MOLDOVA: Anna Odobescu “Stay”

MOLDOVA: Anna Odobescu "Stay"

The performer representing Moldova in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest will be a 27 year old female vocalist called Anna Odobescu, with a song called Stay. Anna won the national selection contest on 3rd March 2019, convincingly beating her nearest rivals.

Anna is officially known as Mrs Anna Vdovichenko, having taken ‘Vdovichenko’ as her married name when she married her musical producer husband, Alexander Vdovichenko. Her private life is full of love, which might be the inspiration for Stay. One thing we know for sure though is that she has refreshingly said on record that it’s “not easy to combine her singing career with her life as a wife and mother”.

Pre-National Final Drama’s

The Moldovan national final, O melodie pentru Europa, has produced two ESC top ten entries for the country in the last two years. However, Eurovision fans who have already monitored the press about the 2019 Moldova ESC selections, and watched the national final, would be aware of all the drama on and off stage this year. The high dramatics of Anna’s song almost seem like a metaphor for the turbulence. Perhaps the Moldovan audience served the judges the drama they seemed to want, by choosing this big belter of a classical Eurovision Ballad.

The live audition stage has, for some time, been the source of some questionable acts and a veritable opening of a can of crazy. This year originally seemed no different, as acts tried to make it through to the next stage of the selection. It transpires, though, that the local jury was not in a "giving mood", resulting in a brutal and, now infamous, audition round. With only ten finalists being selected from the 26 entrants (and 28 eligible songs of the 30 original applications) that had “Dared to Dream”, this reduced the competitor numbers significantly, so there was no need to hold any semi-finals this year. Some well known and familiar Moldovan performers of previous competitions were amongst the fallen entrants. Consequently, this year’s ESC journey involved: equal parts harsh judging and lacklustre audition round; knocked-out fan favourite surprises; cancellation of shows; and the Final being rescheduled. Ultimately, the Final Show proceeded, and Moldova was ready to vote for their  favourite from the remaining ten potential competitors.

For those that noticed, and especially for those that didn’t notice, I can’t help but elaborate one final point about the drama. That is, yes, there were 30 actually entered in the Moldovan process (with two entrants singing two songs apiece). Two of these entrants were actually disqualified before the live auditions: one for submitting an incomplete file and the other for containing problematic lyrics which incited hatred and intolerance. Makes sense I guess!

Moldovan National Final Outcome

Ten acts battled it out for a spot in Tel Aviv this May to represent Moldova in the Second Semi Final. Anna Odobescu emerged victorious with her song Stay. Her song epitomised professionalism for three minutes straight and showcased the best that she had to offer in her winning entry. She performed 9th in the running order and put on a great show from start to finish that earnt her top marks from the jury and strong marks from the public.

The reduced number of entries being in the competition didn’t prove to be of any issue to her, or the other remaining performers, as they gave it their all during their performances. Vera Țurcanu’s request to perform again at the end of show was granted due to earlier technical problems.

Anna Odobescu finished first with the local juries and second with the televote. Her first placed jury vote was 75 points (23 points more than the jury second place), and she received top marks from no less than 5 jurors. She triumphed overall when she received 10 points from the public (public second place) which easily propelled the songstress to victory.

Maxim Zavidia finished second overall, with local jury sixth place and first with the public televote. Diana Brescan, who received the local jury second placed position, ended in third place equally with two other contestants after the public televote.

The Song

Stay is a classic Eurovision ballad. We all know that they have won Eurovision before; many times. The way Anna sings the song, Stay shows off some clear vocals as Anna yearns for a departing lover. She sings the song confidently and in full control.

The song was written by the team of Georgios “Gorgi” Kalpakidis, Thomas Reil, Jeppe Reil, and an Idol contestant Maria Broberg. In its current arrangement, the song now features a deeper production since the National Final: a classic Eurovision sound booms for three minutes, making it much richer than it was at O Melodie Pentru Europa. The song concludes with a big climax worthy of the Moldovan diva that she is. This has all the potential to become the winning element that Dami Im created in 2016.

The Songstress

Anna has a strong spiritual connection to music. From a very young age she has practised music and as a child dreamt of standing on a big stage. In her words: “if she had not had the ‘musical gift from God’, she would have loved to act”. Music allows her to find her inner silence, and brings her peace.

Anna holds multiple music degrees and is possibly the most academically accomplished Eurovision participant of all time when it comes to music studies. She has graduated from: 1) the Faculty of Pop-Jazz Vocal at the Pridnestrovian College of Music in Tiraspol; 2) a course in pop-jazz vocal from the Academy of Music, Theatre and Fine Arts in Chisinau. She has a total of ten years of music education.

Anna has also worked as a vocal coach teaching singing students at the Chisinau School of Arts. Her vocal range performing the song Stay is impressive, which is not surprising after all those years of vocal education.

Her participation in the Slavianski Bazaar 2016 contest for young performers where she came second in a field of over twenty participants from all over the world, is one of Anna’s biggest achievements to date. The Belarusian festival has provided us ESC fans with some successful Eurovision stars, including Ruslana, Donny Montell and Zejlko Joksimovic.

A little known fact is that she is the third Moldovan act in a row from the region of Transnistria. For those interested in European Geo-politics this is no small thing. Transnistria is a primarily unrecognised state that split from Moldova after the USSR dissolution. It seems the Moldovan’s aren’t worried about politics when it comes to choosing their entrant and this is a particularly endearing quality given the current political climate of European countries these days. As the third consecutive Moldovan Eurovision act to come from Transnistria, she follows DoReDoS and SunStroke Project. One thing should be clear; based on this alone we should expect great things from her at Eurovision in 2019.

Anna actually lost out to DoReDoS in 2018 when she finished fifth in O melodie pentru Europa with a song called Agony. With that performance she totally exhibited a different style of singing and fashion. It was more edgy and dark/moody, a rock-ballad-pop crossover in a modern fashion. If you watch the YouTube video of that performance, you might notice that her accent appears thicker and harder to understand when singing in English and that some of her English words were not pronounced clearly. What a difference a year has made with her English pronunciation and singing. In my opinion she seems to have had some vocal and English diction training. She now sings each English word clearly. If you compare the songs Agony to Stay, perhaps you will notice the same. Or perhaps you might just put it down to the differences in the songs.

One thing you will notice is that she is a bit of a ‘glamour puss’. Anna is a beautiful woman with a great fashion sense. Her taste in clothes, whether modern or classical, seems always impeccable and classy.

Apparently she likes to show her looks and fashion on Instagram. It appears that one feature of her personal looks is that she is particularly proud of her perfectly drawn brows. Apparently whether she is wearing full-face or a natural look, Anna makes sure her brows are always on fleek. Remember to check out her eyebrows in May 2019 during ESC.

Anna seems to be a person with perpetual optimism which helps her survive bad situations. For instance, just before the Moldovan national final she lost her voice completely and was not able to even talk. She thought that she would have to withdraw because she wouldn’t be able to sing. Drawing on her optimism mantra she focused on the need that “you always have to think positively, attune yourself only to the good”. The morning of the Moldovan final she told herself “I will do it” and she subsequently won.

Needless to say, she feels she will qualify for the Eurovision 2019 Final. She is not letting anything hold her down: “We will go with a competitive mindset, hoping to go through to the final. I feel that we will be in the final”. Being backed by a strong creative team, and the suggestion of support from even another former USSR country, she feels she has a good chance at least and there are plenty of reasons to believe in success. SunStroke Project will take care of her Eurovision staging and their successes are enough for me to support such optimism. It is said that they will only be involved in the creative process of staging of Stay rather than part of the collaboration with Anna. So unless there are any surprises, it seems Epic Sax Guy or the other adorable Moldovan guys wont be appearing on the stage with Anna.

Video Clips

The Official Video Clip shows the following: the outside and inside of a cream white mansion, with spiral staircase and white piano; Anna wearing red jacket, red trouser pants, and cream shirt (and sometimes just a cream dress); the guy wears a black suit and shirt, a black overcoat, and a red tie; there are both red and white roses; there are lush indoor plants and treescapes; there are blueish grey furniture and draperies and outside road. He leaves the mansion in a huff, but eventually returns to the mansion, apparently without the BMW car (creamy gold). It’s raining a lot. Even Anna seems to think so as she stares apparently forlorn out the window during this almost telemovie video clip. Even so, it would be difficult to miss the only signs of real colour when clips of a bright coloured fruit bowl placed prominently appear occasionally on the screen. There are some flowers off to the side with some colour but they seem unimpressive compared to the fruit bowl (and who doesn’t love a fruit bowl). Inside the car you get a good view of the cute guy’s wooden panelling. Back at the mansion it’s apparent that there are no carpets on the tile floor or stairs, seems like a trip hazard to me, unless you’re just sitting there or perhaps sprawled in the loving arms of a lover.

If asked the question: does the video clip for “Stay” make you feel wet? Well my answer at least would be perhaps; or perhaps it should?  With all the earlier clips of her and him inside being loving (but without smiling), the repeated scenes of him driving in the rain and her looking out of a window at the pouring rain starts to become intense as the suspense builds. Then as the video clip almost reaches its crescendo, you have the same cute guy standing in front of a car, having no apparent choice but to let the rain fall on him, before he runs off stage/screen right into the wilderness and pouring rain (leaving a perfectly nice car behind). The final clip consists of him returning to the mansion, drenched damp, and hugging Anna (who’s oblivious to becoming wet). I got a strong sense that the message of the song was to “stay indoors when it’s raining”. Perhaps that’s an old Moldovan proverb. Which makes sense. If we were talking about morals of the story, well, that’s a personal and private choice I guess.

Eurovision Song Contest Predictions

I believe it will be a solo act, with no backup singers or a cute guy to distract from her performance. There is a good chance of a “Wet” theme. I believe there will be no props: not even a box. I think they will just let the music speak for itself: with a screen montage playing in the background. I don’t expect Anna to have any interaction with audience besides a smile. She’s going to be there at Eurovision to perform a serious song, seriously. I think she will wear one of these colours: black; red; cream. Her clothing will be fashionable; showing either classical elegance and beauty matching her ballad; or something modern and edgy if they revamp her song arrangement.

As the Moldovan representative she will sing in the first half of the second semi final, vying for one of ten spots for the grand final.

Her Moldovan team have worked hard to make their entry the best and sleekest production possible so Anna can make her country proud. Moldova and they will be looking to bring the country to the top ten for the third straight year, and maybe even snatch the Eurovision crown?

Stay has already been revamped once since the Moldovan selection contest. Whether it will undergo another revamp for the Eurovision Contest in Israel in May 2019 will be anyone’s guess. We only have a few weeks to go before we start to see the rehearsals so not long to wait and see. I personally believe that Anna has the singing range and capacity to do something more dramatic with the song than has been done so far, perhaps a Rock Pop Ballad? With Sunstroke Project being involved with the production, perhaps us fans might get that whimsical comedy song version we’ve all grown fond of Moldova for presenting. It might be time for our perennial dark horse, riding high over the past year’s successes, to gallop off with the Eurovision Trophy this year in the month of May (2019).