Category Archives: Romania

It’s a “Miracle”: Paula and Ovi return for Romania

paulaoviIt was a long night in the Transylvanian city of Brașov (home of the Cerbul de Aur Music Festival) on Saturday, with a dozen acts performing for a spot on the ESC 2014 roster.  In the end, however, it was fan favorite and Eurovision 2010 alums Paula Seling and Ovidiu “Ovi” Cernăuțeanu who stormed to victory with “Miracle“. Read the rest of this entry

Preview: Romania’s Selecția Națională

romania-eurovision-2014 Live from Brașov, Romania is gearing up to choose their entrant for Copenhagen.  Cezar might be a difficult act to follow (some of our ears are still ringing!), but national broadcaster TVR have their eyes on the prize.  The country has never failed to qualify from the Semifinals, and have a pair of bronze medals (from 2005 and 2010) that they are looking to top.  Can any of tonight’s dozen acts take us to Bucharest next year? Read the rest of this entry

Romania has chosen: It’s Cezar!

This weekend, Romanian broadcaster TVR hosted their Selecția Națională, the culmination of the process to pick their artist for Sweden.  It was a competitive final, with a dozen songs from various genres.  There were even a few familiar faces; Luminița Anghel, who gave Romania its then-highest-ever Eurovision placement when she sang “Let Me Try” in 2005, came back with the showstopping “Unique“.  Last year’s Selecția Națională runners-up, Electric Fence, gave the contest another go with the Gypsy-folk-rock number “Emilia“.

But both were fated to fall at the final hurdle. Read the rest of this entry

Preview: Romania’s Selecția Națională

While it seems that most Eurovision-watching eyes will be focused on the Friends Arena in Stockholm/Solna tonight, the Romanian National Selection is also going on!  Following a pair of Semifinals, a dozen songs have qualified for the last hurdle before Sweden.  A 50/50 balance of televote and jury will decide tonight’s victor in Bucharest. Read the rest of this entry

Another day, another new crop of videos…

As expected, new promotional videos for this year’s Eurovision songs keep on rolling in.  Let’s take a look at what today has brought us:

Read the rest of this entry

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.  Read the rest of this entry

Eurovision 2011: The Best of the Rest (Part 7)

Romania: Romania’s National Selection was an hours-long affair that also doubled as a New Year’s Celebration, with 2010 representatives Paula Seling and Ovi co-managing hosting duties. Guest stars Chiara and Niamh Kavanagh even stopped by to join in the fun.  At the end of the night, Hotel FM won the ticket to Germany with the peppy, optimistic “Change“.  (British-born lead singer David Bryan provided quite a bit of fun for my friends and I at the Press Center, whether he knew it or not…David, if you’re reading this, thanks for being so good-natured about all of it!)

The Romanian National Selection was pretty even-keeled, in the sense that none of the songs really strayed too far from the melodic pop mold.  Unfortunately, that means that it’s somewhat difficult to point out a unique entry for the purposes of this blog!  That being said, I consistently smile whenever I hear “It’s So Fine”, the 7th-place finisher from the Blaxy Girls:

…and I was more than a little amused by the country tinge I heard from Dalma in “Song for Him”, which came in 11th place:

Russia and San Marino both had internal selections for their entries this year, so we move on to:

Serbia: Broadcaster RTS sent the impossibly adorable Nina and her Swinging-60s number “Čaroban (Magical)” to Düsseldorf, and the Belgrade-born Pharmacy student definitely made her mark.  In my opinion, the Serbian delegation had the best costumes this year, and anybody who gleefully admits she’s a nerd automatically wins points in my book! 

RTS put an interesting spin on their National Final this year: they pitted three members of the musical Kovac family against each other (father Kornelije against daughters Aleksandra and Kristina), and challenged each of them to compose a candidate entry.  In the end, it was Kristina who won out (getting nearly 15,000 televotes, compared to Aleksandra’s 6,000 and Kornelije’s 4,000), but let’s take a quick peek at what her dad and big sister put together:

Kornelije’s entry, “Ring Ring Ring” performed by The Breeze, was another ’60s-style number, taking more from the early Beatles than from Edie Sedgwick.  However, while “Čaroban” still sounded catchy and fresh, “Ring Ring Ring” seemed oddly stuck in the past:

Aleksandra decided to perform “Idemo dalje (Move On)” herself, and she served up a pretty respectable ballad that wasn’t too far removed from the formula that served Marija Serifovic well when she won Eurovision in 2007 with “Molitva”:

Slovakia chose their song internally, so we turn our attention to…

Slovenia: After missing out on the Final every year since 2007, Maja Keuc’s “No One” was a fantastic return to form for the country that brought us Alenka Gotar and Darja Švajger.  Maja was incredibly confident and capable in her performance, and I spent about half of my time in the Press Center wondering where I could buy her boots…

Coming in second place in this year’s Slovenian National Selection (or EMA) was “Ladadidej”, performed by the Lady Gaga-inspired April.  The song was catchy as anything, but I kept getting distracted by the gold-lamé soufflé perched atop her head:

Another entry taking her style cues from the Mother Monster was Tabu, with “Moje Luci (My Light)”:

After all of that, though, my personal favorite was Nina Pušlar‘s “Bilo lepo bi (It would be nice)”, a well-crafted pop confection from last year’s EMA runner-up:

Spain: This year’s Spanish preselection, “Destino: Eurovisión”, brought in twenty-four artists and had them performing ESC covers until the group was eventually winnowed down to three.  It wasn’t until the candidates had been narrowed down to soloist Melissa, boyband Auryn, and eventual winner Lucía Pérez that the audience heard the possible songs for Düsseldorf.  Each finalist performed three entries apiece, with a professional jury deciding the best song for each performer.  Finally, the top songs were compared against each other, with the public audience deciding the ultimate champion.  

Lucía’s “Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao” was selected for her by the jury, and eventually won the night, but it was almost not to be.  After the jury cast their votes, the song was actually tied with “Abrázame”, which Lucía had called out as her favorite of the night, and closer to the style that she tended to sing (and part of the audience vocally agreed with her).  However, as the jury had given more top marks to “Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao”, the upbeat number was picked.  Here’s what could have been:

It hasn’t been made public who came in second or third (although we know that Lucía won with 68% of the vote that night), but here is Auryn’s “Volver (Return)”:

…and here’s Melissa, performing “Eos”:

The next post concludes ESC Insider’s National Final series, where we take a peek at Sweden, Switzerland, and the always-dramatic Ukraine!

Follow Up Single Time!

As is customary in the days following Eurovision, many of the artists that we have come to know and love from their participation on the ESC stage realize that there is, in fact, life after the world’s largest musical competition.  (Granted, the same can’t necessarily be said about the bloggers you have come to know and love, who still cling to every fiber of their time in the Press Center!).  Whether an artist is a newcomer on the scene or a professional with an established career, it’s only natural that new singles follow on the heels of the Grand Final.

Italy’s representative Raphael Gualazzi released his album “Reality and Fantasy”, and since its release in February it has reached #1 on the iTunes Jazz charts all over Europe.  (It’s also available on iTunes in the US, and I give it my personal ESCInsider seal of approval!)  Raphael’s keeping the momentum up releasing the follow-up single to “Follia d’Amore/Madness of Love”, “A Three Second Breath”.

We also have a pair of releases from Greece’s artists.  Rapper Stereo Mike is currently working on a radio edit for his song “Μπορώ/Mporo (I)”.  Taken from his new album “Ανέλιξη (Evolution)”, Mike actually decided to release “Μπορώ” after asking his Facebook and Twitter followers what his next single should be.  He’s currently in the studio remixing the track, but here’s the full album edit: 

Not to be outdone, Loukas Yiorkas also has a new single out.  Teaming up again with composer Giannis Christodoulopoulos and lyricist Eleana Vrachali (the pair behind “Watch My Dance”), Loukas has unveiled his next track, “Για Πρώτη Φορά/Gia Proti Fora (For the First Time)”.

Sweden’s bronze-medalist Eric Saade has released the follow up to “Popular”, the highest-scoring Swedish Eurovision song since their 1999 victory.  Eric will be releasing his new album, “Saade Vol. 1” at the end of June, but “Hearts in the Air” will actually be the album’s third single, after “Still Loving It” and, of course, “Popular”.

Romania’s Hotel FM (led by British-born David Bryan) has released their next track, following “Change”.  I had the chance to hear a brief acapella version of “The Gathering” while I interviewed the guys back in Düsseldorf, so hearing the full arrangement was pretty cool.  Judge for yourself:

Finally, Estonia’s Getter Jaani has released a new duet with Koit Toome (a fellow ESC-alum, from 1998).  “Valged Ööd (White Nights)” is a poppy summer song that seems to be a seamless continuation from “Rockefeller Street”.  Getter’s only eighteen years old, and when she was appearing on Eesti otsib superstaari, she performed a pair of songs by Miley Cyrus, so this sort of upbeat pop seems to be just her thing.

It’s Hotel FM for Romania!

After a MARATHON of a preselection, spanning over five hours (and technically, two years!), the Romanians have come up with their representative to Eurovision for 2011.  After coming in 4th place during last year’s Selecţia Naţională with their song “Come as One“, Oradea-based band Hotel FM will go to Düsseldorf with their song “Change”.

It’s a light, poppy song that reminds me a bit of Simon Mathew’s “All Night Long” for Denmark from a few years back.  It’s got a light, happy message that often fits nicely into Eurovision, and it’s completely inoffensive.  (Plus, it seems that the lead singer is British, which would explain why his English is so flawless!)  I’m not sure if it’s as much of a standout as Paula and Ovi’s “Playing with Fire” from last year, which took Romania to a 3rd place finish.  But this will likely crack into the finals, with 12 points from Moldova, as per usual. 

This is likely my last message to you all in 2010 (although it’s already past midnight in Europe!)…I just want to wish all of my readers the happiest, healthiest, and most prosperous year for 2011!  I hope to continue bringing you all the best in news, opinions, and predictions…and I hope you’re along for the ride with me!


ESC 2010 Reviews: Romania

Romania, like many other nations from the Central-to-Eastern European region, entered the ESC in the mid-1990s.  The first entry from Bucharest came in 1994, the same year as Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, Russia, Hungary, and Poland.  Since then, Romania’s found some half-decent success, including a set of third and fourth-place finishes in the middle of this past decade.  They’re one of only a handful of countries to have qualified for every final since the semifinal system began back in 2004, but they haven’t broken into the Top Ten since 2006.

My personal favorite entry from Romania was actually their debut.  Dan Bittman, lead singer of the long-running local rock group Holograf, took the stage with “Dincolo de Nori (Beyond the Clouds)“, a great rock ballad that sadly scored only 21st place out of 25 contestants that year.  (Ironically, the first and so far only contestants from San Marino, MiOdio, recently covered “Dincolo de Nori” into a modernized Italian version, “Oltre le Nuvole“).

2005 brought “Let Me Try” by Luminiţa Anghel and Sistem, a high-energy Europop number complete with flying sparks and backup dancers drumming on oil cans.  It was the nation’s highest placement, and Romania followed it up  in 2006 with the equally dynamic “Tornerò“, sung in English and Italian by Mihai Trăistariu.  Scoring an incredibly respectable 4th place (next to heavy hitters from Finland, Russia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina), “Tornerò” brought Romania’s highest point-total to date, and it reached the top of the charts in Greece, Cyprus, Malta, and Sweden.

This year, Romania brings us “Playing With Fire” by Paula Seling and Ovi (Ovidiu Cernăuţeanu, who currently lives and works in Norway).
Paula Seling & Ovi – Playing with Fire (Official Music Video) from Eduard Schneider on Vimeo.
This music video is probably the most fun out of 2010’s crop.  Anything with flaming pianos, transparent iPads, pleather catsuits and dancing robots automatically is made of win, right?  Granted, the lyrics might be a bit trite (the whole fire/desire/higher rhyme isn’t quite original, but it works), but the song is fun, danceable, and catchy as hell.  It won its National Selection with top marks from the local jury, as well as nearly twice the televoting numbers as the runner-up.  Although “Playing with Fire” is in the tough second semifinal, I’d be surprised if they didn’t make it through, assuming that Paula’s high note doesn’t cause her throat to explode or the jury’s ears to bleed. 

…Now if only they can get some dancing robots on stage with them, they’d be a lock.