In a surprise move, most likely meant to give artists time to prepare for the two semi-finals next weekend, Romanian broadcaster TVR has released the list of semi-finalists four days earlier than expected.
The 32-strong list includes existing stars and fan favourites like Diana Hetea with “I Believe in Love”, Luminita Anghel with “Unique”, Elena Carstea – who despite catching a cold, is said to have delivered a smashing performance of “Spinning”, Electric Fence with “Emilia”, and Natalia Barbu with “Confession”.
But it also includes a few new names and some surprises. X Factor 2012 contestant Natalia Selegean didn’t go through with her catchy song “Razor Sharp”. However, Andrei Leonte and Tudor Turcu, X Factor winners from the first and second season, won over the jury and will perform their songs (“Paralysed” and “Hello”) in the semis. Other popular talent show contestants (Narcis Iustin Ianau, Station 4, Alin Vaduva, Cezar Dometi, Anthony) are also through. Leticia, with her Eurovision slogan inspired song “We Are One”, will also perform at the semi-finals.
Now the bad news. Stelian Savu and Dean, who entered the contest with two of my favourite dance songs this year, will stay at home, as will Tony & Desperado, with the beautiful country ballad “Devoted”. Goddess Andreea (Andreea Lazar) also failed to impress the jury with her Romanian language song “O fi ea”. AG Weinberger, probably the most famous Romanian blues singer, is another big name who will wonder what went wrong at his live audition. Former Eurovision representative of Moldova Geta Burlacu also came short with her ballad “The Other Side”.
Some underdogs did get through. Liviu Guta (a singer with a flair for Oriental sounds who changed his name to Liviu Mititelu for Eurovision) defied the odds and made it through the preselections with his Italian language song “La donna di nero”. Robert Turcescu, a TV presenter who entered the contest with his band Casa Presei and the song “Un refren” (“A Chorus”), is another name who raised eyebrows and eventually made the list. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Carlos Santana’s niece, Renee Santana, was also – last, but not least – on the list, with the song “What Is Love” (yet to be made public).
All in all, the Selectia Nationala in Bucharest will make for a very heated contest. Most Eurovision fans agree that there are a lot of good songs there. Only six of the 16 songs in each semi-final (12 in total) will battle in the Final on the 9th of March, when we will know who will represent Romania in Sweden.
The Romanian broadcaster announced that all the songs will be published on the TVR Eurovision page on February 18, so stay tuned for more. Until then, here is Tammy, another contestant who made it through with a song reminiscent of last year’s contest, “Firebird”: