As the dust settles on the 2022 contest and Eurovision fans stare down the barrel of a long off-season, here at ESCXTRA, we wanted to spend the summer highlighting our moments of appreciation for Eurovision 2022. Up next, we celebrate how Zdob și Zdub have been Eurovision icons for three decades now.
Zdob și Zdub at Eurovision
The Eurovision Song Contest is no stranger to returning artists. However, three-time returnees are far less common. By being selected to represent Moldova this year, Zdob și Zdub joined an exclusive club of only eight artists, including legends like Lys Assia (Switzerland 1956-1958).
It’s rather poetic that Zdob și Zdub’s first entry also happened to be Moldova’s Eurovision debut – “Boonika Bate Toba”, which placed 6th in Kyiv back in 2005. They returned in 2011 to secure another left-hand side finish – “So Lucky”, which placed 12th in Düsseldorf.
With “Trenulețul”, Zdob și Zdub became only the fourth act to represent a country three times in three consecutive decades, alongside Carola (1983, 1991, 2006), Tommy Seebach (1979, 1981, 1993) and Hanne Krogh (1971, 1985, 1991).
Before “Trenulețul” became the dark horse of Turin, it was selected with very little fanfare via one of the most low-key selections of the season. Originally, Moldovan broadcaster TRM had planned to hold a national final on 5th March to select their entry for the contest. However, due to rising Covid-19 infections in Moldova, it was decided that the entry would be decided via an internal selection following live auditions instead.
Zdob și Zdub & Frații Advahov were selected from a total of twenty-eight artists by a professional jury including several former representatives Geta Burlacu (2008), Aliona Moon (2013) and Cristina Scarlat (2014). One has to wonder what would have happened had a public selection proceeded as intended.
‘We will bring a train to the stage’
In true Moldova-at-Eurovision fashion, not many people were checking for “Trenulețul” prior to rehearsals. Due to the tendency of their entries to veer into kitschy territory, the studio versions often don’t do justice to their Eurovision potential.
However, the embers were there. The music video was practically a feature film that captured a WILD train journey from Chisinau to Bucharest – with skits and everything.
In a March interview with Moldova’s Pro TV newsite, they hinted that we would get another epic Moldovan Eurovision prop:
We will bring the real train on stage, there will be a drum, maybe the grandmother will be there, I don’t know.Zdob și Zdub and Frații Advahov via Pro TV
Although I was initially disappointed that they didn’t end up bringing an actual train on stage in Turin, the song did indeed end up coming to life once the contest rolled around. Despite the minimal staging, all they needed was their charisma and some much-needed tempo to a ballad-heavy contest.
The song was unlike anything else we had this year, and this was rewarded with a stellar televote throughout. “Trenulețul” finished in second place in the televote in both the first semi-final and in the Grand Final, and ultimately finished in 7th place with 253 points.
The song had a feverish, hypnotic impact on viewers the world over, who couldn’t help but go absolutely wild as soon as the classic Eastern European village fete instrumental takes off. Whether you were a journalist in the press centre in Turin or a drunk student at Warwick University, the charm of “Trenulețul” was undeniable.
Stay tuned for the next instalment of our Moments of Appreciation series next week! Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter, @escxtra on Instagram, @escxtra on TikTok and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates! Also, be sure to follow us on Spotify for the latest music from your favourite ESC and JESC acts.