The Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — continues to rate and review the 41 songs that had been selected for Eurovision 2020. Next up, we take a look at Eurovision 2006 star Natalia Gordienko, who won Moldova‘s national selection with her song “Prison”. Did we want to escape from her prison? Read on to find out!

Natalia Gordienko – “Prison”

“Prison” reviews

Bernardo: I love me some dramatic epic songs. Having said that, “Prison” is not that song. I don’t understand why teams keep pushing songs in English when the singer does not have the diction to carry it 100%. No shade to Natalia — she’s a great vocalist — but better to keep it in Romanian. While I enjoy some parts of the song, it does not capture my interest as it falls flat as a studio cut. Mind that the live Eurovision performance could totally change my mind.

Score: 2.5

Natalie: Eurovision wouldn’t be Eurovision without some way-too-dramatic pop music from Eastern Europe. Those dark pulsating beats always need to see some life, and Natalia is great at this. Maybe I’ve just acquired a taste for this kind of music over the many years of Europop in my life, but I have a big soft spot for this song. Maybe it’s just my love for the thick bass line, but when Natalia shouts “PRISON”, I just swallow it up. And then the woodwind comes in… and it’s just so good. I’m sure it would’ve crashed in the semifinal but I’ll still replay it over and over.

Score: 8

Oliver: At first listen, I really did not find this song particularly appealing. The structure felt a bit jarring and offbeat with the verses and chorus making it a little difficult to follow and warm to. Over time, however, I really began to enjoy the dark atmosphere and mysteriousness surrounding the song, most notably the haunting fusion of voices that builds during the bridge into the final chorus.

Score: 8.5

Tobias: Moldova surprises me this year with “Prison”. From the start, it is an interesting song that serves high energy until the end! I could listen to it without being bothered but I wouldn’t add it to my Spotify list. You can tell Moldova tried with something contemporary this year by inviting foreign songwriters but the result is nothing out of the ordinary.

Score: 5

William: Tormented beauty, thy name is Natalia! “Prison” is among the most unusual ballads we’ve had at Eurovision in recent years. It brings together classic tropes — woman in pain, love as a place of torment — and wraps them up in pure power balladry. But the production merges traditional sounds — that flute, for instance — with some thoroughly contemporary rhythms and sounds courtesy of that heavy electronic beat and plenty of digital clangs. Moldova’s studio space is nothing to be envied, yet at two minutes they manage to use the wall to create a haunting landscape that would have only elevated in Rotterdam. Among the most original takes on a broken romance in recent memory.

Score: 8.5

 

Natalia Gordienko – “Prison” rankings

In the Wiwi Jury we have 22 jurors but only have room for five reviews. The remaining scores are below:

Angus: 5

Antranig: 6

Åri: 5.5

Barnabas: 4.5

Calvin: 5

Deban: 8

Esma: 5

Florian: 3

Jonathan: 7

Lucy: 2

Luis: 6

Pablo: 6

Renske: 7.5

Robyn: 7

Ron: 6

Sebastian: 3

Tom: 6.5

We have removed the highest and lowest scores prior to calculating the average. This is to remove outliers and potential bias. We have removed a low of 2 and a high of 8.5.

Wiwi Jury verdict: 5.75/10

What do you think of this song? Share your own score and review below!

See all our Eurovision 2020 reviews and rankings

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
49 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
ESCFan2009
ESCFan2009
6 months ago

Moldova – 7.5/10 (21st/41)

Mr X
Mr X
6 months ago

Moldova 0/10

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
6 months ago

It is an excellent studio recording. I guess we will never know how the live version would have gone down. This is actually one of my favourite “dream team” songs because I can actually feel the conflict and the drama in the music. That E-min2 chord right at the start is one of my favourite drama chords. The darkness of the bass line in the electro sound is then very effective in the second verse. There is also a great cross-rhythm in the Choruses and the Reprise – or I’m not sure; it might be a compound time signature: 6/8… Read more »

Christian
Christian
3 months ago
Reply to  Purple Mask

I don’t know if you might read that but Irving Wolther from the NDR said, it would be 12/8.

Colin
Colin
6 months ago

Wow, I just noticed that Florian had Prison as his pick to win in Moldova, yet he gave it a 3/10 in here. I get it, I have some serious decliners as well. My top 41 ratings aren’t necessarily in sync with my initial comments.

Colin
Colin
6 months ago

That’s true. In my rating of top 34, Prison was my second, behind Alexandru Cibotaru’s song and it’s merely a 6. There are a lot of bad ratings dwindling down the list, including a very rare 0/10 rating as my last. 😉

Dawid
Dawid
6 months ago

Sorry but it’s toss up with France for the last place for me.

Emily
Emily
6 months ago

This one started off as a “meh” from me, but has gradually become a favourite. I would’ve seen this one as a “shock qualifier” and a definite improvement from last year’s entry.

Polegend Godgarina
6 months ago

i think the song is okay, it’s a perfectly listenable song with a good production that deserves to be higher in fan rankings, but the performance would’ve elevated a lot. natalia has aged like the finest of moldovan wines, btw.

Colin
Colin
6 months ago

I just want to point out that we miss you, Sabrina! If you are reading this, we’d like to hear from you and know that you are fine. Your reviews have been among my favorites to read in the last two years. 🙂

Tibor
Tibor
6 months ago
Reply to  Colin

I think, Sabrina needed a break from anything Eurovision – she wrote something like that on the last post I saw – and that’s understandable, although I obviously miss her comments, too.

Jo.
Jo.
6 months ago

I find it decent for a “dream team song”, however too repetitive.
5.5/10

Roelof Meesters
Roelof Meesters
6 months ago

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Moldova can’t do ballads well (O Mie being literally the ONLY exception), they should stick to their happy traditional entries, those are by far their best. 5/10

Ashton
Ashton
6 months ago

O Mie was absolutely stunning, I was so shook when I heard it because I was so surprised that Moldova could create a song so magical

Dawid
Dawid
6 months ago

Exactly my thoughts. Most of the time it seems like they just picked “whatever” because they didn’t have something memorable like Sunshine Project. This song is another “whatever” for me. I’m talking about song, not about Natalia. I’m sure she could do much, much better with another song.

Héctor
Héctor
6 months ago

How this has been able to score a 5.75? It’s literally “prison” screamed about a hundred times. Nothing is original, relevant or interesting here. Cheesy lyrics, unpleasant screaming, dated sound… Did Kirkorov bought some high scores here too? Really… one of the worst entries this year. Paired with an incredible but not-related-to-the-song performance, it would have made the easily impressionable audience vote for it and maybe qualify thanks to an additional sim card buying . 11. Italy – Diodato – Fai rumore (6.75) 13. Cyprus – Sandro – Running (6.75) 14. Belgium – Hooverphonic – Release Me (6.75) 24. Portugal… Read more »

Jose
Jose
6 months ago

My 39th. I’m really not keen on the recent Moldavan entries – the last one that I enjoyed was ‘O Mie’ (and ‘Hey Mamma’ wasn’t bad, but way too overrated). That being said, I don’t like anything about this. This sound so forced and so outdated. This ballad comes from the 2000’s and even there it wouldn’t be one of the bests. The instrumental is a juxtaposition of melodies, especially in the last part – that doesn’t have any coherence. And it is so repetitive. She repeats the chrous ad nauseam (Prison; i can’t escape from this prison). The ending… Read more »

Mita
Mita
6 months ago

It is a GREAT song, maybe the best that has ever come from the “dream team” : modern, dark, interesting BUT having said that, I think it doesn’t work for her.
A singer like Dihaj for example , would have made this sound and look as it should be.

Colin
Colin
6 months ago

MOLDOVA – Dramatic and sensational are staples of Kirokov’s discography and Prison is built on those adjectives. There are constant mini-climaxes and musical intensity. It’s both eerie and sensual. Her torment of ”be or not to be” can be very relatable, yet the way it’s been done resembles a mid-level soap opera. All the drama is here, but it feels more for the eyes than for the heart. Natalia still needs to work on her stage craft-work, because a song like this needs to feel like a burning desire for three minutes. It’s a solid dramatic piece, but doesn’t pull… Read more »

Skiwalko
Skiwalko
6 months ago

“Prison” is a beautiful empty shell. I really like the production of this track, I think it gives some life to the otherwise dreadful song and I find the usage of the traditional instruments particularly intresting. But the song itself sounds like it was written 20 years ago, and then forgotten about until now. It’s dull, unoriginal, repetitive and essentially meaningless. Clichéd phrases such as “I don’t wanna be with you/without you” are repeated ad nauseam, so that you actually want to escape this “Prison” and I’m not sure if that was the writers’ intention. 3.5/10

Kristina
Kristina
6 months ago
Reply to  Skiwalko

“the song itself sounds like it was written 20 years ago” You really need to update your Spotify lists with something else then cheap pop songs.

PP77
PP77
6 months ago

One of better song for me. Moldova is in my TOP 10. I think Moldova would suprise many at Eurovision with result and staging of song

Icaron
Icaron
6 months ago

This year’s most underrated song. This is one of my favourites. The song is so strong and relatable. It makes me cry every time. I think Natalia sounds good. It would’ve been great to see this on Rotterdam’s stage.

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
6 months ago

I quite like this and it’s in my top 26 which would make it of the quality that I think it should be a finalist. She’s an excellent vocalist who can belt out the big stuff in a year where a lot of the female soloists are avoiding doing so. The production is actually pretty good for a Moldovan song, too.

Mr Vanilla Bean
Mr Vanilla Bean
6 months ago
Reply to  Briekimchi

Moldovan? Isn’t the music Kirkorov’s fault?

Tibor
Tibor
6 months ago
Reply to  Briekimchi

I don’t hear the big stuff she’s belting out, Briekimchi, most certainly not in the live version. But even in the studio cut her voice sounds very thin and if we speak of range, “Prison” honestly isn’t that challenging. I’m glad, you like it, but I don’t really get this part of your comment.

Colin
Colin
6 months ago
Reply to  Tibor

I’d say that Natalia needs to work on her stage craft-work in general. She *is* a good singer (and indeed knows how to belt), yet she doesn’t seem to always be in control of it. She knows to sing in English better than many other Moldovan finalists, but still needs work on her enunciation. She has the charisma to fill the stage presence, yet sometimes feels not fully aware of the camera. Everything in her live performance is ”fine, but…” I would be expecting a *really big* staging with literal walls, chains and light/shadow contrast had the show proceeded, but… Read more »

Tibor
Tibor
6 months ago
Reply to  Colin

Well, I’m not very enticed into rummaging through her oeuvre, but judging by this song, studio cut and live perfromance, I just don’t hear it, sorry. Maybe she is an exceptional vocalist on all her other stuff, but on this one she definitely isn’t. You can still like the song, of course. 😉

Colin
Colin
6 months ago
Reply to  Tibor

Well, “like” is really good description for how I feel about it. I am usually okay with dramatic power ballads, so I appreciate the alluring nature of this entry, especially it’s darker undertones. But as you pointed out, there are things to be improved in her performance (mostly to do with vocal control and enunciation issues) and the lyrical content is hardly re-inventing the wheel (though, as Kosey mentioned “I’m surrounded by walls covered in all your memories” is pretty good). Considering the rest of the Moldovan line-up, I am okay with this winning.

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
6 months ago
Reply to  Tibor

I think she belts out the prison part over-and-over but maybe I over-egged the sentiment slightly. It’s not that challenging to sing but in a year where a lot of female soloists are going down the Romania/Bulgaria route, it is nice that there are a few doing a good ol’ dramatic ballad.

@Vanilla Bean – Oh to be able to go back and change the word “song” for “entry”. 😉

Erasmus
Erasmus
6 months ago

This is not something I appreciate. It’s a dated ballad we all heard a hundred times before. She is gorgeous tho! Nothing more to say, I never listen to it and that tells a lot.

My Score: 3,5/10

1. Belgium 9/10
2. Portugal 8/10
3. Italy 8/10
4. Cyprus 6,5/10
5. Moldova 3,5/10

Tom
Tom
6 months ago

My rating:
Moldova 6/10

Mr Vanilla Bean
Mr Vanilla Bean
6 months ago

A musical prison indeed. I’m sorry, a ‘pree-sen’.

James
James
6 months ago

I hear “Freezer”. 😀

Mr Vanilla Bean
Mr Vanilla Bean
6 months ago
Reply to  James

They should totally rename it ‘Freezer’. I’d give one extra point for creativity. 😉

Gwendal
6 months ago

Moldova is like Cyprus, but upgraded. It’s plastic pop, but golden plastic. Superficial in its “drama”-thing, but musically interesting. Surprisingly atmospheric song coming from Kirkorov. Lyrically boring, though. The last part could have been longer (the first one shorter).

01. ITA 9,5
10. BEL 7
11. MOL 7
13. POR 6,5
19. CYP 6

Ashton
Ashton
6 months ago
Reply to  Gwendal

Completely agree tbh, i wish the last minute or so was just the whole song (with some build at the beginning of course)

Odysseas
Odysseas
6 months ago

This song is a mess. I don’t think the concept was fully captured in the video clip. Its kinda confusing to watch. The song itself is something different but it doesn’t have direction. Nothing more to say here.
Overall: 4/10 (27th)

Mia
Mia
6 months ago

Everything here screams faaakee, ugh.. Her “dramatic” performance, so called “dark” atmosphere, typical artificial product of you-know-who made for staging.
4/10

Kosey
Kosey
6 months ago

5th place: Moldova – 9/10 – I love the splashing 80s percussion, the delicate piano and the bubbling bass which perfectly complement the classy, old school vibe. The song builds very nicely and has many interesting, well-connected elements. I also like the maturity of the lyrical content, it speaks to my experience of relationships when you get to a certain time in your life – “I’m surrounded by walls covered with all your memories” – is a great line. I am also enthralled by Natalia’s sophisticated beauty. Moldova deserves its spot in my top 5 with this entry.

Paul
Paul
6 months ago

I know this isn’t going to be popular but this is my number 6 for the year!

Kosey
Kosey
6 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Finally, someone else who is putting this song where it deserves to be!

Paul
Paul
6 months ago

I know it won’t be popular but this my number 6 this year!!!

GEE
GEE
6 months ago

Loca Boca, and ill give you my choca, do you want it or not!

Tibor
Tibor
6 months ago

I don’t listen to this, it’s in my bottom 10, and I don’t like anything about it. The instrumentation wants to be original with the orchestral samples and the completely unmotivated castagnette sounds (!), but fails in this endeavour, because the composition is just so pedestrian and Natalias vocals are unconvincing (we have heard her live). Last year we at least had a vocal, this year we have nothing.

Mr Vanilla Bean
Mr Vanilla Bean
6 months ago
Reply to  Tibor

A wonderful comment. All the money in the world can’t buy you the talent to make non-pedestrian compositions.

Tibor
Tibor
6 months ago

Thank you. Not everybody seems to think so.

Ashton
Ashton
6 months ago

For some reason this is a guilty pleasure of mine along with San Marino and Armenia. This instrumental is everything, and while the lyrics are almost as cringy as The Best In Me, it’s really not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. It’s especially good in the last 30 seconds. It wasn’t my first choice from Moldova (it was my fifth), and it wasn’t going to qualify, but come on, we have to admit that this is miles better than Stay, which had no redeeming qualities apart from her voice.