Romania selects Ester Peony in controversial national final
After years of doing well in Eurovision, Romania did not qualify for the final last year. This was the first time they did not make it to Saturday night while actually participating (they were disqualified in 2016). You’d think they would try their everything to make it back into the final this year, but instead they served a whole lot of controversy during their national final. A couple of artists opted out before it even started, because of a questionable voting system. Six judges together had 6/7 of the power, while televoting only amounted to 1/7. Needless to say this system had a surprising winner as a result. Not the favourite Laura Bretan took the victory, but Ester Peony with her song ‘On A Sunday’.
Before the national final, Romania was already in fourth position with the bookmakers, which is said to be influenced by Laura Bretan. The young singer with a classical voice who was the public’s favourite had her own little controversy going on though, as a video of her supporting an anti gay marriage bill, was shared by Eurovision fans. Two bloggers of Eurovision site WiwiBloggs did not give her high marks anymore although she seemed to be one of their favourites in their video reviews posted a couple of weeks prior. A song that they did not appreciate much at first, ‘On A Sunday’ by Ester Peony, did receive their 12 points in the end. This was enough to win the whole thing, eventhough televoters only placed Ester 8th with 3 points.
I think it is safe to say that Romania would have had a better chance at Eurovision with Laura’s song. Ester Peony’s ‘On A Sunday’ is simply not as memorable or impactful on first listen. The midtempo pop track has a soulful vibe and an edgy side and reminds me of Croatia and Latvia‘s entries last year (which both did not make the final). The ‘hey hey’ parts are quite catchy, but the song definitely lacks a compelling chorus that grabs you by the throat on first listen.
The good news is that Ester is a charismatic performer who knows how to sell her song with attitude. The chair she poses in, showing off her red dress, is a nice touch, but towards the end her getting up and sitting down becomes a bit distracting. Vocally, Peony did a more than decent job, although it was not flawless yet. Especially the higher notes in the middle-eight could use some extra work. Her diction is sometimes lacking as she seems to force an accent which makes the words she sings hard to understand. ‘On A Sunday’ is a pleasant entry that will definitely not belong to the worst performances in the semi finals this year ,but at the same time it could easily get lost being performed in between 18 other songs. Romania could potentially crash out in the semi’s two years in a row…
Update: Ester Peony premiered the slightly creepy music video for the updated version of ‘On A Sunday’. Not a lot has changed, but there is a little revamp going on that makes the tune sound a bit more refined. I doubt it will be enough to bring Romania back in the grand final. Bookmakers have her chances currently at 29th out of 41 for the victory.
Review on semi-final performance:
Ester Peony brings a moody piece of midtempo pop with a dark performance. The looks of Peony and her team are inspired by Dracula and we get a dramatic performance full of fire, rain and bats. All together it was quite extra, but I have to say I lived for it and it somehow fits the ominous vibe of the song. Ester gave an impressive vocal performance and for a second I thought that it would be enough to qualify for the final. Unfortunately it did not and although I would have loved to see this show again on Saturday, I have to admit the song does miss a proper hook, which makes it less catchy on first listen. It took me a while to warm to ‘On A Sunday’ too and as we all know, Eurovision ain’t got no time for that. Romania did sneak into the top 10 of the juries, but televoters placed her 14th, resulting in a 13th position overall.
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