NF Review: “Miracle” for Romania!

Three entries have been selected tonight, and thus Rory and I have a pretty busy few hours ahead as we endeavour to bring you our reactions and opinions on the national finals from Estonia, Lithuania and firstly Romania. You’ve likely discovered the result already, but have you properly dissected the show? If not, then do read on!

Paula and Ovi will represent Romania for the second time in May!
Paula and Ovi will represent Romania for the second time in May!

Tonight’s Selectia Nationala started ridiculously early, as far as I was concerned. (well… by UK time anyway, probably wasn’t as bad for the Romanians) However, quite frankly, we only needed to hear about half an hour of it because, in all honesty, the moment Paula and Ovi had finished singing “Miracle”, it was all over for the other contestants. This song has been buzzing around the internet for MONTHS in connection with the contest, and – as I hypothesised in our preview article – TVR made it even easier for the duo to take the victory when they picked eleven other songs which were dramatically inferior on every level. At the culmination of what felt like an incredibly long two and a half hours, we finally got the news we’ve been expecting:

That this song will be the Romanian entry for 2014…

The song:

What do we already know about this one then? Returning contestants, up-tempo electronic dance, country with 100% qualification record… I can pretty much guarantee that this one will be THE fanwank entry of the 2014 season, and that it will become ridiculously annoying on account of how much everyone else blindly claims to adore it.

If we detach it from all that, however, and view it on its musical merits alone, then what we have here is a tailor-made Eurovision entry engineered with current chart trends in mind. (when I say “current”, I mean like.. circa 2011 current…) The lyrics, quite frankly are dire. There is no story or message behind the song, the words simply serve as vehicles to carry the tune. Which, in itself serves as mere embellishment to the synthesised backdrop. Which, if I’m being picky, could do with a bit more bass and a bit less distortion.

What I’m saying here is this: “Miracle” is nothing ground-breaking. Yes, it’s a completely passable dance number. It’s pleasant. It’s enough to hold your attention, and it’s even a little exhilarating during Paula’s infamous “18-second high note”. I do like the song. But there are twenty songs like this released throughout the world every day, and there’s only so many you can hear before it all becomes a bit “been there, done that”.

In addition, the dynamic of the pair is somewhat awkward without the piano prop providing a blueprint for their staging. The above national final performance was just rather uncomfortable: the stage seemed too big for them, and the nonsensical lyrics left little in the way of hints as to how they should go about singing it to each other. I really hope they work on both the song and the staging between now and May – I mean, they have qualification in the bag either way, but I’d hate for them to go out and embarrass themselves, thus undoing all the hard work from Oslo which brought them the reputation they enjoy today. On the plus side, their vocals tonight were spot on, as always, and if we’re going on sheer vocal ability, then Paula and Ovi do deserve all the plaudits they’re currently receiving.

If you’re a fan of “Miracle”, of course, then I’m really happy for you. I know how lovely it feels when your national final favourite actually comes through and takes the ticket to Eurovision, so I hope you’ve enjoyed tonight!

The show:

Unfortunately, I’d have to say that Selectia Nationala was – from a foreigner’s point of view, at least – the singular worst national final so far this year. I’m sure that it would have been a thrilling experience had two things been different:

  1. If TVR had picked 11 other decent songs.
  2. If I understood Romanian.

The language barrier did prove rather problematic for me this evening to be perfectly honest, and it pretty much exterminated any chance of me enjoying the show. And when said show is two and a half hours long, it’s one hell of a tedious experience, I can tell you now.

Everything became rather confusing from the start, where we were treated to footage of a hyperactive lady in a pink coat interviewing a load of people I didn’t recognise outside the Brasov theatre where the show was held. They may as well have been people plucked off the streets Songvakeppnin style for all I knew, but apparently they were all well-known and important Romanian musicians. Ouch. Had there been a translator, like there was for the Ukrainian national final, I would have picked that up, even if I didn’t recognise these people. But no, instead, there I sat thinking “that woman looks like a cross between Ruby Wax and Esma Rezdepova” – you know the one I mean – like the ignorant foreigner I always try to avoid being. A show which leaves you in that position from the start is never going to end up being an enjoyable experience, right?

And then there was the whole issue with the presenters… I mean, just how many were there!? I’m pretty sure at least fifteen people were announcing various proceedings throughout the show… from pink coat lady outside, to a series of random blondes and brunettes who weren’t on camera long enough for me to register any identifying features before they too had been substituted for another. And then there was purple dress lady, who seemed to be the biggest constant throughout the show, though by no means a permanent fixture as any normal presenter would be. I didn’t understand a word she said, of course, but she was smiling so much that she did manage to convey some of the excitement felt in the theatre down the lens, so kudos to her for that.

I think that excitement is perhaps the one redeeming feature of the show. Both the presenters and the audience members who were included in the broadcast seemed genuinely excited to be involved. In the interval segments showing what I believe was a Monica Anghel performance from sometime in the 90s, for example, the audience were swaying and singing along in rapture. It looked not unlike the BBC coverage of New Year where everyone joins hands on the banks of the Thames to sing “Auld Lang Syne” in all its tuneless glory. A scene like this just drives home how much of a national institution “Selectia Nationala” has become in the twenty-one years since its inauguration.

Key word there, “nationala”. Maybe the rest of us aren’t *supposed* to get it.

At Eurovision:

Romania are one of the few nations left in the contest to have featured in every single final since 2004, when the semi-final process was introduced. And with a song and act like this, I can’t see 2014 being the year they drop the baton, right?

As for how “Miracle” looks in light of Romania’s previous contributions to the contest, it’s a third consecutive entry which would fall under the “dancepop” umbrella, and whilst in my opinion NOTHING could ever outstrip the brilliance of “Zaleilah”, Paula and Ovi’s entry does at least see a marked improvement from last year’s monstrous “It’s My Life”. Less said about that the better. Of course, if we discount Monica Anghel (who failed to advance from the 1996 pre-qualifier before singing in the 2002 final) , Paula and Ovi are the first repeat performers for the nation in its twenty-year ESC history, and we haven’t seen what this kind of precedent could add to a Romanian challenge yet. Possibly nothing except the fan hype, but that remains to be seen.

Romania are one of those countries where those in the know generally believe a win could be somewhere around the corner if they get everything right. I personally don’t think “Miracle” will be the song to do it, nor do I see it matching or beating the bronze medal position achieved by “Playing With Fire” and “Let Me Try”. But this is a dead cert for the final, and I’d hazard a guess that left-hand side is extremely likely. Thoughts?

Your views:

Did Hungary make the right choice?
Did Romania make the right choice?

Mette Sternersen from Norway: OH NO, NOT AGAIN!! This song is just as bad as their last entry. I really, really hope they will stay in the semi, so I don’t have to suffer again. BOOOO!

Peter van der Laan from the Netherlands: I don’t like this song  It’s boring to me. 😦 But I like the two of them 😀

Nicat Fatallief from Azerbaijan: Good Luck Romania from AZERBAIJAN! My 1st! 12 point goess to from Azerbaijan toooo ROMANIA ❤

As expected. Let the fanwanking commence, everyone. Just to be a bit different, I’ve purposely picked out the fan opinions which didn’t corroborate the expected viewpoint on this song, so that all sides of the story are heard! However, it can’t be denied that this is indeed a very popular song, and it will continue to be so right up until May.

How about you? What do you think of the Romanian entry?

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8 thoughts on “NF Review: “Miracle” for Romania!”

  1. Ok, just wanted to add something. The Romanian NF was held today in Brasov because it was in celebration to “the golden stag” contest, which was inaugurated on March 1st many years ago in the same town. The Monica Anghel performance that you mentioned earlier is from the same contest in the 90s. As far as the many presenters go, i did think it was a little unnecessary, but giving the fact they were celebrating, TVR must have thought it would be cool to show some familiar TVR faces to the romanian public. Most songs were dull but in the end We chose the strongest voice..its just my opinion. Great review though!

    1. Thank you for your comment Waimea 🙂

      That actually explains a lot, thank you so much for the information. I’ve heard of the Golden Stag contest before, although I didn’t realise they were celebrating it tonight, obviously because of the language barrier. Everything suddenly makes a lot more sense knowing that! It was a nice idea to hold it in Brasov for this reason 🙂
      I definitely agree, you chose the strongest singers in the competition – good luck to Romania in Copenhagen!

  2. Great review J, I watched the while show last night and am glad I had wine to get me through it! I didn’t get a word of it, but I loved the red carpet bit, the old woman in red was FABULOUS!!! The strangest thing, for my foreign brain, was the interval with ALL those singers went on forever, and then some chap came on at the end, spoke for aaaaages about lord knows what, and then said “oh yeah, Ovi and Paula have won”!!!! Didn’t really flow, and it would have been good to see how the juries could overturn such a commanding public vote lead for Vaida! Great to watch though :))))

    1. Thanks for your comment Dan! 🙂

      Think you deserve some kind of medal for managing to get through the entire show! That old woman was so majestic, she was brilliant… and she might have been even more entertaining if we knew what she was saying! I completely agree about that interval act – Edith Piaf was certainly one thing I wasn’t expecting to hear last night! They really did drag it out with that guy at the end, didn’t they. And then “oh, hang on, he said Paula and Ovi, guess that means they’ve won?” I wondered that too… especially as the juries could have calculated their points after the public vote was announced in order to basically engineer the victory for Paula and Ovi? Who knows… would have been nice to see a breakdown 😛

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