When Ovidiu Anton won the Romanian national selection final last Sunday, many were surprised by the margin of his victory. While he gave what was arguably the most memorable performance on the night in a field of unremarkable contenders, this everyman rock singer had made our previous attempts at winning his nation’s berth at Eurovision, all with fairly moderate results, So what brought on this sudden massive rush of love toward the stocky young lad?
Well many local commentators are suggesting that it’s part of a nationwide movement against institutional corruption that is spearheaded by the varied rock musicians of Romania. And if this seems like a unusual suggestion, just cast your mind back to 30 October last year when 63 people were killed in a Bucharest nightclub fire.
When the local metalcore band Goodbye To Gravity put on a show at the popular city centre venue Club Collectiv to promote their latest album, the resulting accidental fire and stampede uncovered layers of corruption at both city and national levels that led to massive public protests across the country. This in turn led to the resignation of prime minister Victor Ponta and many public figures within the city of Bucharest, and triggered the beginnings of a major anti-corruption movement that the press dubbed #Collectiv Revolution.
So, what has all of this to do with our Mr Anton? Well, in an unusual cultural shift, rock music is now seen as an agent of opposition within Romania, and Ovidiu wrote Moment Of Silence in the wake of both the Collectiv fire and it’s resultant protests. And it seems like the country are getting behind him on the back of that wave of emotion. You may have noticed his impassioned speech upon accepting his ticket to Stockholm. Our best translation goes along the lines of:
“I want to dedicate this victory to those who put the chains on Romanian culture! I want to dedicate this to them even though they destroyed a beautiful garden full of flowers and fruit trees and planted instead only one kind of grass. A dry grass, a pale grass, trying to turn us into flocks of sheep. We are not sheep, we are wolves! We are Dacians! As strong as mountains – and I dedicate my victory to them to let them know that we from Baia Mare, and all the country, we are not sleeping! We are here, we are strong!”
A powerful message indeed. And while we are aware that this message may not necessarily translate too well when it comes to three minutes on a showbiz singalong on a Saturday night in May, one hopes that his impassioned delivery comes across in a way that touches people well behind his own borders, and that it perhaps begins to effect some change at home.
So while you may not enjoy the Romanian song as much as you’d like, it looks as if there is way more behind it than simply a stocky chap belting out a rock-fuelled ballad, and as such this may explain why the people of Romania took it to their hearts in quite such astonishing numbers.
Author: Roy D Hacksaw
Source: Eurovision Ireland