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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Romania: Voltaj – De la capăt

Voltaj - De la capăt | Eurovision 2015 Romania

Voltaj have existed in numerous lineups since 1982. They are currently fronted by vocalist and songwriter Cătălin Goia.

A solid mid-table player for the last few years, Romania are a country with a solid handle on Eurovision who nevertheless don’t break into the upper echelons of the scoreboard as frequently as you might expect, especially from one of the few remaining countries with a 100% qualification rate. After last year’s return of Paula Selling & Ovi ultimately fell a little flat, the Romanians have pinned their hopes for 2015 on an established radio hit from one of their most popular home-grown bands.

Voltaj have existed in a variety of lineups since 1982, with a long catalogue of hits and an MTV Europe Music Award for Best Romanian Act of 2005. While many established bands look to Eurovision for a late-stage career boost, ‘De la capăt‘ was already a huge chart success before it was entered into the Romanian pre-selection, marking it out as an instant frontrunner. As a result, while last year’s Miracle felt like something that could only exist within the context of the Eurovision Song Contest, ‘De la capăt’ feels like a song first and a Eurovision entry second.

It’s also nice to hear some Romanian in the contest – especially in such an English-heavy year. The Eurovision version of ‘De la capăt‘ is bilingual, but like many re-written songs sounds considerably more impactful in the national tongue. The theme of the song – made explicit in the video – is the issue of mass Romanian emigration, in particular the effect is has on thousands of children who are left behind as their families seek to provide a better life for them.

As you’d expect from such an established group, ‘De la capăt’ is a well produced and highly professional slice of soft rock that should have a good shelf life outside the contest. Like many radio songs, it’s questionable how much impact it’ll make in a lineup of very performance-focused songs, but I expect the quality of the material to shine through and if they can get the message of the song across onstage it has the potential to make a strong emotional connection – particularly with Romania’s enormous diaspora. There’s little doubt that they’ll make the final again with this, and while it’s an unlikely winner, they should be confident of another respectable finish here.