Editorials & OpinionFeatures

πŸ‡·πŸ‡΄ Slideback Sunday: Romania + Eurovision should not equal OTT

Romania and Eurovision is sometimes associated with OTT-ness, but it doesn't have to be that way

Romania’s Eurovision journey

Like many Eastern European countries, Romania made its Eurovision debut in the early 1990s. However, it wasn’t until the early 2000s when they had their “golden” era. Achieving 5 out of their 6 top 10 placings between 2002 and 2010, there was a time when a Romanian victory seemed all but an inevitability and people thought of it as a matter of when, not if.

Fortunes have turned a little and Romania has had a less than impressive record in the last few years, including being disqualified in 2016 and failing to qualify for the first time in 2018, and then again in 2019.

If there is something Romania cannot be accused of is of serving the widest range of variety under the Eurovision sky of styles, languages, stagings… you name it. Arguably, peak Romania would be the vampire countertenor… or the stomp rip-off… or the yodel-ing? Or having six languages in a single entry? Who knows what made Romanian entries so loved to catapult them to high positions. Their diaspora surely helped, but there seemed to be something else that connected with a wider audience, but which seems to have been lost in the last few years.

Taking us to the edge of the world

At any rate, I can’t help but thinking that Romania is at its Eurovision best when Romania is not at is most OTT – which is not often. My two favourite Romanian entries are their two most beautiful ballads, 2015 and 2008, and I had to go with the latter, which as of today I still think as one of the most beautiful entries of the year and a great example of a timeless ballad. And if you disagree you are dead inside.

Pe-o Margine de Lume is as down my alley as an Eurovision entry could be. A wonderful ballad, beautifully performed by a male-female duo, with a language change that is masterfully executed – bonus points for not going for the easy solution of switching to English! –, beautiful lyrics and not trying too hard with the staging. If anyone asked me I would say this is the Romania we deserve at Eurovision. Y’all go ahead and yodel, I will be in my corner with my feelings enjoying this little gem!

Coulda, woulda, shoulda

Since 2008, and embracing the cliche that juries tend to favour ballads over uptempo entries, I have always wondered whether Nico and Vlad would have seen their fortunes improved had the juries been introduced a year earlier. I suspect Pe-o Margine de Lume would have ranked somewhat higher, perhaps not troubling the scoreboard enough to give Romania its first Eurovision entry, but surely higher than that unfair 20th position. Not often do I get to say this about Romania, but they were ROBBED!

Over to the team…

Borislava

Though I am a fan of Romania’s flashier performances, listening to this entry stops me in my tracks. Romanian is an incredibly beautiful language, which shines through this ballad. That being said, I’m not sure whether Nico and Vlad’s voices suit each other all that well. When Nico first joins in the song, it triggers a jarring change as her high notes fight with the soft tones of Vlad’s baritone. It’s only as the song builds up to its culmination that their voices seem to remember that they are singing the same song. And thank goodness for that, because that finish is breath-taking.

Riccardo

Romania is one of those Eurovision countries I feel most indifferent about. Save for “Playing with fire”, the countries song rarely feature among my favourites but also not even among the bottom of the rankings (save for 2013 and 2017). And I feel this song represents my relationship with Romania at the contest perfectly, no strong feelings either way. I do appreciate that it is sang in both Romanian and Italian (national biases may be at play here) and as Tim says, it is arguably one of the finer entries from Romania. But I think I would have liked it better if Nico alone had sang the entry.

Tim

The 2008 Eurovision Song Contest was one of the first editions I have watched when I moved to the UK. Having this open the Grand Final (the only one I watched until 2008) is a bold choice (they really got the luck of the draw on this one). When I listened to the song, it kind of reminded me of what I would see on TV before I moved to the UK.

Come to think of it now, I think this is one of Romania’s finer entry, where they did not rely on joke entries as much. There was meaning to the song (even though I did not understand what on earth they were saying then). But I do love how their voices blend well together.

Tom R

This operatic number from Romania must have set the way for Cezar in 2013 – so there’s a positive straight away. Who can’t love a bit of a Bee Gee-esque opera singer with dancers escaping from his cape? Anyway – this is about 2008 and not 2013. This song was very unfortunate to draw the opening position for the show as it just got list in amongst the crazy show that was 2008. Their voices are good, individually. But there’s just no marriage in their voices which results in a very painful ending to the songs. As the song progresses, it gets worse and worse… Before eventually finishing as a bit of a musical mess. Was 20th fair for this? Possibly slightly too high. And definitely not worth two sets of 12 points!

Nico and Vlad during the Romanian national final

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