Romania have had quite a consistent run at Eurovision, and for the most part have not only qualified to the final, but achieved good results. Last year marked the first year that Romania had failed to qualify to the final after finishing 11th in the semi-final. The nation is hoping to return to the final this year, and through a national final it was decided that Ester Peony would represent the nation with the song ‘On a Sunday’ but more importantly, will we be seeing it on a Saturday, or only on a Thursday?
Song + Vocals
It wouldn’t be a Eurovision national final season without some controversy, and in true spirit, Romania served up some national final controversy. With two strong favourites to win the national final, it was a surprise to see an underdog come through in the voting, and Ester has the disproportional split between jury and televote for her win at the national final.
She may not have been the public choice, but that’s not to say that she was not the best choice. Compared to the two favourites, Ester Peony was serving up the entry with the most risk, but also the most intriguing song. On a Sunday is quite a dark song, but also very theatrical which comes through melody and specifically the ending portion of the song where there is some opera influence.
Ester Peony has managed to fit an entire story within three minutes, and as a result I think this song has an interesting structure. Usually by the 2-2:30 mark we reach the bridge and final choruses however in this track another verse is added in before the final operatic chorus. Essentially there are 3 verses which for a 3 minute song feels somewhat unique, at least in the context of Eurovision.
This is a song that has taken a few listens to really catch on, and now I’m really enjoying the journey I’m taken on by Ester. I would say that this isn’t a typical radio friendly song, but it’s a song that could do well at Eurovision based on the potential of staging. It’s dark and dramatic, and it’s fronted by a fairly strong vocalist. I would say that there’s still room for vocal improvement, but with the right backing singers, this performance will be vocally confident but will still have that emotion and character that Ester conveys in her voice.
Act + Performance
The make or break for this entry will be the stage performance. For such a dramatic and theatrical song, you would expect something quite captivating and intense on stage at Eurovision. Clever use of lighting and props will help enhance the song, I would even go as far to say that the smoke machines could even be utilised for this performance. Romania often go with the ‘more is more’ strategy when it comes to staging their Eurovision entries, and I would say that there is the possibility of going too far with this. There needs to be the right amount of action on stage so that it enhances the vocal performance and song rather than distracts from it.
A perfect example of how not to stage this song would be anything like the music video. It’s chaotic and feels nonsensical at times and it really does take away from the meaning of the song. I understand the whole gothic vibe, but that music video gives new meaning to ‘extra.’
It’s hard to say how Romania will go this year. On one hand, I feel as if this song is strong enough to send Romania to the final, but I can’t help but think that the staging could be too chaotic (knowing Romania), mixed with the dull first half of the semi-final, this may struggle to stand out. If it does qualify, I feel that this could be a borderline qualifier. Really could go either way, and I do think that staging will be the deciding factor.