Who’s who in the current Romanian music zoo

To continue the series of posts on what is happening music-wise in my featured Romance languages, here is a selection of Romanian songs and artists that are proving popular at the moment. First up is a fairly serious song considering it is by a singer known simply as Smiley (the stage name of Andrei Tiberiu Maria, a nickname he gained during his time with the eccentric band Simplu). It’s called Acasa (At home) and it has some nice tinkling keyboards and melodies running through it. On the two main airplay charts that I follow (their rankings differ) it has occupied the numbers 1, 2 and 3 spots on both in the past three weeks, and it’s bound to linger for much longer, methinks.

Possibly the biggest Romanian hit last year was Andra’s joyful, optimistic Inevitabil va fi bine (Inevitably it will be fine) – it spent practically the whole year on the charts. For those who have not heard it, here it is … The opening chant – “E, e, va fi bine” – is very catchy – it is one of those musical phrases which, when you hear them in a supermarket, say, just makes you want to join in and strut down the aisles humming (or singing if you dare) and swaying happily as you add items to your shopping basket. Well, I did anyway. As usual with music clips, in the party dance scenes this video has provocative sexy bodies wiggling about, but amid all the activity look out for the juggling skills of the barman in the background. He’s good!

Now Andra is back with her follow-up, Atâta timp cât mă iubeşti (As long as you love me). This time another singer Marius Moga is credited as well. So many charts nowadays feature songs by Somebody feat. Someone Else…. there are more combinations than there are individual artists, it’s getting really confusing. The title comes not from the chorus but from the last line in the verses – Atâta timp cât mă iubeşti, eu te voi iubi (As long as you love me, I love you). And at the end of the video, the saying that flashes up on the building, Esti refrenul din viaţa mea, is a fairly common expression of love (for Valentine’s Day and other such occasions) in Romanian – You are the chorus of my life. That line also appears in the song but you have to be sharp to hear it.

Romania seems to have an abundance of pretty woman with luscious long hair of various shades who can sing and prance around provocatively, sometimes in scanty clothing. Elena (whose surname is Gheorghe, to distinguish from the other singing Elenas) does it with a bit more style and grace than most, conveying a sort of girly innocence from a bygone era. Here is her latest hit, Până dimineața (Until morning). This features a bit of rapping by a female called JJ.

Elena had a huge hit last year with Ecou (Echo), on which the Romanian rapper Glance provided some vocal back-up. It, too, was one of my favourite songs from my summer holidays. In the chorus, Doar un ecou means Just an echo.

Glance himself is back in the charts with Cinema, feat. the band Mandinga. Here is a TV studio performance of the song, which is about life as a movie (a weepy one). But the “cine“s at the beginning of the chorus mean “who” … 

Cine m-a ranit asa (Who hurt me so)
Cine mi-a rupt inima (Who broke my heart)
Cinema .. cinema …
Cine m-a facut sa plâng (Who made me cry)
Toate noptile la rând (All the nights in a row)
Cinema .. cinema
Viaţa ca la cinema .. (Life as a cinema).

I am not a great fan of rapping here but I like Mandinga’s contribution, the percussion and, towards the end, the “whoa-whao-oh!” male chorus bits that sounds rather like football fans in full song.

Did you spot Elena Gheorghe in the audience?

Elena Gheorghe was once the lead singer of Mandinga up until almost a decade ago, but now it’s another Elena, Elena Ionescu. Mandinga were Romania’s representative in the 2012 Eurovision song contest with this song below, but it’s mostly in Spanish! (They do a lot of ‘Latin’ music.) In this video she puts on a ring and is suddenly transported to the metropolis of Dubai. Go figure.

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