it was like bringing a gun to a knife fight, but if the point of Eurovision is to bring together some of the best entertainers and songs from all over Europe, why not?
Romania tends to be one of those countries that does fairly well no matter what they send. In the last decade, they’ve made the Top Ten five times: definitely a strong record! “Zaleilah” is a light, poppy summer hit that will go over brilliantly at the Euroclub, and might fill the square that France’s “Allez! Ola! Olé!” did back in 2010. Even though Jessy Matador didn’t win the competition (he ended up in 12th place), he had the last laugh, as his song ended up becoming one of the biggest hits the Contest produced that year. Furthermore, Romania has the benefit of having Moldova and Spain both voting in their Semifinal, which might give them a leg up on their competition. On the downside of things, however, Mandinga will have to contend with similarly upbeat numbers from Cyprus and Greece, also in this same Semi. I doubt that this will be an insurmountable challenge, though, and assuming that they put on a fun and engaging stage show, I’d imagine we’ll be seeing this in the Final.