In 2018, she crashed out in the Selecția Națională semi-finals. But two years, on, Romania’s Serena is enjoying a second wave of popularity for her song “Safari”, after the steamy dance track went viral on the popular social media app TikTok.

“Safari” was one of the 60 semi-finalists in the mammoth expanded edition of Selecția Națională 2018. Serena — real name Diana Șerban placed ninth in her semi, missing out on making the grand final.

But since then, “Safari” used been used in over 134,400 videos on the popular social media video platform TikTok. For contrast, Eurovision 2021 hits such as Daði Freyr’s “Think About Things” has only been used 16,600 times, while The Roop’s “On Fire” has 6704 videos. However, Little Big’s “Uno” has been used in 829,600 videos.

 

It’s the chorus of “Safari” that is used in all those TikTok videos, where Serena sensually murmurs:

Come on, boy, move that body
‘Cause tonight I’m naughty, naughty
Dance with me like it’s my party
We go wild, we’re in safari

But while it’s an evocative dance song, it isn’t just used for sexy TikTok moments. A quick browse shows that  “Safari” has been used as the soundtrack for computer gameplay, a fancam tribute to K-pop giants BTS, a celebration of great cricketing moments, and a number of original skits.

The international flavour of the song has seen its appeal extend far beyond Romania. “Safari” seems especially popular with fans in India, with one fan asking “Who thought this song is an Indian song when you listened to it for the first time?”

The TikTok popularity has extended to YouTube. The song’s music video has clocked up over 111.48 million views, while other versions — lyrics, remixes — have taken in a few more million.

It’s even more popular than two recent national final hits: Poland’s Margaret with “Cool Me Down” (26.5 million views) and Spain’s 2018 runner-up “Lo malo” from Aitana & Ana Guerra (93.3 million views).

“Safari” isn’t the first national final song to find another audience online. Jordan Clarke‘s UK national final entry “Freaks” picked up a new audience who connected with its message of unity for teenage misfits.

Serena’s “Safari” at Selecția Națională 2018

Going into Romania’s national selection for Eurovision 2018, “Safari” was a huge fan favourite. In a wiwibloggs readers poll taken ahead of the second semi-final, the song was the big winner. 41% of wiwibloggs readers picked Serena’s entry as their favourite.

Sadly, this popularity didn’t carry into the semi-final. Serena’s live performance of the song didn’t quite capture the magic of the studio version. The semi-final qualifiers were decided by jury votes alone.

Serena placed ninth overall — out of 12 acts in that semi-final. The jury favoured Jukebox feat. Bella Santiago with the electronic anthem “Auzi cum bate”, Rafael & Friends with the folk-rock anthem “We Are One” and Eurovision 2006 star M I H A I with his power ballad “Heaven”.

The national final was eventually won by The Humans with “Goodbye”, which failed to make the grand final at Eurovision 2020 in Lisbon.

But two years after all that, it’s “Safari” that has proven to be the enduring mega hit. The question is now, will the TikTok virality translate into a career boost for Serena?

What do you think? Should Romania have sent “Safari” to Eurovision 2018? Should Serena represent her country at Eurovision 2022? Tell us your thoughts below!

Read more Romania Eurovision news here

 

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Ermin
Ermin
14 days ago

Hope she will become more popular, and then capitalize for being called to sing here and there.

Nobody
Nobody
14 days ago

Rockefeller Street (Estonia 2011) is a tik tok hit as well.

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
15 days ago

I don’t know how much this helps the artist but I guess any sort of popularity and usage is a good thing. Am glad because I really liked this song at the time.

Ricky Gervais
Ricky Gervais
15 days ago

I play ‘Safari’ sometimes at work and it seems to be popular. Actually my Eurovision/NF playlist usually gets the attention, because I have picked the less known songs. People always say how great these are and then they are genuinely surprised these came from ESC.

FanESC
FanESC
15 days ago

Wow, I just heard the lyrics you were talking about in the article and then came the chorus and I feel like I already listened to it but can’t tell if it was in Eurovision videos on youtube or in real life, on french radios or on TV, for example, but it definitely sounds like I heard the song before.

Kris
Kris
15 days ago

Well , I can tell if this song got a proper release In India it would have done really well . Also she looks like one of our actors in the music video

Esc addict
Esc addict
15 days ago

Carla Bim Bam toi used more than 1,2 million times on Tik tok, and 59 millions views on youtube. Carla got a golden tik tok trophy to be the first french song to have been used more than 1 million times. Was viral in Poland Italy Belgium Switzerland The Netherlands even in Russia, look at the comments on the youtube video. Not a Jesc winner but an international hit.

Esc addict
Esc addict
14 days ago
Reply to  Esc addict

Sorry for my mistake, until now it was used more than 1,7 million times on Tik Tok, just incredible.

Last edited 14 days ago by Esc addict
Matt
Matt
15 days ago

I actually liked this song, thought it could have done well in Eurovision, glad it’s gone so viral. I think the way these songs go viral makes it hard for the artist to capitalise off of it in a meaningful way, but I hope it’s paying some bills for her.

Meckie
Meckie
15 days ago

Safari would have done better with the new Eurovision rule with backing singers on tape.

Una
Una
15 days ago

“Should Serena represent her country at Eurovision in 2022?” Giggles. LOL. Is this question for real?

Ashton
Ashton
15 days ago
Reply to  Una

Yeah. It is. That’s why they asked it