Moldova is one of those nations where you never really know what you’re gonna get at Eurovision. They have sent some super fun entries in recent years, such as Sunstroke Project and DoReDoS, but then they love a ballad as well. This year they opted for the latter, with former Moldovan representative Natalia Gordienko returning with the song Prison!
Anita (Eurovision Union)
Song and Vocals
It’s been many years since we last saw Natalia Gordienko, when she featured with Arsenium at Eurovision 2006. She performed the trashy (but guilty pleasure) song Loca on stage in a skimpy blue and gold two piece, and it’s safe to say that times have definitely changed! This time around we are getting a Philipp Kirkorov dream team song, but for me, it’s no dream come true.
A few songs this year were written by Dimitris Kontopoulos and/or Sharon Vaughn, namely Greece and Estonia, and Prison falls somewhere between the two. Out of the three, Greece came out on top, while Moldova and Estonia feel much the same. Both are bland, outdated ballads that I barely want to listen to in the context of Eurovision, let alone outside the context of the contest. Prison feels criminally monotonous in its melody and lyrics, and it takes almost a minute of the half of the song to reach some sort of peak. By that time, we’ve essentially heard the entire song.
On the positive side, I don’t mind the instrumentals and production of this song, although it is very dream team-esque. In terms of live performance, Natalia has a good voice, but I feel confident to say that it doesn’t reach the heights of the studio version. Without impressive live vocals, there isn’t much to redeem what is a very plain package from Moldova.
Performance and Act
The national final performance was ok, but nothing spectacular. This is the type of song that probably needs props just to give it some interest, but it would have needed to be amped up for Eurovision if Moldova were serious about qualifying. Not to say they aren’t capable, they managed to create a spectacular performance with DoReDoS, and their song I would have labelled as a non-qualifier prior to the contest. Knowing Moldova, they would have taken the prison theme serious in the stage performance – forget the metaphors, it has to be literal!
Next Up: 2021
Natalia was chosen through a national selection, but it’s not uncommon to see Moldova struggle with numbers for their public selections, so considering that she is a fairly big name, they may just pair her up with the dream team once again. If she is selected internally for 2021, i’d love to see her go down the upbeat pop route, as I think Moldova have produced better upbeat numbers at Eurovision than they have ballads. If she is chosen, hopefully by 2021 she has escaped her prison, and Moldova can be on track for a qualification.
Underwhelming is probably the best word to describe Moldova this year. There were some great ballads this year, and I just find that Prison comes across as so dated in comparison. I want something edgier and more contemporary from Moldova, whether that’s a pop number or ballad. A clear non-qualifier had this year’s contest gone ahead.
Song and Vocals
We know Natalia Gordienko from the Eurovision Song Contest 2006, but she has developed herself as a singer and performer in the later years. In the song ‘Prison’ she shows she is a capable singer and the vocals are in order. The song itself however is lacking any inspiration and originality. The lyrics are cliché and there is not anything surprising happening in the three minutes. For me it was one of the least impressive songs of the field in 2020.
Performance and Act
The performance of Natalia in the Moldovan final was also underwhelming for me. Yes they tried to make it interesting with lighting and props, but it just did not work out for me. Overall, the composition and act together are a bit boring. I know that Moldova has a history of having a lacklustre act in their national final, but changed it into something memorable at Eurovision. Perhaps they had big plans with the metaphoric prison theme in Rotterdam, as well.
Next up: 2021
The Moldovan broadcaster has not yet announced whether they will stick with Natalia Gordienko as their singer for 2021. She was not chosen internally, but through a national final, so perhaps the broadcaster will come up with a new preselection. The given fact that they were not predicted a good result with her in 2020 might push their decision towards choosing something completely new. But, of course, Gordienko is kind of an established name in the small nation, so it would not be so surprising if they stick with her and give her a new song for 2021.
With this song, Moldova was a contender for the last place at Eurovision 2020 for me. The song lacks any memorable hook and the performance is also quite cliché, despite good vocals. However, we have seen with Moldova that they have a very strong revamp when it comes to staging their entries at Eurovision. But if it would have been enough to lift this song into success… I don’t think so.
Additional Scores from Eurovision Union and ESCDaily editors:
Average Score: 5.4/10
What do you think of Prison? Follow our Eurovision 2020 reviews here.