We’ve had five more entries confirmed this weekend, including those from Ireland, Estonia, Lithuania and France. There’s a growing sense that this year’s contest may lack strength in depth, which makes me more cautious betting against countries managing a top ten placing.
Of the recent selections, flying highest in the Betfair market is Romania’s entry, ‘Miracle’ from Ovi and Paula Seling. The duo already has a Eurovision following, having come third in 2010 with the poptastic ‘Playing With Fire’. This time around they’ve gone for a dance anthem, and the combination of genre and previous form will likely see the pairing remain towards the top of bookmakers’ lists.
I like a dance track as much as the next disco shape-thrower, but I’m not feeling ‘Miracle’ at all. Ultimately, a more important question is: will jurors and televoters agree with that assessment?
Firstly, let’s deal with my antipathy to the song. I can locate exactly when it starts: at 0.44 seconds when the generic dance beat kicks in for the chorus. The pair shout, “It’s A Miracle!” just as I’m thinking the opposite. Paula and Ovi are trapped within the beat whenever it’s there, and both melody and any sense of originality are sacrificed.
For me, it doesn’t hold a candle to ‘Playing With Fire’, which had an earworm of a chorus and happy sense of its own absurdity. As a case in point, Paula’s operatic middle eight in the latter doesn’t outstay its welcome, but in ‘Miracle’, her 18-second money note just has me begging it to stop.
Will Eurovision constituencies be more impressed than me? As a rule, dance tracks don’t have a good record in the contest. ‘Euphoria’ proved the exception to the rule, but last year’s German entry, ‘Glorious’ saw the trend return.
With hindsight, however, ‘Glorious’ had a number of things going against it: comparisons with the previous winning entry; the way the song was cut to get down below three minutes; and a few below-par performances when it really mattered. You’d at least have faith that Ovi and Paula, who have proved themselves in the heat of battle, would acquit themselves well on the big night.
Paula and Ovi also got their staging right last time, and it’s good for them there’s an awareness of how important it is to play to the camera (in hindsight, another flaw with ‘Glorious’ last year). On the basis of the national final, Ovi is remaining faithful to the polycarbonate piano and pyrotechnics. Whether it’s as effective this time around remains to be seen, but ‘Miracle’ could be lifted by its staging.
Romania can also rely on plenty of televoting allies, given its diaspora in places like Spain and Italy. That’ll be boosted to a small degree by the return of Portugal and offset to an even smaller extent by the withdrawal of Cyprus.
The country’s performance on the scoreboard has been instructively similar in the last two years, although the change in system has to be taken into account, given that we know jury and televote points in 2012, but their average rankings in 2013.
Still, in both cases, Romania managed seventh in the televote with a memorable performance, a showing that was dragged down by a bottom seven finish among jurors. The new system emphasised this process slightly more: ‘It’s My Life’ managing 13th in 2013 with 65 points, whereas ‘Zaleilah’ managed 12th in 2012 with 71 points.
The extra powers of five-person juries to negatively impact televote strength within their borders, affected Romania’s points with the likes of Spain last year, as explained here. National panels will decide if this happens again this year.
Whether Paula’s virtuoso vocals can overcome juries’ traditional antipathy to generic dance tracks performed generically will have a big impact on its points tally, and thus ability to get into the top ten.
I don’t think it’s a strong enough song to aim higher, although neither do I see a danger to Romania’s 100% qualification record in the two-semi era, performing in the second half of the smaller second heat.
If greater strength in depth can be found among the remaining 20 entries, I’ll be more confident about laying Romania in the newly-formed top ten market on Betfair. At the moment I feel safer merely saying that I can’t see ‘Miracle’ equalling the heights of ‘Playing With Fire’.
What do you think? Let us know your thoughts on the Romanian entry and other Eurovision matters below.