All opinions expressed in this article are those of the person quoted and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the other team members or ESC United as a whole.

All aboard the party train from Bucharest to Chisinau, it’s Etapa Nationala 2024!

And with eleven hopefuls trying out to represent Moldova at Eurovision 2024, we at ESC United summoned three writers to cast their judgment and collectively nominate who we’d like to send to Malmo, Sweden.

Representing ESC United today are Tyler Griffith (New Mexico), James Maude (California), and David Popescu (Denmark / Romania).

And in order of appearance at tonight’s final, here are our reviews and scores out of ten. The final ranking will be listed at the end of the article.

Nicoleta Sava – “Bravo”

David – 2 – “Literally, a cheerful song, which you’ll most likely not wish for. You’re so great, well done, you’re amazing, I’m there for you… I mean, the message itself is wonderful, but the production is the opposite, since it just comes out as bothering instead. Nicoleta sings well, great message, but the music… just dreadful.”

James – 2.5 – “This is the soundtrack for a crappy quasi-martial arts movie from the 1980s. But instead of the movie having the dodgy English, it’s the songs. “Bravo you keep strong your faith” is one of many clunky lines in this, layered on top of cheesy synth lines and electric guitar riffs.”

Tyler – 6 – “The music and beat of “Bravo” sounds like it’s from a Casio sample keyboard track, but gosh if the song doesn’t start getting you bumped up! “Bravo” is a good anthem. If Nicoleta can control her voice and sing well, I can see this being a great closer for the semi-final. The entry doesn’t have enough of a wow factor, but with proper staging in the national final, this could be entertaining to watch.”

Total: 10.5

Average: 3.5

Valeria Pasha – “Anti-Princess”

David – 4 – “Valeria was together with Pasha in Liverpool, so seems like she’s hungry for more. She’s a great performer, great vocal range, great control, attitude and charisma. The song is the same, but that’s what I don’t like, since it’s very much “in your face” kind of song. Rather than pulling me in, I feel I’m pushed further away from the song and it’s beat, this just ain’t for me.”

James – 3 – “There’s no getting around that this attempt at female empowerment is dumb as a bag of rocks. For starters, Anti-princess as a sentiment could be anyone from Brie Larson to Andrew Tate to Vladimir Lenin. The lyrics are wild, with dating Valeria being akin to mounting a crusade and her asking whether you’re the viewer or the news like it’s a threat.”

Tyler – 6 – “The drop for “Anti-Princess” is pretty good! I like the beat, the composition of the song, and the lyrics too. The biggest thing getting in the song’s way is Valeria. I find her vocals to be weak, and her dancing isn’t very good. Definitely needs a choreographer if this entry goes to Malmö. I like the song, but the audition performance drags it down for me, so here’s hoping there’s some good changes in the final!”

Total: 13.0

Average: 4.33

Reghina Alexandrina – “Contrasens”

David – 7 – “Moldova have these hidden talents, who will lighten up any instrument and make them catchy. In this case it’s the accordion, which brings rhythm and a catchy beat. There is a lot of attitude over this song, plus it’s in Romanian, huge plus already from me there. What pulls it down, is probably the vocals, which needs some polishing, it’s also slightly repeatable, but it’s fun.”

James – 7 – “Extra points for bringing an accordion to the party! Moldova always does well when it straddles the folk with the modern, and “Contrasens” has a lot of potential in that regard with its hybrid of folk and pop. The accordion riffs hit harder than you’d expect, and Reghina could easily become the Epic Accordion Lass of 2024 if she goes to Eurovision.”

Tyler – 7.5 – “The audition performance of “Contrasens” is instantly better with the accordion, and while the song is probably not the greatest (a bit weak admittedly), I don’t care! It’s attention getting and also feels not it isn’t trying too hard. Reghina sounds good, could be better though. I have no idea how Moldova could stage this, but it would be so much fun and bring a folk-pop sound to Eurovision that would endear itself to viewers.”

Total: 21.5

Average: 7.17

Viola Julea – “Light Up!”

David – 1 – “The lyrics of this song, is literally the definition of being “a simp”. In other words, lyrically, it’s not good. Vocally, is also not good, not horrendous, but very struggling and out of key. Music is also… something, but fine at best. I’m struggling finding qualities that I would personally enjoy, so let’s just say, I’ll just avoid this one.”

James – 4 – “Maddeningly crap disco that sacrifices competence for what, I don’t know. There’s potential here, and a tasteful revamp and Viola honing her vocals would go a long way to crafting a camp classic.”

Tyler – 5 – I like Viola a lot! I think it would be so fun to see her on the stage, but “Light Up!” the song? It’s um, nonsensical. I have no idea what’s going on, but being confused by it doesn’t later circle around to being iconic. The beat is barely there and Viola carries the song. Maybe the final performance will be more dynamic and give some sense to the mess, and it is Moldova, so that could be likely.

Total: 10.0

Average: 3.33

OL – “No Time No Space”

David – 2 – “I had the pleasure talking with Olga when I was in Chisinau in 2023, very lovely and charming. I recall that she knew some Swedish, so Malmö would be great for her, but sadly, I don’t see it happening. She seems more confident and more focused, and has a better song this time than last, but it’s still a generally boring and uninspiring song. Wonderful vocal, just beyond boring song.”

James – 8 – “This sounds like an act that would have opened Lilith Fair back in the late ’90s, a light, poppy acoustic number with occasional string stirrings with gentle romantic notions. How this would fare under the sturm und drang of a song contest remains to be seen, but it is an enjoyable, mature three minutes to savor nonetheless.”

Tyler – 8 – “If OL doesn’t go to Malmö this year, I’m sure we’ll see her on the Eurovision stage soon (especially with her thumb tacks on her forehead). I like the sound of OL’s voice and the beat too seems light orchestral and indie. It’s very relaxing to me, and I find the lyrics to be very relatable. I get “Unsubstantial Blues” vibes a bit from this, but better, and I’m excited to see what the staging for the live national final will be like.”

Total: 18.0

Average: 6.0

Sasha Letty – “DNA”

David – 4 – “An old school pop song, which has some catchiness to it. Annoyingly enough, it doesn’t take that long, before the song just seems repeatable and loses one’s interest. Rhythm is throughout the song the same, and lyrically, it also feels like the same over and over. It’s like, I wanna enjoy it, but I end up getting enough of it instead.”

James – 6 – “”DNA” has to be the frontrunner for least subtle lyric of the year with “Let me just have a taste, none of you must go to waste.” Followed by a liberal spraying of “la la la” atop a retro dance track. My positive points go for this being brazenly stupid, keeping its minimal lyrics on theme, and being just at the edge of cheeky without descending into a hen night gone wrong in Magaluf. My negative points go for not doing much else. “DNA” is content being the song version of the old Page 3 of the Sun newspaper.”

Tyler – 3.5 – “I have also listened to Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” so the DNA metaphor isn’t lost on me. The lyrics are so overt to the point of being off-putting, and the chorus itself isn’t anything special with its string of “la”‘s. If there was a camp quality to this song/performance then I could see myself being a fan if the lyrics are good enough. At this point with the vocals as well, this is an easy pass.”

Total: 13.5

Average: 4.5

Natalia Barbu – “In the Middle”

David – 7 – “There’s no doubt, that we’re dealing with a VERY experienced artist here. Great vocal control and performance, with a very professionally composed song. I enjoy the build-up, the melody, maybe the song overall is just a bit slow than what I usually wish for, but it’s still catchy. The violin bit towards the end also hits me well, since it sounds familiar, I believe something from Bessarabia.”

James – 7 – “Natalia may want to dust off her English phrasebook for this song if she wants to return to Eurovision, but otherwise “In the middle” is a compelling effort. The bass and the violin that comes in after the bridge slay, and Natalia’s non-lyrical vocalizations are a treat.”

Tyler – 7 – “Natalia Barbu has still got it after 17 years! The chorus for “In the Middle” is disappointing to me, but I like the beat and the musical style the song has, especially when going into the bridge. Natalia sings this song very well and shows how much of a good performer she is. I wouldn’t be mad if this song represented Moldova, I just worry that it will get lost in the semi-final. Excited to see the live in the national final!”

Total: 21.0

Average: 7.0

Y-Limit – “Revolution”

David – 1 – “A very struggling song, when it comes to lyrics, composition, vocals and overall production. The song doesn’t change much, it leaves no kind of impression, very empty and just there. I can respect Roman’s dedication of returning, but focus more on the overall product, instead of just offering whatever you have. A lot could’ve improved this song, but there’s just none of that.”

James – 2 – “The best part of “Revolution” is the guitar part on the way out. Otherwise, nothing works. Roman’s vocals don’t work, the lyrics are a word salad of A.I. paranoia and art school socialism, the “cyber” back up singer falls flat, there is no progression until the last 30 seconds.”

Tyler – 2 – “The other song Y-Limit auditioned with was much better! “Revolution” seems like it should be poignant or have a Point™, but it isn’t present in the speak-singing, the quiet and strained vocals, and the basic beat that goes nowhere. The computerized back-up singer also doesn’t do enough to elevate the song. “Revolution” is a very annoying song with a loaded title that ends up saying nothing at all and means nothing.”

Total: 5.0

Average: 1.67

Cătălina Solomac – “Fever”

David – 2 – “A young newcomer, which you can easily hear. She got handed a song, probably got VERY excited and was like “hell yea!!!”. On the bright side, it’s a great start for Cătălina, since she’ll get her grand experience this early, sadly, it’s just with this poor excuse of a song, which is just beyond bland. Considering she’s only 16, I hope she get’s experience and return with something that isn’t horrible.”

James – 6 – “’80s inspired light synth pop. It’s not remarkable, but it is catchy enough and moves at a decent clip.”

Tyler – 6.5 – “”Fever” is an acceptable song! I like the lyrics a lot, definitely more varied and interesting when compared to the other “Fever” song in this selection. The sound quality from the auditions aren’t great, but Cătălina seems to have a strong voice that with proper accommodations could be very striking. The beat is light 80s synth that is nice to hear. I wouldn’t mind if this was Moldova’s selection at all!”

Total: 14.5 

Average: 4.83

Victor Gulick – “Fever”

David – 2 – “Happy to see Victor back, cool and great guy! I also had a quick chat with him in 2023, so happy to see that he’s back to improve. Song wise, much better than his last attempt and far more interesting, despite, it does get repeatable. Vocals however, aren’t the best, practice is very much needed there, but again, kudos to the guy for not quitting.”

James – 4 – “Everyone’s favorite ’80s tribute act and Jamie Shackleton lookalike Victor Gulick is back, and his vocals again need work, missing the mark on a few occasions. Gulick has potential, as he gets the essence and the energy of the best ’80s dance tracks right with the synthesizers and guitars. But “Fever” is a misfire in execution, and the less said about the lyrics the better.”

Tyler – 3 – “”Fever” is a song straight from the mid 2000s televote era, and your mileage may vary based on whether or not you like that sort of thing. I, personally, don’t! I’m not wowed by the lyrics or the singing (there’s a nasally quality to the vocals that is off-putting to me, but that could also be an ESL issue). The audition performance at least has Victor trying to upsell with this song, so he could be a dynamic performer, but if this song gets selected, it’s an NQ on sight.”

Total: 9.0

Average: 3.0

Iulia Teleucă – “Runaway”

David – 5 – “Young and indeed talented, there’s control over the voice and energy. Of course, it seems like a rather simple song, which doesn’t demand much, but it is catchy. A fair pop song, which is just there, so it’s not something that bothers anyone, but neither something that leaves any impression. Maybe a bit practice needed on the English pronunciation.”

James – 5 – “Repetition is this song’s biggest vice, with “Runaway” followed by what sounds like “air” seemingly on a constant loop with not much else.”

Tyler – 5.5 – “In the blur that was the Moldovan auditions, Iulia at least stood out with her outfit, so appreciated that! I think “Runaway” is okay, if a little basic. The big memorable thing is the chorus with “Runaway A!” on repeat. It’s at least a hook and catchy! The music itself too sounds inorganic or AI-generated and becomes staticy noise to me. The song is at least listenable and maybe Iulia will be an iconic performer with actual staging, we’ll see!”

Total: 15.5

Average: 5.17

After reviewing all eleven, ESC United’s three reviewers think that Reghina Alexandrina should represent Moldova at Eurovision 2024 in Malmo, Sweden. However, she was only ever so slightly ahead of ESC United endorsing a return for Natalia Barbu.

  1. Reghina Alexandrina – “Contrasens” – 21.5 (Average = 7.17)
  2. Natalia Barbu – “In the Middle” – 21.0 (Average = 7.0)
  3. OL – “No Time No Space” – 18.0 (Average = 6.0)
  4. Iulia Teleucă – “Runaway” – 15.5 (Average = 5.17)
  5. Cătălina Solomac – “Fever” – 14.5 (Average = 4.83)
  6. Sasha Letty – “DNA” – 13.5 (Average = 4.5)
  7. Valeria Pasha – “Anti-Princess” – 13.0 (Average = 4.33)
  8. Nicoleta Sava – “Bravo” – 10.5 (Average = 3.5)
  9. Viola Julea – “Light Up!” – 10.0 (Average = 3.33)
  10. Victor Gulick – “Fever” – 9.0 (Average = 3.0)
  11. Y-Limit – “Revolution” – 5.0 (Average = 1.67)

Do #YOU agree with our reviewers? If not, who do #YOU think should represent Moldova at Eurovision 2024? Let us know in the comments below, in our forum, or on social media.

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