First Listen: Romania Starts All Over Again

Eurovision Song Contest 2015 (Logo: Eurovision)
Eurovision Song Contest 2015 (Logo: Eurovision)

Like its smaller eastern neighbor Moldova, Romania doesn’t shy away from weird.

Like its smaller eastern neighbor Moldova, Romania doesn’t shy away from weird. Last year’s circle piano prop was both completely unnecessary and hilariously bad, 2013 featured a falsetto vampire, and 2012 brought us the moonwalking, bagpiping Elvis. Because why the hell not.

Here’s what the Romanians have in store for us in 2015:

Well that’s … not what I expected at all.  Based on the above performance of “De la capăt” (“All Over Again”) in the national final and the official music video, this is a song about child abandonment, which is apparently a pretty big problem in Romania. The tone of the visuals is gray, sad, and depressing as a young boy searches fruitlessly for his mother. In contrast, the lyrics (sung from the child’s perspective?) are actually pretty hopeful given the circumstances. The juxtaposition gives this song an emotional depth we don’t often see at Eurovision. In the right context, it might even qualify as a tearjerker. From a performance standpoint, this song is really well-constructed and performed, but that’s no surprise. Voltaj is a famous band that’s been bringing their brand of pop-rock to Romania for over 30 (!!) years. Any group that can stay around that long has to have some charisma, and I’ll be interested to see how well that translates to the Eurovision stage.

I generally am not here for Eurovision entries that dramatize abuse, but this one tells an emotionally nuanced story from the perspective of the victim, instead of focusing on an outsider with a savior complex while defining the victim only by their victimhood. It’s really well put-together, and I don’t see any major flaws that would prevent this from placing high into the finals. If I have a complaint, it’s that the song might be too complex and dark for Eurovision audiences. I had to listen three times to the English version of the song to understand its message. (That’s partially because I was 100% not expecting or ready for this.)

So, despite the heaviness of the song and how uncomfortable I feel “cheering” for it, I think I like this entry? And I hope it does well? And I might cry when Voltaj performs? The one thing I can say for sure: Voltaj should sing the Romanian version. Others have pointed out some of the problems with the English lyris. Mostly, I just love listening to Romanian, and enjoy it when countries bring a language other than English to the song contest.

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