What had appeared to be a battle between Laura Bretan's "Dear Father" and Bella Santiago's "Army of Love" ended up not materializing amidst controversial circumstances. The end result was that Ester Peony's "On a Sunday" pulled past both of them at the finish line and will represent Romania at Eurovision 2019.
A significant change in how Romania decided its artist and song this year as opposed to how it was done in 2018 was how much influence the televoters had. A year ago, they controlled 100 percent of the result. Conversely, this time around, televoters only made up a seventh of the total point total (14 percent) as the other six voting entities were taken up by individual members of the international jury.
After we had learned how all of the jury members scored, "On a Sunday" already had a near-insurmountable advantage, leading "Army of Love" by 12 points. Once it was revealed that "On a Sunday" had finished eighth place with the televoters, good for three more points, she had mathematically clinched the win.
"Dear Father" ended up winning the televote, presumably by a considerable margin as she had led the early televoting results, 476-158, over then-second place "Army of Love," as shown in a graphic on the screen. However, "Dear Father" was unable to climb any higher than second overall with "Army of Love" finishing just behind, in third. "On a Sunday" got 65 points, "Dear Father" accumulated 60 while "Army of Love" had 58.
Laura Bretan had drawn some controversy for supporting a vote in late 2018 that declared that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, and it is believed that those views hurt her jury scores. For example, Wiwibloggs' William Lee Adams just gave it six points while Deban Aderemi awarded it four, the two lowest scores that she received. Two other judges awarded her seven tallies while a pair gave her the full 12.
Meanwhile, Bella Santiago received 10 points from every single juror except for one. Shockingly, Emmelie de Forest gave "Army of Love" zero. If she had instead awarded it eight points or more, it would have finished ahead of "On a Sunday" and be heading to Eurovision instead.
Regardless of the process that led us to this point, Ester Peony is representing Romania. Personally, I did really like "On a Sunday." It was easily my biggest grower from studio version to live. However, at the same time, I'm torn as the process seemed unfair for both "Dear Father" and "Army of Love."
So, what we can expect from Romania at Eurovision is a pleasant yet passionate delivery of a beautiful song. Not knowing the full Eurovision lineup yet, I know that this is just an educated guess, but I think that "On a Sunday" may or may not qualify for the Eurovision final. I believe that it will need to be improved some, vocally and staging-wise, in order to get through. Not a lot, but some.