They were underrated at home, where the national jury did not award them their top scores. They were underrated by the international fan club OGAE, who awarded them zero votes. They were underrated by the bookies, who at one point had Moldova at the bottom of the odds table. Even we ranked them 17th of 43 in the Wiwi Jury! (Were we deaf and blind?)
They were overlooked by almost everyone, but in the end Sunstroke Project proved that returning artists can do better than before, achieving Moldova‘s best-ever finish at third place. In Kyiv, their performance of “Hey Mamma” swayed both national juries and televoters to secure them a place on the podium. How did that happen and how come no one saw it coming?
First off, let’s look at the performance. Unlike Italy, whose staging was too colourful and crowded, Moldova’s staging was full of light but it wasn’t overwhelming. It played on simple themes of black and white, and despite being somewhat frenetic, it never seemed too busy. The backdrop managed to do something which Lisa Angell’s didn’t — it filled the stage with movement. Speaking of movement, each moment of the song was enhanced by a dance move, a gesture or a smirk, which kept us entertained for the full three minutes. The camera caught it all and there was no dead time.
Singing about a man trying to win over his mother-in-law, the group nailed their costumes — funky tuxes and switch-a-roo wedding dresses. They were camera-ready and looked so universal — who hasn’t had a wedding, attended a wedding, or made fun of a wedding while watching a rom-com? By the way, how awesome was the moment when “the brides” threw the bouquets of flowers into the audience? It was a final, endearing moment that helped secure SunStroke Project a place in our hearts — and on the Eurovision podium.
Secondly, we need to look at the song. A lot of people, if not all Eurofans, were surprised that the juries marked Moldova as highly as they did. There seemed to be a fear that juries wouldn’t like the outré fun, and that the thrusting and brides might come off as gimmickry.
Well it didn’t. Out of the 41 other countries, 22 gave Moldova at least 3 jury points, although not even Romania gave them 12 points. Still, everyone noticed that Moldova kept getting points and creeping up the Grand Final score table. That’s because the song is original — who has heard of a pop song dedicated to the girlfriend’s mother? — and the delivery perfect. The saxophone sound — delivered just on the cusp of summer — also gave this a radio-friendly vibe. At the national final not even a wardrobe malfunction (the white dress of one of the backing vocalists failing to drop) could distract from that.
Moreover, national juries are made of people — and just like us, they appreciated the entertainment factor, the vocals, and the overall qualiteh of the performance. And last but not least, the vocals were consistently strong throughout the First Semi-Final and Grand Final performances. That’s Sergey Ialovitsky and the backing vocalists’. Total slayage!
We also need to look at how the show organisers helped SunStroke Project achieve success in 2017. During the First Semi-Final, during a break in the show, Timur reminded everyone that the band had taken part in the contest before and showed a clip of Epic Sax Guy thrusting his hips while “playing” the saxophone. The endearing Serghey Stepanov then proceeded to do an impromptu live sax riff, met with rapturous applause from the audience and presumably fangirl squeals at home. This also solidified the Moldovan band’s success, as audiences remembered — or were acquainted with — the 10-hour meme. By the way, Epic Sax Guy is now the star of yet another 10-hour viral video on YouTube. Congrats, Sergey!
Last but definitely not least, “Hey Mamma” was a televoting success: Australia, Romania, Italy, Portugal, and Ukraine all awarded Moldova 12 points. SunStroke Project brought the old-school fun factor to Eurovision this year, but pulled it into the 21st century with a sophisticated and slick performance that managed to beat highly polished acts like Robin Bengtsson. Perhaps most surprisingly, they beat Francesco Gabbani, who had earlier been tipped to win the contest, but the latter’s stage show looked somewhat desperate by comparison, while SunStroke project looked like they were having lots of fun. And so were we!
SunStroke Project placed third on the Grand Final scoreboard in Kyiv, with a total of 374 points. This marks Moldova’s best result yet at Eurovision, with the “Hey Mamma” performers beating the likes of Zdob si Zdub (6th place in 2005) and Pasha Parfeny and Aliona Moon (11th place in 2012 and 2013, respectively). This year, the Moldovan band beat bookies’ favourites Belgium, Sweden, Italy, and Romania, who had all been tipped to do better than SunStroke Project ahead of the Grand Final.
What do you think? Did Moldova deserve to place higher than the likes of Italy and Sweden? What was your favourite moment from SunStroke Project’s performance this year? Let us know in the comments!
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Of course, returning Eurovision artists can do better the second time – it obviously just depends on how “good” or “bad” they were the first time 😀 . Bulgaria had a similar success last year with Poli Genova, who hadn’t even made it to the finals before. With Elitsa Todorova and Stoyan Yankulov, similarly to Macedonia’s Kaliopi, artists who were sent again after having already scored quite decent places natrually struggled to achieve a better result the second time. Just as a reminder, Elitsa and Stoyan made the fifth place, so only one place worse than Poli last year. Imagine… Read more »
One word: COMEDY! If you do it right, you will be rewarded for it. It could be as outlandish as Verka Serduchka’s, or as subtle as this one; but if it amuses the hell out of everyone, their scoreboard will light up like a Christmas tree! Francesco lost the comedic battle with Sunstroke because his team didn’t bring enough of that comedic aspect from his video to the stage. The ape alone was no match for the guys with that one-step dance, the girls in the skirts that unfolded to become wedding gowns, and of course the Epic Sax Guy.
This is a great song, and the amazing performance took it to top 3. Sunstroke really surprised me, but they really put it together after their mediocre result in 2010. The song is much better than Run Away too.
I honestly didn’t like the song all that much when it first came out, but they completely won me over on stage, they were great and totally deserved that 3rd place, far more than italy or especially sweden.
I’m very glad for Moldova! It looks like people really loved their fun and carefree song which had a theme anyone could relate to.
I’m happy for Moldova and I’m happy it was sunstroke project that got them their best placing. But I disagree with the Italy comments. I felt Francesco have a great performance and it was not desperate in any way.
its a success b/c they bring joy to us!
& a great contrast to the slow winner
So Blanche, Robin & SSProject became a great contast to Salvador
Well deserved Moldova! Congrats! Keep up the good work!
I feel like that live on-air interview that they got at the semis Green Rolm from the hosts helped sell their song to the audience. Being reintroduced for their previous stint in 2011 and about the origin story of Epic Sax Guy gave them that boost all the way to the grand finals. I’m definitely happy for Sunstroke Project. They are part of ESC family. Glad these guys came back and slayed just like Poli Genova of Bulgaria last year!
I need to say: CONGRATS MOLDOVA! Very well deserved. Funny, but I was convinced that out of two upbeat, funny acts, Italy is the one with a real shot at winning, while Moldova is great, but won’t win. Boy, was I wrong. 🙂
I thought it was awful. The whole thing with the brides made everything look so cheap. Oh and without the epic sax guy they wouldn’t reach top 5, that’s for sure. They used him to get more votes, simple.
You know , one of the reasons Eurovision is great is countries like MOLDOVA , they are not shy at sending fun and happy songs , remember MOLDOVA was the 1st country that sended a grandmother drummer ….seems that inspired Russia to send not 1 but 6 in 2002 ….it was not a surprise at all that Moldova did so well , they should have done soo much better at 2010 , and people realised their mistake for not voting back then (same happened to Poli Genova in 2011 and people finnely voted for her on her next try at… Read more »
wow what a great comment! Fun should be the definition of the contest but saly its not rn/ Thx Moldova!
What an interesting article by Bogdan! Well, I loved this song from the first listen, before it was selected in Moldova. It’s the kind of song that appeals to more people, it’s up-beat, fun, entertaining. I didn’t expect Sunstroke Project to do so well to be honest. Juries usually don’t support such songs. But I’m impressed many of them put the song higher than Italy for example. Personally, the Italian song was better than this song. But it doesn’t matter! These guys brought to their coountry their best ever result. It’s difficult to beat that. They should win the whole… Read more »
In the Abstract, “Occidentali’s Karma” is a better song and act than “Hey Mamma” … but in the actual Grand Final, Italy stumbled a little, and Moldova perfectly nailed everything. That’s enough for the points to shift a little and for Moldova to squeak to the front of the tight little 3rd-through-6th pack we had.
fun is also a feeling. This did well for the same reason as Salvator: authenticity
I had Moldova in my Top Ten when they qualified, on the power of Epic Sax Guy and Epic Violin Guy alone. Instrumental solos are something they know how to build around, even at a contest where they aren’t allowed to play live.
While I never had them in my Top Three, they did move up to join my Top Five after the semis. The smoothness of the brides and the singing by “Mr. Cool” were among the most professional of anyone present, for all that “Hey Mamma” still has strains of novelty act.
I was expecting it to enter the top 10 based on televoting points alone but i didn’t see the big success in jury voting! The song is fresh and modern, i can totally hear it in beach bars in Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Spain and Italy. Very good song. The guys were flawless and the vocals were on point.Very good colors in the backdrop. Also, it performed after a slow song which gave it a bigger boost. Italy was disappointing and desperate. Too colorful and 60s. Bad outfit and the gorilla thing was tacky (yeah the meaning but they could have… Read more »
bad press? the press was all about the gorilla…
Something to remember, Moldova often makes their artists pay for their own promotion – I’m not sure whether they make the artists also pay for the staging/production. I’m assuming that Sunstroke Project had a decent amount of money to put into the competition and that investment paid off in spades.
On their insta they shared a photo with their president and thank him for helping with a contest preparations. So probably this year was well covered.
Romania and Moldova have always exported this type of music: fun and careless bops with a huge entertainment factor. Think O-Zone, Alexandra Stan and Inna… both Yodel It and Hey Mamma were perfect for the countries they represented and of course they were rewarded by the viewers at home with 5th and 3rd places respectively.
Because people enjoys fast food music and wants to be entertained. Despite it not being “real”.
Yes, I went there!
Exactly! And they made their bets on appealing to the Televote, and should therefore not expect great rewards from the jury. As simple as that.
Even though it’s not real quality music, it’s real entertainment.
Sarcastic .. but nonetheless it’s true … only in Eurovision crap like this can entertain people who don’t want to listen to anything better … ops although they actually stopped to listen to Salvador too … this is so esquizofrenic …
Thing is, Kitsch Acts aren’t “fast food music”. Kitsch Acts, while highly manufactured, are the *opposite* of “fast food” in their design. “Fast food”, by its very nature, is mass-produced, cookie-cutter, everything-on-an-assembly-line identical. One can tinker with the final condiments and other bonus additions, but the fries/nuggets/burgers/burritos/starbucks all come out in bulk, largely interchangeable, replaceable, and disposable. By contrast, “kitsch music” is like some ridiculous, unique chef-concoction at an “I dare you to eat this” contest. Maybe there’s a steaming onion-ring volcano, maybe the sauce is made of ghost peppers in the silhouette of a ghost, maybe there’s bacon-bits and… Read more »
Darth Thulhu: Exactly! It really boils down to two camps: those who want Eurovision to become more “mainstream” (and like “fast food”) and those who want Eurovision to stay “Eurovision”, with the weird national cuisine you wouldn’t want any other time of year. Where else would we fully appreciate the Buranovskiye Babushiki, Cezar, Verka Serduchka, Sunstroke Project, and rap-yodel combinations? It’s the kitschy schlager that people have come to expect: the “guilty pleasure” fermented whatever we can only enjoy when we’re by ourselves because it’s “too stink for everyone else”. I appreciate those entries just as much as entries like… Read more »
You have no idea on what he meant by fast food music. Salvador was standing up, clapping and dancing when Moldova’s entry was on stage.
Cassandra, it’s time to stop drinking, you are a 45 years old man, and you are embarrassing yourself. Everybody knows who you are. Go away.
Who is she? lol
They absolutely deserve it! The staging was both wacky and slick, fun and entertaining without being tacky or gimmicky. They had a very fun dance that is easy to do at home, and their charisma is apparently–you can tell how much fun they are having not only performing on the stage, but performing together as a group! The song is fresh and you can play it at a party to get everyone energized. Congrats Sunstroke Project and Moldova!
I predicted 9th before the rehearsals and 5th after.
Without this song, Italy would have probably won the televote. I think that at least half the people who voted for this would have otherwise voted for Italy.
Yes, pretty much. Specially because Moldova performed 7th and Italy 9th.
I’m not sure winning televote.
But Moldova and that awful draw were the reason yes.
Italy would get over 300 points for sure.
Anyway, we see stupid juries will never support fun and entertaining entries. It’s a shame.
im sorry, but the only way to have a different winner this year only could happened if Portugal didn´t participated…
For me Moldova in past had much better song than Romania .
I like Moldova song from 2005,2007,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013, 2017
I like Romania song from 1998, 2005,2006, 2008, 2009, 2010,2014
I reallt liked the song but dod not expect it to do great in the final. So I am happily surprised.
I wrote on this bloggs that Romania and even Moldova will cut off many points from Italy and many wrote that insane what I wrote and Italy will get record points in televote . Moldova was sound so much better in fnal then Italy and Romania, and tv viewers and juries decide Molodva had best uptempo song in final.
Bogdan has said it all above, but I also agree with your point about Moldovan staging magic. I was reminded a little of Pasha Parfeny’s in 2013 when he led his column of dancers off the main stage as the song came to a close. It was funny and a little sexy, and so were Sunstroke Project.
We live in a world of overcooked pretentious music. I think this was a victory for music by people who want to make something fun for themselves and their audience.
Running order also clearly helped them.
For the audiencie eurovision started with Moldova.
Coming after Israel, Poland, Belarus, Austria, Armenia and Netherlands played in their favour since the audience didn’t enjoy those entries at all, so Moldova’s impact was even stronger.
I knew it was going to do well and had it as my top half. But when I saw Romania got their televotes, I knew Moldova was going to get a monster televoting score.
Plus, the fact that it was the return of the ESG helps! Didn’t take long to create the 10-hour ESG “Hey Mamma” mix.
Finally, who doesn’t like a 90s dance move coming back to Eurovision? Lol The Running Man is back!
I think the staging and their energy and vocals made the difference. It was spot on. Fun, but still classy enough to be palatable to everyone. The Moldavian song is not my cup of tea, especially when I heard the first time in the video. But I was taken away by their performance. Also the contrast with Portugal, Bulgaria and Belgium with their more serious songs helped them a lot. Also a great advantage over Francesco is of course that they sang in English and people could understand the narrative of the staging. Well done!
EPIC SAX GUY is the only reason , I mean they were 3rd in televote ffs haha , people voted beacuse they recognised epic sax guy and that is it , HE is the real reason behind this success , he deserves statue in Moldova , the song is fun but it didn’t deserve 3rd place , Moldova are going to be mediocre again in the future
EPIC SAX GUY FTW !
even though, christ, how ridiculous to NOT be playing the saxophone for such a long time…
That’s not his fault, though. If he’d been allowed to play live, they might have scored even higher.
(The act I feel most for, on this front, is Slovenia’s Quartissimo, who were effectively reduced to being backup dancers for their own song.)
Great subject and a lot of food for thought. I hope wiwi will keep us posted on what the rest of the winners do–and I mean pretty all wonderful performances that placed on the left side. This is such a great success for Moldova and I am very happy for Europe and Eurovision–this definitely will inspire other small countries to be original and dare new things. About Italy–I think that part of the problem was that they felt secure as the undisputed favorite and did not put 100% effort. Somebody wrote here that they were too long in the lead… Read more »
Another thing that made Italy flop was that Europe had already listened to the song multiple times (over 100 million view on youtube!). Some of these viewers got bored with it and wanted someone else to take Francesco’s thunder. If the contest had taken place in March, when the song was fresh, Italy would have won 100%.
100+ million views wouldn’t have been a problem, though, if the live act had met, or exceeded, the video.
“Occidentali’s Karma” is going to have the same fate as “Dance Alone” and “Verona” and Moldova 2010’s “Run Away” for me: I’ll play the pre-show video, but I will not play the live act. It just isn’t as good. Unlike “Fly With Me” and “Skeletons”, where I’ll happily play either the live video or the original video, different though they are.
Yeah, this also quite important to exceed…
Mainly it was an interesting project. Everyone is tired of pop solo woman, pop solo woman… from one half of all entries. People are searching something different. TOP 10 this year: 6 men, 3 groups/duos, only 1 solo woman.
This year saw many countries such as Moldova, Romania, Sweden and Croatia elevating the concept of a novelty act well beyond merely gimmicks and kitsch into an art form unto itself. I’m in awe actually.
lovely thread. 🙂
“Who has heard of a pop song dedicated to the girlfriend’s mother?”
Outkast – Ms Jackson =)
True. But there are so few of them, and I believe none of them made it to the Eurovision stage.
Ms. Jackson’s on the other end of the relationship, though: apologizing for it all having all fallen apart. Not nearly as audience-friendly.
Loved this article! An engaging read! Happy for Moldova!
Thank you, Martin. We do try 🙂
Disgusting article! Don’t talk more about Gabbani! You all have done a damage to him! STOP articles citing Gabbani! STOOOOOOOP! You are a great supporter of Salvador, how ever when he says that music isn’t ‘show’ you agree and now sustain another thing? Just for convenience? Gabbani ‘fell’ right on the show, he made worse than Moldova. Ok, I’m agree. So, what matters most: the song or the show? Reach agreement with yourself, but don’t compare Francesco’s song to that of Moldova. It’s an insult!
We did damage to him? Not really. In our first rehearsal review we pointed out several key areas where the stage show could be improved and we remained positive and optimistic. That’s called being helpful.
I was referring to the press in general. Read here, I don’t want to repeat the same thing. ‘Mainly, congratulations to Salvador! He was one of my three favorites together with Blanche and Gabbani. I liked so much Finland, too. I’m not Italian, but I’m living in Italy and I think the juries have not been correct. The press bored people with daily news about Francesco, presented him as the absolute favorite. When one is favorite for months and months, it is easy to build a “collective assault”; it’s a phenomenon of mass psychology (I can talk about because I’m… Read more »
It’s a Trumpism. The “Failing-Wiwibloggs”. The media is the scapegoat…… LOL
Entertainment will always be about staging too, no matter what ”the hero of our times – Salvador” says.
No it wont, Sorin, tell that to Imri who was representing israel.
Oh and Salvador never said it wasn’t about show. He loved italy’s entry for a reason.
I might be wrong but I have a feeling that Francesco Gabbani is not the kind of person that would approve of your attitude. I love his songs, I listened to all his albums while driving to work about twenty times but he wasn’t at his best on Saturday and I think he knows it. This is a quote from his 2013 song “Per tornare liberi”: Perché siamo tutti liberi di restare legati così ai nostri lividi peggiori cercando il senso proprio negli errori. (In English: Because we are all free to stay tied to our worst bruises like that… Read more »
I am really happy for Moldova. Sunstroke Project proved that creativity and commitment can be more effective than superficial “perfection” (the same way that Poli Genova did last year and . It goes without saying that “Hey Mamma” is a light-hearted pop tune, but they were so passionate about it and performed it to the fullest. The performance in the final was just great and really brought the song to life. Ambition is not (or at least not only) about big vocal ranges, overly complex compositions and contrived lyrics. It’s about commitment, passion, authenticity and honesty and I guess that… Read more »
My first sentence is supposed to end after “year”, sorry.
Yeah. On a professional-polishedness level, Sunstroke came in well ahead of Francesco on the big night. Both were somewhat novelty-based, but Moldova was just more refined and smoothly-executed than Italy.
(That said, I still would have had Italy comfortably in my Top Five)
I really don’t care for songs like “Hey Mamma” but the overall quality of the performance was entertaining and convincing for me. A well derserved result for Moldova and Sunstroke Project.
I’m glad for Moldova, but I personally didn’t care for this song at all. I thought their 2010 song was much, much better (and so were their 2012 and 2013 entries).
The pre-show video for “Run Away” is top notch. One of the catchiest and best-made breakup songs ever. Their live act, unfortunately, did not manage the magic they made this year, nor even live up to their pre-show video. Epic Sax Guy was the *only* thing that improved from pre-show video to the live show.
(I’m glad they managed to qualify, but they didn’t have that pulled together as well as they pulled together “Hey Mamma”.)
They definitely deserved their spot! We need songs like this in Eurovision in order to keep the fun
Seriously…? Yodel It! got (at best) mixed reviews on here because it was lame, but this enthusiastic yet rubbish (come on, it is…) gets rave reviews… I suppose Eurovision at least shows the diversity in tastes that are out there 🙂
I saw it coming: they’ve been my number 3 since all 43 songs were released.
A well polished performance (Run Away was bit messy compared to this one) which was I think the best of all, three guys, that have really grown on everything since 2010 (not only the beards who made them look older than their skinny faces back then), the brides, who fit ao well in the song, the performance and the singing (which isnt always the case) and, the most important fact, performing without any pressure, they just wanted to make a big party (which they already made in the first semifinal) I liked it from the beginning and the third place… Read more »
This makes me so excited for the future. Moldova and Romania are VERY good at doing crazy and quirky. I hope this inspires more of that.
Moldova and especially Romania are the only countries who takes risky steps with song like these all most every year.Clearly they have balls :)))))))
Absolutely. Massive balls. Well done!
Romania and Moldova are both skilled at “treating kitsch seriously”.
I don’t know how well I’m expressing what I intend, but they don’t just send something randomly zany and oddly over-the-top. They send something highly polished and professionally honed, while still (purposefully) zany and (coherently) over-the-top. Cezar’s “It’s My Life” is probably the epitome of it, but even more traditional duets and love ballads have it.
It doesn’t always work quite as well as they’d like (say, the cosmonaut suit last year), but they almost always try something innovative.
The reason it was ignored by fans is a sad and simple one: it’s Moldova
And the reason it was finally “Found” is that they planted a lot of seeds in 2010 (and since) that all finally came to fruition now. Epic Sax Guy memes helped, being a popular “return” helped, and having the long experience of a decade-long touring career together helped.
The song itself benefits from being in the borderline space between a Kitsch Act and a professional pop song. The ease of performance was as disciplined and polished as a professional pop song, while the tune itself still had a lot of the light whimsy of a Kitsch Act.