Wiwi Jury: Romania’s Cezar Ouatu with “It’s My Life”

Earlier this week the Wiwi Jury—our international panel of music un-professionals—hopped in a caravan and headed to Romania to review Cezar’s Eurovision 2013 song “It’s My Life”. Did his operatic flourish earn a standing ovation? Or did we try to pull down the curtain before he left the stage? Read on to find out.

Bogdan: I love Romania’s entry this year because it’s a paradox and a riddle – just when you think you know what you are listening to, Cezar manages to surprise you with his voice. Love it or hate it, the song’s polarizing qualities will only work in Cezar’s favour, as the ones who hate him cannot give him any minus points, while the ones who love him can and will give him 12 points. “It’s My Life”, once you go past the novelty of the countertenor voice, is an addictive, classic Eurovision upbeat song, performed by an ambitious and confident guy who won over an entire country in just three weeks. Can he wow the rest of Europe in Malmö in three minutes? He surely can.

Score: 9/10

Cezar OuatuWiwi: “It’s My Life” is definitely original and daring. Unfortunately it’s also excruciating to listen to. I feel like someone has taken shards of glass and cut up my eardrums and then poured salt all over them. Even if you dropped the register so he didn’t sound like he had sucked on helium beforehand, it would still be a bad song. But I have to admit that Cezar, who we spoke with at Eurovision in Concert, is passionate about his song and a real performer. I give him two points for bringing something new to Eurovision and another two for taking such a big risk. It’s Cezar’s life and he can sing a bad song if he wants to. (P.S. Please don’t say I am anti-Romania. I played “The Balkan Girls” at my wedding, and I was a huge supporter of Mandinga last year).

Score: 5/10

Vebooboo:  In the history of Eurovision, Romania is probably my favourite country. ‘Let Me Try’, ‘Balkan Girls’ and so many other quality entries. I know a ton of our Romanian readers will hate me for saying this, but I simply do not like this song. I think it’s great to test the boundaries of ‘normal’ in Eurovision, and having a male opera singer sing an upbeat song in theory seems a great way to do just that. Two problems, though. First, Malena Ernman tried in 2009 and flopped. Second, and more important, Cezar’s voice does not have the power to sing this song. He gets lost amid the beat because at a higher vocal register he simply cannot carry the same weight.  And that’s where I get confused – why sing something in a register that naturally doesn’t let you belt out the notes?? Sorry, people, but this ain’t my cup of tea. You can send me hate mail.

Score: 3/10

Mr Häggkvist: I know that many, many, many people like this song, but I’m sorry I’m not part of that group. The mix of opera vocals and pop music isn’t new (Sweden 2009), and this song is just weird in a bad way. BUT… at least this is not forgettable. After you listen the first time, you won’t forget “It’s my life…”

Score: 3/10

Deban: I love Cezar! After interviewing him in London, it’s easy to see why. He’s charismatic without being apologetic. This characteristic seeps through in his interviews and performances. No doubt, he showcases a polarising entry in this year’s contest. However, what’s Eurovision without controversy? “It’s My Life” celebrates in equal measure all the things you love and hate about the contest in three minutes. His soprano is infectious, his stage act is atrocious, but at the same time, this opera star doesn’t give a damn! “It’s His  Life”, and whether you love it or loathe it, this contender will bring lots of DRAMA to Malmö.

Score: 8/10 

Romania, Cezar, 2Alexander: Romania seems to have the most polarizing entry of the year, with half of the people loving it and half hating it. The first time I heard “It’s My Life”, I too thought it was a bit weird. However, it instantly started to grow on me, and I actually rooted for this to win Romania’s national selection. It came as a pleasant surprise when it actually did, as I thought Luminita Anghel was the favorite! Cezar is an excellent countertenor (much better than Krassimir Avramov), and anyone who thinks his singing is “gay” or whatever is clearly clueless about opera. The song itself is quite dynamic, and I really enjoy the bridge in particular. The lyrics are generic, but then again, the same could be said for most of the entries. I for one am rooting for Romania to qualify to the final.

Score: 8/10

HK Dick: I have to give Cezar a lot of credit for being able to keep the falsetto going for almost three minutes which must be a huge strain on the vocals. I also rather like the dance track that goes with the song. However, put the two together and you have three minutes of unintentional hilarity that surely the judges must have seen. If he had kept the verse in normal voice then the chorus in falsetto (a la “La Voix”), then we may have had a decent track. Cezar will be long remembered in Eurovision history and has something to add to his bio when doing am dram productions of Dracula the musical in years to come…

Score: 4/10

The Wiwi Jury Verdict: 5.71/10

You can see the latest reviews and standings on the Wiwi Jury pageYou can also listen to all 39 entries on our contestants page.