The first semi-final of the Romanian Selectia Nationala almost had it all: the Romanian ABBA (with Ovi speaking with a Norwegian accent), spectacular and ridiculous performances, nervous singers, official bloggers, a red green room and, most of all, a surprising outcome.
Casa Presei, Luminita Anghel, FreeStay, Cezar, Electric Fence, Tudor Turcu advanced to the final, upsetting WiwiBloggs favourites like Diana Hetea and Natalia Barbu—both of whom were ill and under-performed—and Station 4 and Tammy.
Casa Presei singer Robert Turcescu seemed the most surprised of all to receive such an outpouring of support from the public. Without trying to knock Casa Presei’s café concert song, “Un refren” (“A Chorus”), one explanation might be that Robert, who is a journalist, has faced non-stop ridicule from another journalist on a rival TV station since he was selected by the jury to compete in the semi-finals. That seems to have backfired and brought Robert countless sympathy votes. In any case, “Un refren” was the front runner of the first semi-final of the Selectia Nationala, to the utter dismay of hardcore Eurovision fans, who hadn’t given the song a chance.
Luminita Anghel had arguably the best number of the evening, complete with five male dancers who tangoed graciously around her. Great lighting, effective pyrotechnics, a stellar voice—it all convinced the viewing audience that she was the star of the evening. Nonetheless, she seemed nonplussed and disappointed in the Green Room that Casa Presei got more attention than her. She must be genuinely worried that Robert Turcescu’s band might perform instead of her in Malmö in May. (Maybe she should ditch that hideous dress before the Final and perform in a more flattering outfit?)
FreeStay performed better than expected and they seemed over the moon with their win. Cezar had an involuntarily comedic number that was ridiculed all over the social networking sites, but won many viewers over with his pitch-perfect voice and catchy song. Electric Fence’s Elena Vasile was in top form and brought “Emilia” to her expected win. Finally, X Factor winner Tudor Turcu didn’t convince me with his static performance of “Hello”, but he seems to have convinced many televoters and the jury, because he’ll perform the song again on March 9.
Until then however, don’t miss tomorrow’s second semi-final starting 20:00 CET on TVR and eurovision.tvr.ro. I will be livetweeting in English again during the show – follow me @stingoo if you want to know what is going on.
So what do you think of the outcome of the first Romanian semi-final? Are you as shocked as we are that Casa Presei made it to the Final as viewers’ favourites?