This year, for the first time ever, Romania‘s public broadcaster TVR decided to air the live auditions of all the 72 competing acts of Selectia Nationala 2017. They were presented every evening this past week and this offered us an unprecedented glimpse into the Romanian preselection process. Before the 15 semi-finalists are revealed in a live show tonight, let’s try to predict who the expert jury will pick!
First off, a disclaimer. These are my personal picks for Selectia Nationala 2017. My predictions are mainly based on my own experience as a former jury member. It happened in 2015 and one of my colleagues was Ovi Jacobsen, who also is part of this year’s panel. I have a good grasp of his musical tastes and I believe he has a leading voice on this particular jury.
The broadcast of the live auditions included telling footage of the panel either laughing off, head bopping to, or visibly appreciating performances. On a separate show, Luminita Anghel and Ovi Jacobsen were invited to speak about their experience as Selectia Nationala jury members, and I got more hints as to their final decisions. I am also taking into account the Eurovision fandom chatter and internet comments. So who do I think will be the 15 acts who will battle it out on 26 February for a place in the National Final?
1. Ilinca feat. Alex Florea – “Yodel It!”
We’ve mentioned this song before. “Yodel It!” is the national and international fan favourite to downright win Selectia Nationala 2017. As much as I know I shouldn’t like this — rapping is a no-no at Eurovision and yodelling is as representative of Romania as hula dancing — I can’t help enjoying it. The chemistry of the two singers is palpable and their joy is infectious. Ilinca Bacila has taken her tried and tested expert yodelling (see her blind audition at The Voice of Romania) and, with the help of songwriter Mihai Alexandru, turned it into a surefire hit now. Oh, and the live performance exceeded my expectations.
2. M I H A I – “I Won’t Surrender”
It goes without saying that Mihai Traistariu should be part of this year’s lineup. Although somewhat timid at first, by the time the final note of his live audition was hit, I was shook. It was the most Eurovision-like song and performance of the entire live audition — for better or worse. “I Won’t Surrender” could repair the image of the troubled Eurovision star and you know what? I hope it does, because the “Tornero” singer has a unique voice and an unbeatable drive to win this contest one day. Well done, M I H A I.
3. Miryam – “Escape”
There were countless voices that last year’s winner Ovidiu Anton should represent Romania at Eurovision in Kyiv, after he was denied this chance in Stockholm. He’s declined the opportunity to compete as a singer, but he did write this song for Myriam and, at least as a courtesy for the songwriter, the jury should include this on the list of semi-finalists. Not to mention that Myriam’s live performance was quite good!
4. Xandra – “Walk On By”
When I first heard this song, I dismissed as a cheap, dime-a-dozen Swedish production. However, it comes alive in Xandra’s performance. “Walk On By” suits her more than “Superhuman”, which didn’t make the national final last year.
5. Cristina Vasiu – “Set The Skies On Fire”
Cristina came to the live audition nursing a cold, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from her performance. I think she’s going to shine even more in the semi-final, as I’m sure that she will be shortlisted.
6. Teodora Dinu – “Tear Up The Dark”
The song, which was rejected in the UK selection, could mark Scotland’s qualification to Kyiv if Romania sends Teodora to Kyiv. It’s doubtful that “Tear Up The Dark” will go this far, but it should at least advance to Selectia Nationala 2017 semi-final.
7. Tudor Turcu – “Limitless”
X Factor Romania winner Tudor Turcu should qualify either with “Limitless” or with “Walking In Time” because he is a competent performer. Also, because the selection needs some rock infusion. We’ve all heard better entries from Tudor in the past, but he’s one of the best singers in the selection.
8. Nora Denes – “Mother”
Despite arguably unfortunate lyrics, Nora Denes is good singer and “Mother” has a memorable hook. Nora’s ‘angry lesbian’ look could also give her an edge. I see her entry picked among the 15 best songs of Selectia Nationala 2017.
9. Zanga – “Doua sticle” (Two Bottles)
Zanga took the live auditions very seriously and she dressed to impress. She also impressed with her performance, although it kind if reeks of ’90s angst. Also, at least one Romanian language entry must be included, right? And the lyrics are pretty clever, too.
10. Instinct – “Petale” (Petals)
Another good Romanian language entry is “Petale” by Instinct, a duo that picked up the pieces when Super Trooper disbanded. They’ve submitted a more honest entry this time, and their live performance was very good. (They’ve also submitted the cheesy and disposable “Children of the Sky” — best ignored.)
11. Ramona Nerra – “Save Me”
The Voice of Romania 2016 semi-finalist didn’t shine as much as I had hoped at the live audition, but I think she will be included in the Selectia Nationala semi-final nonetheless. Dance track “Save Me” is very demanding vocally and I trust that Ramona will improve her delivery until the semi-final if she is selected.
12. Daniel Lazar – “Lume” (World)
“Lume” is a great song. Daniel’s delivery is not particularly impressive (open your eyes, man), but the music itself is pretty amazing. I don’t see it doing fabulously in Kyiv, but I do see it in our national final.
13. Banda Hoinarii – “Balkanitza”
Unlike Sergiu and Ramona, Banda Hoinarii did the opposite: they managed to bring their song to life and give it unexpected qualities. When I first heard the song, I hated it, but I like it after the audition, and I think the jury will enjoy it, too. It’s very Eurovision-y and Selectia Nationala needs to have a traditional entry, so Banda Hoinarii are a shoo-in for the semi-final.
14. Lion’s Roar – “I Set You Free”
Opera rock is definitely not my cup of tea, but it could be included for diversity. I wouldn’t be surprised if this act is picked among the 15 semi-finalists. I may not personally like this style of music, but I have to admit that the singer is very good.
15. Maxim – “Adu-ti aminte” (Remember)
In 2015, we had Baietii. In 2016, we had Dream Walkers. In 2017, the token boy band is going to be Maxim. The flute-infused chorus brings a traditional flair to this nostalgic entry about the innocence of youth. The four boys are not bad singers and may very well qualify for the semi. Should they advance to the final, get ready to see their army of young fans challenging “Yodel It!” for the ticket to Kyiv.
The 15 semi-finalists will be revealed in a live show tonight, starting 19:10 CET on TVR2. The show can be watched online on TVR+ .
What do you think about these predictions? Who else do you think should make the cut? And who would you cut from this list? Sound off below!