Selecția Națională 2017
Yes, it’s 2017 and the Romanian government finally decided to help TVR and pay its debts back to the EBU. Yes, in case you were wondering, Romania’s back in the contest and with a selection stronger than ever. In order to repent its sins after the unfortunate event from 2016, TVR decided that it’s time for a bigger, better and a more transparent national selection. And this is how Selecția Națională 2017 was born.
This year, the national selection has drawn more than 80 songs in the race for the ticket to represent the country in Kyiv. All of them had to go through the live audition stage and were broadcasted on TVR2 in a unique show during the week of February 5-11, while on February 12, the 15 semi-finalists were announced. Many of them are masterpieces and strong contenders for the ticket to Kyiv, and many are just fillers, unworthy for a place in the final. And the public has the only power to decide who goes to Kyiv, just like in 2016. While the jury decides the 10 finalists, it’s up to the televote to determine the winner. And all the voters who call or send an SMS are automatically in a race for a car. Yes, you heard that right: a car. It’s clear now, that after paying its debt and after the government upping the broadcaster’s budget by 150 Million Euros, TVR has now money to spend. So, if you happen to be in Romania on March 5, you may be the lucky winner of a car. But let’s get back to a serious business and review the songs.
The semi-final aired on TVR1 and online on www.tvrplus.ro, last Sunday at 19:30 CET (you can rewatch it on www.tvrplus.ro/editie-eurovision-2017-543161). The 3 hours and 15 minutes show was everything but exciting, apart from the fact that the beloved Romanian TV personality Iuliana Tudor hosted the show. The semi-final highlights included fake screams, fake applauses, gossipy Green Room hosts, who only wanted to talk about the bad comments the juries made and ask the artists why they think the juries said those things. Ovidiu Anton was the interval act and I think he sung his whole album, as his recital was 30 minutes long. Alas, hopefully the final is better. If you watch the shows from last year you will be amazed by the professionalism and by how beautifully they were organised and cannot even be compared to this year’s (take a look here www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgRQ5TQ09a0&t=725s). Anyway, these were the 15 semi-finalists.
OUT – Elizé & No Stress – Fără bariere
“Fără bariere” (No barriers) is an amazing upbeat song. It has a very British sound, a bit of early ’80s new wave mixed in with late ’90s Britpop — and it all works. Elizé is an amazing singer with a great vocal range and the combination with the band No Stress is just perfect. Although the song becomes a bit repetitive at the end, it’s fun and delightful. However, while I would like to hear this song on the radio, I don’t think how it’s going to get through to the Eurovision fans.
Cristina Vasiu – Set The Skies On Fire
Cristina Vasiu has one of the best songs in Selecția Națională. No wonder it was written by Tony Sanchez Ohlsson, the man behind so many wonderful Eurovision entries. “Set The Skies On Fire” is an incredible power ballad and it really fits Cristina, allowing her to expose her amazing voice. The song is very catchy and the backing vocalists are Eurovision hopefuls too, who unfortunately didn’t make it through the auditions (Nora Deneș, Teodora Dinu among others). I would be really happy if she won the Selection.
OUT –Tudor Turcu – Limitless
Okay, I get it: Tudor has a great voice, a great charm and is a veteran at our national selection. He’s had good songs over the years and even great songs sometimes, but Limitless is just bland and boring. The song is repetitive and flat. It’s just very easily forgettable and it won’t connect with the audience. The chorus is really strange and unenjoyable. Tudor just repeats the same word over and over again, while a backing vocal delivers the chorus. Maybe next year Tudor.
Ramona Nerra – Save Me
Now before you judge Ramona based on her performance at the auditions, you should note that she had a sore throat and caught a cold during that time, so she did not offer her best. However, her song “Save Me” is very good and catchy. The song sounds modern and fresh and is clearly a dance anthem. Even though the chorus is just a desperate scream and pretty boring after the second listen, it could do well at the Euroclub. But probably that would be it for Ramona, even though she has a killer voice, which has been praised even by the germans, when Ramona was among the finalists of The Voice Germany. Ramona, please come back next year with an even better song.
Instinct – Petale
Yes Romania! This is how you do things! This is what I’m talking about! Finally an entry with potential! “Petale” is perfection on all possible levels. It has the complete package for Eurovision. The voices of both singers fit so perfectly together and they have a deep chemistry on the stage. The song itself is catchy and very easy on the ears. This is the best Romanian language songs in this year’s selection and may even win Selecția Națională. Once you listen to it you realize you it sticks into your head and you can’t get it out. It’s the perfect entry for Eurovision.
Eduard Santha – Wild Child
I have a bad history with the name “Wild Child”. I don’t know, but everything that comes into contact with this name, is a complete disaster, and Eduard’s song is no exception, whatsoever. I don’t know if the song is supposed to be a joke or not, and I don’t know if the jurors joked when they chose it. But now, please repent your sins and don’t send it to the final. That’s all I’m asking for. I don’t want to hear this song a second time.
UPDATE: Now, I have written all these reviews before the show, and was pretty sure that Eduard Santha would not qualify. To my bitter surprise, he did and I cannot explain why. His song is awful on all possible levels and I can’t explain how the juries liked it. Sorry Europe, there are many stupid people here in Romania.
Tavi Colen & Emma – We Own The Night
"We Own The Night" by Tavi Colen and Emma sort of reminds me of Malta's entry in 2014. The thing is that I hated that song, and this one irritates me too. It's not forgettable at all because it's quite very bad. The only thing that I like are Emma's vocals. Those are nice, but that's it. Tavi seems to not even know the lyrics of his own song and his voice ruins the already bad song. I don’t know how this qualified for the semi-final.
OUT – Zanga – Două Sticle
Now, it’s clear why Zanga qualified. Lora, a big Romanian singer withdrew after a spicy fight between Eurovision fans and her manager, a discussion which sparked controversy and more than 1000 comments in less then 4 hours. EURODRAMA! That’s why the whole team and the record label decided to withdraw, although it seems that the deal has not been broken yet and Lora is still expected to compete tonight. Well, then how did Zanga qualify if Lora is still expected to perform? Don’t ask me honey, ‘cause I don’t know. Welcome to Romania. Let’s get back though, and review Zanga’s song. “Două sticle” (Two bottles) is not a bad entry, but there were so many other ones better than this, which did not qualify. The beginning is awkward and you feel like that the song is actually a joke, but the chorus is surprisingly very, very good. If the whole song would be that good.
UPDATE: I feel sorry for Zanga. She had a decent song, which was better than Eduard Santha or Tavi Colen & Emma. She deserved to be in the final, even though her performance was a little bit strange.
Ilinca feat. Alex Florea – Yodel It
Yodeleeeeei, Yodeleiioooo! Hello Switzerland, this is Romania calling. You thought you stole our Miruna Mănescu and get away with it? Well, think again and thanks for the Yodel. Ilinca and Alex are clearly the public’s and jury’s favourites. They are also the favourites of the Eurovision fans, so does that mean a WINNER ALERT? I think so. The mixture of rap and yodelling actually works really well. “Yodel It” would stand out in Kyiv, among many boring ballads, and that’s a fact! Their chemistry on stage really elevate their entry and it could provide a great show in Kyiv. This song might actually do well: take a look at Verka Serduchka, Koza Mostra and Donatan & Cleo. These types of songs usually do good at Eurovision, so why can this one occupy a top spot?
OUT – Alexandra Crăescu – Hope
Do you want to go back in time? There is no need for buying a time machine! Listen to Alexandra Crăescu's "Hope" and you will feel like you're back in 2000. I take back what I said to Mihai's song, this is an even better sleeping pill. Although, Alexandra’s voice is amazing and the girl can really sing, the song is not suited for Eurovision. I would like to see her back with a ballad that really emphasises her wonderful talent.
OUT – D-Lema – Adventure
D-Lema's "Adventure" is not a bad song but it's not good either. I have no idea what to say about this one. I forgot it the minute I heard it the first time and I have no idea what the juries thought when they qualified songs like this. There were a lot of songs which were way better and the purpose in a song for Eurovision is to impress, while “Adventure” clearly doesn’t.
Maxim – Adu-ți aminte
Maxim is one of the most biggest boy bands in Romania. I really like their song "Adu-ți Aminte" (Remember) but the only problem is that out of 4 boys, only two really sing. The other two are backing vocalists and this is weird. Anyhow, if their live performance will improve, they have a good chance to win Selecția Națională. They have a big fanbase and a good song. Also, the man behind "Adu-ți Aminte" is Adrian Sina from Akcent, one of Romania's most popular singers. Akcent used to be a boy band too but now Adrian is the last remaining member and since almost 10 years Akcent manages to have a big international career.
MIHAI – I Won’t Surrender
MIHAI really wants to win the National Selection and he has the voice, but not the song. The first two minutes of the song are just boring and even though the last minute is empowering, and builds up really great that's not enough to connect with the audience and scream: VOTE ME. "I Won't Surrender" is another cliche ballad and if Romania sends this, it might not qualify in the Grand Final, proving that it would truly not surrender the semi-final in Kyiv.
UPDATE: MIHAI revamped his song for the semi-final and it sounded better than I thought. I still think it won’t do that good but I appreciate the change.
Ana Maria Mirică – Spune-mi tu
Ana Maria is an amazing singer. Her song “Spune-mi tu” (Tell Me) is amazing and powerful with really deep lyrics. Her voice is rocky and fits her entry perfectly. Just listen to the bridge: it’s perfect on so many levels. You just cannot not fall in love with it. Ana Maria rocks the stage and I can’t wait to see her performance in the semi-final. With some changes, and the lyrics changed to English, the song could do pretty well in Kyiv. Great job!
UPDATE: In my opinion, Ana Maria was the biggest surprise of the night. She took the advice of the juries, changed all the lyrics, except for the bridge to English and I really like it. Go Ana!
Xandra – Walk On By
Xandra’s song is a very powerful ballad with deep lyrics. Moreover, Sandra has a pitch perfect voice and she proved that last year in the selection. “Walk On By”, along with “Yodel It”, is one of the main public favourites and it has a pretty good chance of winning the selection. Even though the song is a ballad, it stands out as it is more up-beat and succeeds to connect with the audience. We’ll now have to see if the Romanian public thinks the same.
After a boring and never-ending interval-act, the juries finally awarded their points. And oh boy, did they make stupid mistakes, such as qualifying Eduard Santha, and in the opinion of the majority of the Eurovision fandom, even qualifying Maxim was a mistake. In my opinion they overrated MIHAI and underrated Instinct. Here are the 10 qualifiers (it is notable that “Yodel It” received 12 points from all the jurors):
Yodel it! - Ilinca feat. Alex Florea - 60
Walk on by - Xandra - 46
I won’t surrender - MIHAI - 44
Set the skies on fire - Cristina Vasiu - 32
Petale - Instinct - 24
Save me - Ramona Nerra - 19
Wild child - Eduard Santha - 19
We own the night - Tavi Colen & Emma - 8
Adu-ţi aminte - Maxim - 8
Spune-mi tu - Ana Maria Mirică- 7
Now, it’s all up to the Romanian public, as the final is 100% televote. Will Romanians follow the juries and send “Yodel It” to Kyiv or will they choose something else. Tune in next Sunday, March 5, on www.tvrplus.ro and remember: if you happen to be in Romania on March 5, you may be the lucky winner of a car (through this, TVR desperately hopes to gather more votes).