Possible Artists: Romania

So to continue on with the ‘Possible Artists’ series, we’ll journey over to Romania and see who would be the best choice to represent the country in Denmark next year! Romania is becoming one of Europe’s fastest countries when it comes to releasing really good modern music, but who would be the best candidate to lead the Eurovision to Bucharest?

Would Andra be a good choice for Romania?
Would Andra be a good choice for Romania?

First of all, thank you very much to Petryk Lefter for helping us find a few of these artists! This article may not have even existed if it wasn’t for him, so “mulţumesc Petryk!” Anyway, the first artist we’d recommend to TVR would be Andra Irina Măruţă, but she performs under her first name. Andra is a big name in the Romanian music scene and her music is easily distinguishable. As well as that, she definitely has the looks and the voice to represent the country (is it just me or does anyone think she looks a little bit like Helena Paparizou?). In 2011, she released this track that shows that she can sing in English really well.

This song was released back in April of 2011, so ‘Something New’ wouldn’t be eligible to represent Romania in Düsseldorf, but given that Romania was in a fairly stong semi-final, she would have a bit of competition, but I think she’d qualify and do just as good as Mandinga (which I know was in 2012) as both ‘Zaleilah’ and ‘Something New’ sound quite similar. The style of music she offers in the song very current and it would be what most young people would be listening to, she’d be almost guaranteed some form of votes. This year, she released this song, which is sung in Romanian (so I have no proper idea of what she’s singing).

So, once again, the song was released in April, so she wouldn’t have been allowed to sing this song in Malmö if she wanted to go into Romania’s national final, but I’m gonna stick my neck out on the line and say that she would have been better than Cezar (although I think most people would be better than him!). Anyway, this track sounds like a summer hit, and the title speaks for itself; ‘Inevitably, it will be good’. For me, Andra would be a great choice and she would bring something fresh to the table and we could have a contender for the title.. if she sends the right song of course!

Like I said at the start of the article, Romania is one of the biggest producers of modern music at this time and this is reflected in our choices, so for our second recommendation, we’d like you guys to meet Antonia. She’s only 24, but she’s one of Romania’s rising stars. Antonia actually spent most of her childhood in the United States, returning to Romania when she was 18 and collaborating with many DJs and other artists. In 2012, she released this track, ‘Jameia’, that fuses Romanian and English into this very good mix.

This song actually would have been eligible to go to Eurovision this year as it passed the September 1st rule, but only slightly (it was released only 18 days after the deadline). Had ‘Jameia’ have gone to Eurovision, it would have brought some liveliness to the competition and if Romania had the same positions, the song would have been the best track to end the second semi-final with. Should Antonia or Andra, or indeed any other artist, actually be selected to represent their home country, they would be better off to be singing a track like ‘Jameia’, a catchy dance track that fuses both Romanian and English into one heck of a dance track!

As well as those artists, we’d also love to see these singers on stage!

Alexandra Stan – “Mr. Saxobeat”
Inna – “Fly”
Alb Negru – “Mi-e sete de tine”

Your views:

So what would you think if Andra or Antonia represented Romania? Or would you pick a different artist for the country?

Would Andra or Antonia work for Romania next year?
Would Andra or Antonia work for Romania next year?

Marco Muntean from Romania: NOOOOOOO!!

Eduard Antanasescu from Sweden: Nope 😦

Antonina Podnebesova from Russia: Maybe Romania could send Alb Negru or K.I.M?

Svana Lístí Agnarsdóttir from Iceland: I’d love Andra to represent Romania! I’m normally picky as to who I listen to and Andra is definitely on the list. I’d also love Alexandra Stan to sing too.

So when you look at the views from all over Europe, not many people would like Andra or Antonia to represent to Romania. Antonina suggested that Alb Negru or K.I.M should represent Romania; how did she know we had put Alb into the list?! They are really good artists too and they’d also do well for Romania too if they were selected. What do you think of the choices though? Would you like to see Andra or Antonia representing Romania or would you select a different artist? Feel free to let us know what you think by commenting below!

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Top 10: WTF moments in ESC history

The “top 10” series continues today, with what is doubtless one of our most random topics to date. Quite simply, as the title says, in the next few paragraphs, I will be leading you on a journey through Eurovision’s ten most unbelievably weird and unexplainable moments… Be it an untimely orchestral mishap in the 50s or a Swedish comedienne doing a voting sketch in the 2010s (you know who you are Madame Woodruff) – there have always been, and always will be, a plethora of unexpected happenings at the contest, which could only be categorised with a single acronym: “WTF”.

Will Remedios Amaya be a challenger for today's title?
Will Remedios Amaya be a challenger for today’s title?

It must be said that many people who wouldn’t consider themselves Eurovision fans would probably label every single entry to the contest as a “what the fuck” moment. However, even for us die-hard fans, there has been many a time over the years where something so insane has come to pass at the contest that we too would respond in the same way. So: today’s countdown will explore what we at ESC Views consider to be the very best ten of those such moments. We’re not limiting this one to individual songs, and as you will soon see, the entries in our top ten are comprised of all sorts of Eurovision antics – both planned and spontaneous. Will your personal #1 WTF moment make the cut? Read on to find out!

10 – Igor Vovkovinskiy as part of the performance for “Gravity” (Ukraine 2013)

We start by rewinding to May this year, where our personal favourite of the Malmö contest, Ukrainian Zlata Ognevich, arrived for the rehearsals with a killer song and high expectations of success… however, I genuinely thought it was all over for her when I saw the first rehearsal videos, where her performance began with Igor Vovkovinskiy, the “gentle giant”, carrying her onto the stage in what has to be the most awkward manner humanly possible. Now, having read some of Igor’s facebook statuses in the run-up to the contest, it transpires that he was absolutely loving the opportunity to give his mother country a helping hand on the Eurovision stage, and he thoroughly enjoyed his time as part of the Ukrainian delegation… but the fact remains that the moment he walked out in that first rehearsal, everybody just couldn’t stop laughing. God knows what the unsuspecting European public will have made of his ten-second appearance, seeing it for the first time in the live final… I mean, HOW are you supposed to take it seriously?!

9 – Ulrika Jonsson – “A long time ago, was it?” (Voting 1998)

[apologies that there isn’t a video which isolates the specific moment – skip to around 6:23 in the video above to see]

Ahhh, the voting. Number nine on our countdown is the first of today’s multiple voting moments, and it’s one that has most definitely left an enduring impression on the collective fan conscience since its occurence in 1998. Trust the BBC to be responsible for this episode of political incorrectness, ey… so, picture the scene: we are about three-quarters of the way through what looks like the most exciting voting sequence since 1988, and Ulrika calls The Netherlands, whose results are being announced by their 1965 representative Conny Vandenbos. Conny, bless her soul, launches into one of those “ohh I remember when I was there” speeches that tend to pop up whenever ex-participants read out results, and then, to everyone’s horror and amusement, Ulrika comes out with the hilariously unintentional and back-hand “a long time ago, was it?”. Realising her mistake almost immediately, she morphed into an “oh woooowww” response, when Conny confirmed it had been 1965, but the damage had already been done. Awkwaaaaard! Let’s move on, shall we.

8 – Jimmy Jump stage invasion (Spain 2010)

A more recent WTF moment now, in the form of the notorious stage invasion during Spain’s performance in Oslo in 2010. Daniel Diges was warbling his way through the frankly dreadful “Algo Pequeñito”, accompanied by an equally bizarre stage show comprising of jesters and clowns who – to my eyes at least – seemed to be playing the least effective game of musical statues in the history of the universe. It was pretty dire, and all-round weird, so to be perfectly honest, when “that guy in the black t-shirt and the beanie” came creeping onstage and ingratiated himself with the crowd of performers, I assumed he was a further extension of the planned chaos. Apparently not. It soon became clear, as he was chased off the stage by security guards, that his inclusion in the performance had been anything but planned, and looking back at it now, the look on Señor Diges’ face when he first appears is priceless! Explains it all!! Maybe Jimmy Jump was just proving the point that Spain should have sent Coral Segovia that year?

7 – Lill Lindfors’ wardrobe malfunction (Host 1985)

Another moment that has acquired a notorious reputation in the years since it took place is at number seven in our countdown: Lill Lindfors’ infamous “wardrobe malfunction” of 1985. Although it later transpired to be a planned stunt, the audience’s reaction in the video above just says it all. Pure shock. Assuming it had been a legit accident, there will have been countless uncomfortable squirms as Ms. Lindfors appeared to be struggling to cover herself up on live television. However, looking back at it now, the configuration of the dress itself appears almost predictable – even 80s fashion trends couldn’t disguise the impending costume change when you look at the top-half. But as a “WTF moment”, this DEFINITELY qualifies as one of the contest’s many highlights.

6 – Helga Vlahovic – “I don’t have it” (Voting 1981)

Back to the voting, and in 1981, we enjoyed what has to be my absolute favourite voting mishap in the history of the contest. After taking an uncomfortably long time to make contact with Dublin, the hilariously flustered and abrupt Yugoslav spokeswoman Helga Vlahovic, when asked for their votes, snapped “I don’t have it”. I mean, god knows what was going on in Belgrade at that point, had no-one actually told her what the votes were, or were they, as Terry Wogan put it, “throwing a bit of a strop”? I have  no idea, but what ensued was a bout of laughter from the audience, and then further mayhem as Helga became convinced that she wasn’t getting through to Dublin at all, and exchanghed thirty seconds of “can you hear me? Hello Dublin?” with the increasingly exasperated host Doireann Ní Bhriain. Oh, Helga. Never fails to make me laugh.

5 – Jean-Paul Maric – “Printemps, Avril Callione” (France 1961)

Now, obviously, having not been alive to see the contemporary response to this one, my assessment of this, the sixth French entry to Eurovision, as a “WTF moment” relates to how it comes across in a modern context. Watching the above performance, it appears to have all the hallmarks of a typical 50s/60s era ESC performance… a grand orchestral introduction, a single, smartly-dressed performer making a leisurely entrance onto the stage, and, of course, the guarantee of French lyrics… and then, the guy opens his mouth and all the comes out is “bing eh bong eh bing eh bong”. And I’m gone. I’m not even kidding you, there were ACTUAL tears of laughter the first time I watched this. Even once he reverts to the more conventional method of using actual words, his facial expressions and in particular his eyebrows become all the more funny. And then the “bing eh bong” comes back. It is pure hilarity from start to finish, and no matter how hard you try to take it seriously, it leaves you with one overwhelming thought – “what the actual fuck was that!?”

4 – Announcement of the four winners (1969)

[as with Ulrika, this moment isn’t isolated on YouTube, so skip to 1:26:00 in this video of the entire contest, to see what I am referring to]

So, as of yet, the entries in our top ten have been a mixture of planned outtakes, weirdly-interpreted performances, and accidents which highlight the perils of live TV… however, at number four, we decided to reserve a special mention for what has to be the singular most confusing moment in the last fifty-eight editions of our beloved contest. Namely, 1969: the year of the infamous four winners. The specific moment I’m highlighting is THAT look on presenter Laurita Valenzuela’s face once Finland’s votes have been completed, and the camera pans back to her, with all of the assembled audience in the theatre and across Europe expectantly waiting for her clarification of the result. That expression is priceless… hastily reverting to her mother tongue, she babbles on for a bit, with a wide-eyed expression which pretty much reflects what every single person in the venue will have been thinking.. “WTF happens now?!” Indeed, she is rumoured to have asked the producers the procedure in the event of a tie, receiving the response that “such a thing would never happen”… If that is indeed the case, then god only knows what infuriation that expression was also masking!!

3 – THAT sax solo in “I Anixi” (Greece 1991)

[1:15 in the video]

Okay, so Greece are one of my favourite ESC countries ever, and this, their sublime 1991 entry, is one of their highlights. A beautiful, energetic and dramatic song, performed admirably by Sophia Vossou. Admirably, I say, especially when you consider that she had to overcome what has to be THE worst orchestral mishap in the contest’s history. All was going well until the instrumental break after the first chorus – when the saxophonist managed to completely slaughter his solo, both missing the majority of his notes, and seemingly losing any concept of rhythm he may once have had. The composition of the song even meant that the off-key end note was squawked out almost in isolation, leaving it to reverberate around the hall, almost exaggerating just how bad it was… If anyone has seen the “recorder by candlelight” version of the Titanic theme, it is amost as bad as that. Except this one wasn’t intended as a joke. This was a legit live performance – the awkwardness and hilarity of which is further highlighted by the director’s decision to cut to a shot of the guy struggling to get through the solo, whilst Sophia is left trying to pick up the pieces of her challenge for the Eurovision title. Bless.

2 – Remedios Amaya – “Quién Maneja Mi Barca” (Spain 1983)

Compared to the other “WTF” songs that are featured in this top ten, the Spanish entry from 1983 stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of its universal rejection by the Eurovision juries – Remedios Amaya’s “song” “Quién Maneja Mi Barca” ended up without a single point at the end of the night. And, as is the theme of this countdown, we can pretty much guarantee that the reason for it’s failure was how bloody weird it came across… Thinly veiled as some sort of “traditional style of singing”, Remedios shrieked her way through the discordant melody whilst barefoot, dressed in what could quite easily pass for a circa-1971 deckchair cover and pulling some of the most constipated faces ever seen on the Eurovision stage… I for one actually enjoy the song, but from the moment she opens her mouth and that first “A quien maneja mi barcaah-ahh-ahh-uh-ehhh-aahhhh” comes out, I am just in stitches. It is just insanely funny, made even more so by how seriously she is taking it. I imagine a goat attempting to walk a tightrope whilst wearing Paula Seling’s catsuit and having consumed all the free alcohol in Greece would inadvertently produce similar sounds to Señora Amaya, agree?

1 – Sverre Kjelsberg & Mattis Hætta – “Saamid Ædnan” (Norway 1980)

[for the specific WTF moment, skip to 2:00, sit back and *enjoyyyy* :’)]

Deciding on which of our top two selections would triumph in this countdown proved decidedly difficult for Rory and I earlier this week. However, we settled on this one, the Norwegian “power plant” entry from 1980 as our number one. Or, more specifically, the moment where the second guy walks out. Because there are just so many reasons, in that precise moment, to stare in bewilderment at the screen and yell “WTF IS GOING ON HERE?!” Let me guide you through. So, we have the first part of the song, very over-dramatic and orchestral, performed by either Sverre or Mattis, I have no idea which is which (basically, the one who overdid the eyeshadow..) You think you have the gist of it, you reckon the entire song will continue in this manner, don’t you. And then.. everything stops, and you hear some random ass chant coming from stage left. What the hell, you think, what’s happening? “hey oh lo lee lo lee lo lo lee loa”, it repeats. And then.. and then you see him. The first thing you notice is that he appears to be dressed in a reject costume from your average low-budget 60s medieval adventure film. Like some sort of mentally-challenged jester, that type of character. And it gets even better/worse when the director blesses us with a facial close up… The expression on this guy’s face, as if he has literally just been prematurely dragged from a trip to the toilet and is still carrying the resultant mess in his imitation-medieval pants… Truly. What. the. fuck.

Those are our highlights, but what would you say is the biggest “WTF moment” in Eurovision history?

Your Views:

Is the top 10 accurate when compared to your own?
Is the top 10 accurate when compared to your own?

Susan Mathieson from Canada: Kejsi Tola’s Giant Green Smurf comes to mind

Sally-Ann Fawcett from the United Kingdom: The false start for Bandido – an historic moment of cringe!

Christian Schaffrath from Germany: Well there are a lot but dont remember everything… When I take this year, my most WTF moment was Macedonia. The 1st WTF moment as she went on stage with that awful Furby-dress and the 2nd WTF moment as she started to sing, erm SCREAM… Montenegro was WTF too but its no surprise getting that feeling from a Montenegrin song 😛

Costas Pom from Germany: I agree with all the above! I´d add performance-wise the whole Bulgarian act in 2009,the apples of Poland and Safura´s run back to the stage in 2010,the hammer woman of Cyprus in 2011 and every second Ukrainian performance 😛

Judging solely by these four views – and we have had an inundation of opinion on this one, so we really do thank you for sharing your thoughts with us – there have been a number of extra moments – from contests long ago and more recently – which we didn’t even manage to mention in the main top ten. Such a phenomenon can only be expected when dealing with a subjective topic such as this, but hopefully you agree with some of our selections, and if you have any others you wish to add, then feel free to leave a comment below! 😀

Top 10: Best prop-orientated performances at ESC

Wow what a top 10 to follow up from!  Welcome back to the ‘Top 10’ series and in this top 10, I’m going to go through the ten best performances that had a particularly interesting prop accompanying the song. There have been so many props on stage in recent years that our top 10 is actually from 2004 to this year (yes we’ve had to restrict it to that far back)! So who has the best prop in Eurovision history? Let’s find out!

Could the Babuski have the best prop on stage? ... and the best cookies?
Could the Babuski have the best prop on stage? … and the best cookies?

So like I said at the top of the article, there have been so many props that have been used during the ESC in recent years, that our top 10 is comprised entirely of performances from 2004 onwards. These performance range from the fantabulous Svetlana Loboda back in 2009 to the ‘ehh….’ of Laka in 2008. But these songs are only in the top 10 for those nice little props they had on stage with them and how they incorporated them into the performances. So, I’d say it’s time we got started!

10 – Buranovskiye Babushki – “Party for Everybody” (Russia 2012)

So yes, the picture did throw you off a little, but it is true that they had the best cookies! The rotating oven is probably the most memorable prop that’s been used in recent times, but as you go down and read through the rest of the top 10, the oven was just simply not good enough to be our #1! The way our favourite grannies used the oven was just really cute and to be honest, I would have loved it if they stayed sitting on the oven while it rotated around, even though those fun “let’s stay rooted to the ground and shake our hands about” dance moves were also just as nice. Also, because Natalya is one of the cutest girls in Eurovision history, she and indeed, the Babushki themselves, deserve a spot in our top 10!

9 – Alyona Lanskaya – “Solayoh” (Belarus 2013)

Those dancers, nom nom! But the men aren’t the reason we’re stopping at this “magical planet of happiness and a lack of night” as Alyona once said in an interview. We’re here for that big giant disco ball that she emerged from in her performances in Malmö. It’s not usual to see people coming out of the main prop of their performance, but throw in a fringe dress and a reasonably good looking woman and you’ve got “Solayoh” down to a T! Those drums that the dancers were playing… do they count as a prop? They we’re just as used as the disco ball! Anyway, that prop is great for the song, but not the best one as you’ll see! Good try though Alyona!

8 – Magdi Rusza – “Unsubstantial Blues” (Hungary 2007)

Ah the bus stop, the best place to sing about, as the title suggests, ‘unsubstantial blues’! Magdi’s performance was rather basic with her just walking around the stage and sitting on her bags. Couldn’t she have thrown in a pole dance routine or at least something that would make the song more… interesting? At least the sign got its fair share of action and camera shots, but Magdi did forget about it at times! Forgetting about something that’s pretty much the entire staging of a performance is pretty bad, but at least the commentators noticed it and told us that it existed and that was a way of remembering the song? In summary, forgotten sign equals number 8 position on our top!

7 – Mika Newton – “Angel” (Ukraine 2011)

Have you ever heard of Ksenia Simonova? You probably haven’t but you’ve definitely seen her and her work! Ksenia is a sand artist and she provided, probably, the only background to be produced live in the history of Eurovision; the background to Mika Newton in Germany back in 2011. Even though she is a person, we’ve counted her because she gave us the best background to be made live in Eurovision! The pictures she drew were a little vague at times, but at least she grabbed our attention with the song and I should know, I was in the audience to see it! The background is best one in 2011 and she deserves this spot, even though there could have been another person looking to steal the 2011 spot (Eric Saade, don’t go breaking glass now!).

6 – Jedward – “Waterline” (Ireland 2012)

So Ireland sent a song with a water themed title, the only reasonable thing to do would be to get in a fountain! Jedward definitely used the prop in their performance, but mixing it in with twins with way too much energy in their hands would never end well, and they ended up getting their Transformer costumes all wet! In all fairness though, the performance was actually good and the way the incorporated the fountain into the performance was very good as it wasn’t just stuck to the back of the stage and not getting noticed. Nice try Jedward, but your ‘Caspian water’ isn’t getting any higher than #6!

5 – Laka – “Pokušaj” (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2008)

The rather enormous amount of props used in Laka’s performance actually didn’t go to waste this time! Even though it looked like there was loads of stuff going on, it was choreographed very cleverly and it definitely brought the fun factor to Belgrade (even though in that particular year, the joke entry was very prominent). So to list the props, in Laka’s performance were:

  • a laundry basket in which Laka hid until it was his cue to sing
  • a clothes line where Mirela, and later Laka, hung up the washing which spelt ‘LOVE’ (Aw, Cute!)
  • four brides who are smelling bouquets (which Mirela takes and throws them into the audience) and proceed to knit

Packed with props? I think not! Well done Laka!

4 – Ani Lorak – “Shady Lady” (Ukraine 2008)

Ani, our cutest girl, has done it again! That box with her dancers was definitely not the prettiest prop that’s been in Eurovision, but it was one of the most significant ones in 2008. Like Sweden is the uber-mother of the key-change, Ukraine is the queen of using props in their performances. Verka, Ani, Mika, Gaitana, Zlata, they’ve all got brilliant staging! Ani’s box was really good in the sense that it provided for around half of the performance and it’s lights were the main reason why Ani gave us those sexy poses in the gap between the second chorus and the climax of the song. Well done box! *side note* those dancers, om nom! */side note*

3 – Svetlana Loboda – “Be My Valentine (Anti-Crisis Girl)” (Ukraine 2009)

Do you see that in the paragraph for Ani, I missed Svetlana? Well that’s because Svetlana was our #3 and I didn’t really want to give anything away; something that Svetlana obviously wasn’t doing. In 2009, it would be fair to say that Ukraine had the best staging in Moscow, with her so-called ‘hell machines’, that were made in Hong Kong (although we cannot verify this) and which basically looked like three cog wheels stuck together with magnets. These definitely brought some attention to the performance, with Svetlana swinging around the central one and then proceeding to play the drums, which also were pretty significant for the Ukrainian flags. Damn Svetlana, you’re patriotic! (Once again, those soldiers… that is all!)

2 – Lena Philipsson – “It Hurts” (Sweden 2004)

If we included microphone stands as props, we would have so many performances to pick from, but we’ve had to make an exception for Lena Philipsson, whose dance moves with her microphone stand proved to be the most cringe-worthy of all time. First of all, someone who’s 38 years old (she’s now 47) should not be doing moves like that; it’s VERY unappealing! Secondly, it did look like she was enjoying putting the pole between her legs (NOTHING SEXUAL!) and shaking her hips while singing. It’s such a weird performance, but for the sole reason of that microphone stand, Lena’s in our top 10…. for the wrong reasons.

So those 9 performances all had a great props that were used, but for our #1, the prop was used for the entire performance:

1 – Paula Seiling and Ovi – “Playing With Fire” (Romania 2010)

That two-sided piano has to be the best prop the world has ever seen! The piano provided the battleground of both Paula and Ovi and the background singers just pushed aside to the side of the stage, all the while doing weird arm movements (my personal favourite is the one they do when Paula and Ovi sing “Don’t stop!“, they look so awkward!). The piano also shows you which keys to play, so I’m not surprised Paula and Ovi could actually play it. If only the piano turned into ice and smashed into pieces when Paula reached the high note like in the music video. But you can’t make a piano that works out of ice, so that wouldn’t work…. damn it!

So the double-sided piano of Romania is the best prop to be used in a performance, but what’s the best prop-orientated performance for you?

Your  views:

Is the top 10 accurate to your own?
Is the top 10 accurate to your own?

Anders Bach-Vilhelmsen from Denmark: I liked Ani Lorak’s box of dancers!

Svetlana Andriyenko from Ukraine: Of course, the best prop is Kseniya Simonova, the amazing sand artist from Ukraine. Her art is beautiful and she make the performance in Düsseldorf very special!

Svana Lístí Agnarsdóttir from Iceland: For me, Silvia Night is the best one. She covered the entire stage with her props! That deserves something!

From reading the fans opinions, everyone has the same opinion as each other, but that shows that they all agree with the top 10 (apart from Svana…), but do you agree with it? Who would you add to or take from the top? Let us know what you think by commenting below!