Moldova's Top 5 Most Iconic Eurovision Staging
August 27 is Independence Day in Moldova, commemorating the declaration of their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Fourteen years later, Moldova entered the Eurovision Song Contest for the very first time, making their debut at the 2005 contest in Kiev. In the years since, they have made the Grand Final on ten occasions with their best result being third place in 2017.
To celebrate, we take a look back at Moldova’s Top 5 most iconic staging at the Eurovision Song Contest. Renowned for being the home of some of the more ‘quirkier’ entries in the competition, it was tough to narrow this category down to just five entries! Interestingly, Moldova tends to do better with more performers on the stage. They have performed with the maximum number of six people in ten of their fifteen acts to date. Of these, the only non-qualifier was Eduard Romanyuta in 2015. On both occasions where they had only two people on stage they failed to qualify (Geta Burlacu 2008 and Lidia Isac 2016).
In their second year competing at Eurovision, Moldova automatically qualified to the Grand Final based on their sixth place finish the year before. Arsenium (Arsenie Todîras) feat. Natalia Gordienko and Connect-R (Ștefan Relu Mihalache) performed ‘Loca’ sung in both English and Spanish. The trio were joined on stage by one male and two female dancers. A screen in the shape of a windsurfing sail set the backdrop. Projections of blue and orange appeared on the six sets of LED stairs that bordered the stage in Athens. The song featured multiple costume changes from Natalia, who began the performance in a bikini top and mini skirt. Part way through the song she disappeared behind the screen and emerged minus the mini skirt, revealing matching briefs to the excited cheers from the audience! Later in the song she danced behind the screen again and came out holding a bunch of flowers wearing a gold wedding dress. Not wanting to miss out on the fun, rapper Connect-R rode a scooter across the stage mid-way through the performance and then removed his shirt to reveal a black tank top underneath. At the end of the song, Natalia threw her flowers into the audience where they were caught by a couple of excited women sitting in the front row. What any of this had to do with the nonsensical lyrics of the song is anyone’s guess! Alas the multiple costume changes and props didn’t help, and the song finished in 20th place. Natalia was selected to compete for Moldova again in 2020 with her song ‘Prison’ but missed out due to the cancellation of the contest due to COVID-19. In unconfirmed reports, Moldova has internally selected her to compete for them again in 2021 with the same song writing team as this year.
The 2010 contest in Oslo saw SunStroke Project (Anton Ragoza, Sergei Yalovitsky, Sergey Stepanov) and Olia Tira represent Moldova with ‘Runaway’. The performance began with fireworks and Ragoza rotating on a small podium with his violin and bow adorned in blue neon lights. Dressed in futuristic street clothes with red flashing lights on the LED and two back up dancers, vocals were provided by Tira and Yalovitsky. But the star of the show was saxophonist Stepanov whose solo performance after each chorus was characterised by dance moves that were said to be inspired by ducks waddling through sand on the beach. The song didn’t do particularly well in the contest finishing 22nd, after just scraping through from its semi-final in 10th place. However, if asked to name an iconic Moldovan Eurovision act this one inevitably comes up. Stepanov was dubbed ‘epic sax guy’ after his saxophone solo became an internet phenomenon. The sequence was used as the subject of a number of memes and viral videos and also featured on the soundtrack of a couple of video games. A video featuring the solo on loop has had over 73 million YouTube views and a 10 hour version has had a staggering 37 million views!
3. SunStroke Project - ‘Hey Mamma’ (2017)
Seven years later, SunStroke Project were back at Eurovision, performing ‘Hey Mamma’ at the show in Kiev. The song about a man trying to win over his new mother-in-law had raised a few eyebrows in the lead up to the contest with its risqué video clip and wasn’t considered one of the favourites before rehearsals began. The violin and saxophone were back with the group dressed as grooms. They were accompanied by three female singers who assisted the group with their constantly moving choreography. Contrasting black and white moving shapes were displayed on the LED screen which became mirror images of the group and their instruments during the first chorus. The girls, originally dressed in white tops and black skirts and hats had their microphones cleverly concealed inside a bunch of flowers that each was holding.
As in their 2010 performance, there was a saxophone solo after each chorus and it was after the second of these that the girls flung off their hats and skirts to reveal bridal veils and white skirts underneath. At the end of the song, the brides flung their bouquets into the audience, discretely removing their microphones first! The entertaining performance scored huge cheers from fans in the stadium. It was loved by both juries and televoters. The song finished second in its semi-final and went on to finish third overall, winning the televote and coming second with the juries. The result remains Moldova’s best ever placing at Eurovision and even spawned another 10 hour YouTube video of the sax solo on loop!
2. Aliona Moon – ‘O mie’ (2013)
In 2012, she was a backing vocalist for Pasha Parfeny but in 2013, the roles were reversed when Aliona Moon represented Moldova with Parfeny’s Romanian composition ‘O mie’. In an effort to make the performance more interesting, Aliona and her team came up with the idea of using a long dress on which they could project various images. With three male backup dancers and a male pianist all dressed in white accompanying her, Aliona wore a white dress with flowing skirt. The first half of the song saw fluorescent pink lava projected on to the bottom half of the dress, with some stars added in on the second chorus. As the song reached its peak, Aliona rose five metres in to the air, as the dress expanded and the projections became more intense. Lightning from the LED screen appeared to strike the dress from both sides before the projection turned to flames. At the end of the song, it appeared Aliona was on fire before the flames turned to an icy blue colour. Aliona's dress was so heavy that it had to be shipped to Malmö in Sweden separately at a reported cost of 1.5 million Euros which was partly funded by the Moldovan Government. The stunt proved popular with voters and the song finished fourth in its semi-final and went on to finish 11th in the Grand Final.
1. DoReDoS –‘My Lucky Day’ (2018)
When DoReDoS won Moldova’s national selection with ‘My Lucky Day’ in 2018, many Eurovision fans thought the song sounded tired and dated. With the absence of LED screens on the stage at Lisbon, delegations were forced to think outside the square when planning their stage concepts. With the help of three body doubles, the group consisting of Marina Djundiet, Eugeniu Andrianov and Sergiu Mita performed in front of a large white panel containing three doors. Together they told the story of a woman having a relationship with two men at the same time, using complex choreography to avoid each party being seen by the other as they popped in and out of the doors in the panel. Reportedly costing only 5000€, the staging was a hit with viewers and the song finished 10th after a third place finish in their semi final.
Just before the contest, a behind the scenes staging video was released, revealing just how the group managed to pull off their clever routine by showing the view from behind the panel as they performed.