Moldova (semi final) - Michelle Stigwood

O Melodie Pentru Europa 2019 is held annually to select Moldova's Eurovision entrant. It is organised by the Moldovan national broadcaster TRM and the first stage with Live Auditions was held in TRM Studios on 2 February. The 26 entrants performed in front of a 5 person jury who each awarded 0-12 points for the individual performances. 

Entrants were scored in 4 categories: melody, originality, vocals, and song interpretation. This qualifying event was supposed to select entrants for a National Broadcast Semi Final scheduled for 2 March, but due to the entrants being described by the judges as " lacking in inspiration" and "underwhelming", the semi final was cancelled and instead the judges settled on 10 entrants going straight through for a broadcast final on 3 March.  

Upfront, let me say, that I do agree with some of the criticism by the judges. It was an assorted bunch of amateur and professional entrants and although most of the recorded versions of the songs sounded passable, the live auditions highlighted some very poor vocals and lacklustre performance skills. It did not help, of course, that staging and costumes were not required for this judging. Below are the highlights of these auditions and the finalists. 

In an absolute shock, the two favourites "Emergency" by Ala Zasmenco and "Ca Adriano Celentano" performed by Lume, both failed to progress and as such exited the competition unceremoniously. I'm not so sure that this was the best decision because at least these songs were well supported and " Ca Adriano Celentano" had at least some infectious Moldovan personality. 

There were some music by numbers entries that failed to progress, these included Sasha Letty with "Bananas", easy listening Coral Reef with "Self Destruction", and Pelageya Stefoglo ( serial contestant controversially disqualified in 2018) with her sexy "Mi Amor". 

There was one good decision tho, and that was that Sacha Bognibov's pop punk offering "Love me like my daughter" did not progress. While the vocals and music were polished, the subject matter and lyrics were questionable to say the least, and disturbing at worst. 

Anyway, what have we now been left with for the Moldovan national final? 
5 generic pop songs, 2 electronic pop songs, and 3 rock bands, the only one with a spark of eccentricity might be Limonique( at a pinch) with their soft electro offering "Gravity". 

New to the scene were Siaj singing "Olimp". Described as a young indie rock band comprising 4 women, I was looking forward to hearing them however the vocals were disappointing. Tina Gi experimented with a Moldovan angsty song "Virus". She also looked and sounded out of her league. 

Pop Power ballads were aplenty with XFactor entrant Marcela Scripcanu singing "Meteor", Anna Odobescou performing "Stay", and Maxim Zavida plodding through " I will not Surrender". 

Rock band Che MD returned again this year with 2 entries and a new front woman Elizaveta Ivasiuk to liven the show up a bit, but only "Sub Pamant" went thru unscathed. 

Strangely, I felt the best vocals of the night belonged to Aurel Chirtoaca, who crooned through the least interesting song "La Cinema" and Diana Brescan who performed "Lies" an emotional pop ballad that could do much better with some coaching. 

But we do have a competent serial performer in Vera Tircanu with her pop song "Cold". She almost won in 2018 with a dark brooding song "Black Heart" so I know she can do so much more with her song. She needs to inject the song with the edgy tight feel she is capable of and she may just win this year. 

We now await the final on 3 March to see who will represent Moldova in Tel Aviv this year. Good luck to all the finalists.