Romania Entry: Elena - The Balkan Girls (Promotional Video)

The Balkan Girls - Elena |

It's Thursday Revisit, so of course, I was going to do this song by Elena, since she was in the Eurovision Song Contest after all. I also believe I've seen this music video on the music channels years ago, and the fact that it charted in the UK shows how much this was well received in this country. The video on the official Eurovision YouTube channel is a bit on the blurry side but we can deal. Elena represented Romania at the Eurovision Song Contest 2009. She came 19th overall with 49 points. The song sure is catchy, it's just a shame she didn't do better in the contest. Watch Elena, backed up by two women, dance around and completely nail choreography, in this music video for Eurovision 2009 song "The Balkan Girls".

Elena, full name Elena Ghorghe, was originally in Latin group Mandinga, who have had a string of hit singles and albums and went on to represent Romania at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012 with "Zaleilah"; this was all after Elena left the group to pursue a solo career. Since Eurovision 2009, Elena has built her career and has released some amazing hits, I still can't get "Mamma Mia (He's Italiano)" out of my head when I hear it. I truly believe she has a great voice and could have an internationally successful song in the future. She was chosen as the Romanian representative through Selecția Națională, which she won; it's just a shame she didn't do better during the Grand Final. The song was written by Laurentiu Duta, Ovidiu Bistriceanu, Alexandru Pelin, and Daris Mangal.

There are officially two music videos, one released in promotion of Selecția Națională in January 2009, which is the one I'm reviewing, and then there's an official music video that was released in March 2009 (which I'll probably end up reviewing at a later date). This music video / promotional video was filmed at a TVR 1 studio.

There are two main scenes, one is a slight narrative which then leads into the main dance scene, and then there is a slight segmented performance piece throughout. Elena is looking fierce, totally embodying superstardom in every way.

We watch Elena ride a horse with her two backing dancers doing the same. They ride them to this spiral staircase which they then descend. This leads them to a venue, or in this case, the studio, where they all perform amazing choreography in sync and perfectly relating to the song throughout.

The performance segment sees Elena on a silver couch, performing the song engagingly. A male dancer appears in a hallway and performs a great dance sequence. It might have been a great added touch to see him and Elena perform together at the end.

Overall, the music video doesn't have a lot going for it, but Elena and all the dancers make up for it by performing and giving it their all. After looking back at her performance during the Eurovision Song Contest 2009, I do much prefer the music video as the girls aren't exactly in-sync. Regardless, Elena gave it her all on that stage, and she could've faired much worse. It is quite a forgettable song and stage production, which probably didn't help; and I only just remember it way back when I watched this show in 2009.
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Romania Entry: Ilinca Featuring Alex Florea - Yodel It!

Yodel It! (feat. Alex Florea) - Ilinca |

Now, this was one of my top favourite songs from the Eurovision Song Contest 2017. It's so different and so catchy and on paper, it shouldn't work, yet in life it does and it's so nice to see yodelling coming into mainstream with a hip-hop merge going on. Unfortunately, Romania only scored 282 points, placing them seventh; they got 58 points from the jury vote and scored 224 points from the televote. The staging wasn't anything special, and there were cannons on stage, but they didn't do anything in particular. As for the music video, it's epically brilliant. Watch Ilinca rise up into the sky to match Alex Florea, making this rising pillar the in thing to do as they bring yodel and hip-hop to Eurovision 2017 with the song "Yodel It!".

Ilinca, real name Maria Ilinca Băcilă, is well known in Romania for her unique yodel ability. She appeared on the second season of Românii au talent in 2012, then she appeared on the third season of The X Factor (Romania), and then she appeared on the fourth season of Vocea României where she got as far as the semi-finals. It's clear that she's determined to make a name for herself, and I'm glad she has proven that if you persevere, you'll get what you want, and that is what she's done by representing Romania at Eurovision 2017, I truly believe she's a star in the making, and she's so young. As for Alex Florea, real name Alexandru Florea, his career has only just started. He previously entered season four of The X Factor (Romania), as well as season five of Vocea României. This song was a favourite of mine from the start and I had hoped it would do better, but it was quite the competition this year. It was written by Mihai Alexandru and Alexandra Niculae. The song was originally written for Timebelle for the Switzerland Entry, but they chose "Apollo" instead, so Ilinca competed in the Romanian national selection, with Alex Florea, titled Selecţia Naţională.

Directed by Dan Petcan, the music video was filmed in the beautiful city of Cluj-Napoca, Romania. It's a pure performance piece, that has an incredible feature throughout that makes me wish this would happen to me in my everyday life; just imagine the views from atop the pillar.

In the visual, Alex Florea introduces the track, on top of a pillar in the middle of Cluj-Napoca. Ilinca sees him and decides she wants her own pillar, and so she rises into the sky with her own pillar as they sing their song opposite one another.

After some amazing performance vibes and scenes, Romanian people realises Ilinca and Alex Florea is on top of tall pillars in the middle of the city and they rush outside to watch. This reminds me of Inna, one of the biggest Romanian female artists, as she released a series of Rock The Roof videos where she's sung her songs on top of rooftops in various cities, she has also performed her songs on the side of streets.

Outside, the viewers also rise into the sky on their own pillars. This is the bit that truly messes up the video as a green screen is clearly used and it is completely obvious. Apart from the bad editing techniques, which totally lets this video down, everything else makes this video one of the best. The concept is perfect and totally relatable to the song. It's so good, it's just a shame I have to remove a star for the bad editing.
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Romania Entry: Voltaj - De la capăt (All Over Again)

This is the emotional song that should've done much better in the Eurovision Song Contest 2015. Romania entered Voltaj and scored 35 points placing them 15th, which isn't such a bad placement. The song is so emotional, and Voltaj easily displays the love lost of the song in the music video and studio recording, however, on the night, it just didn't go so well, and they didn't display the emotion quite the way we expected. This led to the not so great score. Voltaj's "De la capăt" is about people going to earn a living in a different country and leaving their children behind; in the video we watch a child missing his family.

Voltaj, are a five piece Romanian pop rock group consisting of Călin Goia, Gabriel "Porcus" Constantin, Adrian M. Christescu, Valeriu "Prunus" Ionescu, and Oliver Sterian. They have released many singles and albums, and have been going for many of years. They won best Romanian Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2005. Since this release, they went on to release an album. This song is full of emotion, although I totally agree that it's much better sung in Romanian. For some reason, Voltaj loses the emotion slightly when they change to the English version of the song towards the end. The song was written by Gabriel Constantin, Călin Gavril Goia, Adrian Christescu, Victor-Răzvan Alstani, Silviu-Marian Păduraru, Monica Stevens, and Andrei Leonte.

This music video totally relates to the song, and has a brilliant narrative backed up by a typical performance piece. The visual is so stunning.

The narrative is intense. You watch a lonely boy missing his parents as he goes through his life. He gets a parcel from his mother, who then he writes to before he goes and explores, possibly going on an adventure to which is a part of his memories from the time he spent with his family, that's my theory anyway.

The mother is currently living in Austria, clearly earning money to give her child a much better chance at life, who she's left behind in Romania. Unfortunately, the letter is sent back to him, which makes him pack his stuff up and take a boat trip out over the water. We presume he's trying to get to Austria, although that is a long way to go by boat.

The performance piece isn't anything new, it's a typical band performance. However, I love that there are some scenic scenes such as when they're on the cliff, as well as on the boat in the open water.

Overall, the music video is completely emotional. It has everything, from a narrative that is so sweet and that many children and adults will identify with in Romania, as well as other countries; to a performance piece that may be typical, but is scenic. The boy is so adorably cute, that it was great to choose him for the role. It's such a shame this song didn't do better at Eurovision 2015, but it all depends on the night and for some reason, the emotion didn't come across as well as previous performances.
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Romania Entry: Paula Seling & OVI - Miracle

This is the second time these two have competed in the Eurovision Song Contest before, back in 2010. However, they did much better back then, than they did in 2014. Yet, as a collaborative effort, they work well together, and we can only hope that they continue to come together on some songs in the future. This act managed to score Romania 72 points, placing them 12th. In the video, Paula Seling and OVI play the piano in a flooded room, two dancers show their skills amongst the water, while Paula Seling hits that all important long note.

Paula Seling and OVI competed in the 2010 contest and came third with song "Playing With Fire", unfortunately this song didn't have quite the same reaction, but the 2014 contest was extremely competitive. Paula Seling is one of the biggest female Romanian singers, completely known in her own country, she has released a number of albums and singles. She has yet to crack the international market, although she is known among Eurovision fans, maybe she'll return again one year. OVI, real name Ovidiu Cernăuţeanu, is a Romanian-Norwegian singer-songwriter, producer and musician. He has had a successful career to date. His songs have been on-form and has managed to hit charts around the world. If he continues, he will definitely make a name for himself, if he hasn't done so already within his own country. To become the Romanian entrant in the Eurovision Song Contest 2014, they took part in Selecția Națională and won. This song was written by Ovi Jacobsen, Philip Halloun, Frida Amundsen and Beyond51. The song contains an extraordinary long note, which Paula Seling nails every time, not many singers could hold a note for that long.

Directed by Alex Ceauşu, the video doesn't have much to it. A complete performance piece with Paula Seling and OVI, both together and separately. As well as a dance sequence, performed in the same room which features dancers Judith State and Mircea Andrei Ghinea.

There is not much going on in the video, Paula Seling and OVI give out great performance vibes as they sing the song, but the dancers distract from their performance at times. However, when they're playing the piano, I lose interest and I focus on the dancers more.

The dance choreography is intricately amazing, although some sequences look slightly messy as if they didn't fully finish the sequence, or we're missing some choreography. It could be all in the way it was edited, because it's undeniable how great Judith State and Mircea Andrei Ghinea are.

As for the setting, I don't really get why it changes from a flooded room into a spring seasonal room. It's as if they were hoping it to be the big miracle reveal and it just fails to amaze us or interest us. It distracts the viewers more than anything.

Overall, there doesn't seem to be any link in with the song, and the choreography may be brilliant but doesn't reflect the meaning behind the song. Paula Seling and OVI performed this much better live on the stage than they did in the music video. Although as a whole, it's not too bad. This song was my favourite that year; I voted many times for them to win,
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Romania Entry: Mandinga - Zaleilah

Mandinga represented Romania in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2012. The band has been around since 2002 but in 2006 they split and reformed with a new front singer. Unfortunately there is a rule with Eurovision saying that only 6 people can be on stage during an act's performance, so someone had to stay backstage. The 7 band members are: Elena Ionescu, Alex, Chupi, Zach (Valle), El Nino, Omar Secada and Tony. Been searching for hours for last names so if anyone can find them out for me with sources I'll be very grateful... So Romanian music has hit big here in the UK, with the likes of Inna (who was nearly the Eurovision act to come from Romania), and Alexandra Stan, will this band follow in their footsteps?

"Zaleilah" was written by Consti Ioniţǎ, Elena Ionescu and Omar Secada. Zaleilah is the dance they perform in the music video, and the verses is about Elena and her love interest, which is sung in Spanish. The fact that the band helped to write the song, is what makes it so much more interesting, as they believe what they are singing and would have performed it to the best of their ability. I like how it's a two-language song, and having English for its chorus and the bridge, makes it that little bit special. This is definitely my favourite song, and if it were down to me, the UK would have given this 12 points, but no matter how many times I voted for this band, the UK didn't award any points at all, which was quite disappointing. Romania came 12th in the Eurovision, but clearly deserved to be in the top 10. Funnily enough, in 2009 Elena Gheorghe represented Romania. Elena is an ex-member of Mandinga. She only managed to get to number 19th, whereas Mandinga got 12th, and 31 points more than what Elena did...

This music video is full of everything, there is a narrative with that purple ring, there are performance pieces, there is choreography, and even more there is scenes that doesn't relate, but fits well with the verses of the song. Usually this is what makes a good music video, but is it too much information? Is there too much going on for one person to handle?

Let's start off with the performance piece, I love how there is bagpipes from the start, and that they are performing on a stage. I also like the fact that each member of the band is included, and although focus is on Elena Ionescu, the other band members do get scenes. And how can you not love the choreography? It's easy to follow, and I can't stop doing the Zaleilah whenever it come on.

The narrative is a little different, you follow the ring, but it's not as clear to see what the storyline is. Clearly it is a special ring, that flashes due to light, but what does it do? We find that out at the end, but I don't think we know enough about it to be perfectly honest. And the sexy scenes of Elena, made me think it was Inna when I first saw it on the music channels, as it's sort of a typical Inna music video scene. I love how they are transported to Baku, Azerbaijan with the ring, it's quite clever.

Overall a great song that I can't get enough of, but it's accompanying music video is better than most Eurovision music videos, I just don't know how you can refuse to do the Zaleilah, as it's quite easy to do. I wish Mandinga the best of luck, in the future. They should be a hit in the UK, but it doesn't look like this song is going to chart, which is unfortunate. I hope they return to the UK, and give it one big shot.