First Listen Review attempts to capture my first impressions of the year’s Eurovision entries as and when they’re released. My opinion is liable to change as certain songs grow on me or get revamped, but based on the principle that most listeners will only hear each entry once (or twice) before voting, hopefully it’ll provide some insight.

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Moldova: Eduard Romanyuta – I Want Your Love

Eduard Romanyuta - I Want Your Love | Eurovision 2015 Moldova

Eduard Romanyuta is 22 and of Ukrainian origin. His victory at the Moldovan national finals was met with some controversy due to his suspiciously huge lead in the televoting.

At its best, Eurovision is as much an exercise in culture-sharing as it is a music competition. Artists take to the stage representing not only themselves, but the hopes and aspirations of an entire nation. As fans, we become exposed to styles of music that we might never hear in any other mainstream broadcast, and we become familiar with the distinct flavours that each country brings to the table.

Of course in reality, certain cultural borders tend to be a little more blurred. Even from the very earliest contests, smaller nations like Luxembourg and Monaco would liberally borrow performers and songwriters from their larger neighbours, and the phenomenon of importing songwriters and performers from other countries is no less prevalent today.

Which leads us nicely to Moldova, who this year are sending a Ukrainian singer with a song written by an Australian, a Brit and a Swede. Had Ukraine not sat this year’s contest out, it seems likely that ‘I Want Your Love‘ would have gone into their national selection instead – after all Eduard Romanyuta has already attempted to represent his country of birth in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Instead, thanks to some rather suspicious voting patterns at the Moldovan national final, we’re faced with a sort of entry-by-proxy.

Now as discussed, this is far from a unique occurrence. But it’s still a little disappointing to see it from Moldova, one of Eurovision’s most reliably quirky participants who frequently punch above their weight at the competition. From Zdob și Zdub to Sunstroke Project (they of ‘epic sax guy’) to my personal favourite, high kickin’ Nelly Ciobanu from 2009, they’re a country that always feels like they’re marching to the beat of their own drum.

By contrast, ‘I Want Your Love‘ sounds a lot like a pop song you might have heard circa 2003. I’m not sure which one exactly, but it has a definite ‘third most popular member of N’Sync releases doomed solo single’ vibe. It’s far from bad – indeed, a slice of faintly ridiculous uptempo pop music is more than welcome from any source this year. But the stench of vanity project would hang off it even if it wasn’t common knowledge that Eduard was a multi-millionaire who has vowed to pay for Moldova’s entire participation costs out of his own pocket to fund his pop star dream. It has the ersatz feel of a workmanlike producer taking a decent but unremarkable stab at what a modern pop song sounds like, and Romanyuta has no particular presence as a vocalist.

This last point may be his undoing. It’s possible to buy your way into Eurovision, but you still need to deliver a standout live performance when you get there. On the evidence of his Moldovan performances, this could be challenging. He may opt for the old hidden ‘backing’ singer trick of course, but he still has to deliver something in terms of stage presence and dancing ability. On record, this might just be punchy enough to be considered a potential finalist. On stage, I can see it coming unstuck in a way not witnessed since the glory days of Angelica Agurbash. I’m always on board for a comedy train-wreck, but Moldova should be aiming higher than this.