On Monday Moldova celebrated its 27th year of independence, so our jukebox is stopping off in the landlocked nation for this week’s Throwback Thursday to join the party!
From Moldova to Moscow
Moldova might only have a short history in the Eurovision Song Contest, with just 14 appearances since their debut in 2005, however it has certainly been memorable! From Epic Sax Guy, expanding dresses, uni-cycling, a dancing spaceman and the magic doors in Lisbon. Yet for me the holy grail that encapsulates everything about what they bring to the contest is Nelly Ciobanu’s Hora Din Moldova.
First we have to cast our minds back to 2009 and the O Melodi Pentru Europa national final. A stacked line-up which included future Moldovan representatives in Sunstroke Project and Olia Tira. Those two would team up a year later on the now infamous Run Away. Of course Sunstroke Project would later return to the Eurovision stage in 2017 achieving Moldova’s best ever result with 3rd place for Hey, Mamma! However it was Nelly Ciobanu with Hora Din Moldova that was the clear favourite. Winning top marks with both the jury and televote to earn selection. Previously Nelly had come second in the 2005 national final behind debut entrants Zdob și Zdub.
Dance from Moldova
Singing a jolly tale about a Moldovan folk dance that takes over your body and soul seemed a niche concept to translate around Europe and onto what was the biggest stage the contest has seen. Although if those ethno-beats and trumpets aren’t enough to get you rushing the dance floor there is probably no help for you. Hence Moldova did what Moldova does best, brought on the dancing men in traditional dress, packed the LEDs with colourful geometric ethnic symbolism and let Nelly’s big voice fill the big stage. Also with a little flavour of English added to the Romanian lyrics to help the audience understand the message of the song.
In some ways it was a bold statement. Sharing their language, heritage and cultural pride on Russian soil. After all it was the Soviet Union they had originally sought independence from back in 1991, as well as dropping the enforced Cyrillic alphabet during occupation.
In the end Hora Din Moldova managed 14th place with 69 points. Not one of Moldova’s strongest results, however the 2009 contest remains one of the pinnacles of Eurovision history overall. Given the depth of song quality and diversity, being one of the last great years for ethno-bangers, 14th actually isn’t that bad. Following on from this the song clearly had a lasting impact. It has featured in cover performances on numerous reality TV singing competitions around Eastern Europe. Most famously covered in the 2012 season of The Voice of Ukraine by Mariya Yaremchuk. Watch the performance here. She would later go on to represent Ukraine in the 2014 contest.
Whilst the maiden victory remains elusive we can only hope Moldova continues to entertain us with their native influences and quirky staging. Meanwhile I’ll be dancing along to my favourite Eurovision underdog!
What the others had to say…
I love this song. The fact that it was just shy of the left hand side in 2009 (the best Eurovision Song Contest ever in my opinion) is incredible! Moldova does these types of entries so well. You could say that this is the forefather of DoReDos’ “My Lucky Day” in the way the ethnic Moldovan instrumentals are perfectly intertwined with a bit of humor and charismatic performers. The use of the ethnic knitting patterns to create an authentic atmosphere is smart. The choreography is on point too! Moldova always makes the most of the least and I always support this. Entries like this is why Moldova has a special part in this contest. More like this please going forward, Moldova!
I have such conflicting feelings about this song. On one hand, it is richly embedded with culture, national pride (and a not-so subtle dig at independence and USSR/Russian occupation?). Vibrant and powerful – every second of the performance contains an element of heritage. It fuses the quintessential Moldovan sensibility of Zdob și Zdub with the vocal ferocity of Natalia Barbu. However, watching the performance in order to write this up I was so disappointed. Nelly’s vocals are incredibly strong, but I feel she needed another backing vocalist to round off the support during the chorus. Similarly, I think the LED was so in your face with the multitude of colours and patterns it became distracting. Some of the wider shots are a lot to visually cope with. Nevertheless, a great entry from Moldova. I think on this occasion the result in the final was probably about right.
Hora Din Moldova is one of the reasons why I love Eurovision so much. This entry featured traditional music whilst being fun, catchy, and memorable for all the right reasons. I loved it! Nelly’s performance was awesome too and I can confidently say this is one of Moldova’s strongest efforts.
While I’m always happy to see entries with ethnic touches in the contest, they’re not always my cup of tea. Unfortunately, Hora Din Moldova falls under that category. I do appreciate the effort and the full package – vocals, choreography, outfits – but the song itself is too hectic for my taste. It doesn’t help that I find Moldova a very strong Eurovision country in general, either. Compared to all their other entries, I’d probably rank Hora Din Moldova second last. That being said, it’s not a bad song, and I wouldn’t include it in a ranking of my least favourite Eurovision entry by any means… it just isn’t for me.
How do you rate Hora Din Moldova? Which is your favourite Moldovan entry? Let us know in the comments and on social media @ESCXTRA