Bună seara Europa și bună dimineața Australia!
This year TVR decided that Selectia Nationala 2018 will consist of six shows: five semi-finals featuring eleven/twelve songs each and a final, under the slogan “Eurovision unește România!” (Eurovision unites Romania!).
Each show will take place in a different city in Romania, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Union of Transylvania, which saw Romania take its modern shape we see today.
Tonight’s first Semi-Final is held in Focsani at Teatrul Municipal “Maior Gheorghe Pastia” and will feature 11 songs competing for three spots in the Final.
The opening act will be none other than Luminita Anghel (Romania 2005 – Let Me Try) and our hosts for tonight will be Diana Dumitrescu and Cezar Ouatu (Romania 2013).
So sit back and relax, and let Eurovision Ireland’s blogging duo James and Bogdan #JAMDAN entertain and inform you. Feel free to tell us what you think and give us your opinion about tonight’s Semi-Final and who is your favourite!
You know the drill: Just refresh this page to get our comments and points of view.
11 singers will perform tonight, but there there is room only for three to go to the Finals!
The acts competing tonight in order of appearance are:
1. Lina – A Love Worth Falling For
2. Johnny Bădulescu – Devoted
3. Hellen – From Underneath
4. Eduard Santha – Mesom Romales
5. Echoes – Mirror
6. Alex Florea – Nobody Told Me It Would Hurt
7. Waleska – Reborn
8. Liviu Anghel – Rise Up
9. CornEL – Take Me Away
10. Elena Turcu – The Perfect Fall
11. Alexia & Matei – Walking on Water
LIVE BLOG STARTS HERE!
JAMES: Hey hey hey, it’s almost show time! Grab your snacks and get comfy – just under 15 minutes till we’re live from Romania! 😉
BOGDAN: Remember, we want to know what YOU think! Comment on this blog and we’ll respond – just to prove we are really here!
BOGDAN: What a nice theatre!
JAMES: If you’re thinking you recognise the man on the right, you do – It’s Cezar Ouatu who shrieked his way into Eurovision 2013 for Romania!
BOGDAN: Minus the cape and naked dancers…
JAMES: They just explained the format the selection will take this year, with shows all over the country to celebrate 100 years of Romania as a unified state – see, we give you Eurovision AND history!
BOGDAN: That must have been a tiring 2 minutes as we are now on our first advert break… heart attack medication anyone?
JAMES: Those of you watching on YouTube, don’t panic! The show will start at 10 past on there, so you’re not missing anything yet… only adverts for Kinder Bueno and denture adhesive…
JAMES: If your YouTube feed has just gone live, the woman in the singing pharmacy advert, Nico, was also a Eurovision contest for Romania and sang as part of the duet with Vlad Mirita in 2008
BOGDAN: And we’re live in Focsani with a familiar face – Romania’s first ever Top 3 placer, Luminita Anghel!
JAMES: Strangely enough, singing a song from Moldova…
BOGDAN: Well, Focsani is in the Moldova region of Romania
JAMES: To clarify, Moldova is both a country and a region in Romania – the region is sometimes called Moldavia in English!
BOGDAN: Enough history, it’s hora time!
(BOGDAN and JAMES frantically hora)
JAMES: I’ve always loved the energy of this song, it’s so much fun!
BOGDAN: Our hosts Cezar and Diana are explaining who many shows Selectia Nationala will have this year and where it’s being hosted
JAMES: Romania have really gone all out this year, 60 songs to choose from – is there a winner among them
BOGDAN: 11 acts will sing tonight, a 12th act pulled out for medical reasons
JAMES: Tonight’s 3 qualifiers will be selected solely by a jury made up of music professionals from Romania
JAMES: Including this young lady who yodelled her way to fame in Ukraine (sentences only Eurovision fans ever utter…)
BOGDAN: The jury will give their votes a la Eurovision, 1-8, 10 and 12 with the Top 3 progressing the the final in Bucharest in a few weeks time
JAMES: Our first contestant is up next, yet another face you’ll recognise – it’s like only Eurovision alumni are on TV tonight!
BOGDAN: It’s Alex Florea and “Nobody Told Me It Would Hurt”!
JAMES: He just said “I’m Alex and… oh wait, I came alone this time!” … let’s just hope he doesn’t try to kiss her again… #awkward…
BOGDAN: Among fans, this is one of the hot favourites to qualify tonight
JAMES: It’s quite a moody ballad about falling out of love – a very far cry from glitter cannons and yodelling!
BOGDAN: It reminds me of a classic 1990s rock ballad, but I enjoy it!
JAMES: It’s great to see a different side of the artist
BOGDAN: Fun fact: the backing singer is Alex’s brother and also was on stage in Kyiv
JAMES: Is there anyone who WASN’T on stage at Eurovision in that theatre tonight!?
BOGDAN: Alex admits he’s nervous about performing tonight. One of the judges, Marian says he has no critiques and liked the song a lot – high praise indeed!
JAMES: I’d be nervous about performing infront of Ilinca after that kiss too…
BOGDAN: Lina from Sweden is up next with ” A Love Worth Falling For”
JAMES: It’s not a bad effort from Lina. It’s very 1990s/early 2000s
BOGDAN: It’s sweet, like it’s pouring honey – she looks a little like Gina G too
JAMES: It’s a very radio friendly song, but I feel like while this suits an intimate theatre, it would get lost in an arena
JAMES: She looks more like Sophie Ellis Bextor to me!
BOGDAN: Not a bad song, but I don’t know if it’s strong enough for Eurovision
BOGDAN: Liliana, another judge, says she loved the song even from the preselection, but wants to know why Lina chose to enter for Romania when she’s from Sweden
JAMES: She says she’s lived in Romania for 4 years and loves the country and the people – have to say, I agree with her!
BOGDAN: CornEL up next. A little fun fact for you, he spent all summer recording covers of Eurovision songs and posting them on a Romanian Eurovision group!
JAMES: Which explains why he wanted to give it a go himself! His song is “Take Me Away”
BOGDAN: You’re never alone, but he is on the stage!
JAMES: Has a touch of the lambada in the music, which I like, but not convinced by the song. What I do like though is that he is clearly having the time of his life performing
BOGDAN: His vocals are definitely more controlled than they were during the pre-selection auditions
JAMES: The jury is remarked that even though CornEL wrote the song, he doesn’t seem comfortable singing it and it doesn’t really fit his voice… ouch…
JAMES: Our first look at the Green Room… or Lavender Room?
BOGDAN: CornEL was told his staging was a bit bare, but he just suggested he could have up to 5 female dancers with him on stage in future
JAMES: Maybe their bus was late or got lost? Liviu Anghel with “Rise Up” next
BOGDAN: He has some ravens projected onto the back of the stage
JAMES: Real rock starting… but now feels a little flat. This could be quite an epic anthem, but it’s a bit tame… come on boys, get Focsani rocking!!
BOGDAN: “Search for the raven?” It’s behind you!
BOGDAN: If I didn’t hear this ever again, I wouldn’t mind…
JAMES: Me neither, sadly… had a really promising start, but didn’t live up to it
BOGDAN: Ilinca seems to disagree with us, saying she loved the energy – and we got our first yodel of the night!
JAMES: She also suggests they give the song a more modern edge without losing the rock sound
BOGDAN: Next up is Hellen with Swedish produced “From Underneath”
JAMES: Does Polina Gagarina know Hellen has her dress?!
BOGDAN: Beginning sounds identical to Total Eclipse Of The Heart
JAMES: This reminds me a bit of a Spice Girls track too….
BOGDAN: She looks nice though – like a dove!
BOGDAN: The advantage of a small stage is that you can focus more on her and the words
JAMES: Isn’t the Altice Arena one of the largest indoor venues in Europe? Just saying…
BOGDAN: Cezar says he’d love to duet with Hellen
JAMES: New game! Every time Cezar goes falsetto, take a shot! Every time Ilinca yodels, take a shot! 😛
BOGDAN: The jury said she’s improved a lot and they like her entry. Now would have been Tom’s place, but he withdrew due to medical reasons. So we’re back in the Green Room with Anca and rocker Liviu
JAMES: Next up we have the youngest artists EVER to take part in Selectia Nationala – Alexia and Matei!
BOGDAN: He’s 16, she’s nearly 16, and here’s their song “Walking on Water”
JAMES: Composed by the same guy that composed Yodel It!
JAMES: Eurovision Ireland recently interview the young duo, so remember to check that out HERE
BOGDAN: I like the energy of the song, but would have liked a little more power in the delivery
JAMES: I get what you’re saying – considering their age, they’re doing phenomenally, but there is something lacking
BOGDAN: Maybe they should ditch a few of the dancers in favour of some backing singers to support them?
BOGDAN: Jury says its the best chorus so far this evening! And also that it was “almost” sang well…
JAMES: I think it’ll be one to watch for sure
BOGDAN: Are you Devoted? Johnny Bădulescu is, and he’s up next!
JAMES: Nasty blouse…
JAMES: This is such a 90s power ballad… but I really like it! His voice suits the style well
BOGDAN: Johnny has always had a good voice, we can’t fault him for that. He sings with conviction, which is great
JAMES: Key change! I’m sold!
JAMES: I think that might be my favourite so far tonight! I’ll even forgive you for that hideous jacket…
BOGDAN: Liliana just said he looks like Johnny Logan, but has a long way to go to BE Johnny Logan
JAMES: There’s only one Johnny Logan, after all!
BOGDAN: It’s my guilty pleasure up next! Waleska from Spain with “Reborn”
JAMES: I’ve had to listen to this all day as a result…
(opening chords start and BOGDAN can’t stop yelling “I LOVE IT!!)
JAMES: I’m getting flashbacks to Azucar Moreno…
BOGDAN: I think it’s a good idea to sing in Spanish, makes it stand out a bit more
JAMES: I’ve potentially been brainwashed, but it’s got a great beat – it’s like a blend of a STEPS track mixed with Alcazar
BOGDAN: And ABBA!
BOGDAN: Ilinca only knows who to say “chorizo” and “jamon” in Spanish… so she’s relying on Google Translate to communicate her critiques with Waleska
JAMES: She liked it, but she’s not sure it’s what Romania is looking for in terms of Eurovision
BOGDAN: Of course it is!!!
JAMES: Green Room gossip now, Waleska says she has lots of Romanian friends and worked with Romanians, and has always felt welcome in Romania. It’s a very friendly and beautiful country – if you haven’t been, go, you’ll be pleased you did!
BOGDAN: Echoes singing “Mirrors” up next
JAMES: Can an echo sing? Surely it just repeats?
BOGDAN: … anyway, I think they’re trying to pull of a Maroon 5 sound
JAMES: That’s one way to put it!
BOGDAN: Out of the 2 rock songs tonight, I prefer this one though
JAMES: I don’t! Bring back the ravens!
BOGDAN: See! Even the jury said they sound like Maroon 5!
JAMES: Last 2 songs now – Elena Turcu and “The Perfect Fall” first
BOGDAN: Elena recently became a mother – congratulations!
JAMES: She promises us something pop-rock… let’s have a listen…
BOGDAN: All she needs is the tiara and she looks like a princess!
JAMES: Agreed! This is quite a pleasant song – not really hearing the rock, but still like it!
BOGDAN: There should have been a breaking moment to give it that “oomph!”
JAMES: Hmm… that note should have waited a split second
JAMES: I like the song a lot, my fear is that it would get totally lost at Eurovision
BOGDAN: I agree
BOGDAN: Our final contestant tonight Eduard Santha, singing “Mesom Romales” or “We are Romani”
JAMES: Hungary sent a Romani singer last year and came 8th – do you think he has the same plan?
JAMES: Just when you think Eurovision has tried every style imaginable, we have calypso-Gypsy-rap…
BOGDAN: He even has a lone dancer like Joci!
JAMES: I wanted to like this so much… but it’s so disjointed and chaotic…
BOGDAN: “There’s a gypsy in all of us”… he said this during the pre-selection audition and the jury was noticeably unsure how to react!
JAMES: If Joci was sublime… this is more at the ridiculous end of things. Pity, as I said I wanted to like this because it’s got a Romani sound and is a little different
BOGDAN: Ilinca likes the message of the song, and says she loved the song!
JAMES: So there you have it, 11 acts have performed, but only 3 can go to Bucharest
BOGDAN: Now we’ll have a bit of a break while the jury decide on their votes
JAMES: It’ll give us a moment to decide our qualifiers too!
JAMES: So Bogdan, who do you think will qualify tonight?
BOGDAN: I think it’ll be Alex Florea, Alexia and Matei, and either Johnny Bădulescu or Eduard Santha… I’d prefer it to be Johnny though! How about you?
JAMES: Honestly, mine are the same! Alex Florea, Alexia and Matei and Johnny Bădulescu! I could see Waleska or Eduard going too, but I’m not so sure…
BOGDAN: I think Hellen could be a surprise qualifier too
JAMES: We’re back in Focsani and Pasarea Roc are going to entertain us while the jury deliberate.
JAMES: Hang on, isn’t that one of the jurors ON stage with the band!?
BOGDAN: Yes, Nicu Patoi – he also accompanied Malina Olinescu at Eurovision in 1998
JAMES: It’s like a Who’s Who of Romanian Eurovision tonight!
JAMES: Do you remember that hour long ABBA tribute we endured, I mean watched last year?
BOGDAN: Not if I keep taking the medication…. 😀 😀 😀
JAMES: Soon we should know who is one step closer to Eurovision glory, and whose dreams end here in Focsani…
BOGDAN: Are we nearly done, gentlemen?
JAMES: Apparently not…
BOGDAN: Being honest, why do they need half an hour to vote? There are only 11 songs and 5 jurors! No public votes tonight
JAMES: And we did ours in about 3 minutes!
BOGDAN: I’m curious if they are going to announce all the points, or just reveal the qualifiers?
JAMES: Interesting idea… all the votes would make it more exciting…
BOGDAN: I agree
JAMES: And last another hour….
BOGDAN: I wonder if they’ll do this every week from now till March?
JAMES: We’ll see, we’ll be live blogging all the shows between now and the final!
JAMES: The audience look like they’re having fun at least!
BOGDAN: They’re singing a really old and well known song – everyone in Romania knows it
JAMES: The show is scheduled to end in 8 minutes…
BOGDAN: They stopped just in time then! Cezar and Diana are back
JAMES: But before the jurors have their say, it’s back to Anca in the Green Room
BOGDAN: Everyone is nervous… who is going to make the cut?
JAMES: Isn’t it past Alexia and Matei’s bed time?
BOGDAN: Don’t be mean!
JAMES: Bless them, some of them look so scared! This is meant to be a happy thing!
BOGDAN: Diana once again explaining the voting system – should be very familiar to Eurovision fans already
BOGDAN: He’s scribbled his scores on a paper? Ok…
JAMES: Alex Florea has 4
BOGDAN: Alexia and Matei got the first 12!
JAMES: Another 12 for Alexia for Matei, and another 10 for Elena Turcu
BOGDAN: Eduard Santha gets 12!
JAMES: Ilinca’s points coming up now…
BOGDAN: Ilinca gives 12 to Eduard Santha and only 6 to Alex Florea…
JAMES: Told you that kiss would come back to haunt him!
BOGDAN: Last juror voting now
JAMES: So our qualifiers are as follows:
35 points to Eduard Santha “Mesom Romales”
38 points to Echos “Mirror”
53 points to Alexia & Matei “Walking On Water”
BOGDAN: That was definitely a surprise! Congratulations to all of the acts that made it to the Final!
JAMES: It was a surpise for me as well! I didn’t expect Alex Florea not qualifying! But yet again, a show is always full of surprises. Congratulations to all the acts of tonight!
BOTH: Thank you all for following our blog, good night and see you next Sunday at the second Semi-Final in Timisoara!
Source: TVR, Eurovision Ireland