Three-Minute Throwdown: Romania 2020 Edition

On Friday, TVR released the five songs to be sung by Roxen, who on 11 February was internally selected by Romania to perform as the Romanian representative for Eurovision. Of the five songs to be sung during Selecția Națională 2020 at 20:00 on 1 March (CET; 21:00 local) (viewable through TVR 1, both via television signal and online), only one of these will grace the open stage at the Rotterdam Ahoy.


Alcohol You

F major. Quite a bit of reverb + delay and dark, but not muffled like underwater. Piano and strings among synth/production elements. Rather minimalistic at the beginning of the chorus. The breathiness and associated high frequencies are helping balance out the otherwise dark sound. How is the vocoder part in the second chorus going to work live? This is a really bittersweet song, and her vocals really emanate a slightly more pointed Lana Del Rey crossed with Lorde vibe.

Beautiful Disaster

Starts with clockwork ticking. Creepy vibes, bouncing between Am and E7alt (rootless in the beginning) chords with a cave-like reverb and ample gliding between notes (it’s in A minor). Catchy but maybe more suited for Halloween. Second chorus adds strings that are as glidy as her singing on the E+ (E augmented, E-G#-B#) part of the E7alt chord (a catch-all term to say that some notes – D# and the B-B# dissonance – are outside of the normal confines of the chord and have to have accidentals – sharps (#) or flats (b) – attached to them. Pretty spicy and even includes some overdriven guitar bends to boot at the end.

Cherry Red

“Hola mi amor” – she’s not the first Romanian singer I’ve known to have used Spanish within their songs. Syncopated and welcomes an overt tresillo in the chorus, which comes after a brief holding of the final sounds in the preceding verse. Solid build into breakdown around 1:00 – could have dropped the volume a little bit while keeping the same sounds. Sirens sampled throughout. I can imagine this song doing well with fans, but besides the fat synth bass, language, and much more electronic-based production, it’s a bit hard to completely separate this from the other dance tracks that include the tresillo pattern. Solid EDM, though. It was G minor, by the way.

Colors

D major. Back to the bluer color vibes. More pop-rock here, though definitely with some production values and definitely pop drops later. The guitar emphasizes the tresillo rhythm, while in the pre-choruses (they include around 0:22), the drums are playing in half-time feel. Predominantly pentatonic melody (particularly in the pre-chorus and chorus) meets vocal processing into a drop at 1:10. Something in the chorus is reminding me of a 2000s pop-rock song that I can’t place my finger on; it’s the “you let the light in” part and the minor 7, add 4 harmony inside (E-G-A-B-D: extra note A). If you know it, please enlighten me!

Storm

Mysterious beginning. 12/8 swung. She’s singing B and F#, which points to B minor, most likely, but the chords have been Gmaj7#11 and Em6/9 (yes, E-G-B-C#-F#. As mentioned in the Festivali i Këngës final preview, that sort of chord began “Rise Like a Phoenix”, the 2014 winning song performed by Conchita Wurst). The part around 0:44 is really interesting, with the combination of the underlying compound rhythm emphasizing an even “one-and-a two-and-a” triplet rhythm while the new percussive elements show. Interesting move to 4/4 in the chorus… as with all songs that use multiple time signatures (mentioned in discussing DRISKNA’s song in the Latvian national final Supernova), I find uniformity between sections to be less jarring, though given the titular matter I can understand if it’s meant to be a bit more jarring by design, not unlike “Icebreaker” (Norway 2016, Agnete). Key change to C# minor in the final chorus. Ends on an Amaj7 chord, away from tonic and unresolved despite Roxen singing “you can’t stop me”. Fun song that also with the piano part reminds me a bit of Sara Bareilles (“Love Song”).


Of these five songs, which do you most want to see performed in Rotterdam? The selection and decision will be made on Sunday night; make sure to tune in!

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