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.
Finala Naţională is soon upon us! That means that the country of Moldova will soon select their entry for the upcoming contest in Liverpool, and with that, a few members of the ESCUnited team will share their opinion about each of the 10 acts, and maybe their words might predict the future winner? Back in January, TRM hosted their traditional live auditions, and all 10 acts have been based on their performance from then.
With that in mind, let have a look at our panelists for this time:
- David Popescu – Denmark
- James Maude – United States of America
- Tyler Griffith – United States of America
Below, these 3 will share their view of the 10 songs that are lest in the competition, and maybe their combined score can predict the winner and future representative of Moldova.
Song 1: Donia – Red Zone
David – 7: “I’m going to hate myself for this, but not gonna lie and admit, that the song is really catchy. She sings to song vocally really well, but I’m absolutely lost on the song lyrically, my full focus ends on the music. I’m just not fully invested, and I still don’t know whether I wish to be or not, but at this moment, if just the lyrics were better… oh well.”
James – 6: “This is only a few steps away from being a camp classic a la “Sugar.” First, the synthesized backing vocals are terrible – it sounds like Donia is being heckled in the toilet by a Cylon. Second, she should lose the mic stand as she seems so stiff in performance. The song’s lyrics mock the antagonist for being a lion in a cage, but the mic stand serves the same function for Donia. And third, there’s a sax riff that runs through that is not played off of enough. The idea is great, but it needs to be more dominant and serve as the theme for the femme fatale the lyrics want Donia to be.”
Tyler – 5: “Less “Red Zone” and more “Yellow Zone” with how mid it is. The music and the beat is interesting, but it feels disconnected to the staging used in the audition. This staging needs to change for the final, otherwise, I feel like this has no shot. The song itself is fine, but I felt so underwhelmed with the live performance.”
Song 2: OL – “Why You Play It Cool”
David – 2: “A decent vocal performance, with some funky vibes, but all I hear… is the darn title of the song over and over and over and over and over again. Literally fantasy less lyrically, I get it, I know the title of the song. It just really ruins everything, the vibe, the enjoyment, it’s just lost all because of that. Huge shame to be fair.”
James – 5: “A rather odd blues track. I say “odd” only because of the vibe, which is somebody’s Aunt Linda had a few too many apple martinis and ran up on stage to vent during karaoke about her latest n’er-do-well boyfriend. It’s a little repetitive and doesn’t really have a wow moment like a guitar or sax solo, so really it’s just three minutes of feeling awkward while a random Moldovan woman heckles her too afraid to commit beau.”
Tyler – 5,5: “The beat is pretty good! I like the light jazz and funk that’s in the music, and the vocals sound good to me as well. The thing is, the lyrics are not good. The title of the song is a good hook, but the song just repeats it all of the time and it gets very repetitive very quickly. The song needed some tweaks to it, but it has potential!”
Song 3: Victor Gulick – “Let’s Dance”
David – 1: “Oh dear, this is like a drunk dad who got into a karaoke bar, who tries to impress a girl on behalf of his son. In short, not good… at all. Vocally VERY loud and not in tune with the music at all, lyrically a mess as well, I didn’t manage to understand in general, what is even going on here. Musically, it sounds like something made by a school band.”
James – 4: “Clearly Victor is a fan of the new romantic style of ‘80s pop like ABC, Adam Ant or Spandau Ballet. The track itself is quite serviceable for what it is – a dance at the club as a prelude to a more adult form of dancing later that evening. Problem is that Victor’s performance is abominable. Is he a songwriter and his singer pulled out at the last moment, forcing him to take to the audition stage to keep the song in contention? Did he ever sing in Moldovan, let alone English, before this audition? I hope he can work on his vocals a lot before Saturday, because the song itself is something to work with. Whether the singer is remains to be seen.”
Tyler – 3: “Another song where I don’t know what is going on. Victor is trying his hardest, and he seems like he has a good voice, but the lyrics don’t sound good and English may not be the best language for him to sing in. But also, this song sounds like it’s from 1987, so like, that might be a bigger problem. Don’t care for this song, next!”
Song 4: Surorile Osoianu – “Bade, Bădişor, Bădiţă”
David – 5: “The sisters are a cultural gift, to both Moldovan and Romanian culture, and this song shows that. However, even I have my limits. Sadly, I know the sisters can adapt to a more modern sound or even different styles, this is just TOO traditional, and it gets repetitive very fast. My Romanian heart is very happy, but my contest brain is not as much.”
James – 5: “Everyone loves the ethno-folk grannies with a modern beat thrown on top of it. This one’s problem is that the song runs out of gas around halfway through and to fill the team the fab five pretty much repeat themselves. They need to mix it up after two verses, add some Moldovan instrumentation to break it up, and add something more for the singers to do that stand around. This could be a cult favorite for years to come, but right now is in need of a significant revamp.”
Tyler – 7,5: “The Buranovskiye Babushki comparison is obvious here, and while the audition doesn’t feel as fun or as energetic as it could, I think this has potential! It’s more upbeat church women’s choir at this time, but with some staging, this is bound to do decently well with the televote. More variety in the chorus as well will help. Good luck!”
Song 5: Cosmina – “Indestructible”
David – 6: “Very sweet and a very pleasant surprise. It’s a motivational and a feel-good song, she sings it really well and it just sounds like the perfect song for her. She also has some vocal range and capabilities, just wish the song was stronger and more interesting. It’s not the kind of song you’d listen to, but you would definitely appreciate it, while it has its moment.”
James – 7: “Jonas Gladnikoff has landed in Chisinau, and he has one of his “female empowerment anthem” specialties to sell! Granted, he’s been doing this well for a while and Cosmina delivers it. However, is it distinctive enough and is Cosmina charismatic enough (at this very young age) to overcome a certain project with an epic sax guy? Sure, sticks and stones won’t break Cosmina’s bones, but there’s something missing to take this to the stars. Being indestructible is not enough for Eurovision. Taking the pain of defeat and coming back stronger is. Hopefully Cosmina is a force to watch out for in a few years”
Tyler – 5,5: “The song sounds and performs like a Melodifestivalen round 1 NQ, but that’s a good thing in this selection! I mildly liked this song the first time when it was in PiN a year or so ago as “Unbreakable” by Aiste though. “Indestructible” is nothing new, but still overall pleasant to me, so this score feels appropriate.”
Song 6: Nördika – “Damn and Down”
David – 3: “The best way I can describe this, would be calling it your average grandpa rock. The song has attitude and its very own expression, but it’s quite messy as well. Lyrically, it just feels all over the place and just wants to be loud for the sake of it. Musically, it’s alright, but again, it’s all the rest that makes it the mess it is.”
James – 1: “Power metal could be a 1 or 10 on any given day. It’s a preposterous subgenre that requires a lack of self-awareness and confidence bordering on self-delusion, but also technical mastery of vocals to pull off ludicrous high notes and guitar chops to shred and sweep pick in an over-the-top manner. There’s no middle ground – it’s an all-in exercise and one misstep and the whole thing collapses like a house of cards. Sadly, or hilariously depending on your point of view, Nordika’s “Damn and Down” is a disaster. The female singer struggles, and the two guys she brought in as backing singers look like they were brought in off the street (they’re actually the band’s guitarist and bassist, who stand around looking like they’re waiting to pick up their order at Chipotle). The lyrics are a word salad even by this sub-genre’s goofy standards, and I would have no idea, as a metal fan, where to start in recommending how to fix that.”
Tyler – 3,5: “Really not sure what this is trying to go for? The presentation is a mess, it’s just strobe lights that aim to distract more than please. I don’t understand the vocals, as it feels like an affectation, and the music itself is just not very good. I wanted good rock, and this just isn’t to me in the slightest.”
Song 7: Aliona Moon – “Du-Mă”
David – 8: “It just is what you expect, powerful and spot on vocally, meanwhile lyrically very interesting and meaningful. Pure praise, and it’s even in Romanian. Can I be happier? Yes, I can. It’s a peaceful anthem to my ears, but knowing Aliona can so much more, I want to hear and see that! Song just needs a more powerful beat, while Aliona need a moment to show her vocal capability.”
James – 8: “Now we’re getting somewhere with this sultry New Age number. For the non-Eastern European punters, she pulls out the stops with some interest vocalizations, particularly after the chorus and in the outro with the “dui dui dui” bit. That’s an intriguing detail Europe will remember, particularly in a year where a few slower numbers by uber-talented female singers are in the offing. Aliona seems to be a performer who has the chops to make the step up to Liverpool, and if selected I hope she is supported with some better fashion and some imaginative, subtle staging.”
Tyler – 6: “The hook for “Du-mă” is pretty good, but the presentation overall is lacking for me. Aliona’s vocals are good, but that wasn’t going to be in doubt. The song could be more memorable and impactful with the proper staging, but as of the audition, it isn’t quite there for me. I still kinda like it though!”
Song 8: SunStroke Project – “Yummy Mommy”
David – 8: “This is pure Sunstroke Project as everyone know them, with a catchy beat and the sax taking all the glory. However, it seems like the song has a more serious and a more hardcore sound, which is a bit different from their old stuff, where it was more fun and dancing based, so it is different than their usual. Vocally very strong as well, but not lyrically.”
James – 5: “I was elated when Zdob si Zdub represented Moldova for the third time last year. I am not too excited by the prospect of a third Sunstroke Project as this entry sounds tired and phoned in by their standards. The sax makes no impact this time, nor does it break up the song or add anything interesting. The song is Sergey singing about a girl and how she makes him horny, pretty much. This severely lacks the spectacle of “Run Away” and the heart of “Oh mama!” What you’re left with is a sad Dad free form ramble with sax in the background.”
Tyler – 4: “We know that SunStroke Project is capable of a good performance, but the song itself just isn’t good at the audition. It just feels quite juvenile and so much of a word salad that it borders on infantile. I was over Epic Sax Guy in 2017, the story was over, the door was closed! But now it’s a weaker song, but I can’t even judge it that much until we get the staging UGH what’s the point?”
Song 9: Pasha Parfeni – “Soarele şi Luna”
David – 9: “This is so close to pure perfection for me! A mix of modern and folklore, as it’s done in Romanian. The tune is very catchy, it’s something unique and different, meaningful lyrics and yet full of mystery. Maybe if the chorus was just a tad bit more diverse lyrically, then it could’ve been a perfect score from my side. Ador piesa aceasta!”
James – 9: “Neighbors Ukraine may have kickstarted the folktronica craze at Eurovision this decade, but Pasha Parfeny sounds like he could be a serious contender for a top ten place with his carrying the banner for the sub-genre. Though more leaning into the folk part than Go-A did, and though not familiar with Moldovan folk, this song sounds like it would be yet another uniquely Moldovan quirky entry that would get many an eager foreigner onboard for the ride. With the simple to recite New Age lyrics, and Moldovan could have yet another cult fan Eurovision favorite here.”
Tyler – 7: “The audition was pretty good, but it was also glaringly obvious that “Soarele şi luna” doesn’t pop on a small stage. But with the bigger stage and right direction, this could take over the arena and be pretty memorable. The music is quite intriguing to me, and even if Pasha’s bohemian look is outdated, he’s still a good performer since 2012.”
Song 10: Corina Ivanov – “When Love’s Real”
David – 1: “Touchy pointless ballad… I’m done!”
James – 7,5: “This is a quirky throwback to early ‘90s RnB, co-written by one half of the Dutch Eurovision act this year. There were a couple of wobbles in the audition, and the song is missing a hook and is overly reliant on moments from the singer alone. This could be an intriguing, sultry adult entry for Liverpool. We shall have to see what, if any, improvements are done for the national final to be able to assess its chances for sure, though.”
Tyler – 4,5: “I wanted to like this song, for the 90s chords that I hear, but the biggest problem for me is the pacing in the lyrics. It sounds rushed a lot of the time as if to get back into the beat, and it doesn’t feel natural. This sounds like a hard song to sing too, so Corina may perhaps not be suited for it.”
There #YOU have it, our panelists have made their votes and voices clear, so let’s see the combined score for each act. Each song was judged based on a ranking system between 1 and 10, with 1 being the lowest score and 10 the highest. With the participation of 3 panelists, that means that maximum points would be 30, while the lowest would be 3. In case of a tie between multiple songs, the song that scored the greatest score, we take priority.
With that said, here are the scores:
- Pasha Parfeni – 25 Points
- Aliona Moon – 22 Points
- Cosmina – 18,5 Points
- Donia – 18 Points
- Surorile Osoianu – 17,5 Points
- SunStroke Project – 17 Points
- Corina Ivanov – 13 Points
- OL – 12,5 Points
- Victor Gulick – 8 Points
- Nördika – 7,5 Points
In the end, it looks like a battle between two veterans and even close friends, as both Aliona and Pasha accompanied each other when they both represented Moldova in 2012 and 2013. Despite giving Moldova their best results ever, Sunstroke Project couldn’t quite excite our panelists this time. Overall, Pasha Parfeni is the favorite of our panelists, with quite a convincing score as well, with his song “Soarele şi Luna“.
Finala Nationala will take place in Chisinau on the 4th of March at 19:00 local time (18:00 CET), inside a studio at TRM(Moldova’s national broadcaster). The winner of the national final will be decided by a combo of both juries and televote, each deciding 50% of the final outcome.
Tell us, what do #YOU think about the panelist’s review of each song and do #YOU think they’ve picked the right winner?
Let’s hear from #YOU on our forum site right HERE, or visit us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, TikTok and Discord.
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