When a TVR producer called me in January and invited me to be on the Romanian jury for Selectia Nationala as a Eurovision journalist and expert, I told them, “Let me call you back in one day, so I can think about it.” I hate to see myself on television and to be exposed to the media attention in general, not to mention to fans’ and artists’ criticism. I thought to myself, “I am not a music critic, I am not a producer, I am not a songwriter and I can’t sing to save my life. How am I going to justify being on the jury?” But, after consulting with my partner (who said “YES! Go for it!”), I called the producer right away and I was like, “OK, I’m down.”

Getting on the Selectia Nationala stage was nerve-wracking
Getting on the Selectia Nationala stage was nerve-wracking

Then I had to come to Bucharest and meet with the rest of panel. I was relieved to see Ovi there, simply because I knew him and respected him tremendously but also because I knew I wasn’t the only Eurovision expert at the table. The rest of the jury was composed of a songwriter, a singer-songwriter and a producer/promoter. We then all had to sit through 93 songs, some of which we listened to more than ten times. We narrowed them down to 18 songs, and then we shortlisted 12 songs. From the 12 finalists, I personally gave top marks to Voltaj and Lara Lee.

When the finalists were announced, I was there at the press conference as a blogger and took video bites of some of the entrants. Luminita was very gracious, she knew wiwibloggs and she was happy when I set her up with Sopon for an interview. Lara was nervous, but excited about her song. Calin Goia from Voltaj hadn’t heard about wiwibloggs and we had to do several takes of his fan message because he kept messing our name. Tudor Turcu is so tall, I had to raise my hands so that the camera was at the level of his head. Of course, none of them knew I was also on the jury because it was supposed to be a secret so we couldn’t be approached by the contestants for support.

Romanian fans’ reaction to the 12 finalists was mostly positive, basically agreeing that this was a better line-up than last year’s. Quite quickly, they split into #TeamAnghel, #TeamSuperman, #TeamVoltaj and so on. I enjoyed watching them debate the songs ferociously day in and day out. However, because I was not allowed to give my opinion about the songs ahead of the final, just in case the jury names were leaked beforehand, I never joined any team – officially. That’s why I also was not on the Wiwi Jury and my input for the Selectia Nationala articles was minimal. (I have to thank Sopon for covering for me, conducting interviews and heading the Wiwi Jury.)

A few days ahead of the final, the jury names were leaked to the press by a group of fans who got ahold of the list and wrote a petition to the TVR president, warning him that head of delegation Liana Stanciu allegedly was in cahoots with the jury and that they all plotted to have Voltaj win regardless of what happened. As I said before, this absolutely did not happen. Personally, when I heard the English version of “De la capat”, I stopped rooting for the song despite giving it a top mark at the preselection, because “All Over Again” sounded wrong for many reasons.

At the national final, several things went wrong for the “Superman” performance – the sound was messy and Lara’s vocal performance sounded shouty as a result – but I still gave Lara Lee a good mark because the poor sound mixing on the night was not her fault. Luminita Anghel  was vocally superb, but I still didn’t like the song, and the dancers blocking her all the time and stealing her spotlight made me drop one point as well. I gave an even lower mark to Voltaj, thinking that they would perform the song in English in Vienna, which would be a poor decision in my view, plus I thought the staging looked cheap with all those bags. I gave a good mark to the a capella group Blue Noise, who surprised me the most and sounded the best vocally, despite fears that they would mess it up. I also liked Cristina Vasiu’s spectacular firework dress. I loved that she put a lot of effort into this – and she didn’t sound bad either.

I put a lot of thought into my points. Knowing the full results now, had I given 12 points to Luminita, she would have gone to Vienna instead. This decision was not taken lightly and is likely to follow me around for a long time. I have already received hate mail from her fanatic supporters. Nevertheless, I am confident that I made the right choice because the song, although beautiful in parts, is dated and formulaic, with cliché lyrics and, as my colleague Robyn said on the Wiwi Jury, it wouldn’t have any life after Eurovision.

In the end, when the televoting results were announced, I knew that Voltaj would win and I was relieved: the jury decision coincided with the decision of the people at home. I was even more relieved at the press conference, when I heard Calin Goia, Voltaj’s singer, announcing that they had changed their mind and that they would most likely perform “De la capat” in Romanian with an English chorus. In retrospect, I wish I had given them a better mark — not that it would have made any difference.

On a personal note, I loved “De la capat” from my very first listen, back in November. Last year, my brother had to leave his three-year old daughter and pregnant wife so that he could work in the UK to pay the mortgage on their house and ensure them all a better life. Luckily the children (his wife meanwhile gave birth to a son who is also my godson) are not alone and they are lovingly raised by their mother and grandmothers, but for my brother it’s a constant inner struggle and of course the kids miss their father, both consciously and unconsciously. Recently, since he’s got two jobs and is now able to rent a bigger home near London, they have decided that they will all move to the UK, where they will start their life all over again, as a reunited family. That is why “De la capat” touched me and has touched so many viewers – everybody in Romania knows somebody who left their children behind with a heavy heart. Hopefully, the Eurovision audiences will get the message and will support the song as well.

You can watch the entire national final of Romania’s Selectia Nationala here.

PS: Apart from Sopon, I would also like to thank my other colleagues, especially Will and Robyn. Thank you Catalina, Sasha and Victor for being there for me. Special thanks go to TVR staff members Ana Maria, Carmen and George, stylist Puca for lending me her son’s jacket when I forgot mine in Arad, PR Bianca, as well as Ovi and the other jury members for being so welcoming, and last but definitely not least Romania head of delegation Liana Stanciu for advising TVR’s Selectia Nationala team to invite me on the jury as a Eurovision journalist and expert. I am grateful and honoured to have had this opportunity.

Photos: TVR, Alexandru Iedu (wiwibloggs)

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Alex
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Alex

Bogdan’s voting sounds pretty intelligent to me. The Luminata fans should come around to accepting that not everybody is going to agree with them, and that perhaps there is merit in the other acts’ music! (This reminds me of the Markus Riva fans and the Latvian selection… I’m pretty thankful that they didn’t get their way)

Ranting Ruby
Guest
Ranting Ruby

Good choice, Bogdan – I love “De La Capat”, in either language!

Centrix
Guest
Centrix

Sorry for my bad English. Writting from my phone it looks even worst.

Centrix
Guest
Centrix

The fact that Liana Stanciu adviced you to Tvr team for selectia nationala for being in the jury is just a strong argument that those people that you blame are right. The jury was made by Liana who wanted Voltaj and Voltaj and Voltaj. This was not the best jury if Tvr would have want a less disscused result. Ovi had a “war” with Luminita from 2010 and now had the ocasion to win. And you was the only one who show his votes. Where is the transparency that tvr should show? We don’t know until today and I don’t… Read more »

Mark
Guest
Mark

What a shallow person you are Mario. You don’t even know them personally to think that they’re homophobes.
Nasty pigs? Reading a lot of your comments makes you look like a nasty pig!

Bogdan you did a great job and also I’m very happy that TVR considered Wiwibloggs to be a part of their jury.

Tom
Guest
Tom

@Mario ~ My Diamond Vision of Gay Love: I thought you were against judging people. And judging Voltaj on their looks and assuming they’re homophobic is really mean and ignorant. Fyi, they’re one of Romania’s most longevive and loved bands and some really nice people. You have no right to bash them like that just because they “seem awful nasty pigs”. Sorry if I seemed unkind but it’s better if you reconsider the way you see things and stop feeling like everyone is homophobic.

WTF
Guest
WTF

@Mario ~ My Diamond Vision of Gay Love: You’ve got issues, son…

Zack
Guest
Zack

@Bogdan. Thanks for the response! Awesome job again!

Mario ~ My Diamond Vision of Gay Love
Guest
Mario ~ My Diamond Vision of Gay Love

Voltaj’s song might was the best one and my no1 most liked one from the 12 but now i have changed my mind completely and would really prefer Luminita to represent Romania in the Diamond Vision…Her song might was even my 4th most liked but i have regret it now and would prefer her all the way to be the romanian delegate participant in Vienna…Voltaj band really seem awful nasty pigs compared with Luminita that looks like an angel to me…So much sympathetic indeed…What a waste really 4 Romania to have a beautiful song BUT a horrible act singing it…They… Read more »

Carlos Villanueva
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Carlos Villanueva

@Bogdan Thank you for reading my comment, and for your time of course.
I LOVE this site, and because of that I wrote you. But your answer makes me feel good again.
Your idea is awesome!! Can’t wait to read it 🙂 Hope you all the best!!!
Greetings from Paraguay! 😀

Carlos Villanueva
Guest
Carlos Villanueva

Thank you so much, @Bogdan. It was in general, not just you, because I know that you were busy with your jury duty, an I respect that, It’s such an honor and I wanna congratulate you for a fantastic job.
The site did no mention, and I think that missing that it’s dissapointing, because she was tremendous that night, ans her powerful message too.

Zack
Guest
Zack

Bogdan, thank you for being transparent about the jury process. Fans can be vicious and it’s easy to be cruel when you feel like you’re protected by the anonymity that the Internet may provide. One comment and please don’t take this as a slight regarding your role as a juror. I was surprised that you acknowledged that you did score the winning group lower because you were concerned they’d switch to English in Vienna. As a juror, were you told to take this into consideration? Or were you supposed to only score based upon what you saw on stage that… Read more »

Carlos Villanueva
Guest
Carlos Villanueva

It is just me…or everybody here do not mention Ruslana’s interval act and her message? It was a part of Selectia Nationala… I do not get it.

adriana_gabrielauk
Guest
adriana_gabrielauk

I blaime the backing vocals at Lara Lee performance they sounded so false ,she was better off singing alone without that 2 muppets behind her.Ive watched the whole RomaniaN Final on eurovisiontv .I have to admit they had a great show there.Voltaj i dont think it would do that bad and im sure many people who has left someone home will relate with this song.

Tom
Guest
Tom

Thanks for sharing these things with us! Bet it’s been an amazing experience. I was so relieved to see you in the jury because I knew that you would give your top marks to the songs that really deserved it and could actually have a shot at winning ESC (not to mention that a person who listens to Björk must have good taste in music). I’m happy for Voltaj, but Lara Lee was totally robbed on transmission – and maybe the televoting too – which resulted in a downright disappointed for both of us I guess. She sang perfectly imo.… Read more »