As the Euroverse slips into the most surreal spate of PED, let’s alleviate some of the symptoms with a slideback to 2005 and a country making its bold Eurovision debut. Zdob și Zdub had the honour of being the first Moldovan representatives, performing ‘Boonika bate doba’ in Kyiv.
About the song
The entry was written by two of Zdob și Zdub’s founding members, vocalist Roman Iagupov and guitarrist Mihai Gîncu. Translating to “Grandma beats the drum”, there was no mistaking how this folk-punk song would be represented on the Eurovision stage. The band went full throttle with the latest chapter of the Eurovision handbook, hurling traditional culture into the mix, something instinctive to this band who had already been blending Moldovan folk with punk and ska for a decade.
Despite being drawn to perform fourth in a 24-song semifinal, Zdob și Zdub qualified in second place, ultimately finishing in sixth place in the grand final. This strong debut remained Moldova’s highest finish at Eurovision until Sunstroke Project’s second attempt reached third place in 2017.
Full of energy and never letting your attention slip. ‘Boonika bate doba’ was worthy of its top six finish and has stuck in my mind and playlists for the years since. The media remember this song for the gimmick and seeming eccentricity, but beneath all that it is musically strong, plus Roman’s vocals hit the spot. I was delighted to hear they were making a Eurovision comeback in 2011, but for me it didn’t hit the heights of 2005. I’d recommend anyone to delve into Zdob și Zdub’s back catalogue though!
What do the team think?
There is no doubt; Moldova’s debut is one of the better first attempts at the contest. I would probably rank Georgia, Azerbaijan, Australia and Latvia higher (and Serbia & Montenegro if we count them); but other than those, the boonika is the boss! I really like the beat in this song; it’s the kind of rhythm that gets my shoulders moving. The performance in Kyiv was fun and different, which made it stand out from the crowd. And that was sorely needed; there was a whole lot of bland in 2005! And of course; the grandma is adorable. Moldova goes its own way at Eurovision, and I love it! It’s kind of difficult for me to pick a favourite Moldovan entry, but if I must; ‘Fight’, from 2007.
Awesome debut from Moldova! The mid 00s seemed to be really into rock music, which is why I adore those editions so much. Moldova seemed to have paid attention on the upcoming trend of rock songs from that time, but also stayed true to the roots. A sixth place is therefore well deserved, Moldova made a good first impression and was set ready for an enjoyable Eurovision journey. I think “Zdob Si Zdub” was a sign of what we could expect from Moldova in the Eurovision future. Moldovan entries have been quite diverse over the years, which make them interesting.
Pleased to report that this ticks all my Euroision boxes and more: 1) a great tune 2) (mostly) non-English lyrics, 3) a perfect beat that makes you want to boogie in your chair, 4) staging that makes you mildly question reality. All of that is accentuated by an underlying confusion of what exactly is happening, mixed in with a pig-headed determination to enjoy it regardless. The granny herself earns top points, both in and out of her rocking chair, as her and the band put together an entry so full of life that that it’s a challenge not to smile as you listen to it.
They say you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. As this was Moldova’s debut into the Eurovision Song Contest, they have done a great effort. The performance in Kyiv looked memorable and fun, you can see that the audience was enjoying it. Personally, it’s mid table for me, but I would say, Good for Moldova; you do you and never change.
What’s your opinion on ‘Boonika bate doba’? Do you agree with the team? Let us know! Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter, @escxtra on Instagram and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates!