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The Balkan Girls

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"The Balkan Girls"
Elena Gheorghe - The Balkan Girls.JPG
Single by Elena Gheorghe
from the album Te Ador and Disco Romancing
Released 6 January 2009
Format CD single
Genre Dance-pop
Length 2:58
Label Cat
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Ovidiu Bistriceanu
  • Duţă
  • Daris Mangal
Elena Gheorghe singles chronology
"Până la stele"
(2008)
"The Balkan Girls"
(2009)
"Disco Romancing"
(2010)

"Până la stele"
(2008)
"The Balkan Girls"
(2009)
"Disco Romancing"
(2010)
Romania "The Balkan Girls"
Eurovision Song Contest 2009 entry
Country
Artist(s)
Language
Composer(s)
Lyricist(s)
  • Duţă
  • Alexandru Pelin
Finals performance
Semi-final result
9th
Semi-final points
67
Final result
19th
Final points
40
Appearance chronology
◄ "Pe-o margine de lume" (2008)   
"Playing with Fire" (2010) ►

"The Balkan Girls" is a song by Romanian singer Elena Gheorghe for a special 2009 edition of her second studio album, Te Ador (2008), and third record, Disco Romancing (2012). It was written by Laurențiu Duță and Alexandru Pelin, while production was handled by Duță, Ovidiu Bistriceanu and Daris Mangal. The song was released as a CD single on 6 January 2009 by Cat Music. "The Balkan Girls" is a folk-influenced dance-pop song whose refrain celebrates the party life of Balkan girls.

It represented Romania in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow after winning on the preselection show Selecția Națională. Gheorghe qualified in ninth place for the Grand Final in Moscow, where she finished 19th with a total of 40 points (one of Romania's lowest scores in the contest). During her Iele-inspired, mostly negatively-received show, she performed "The Balkan Girls" accompanied by female background dancers with hair extensions and chopped dresses.

Music critics generally gave the song mixed reviews, praising its beat while criticizing its cheesiness. "The Balkan Girls" fared well commercially, topping the Romanian Top 100 and receiving airplay in Greek, Maltese and Turkish clubs. It was promoted with concerts in Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Belgium and a music video released in March 2009. The clip portrayed her in an underground club along with fellow dancers.

Background and release[edit]

"The Balkan Girls" was written by Laurențiu Duță and Alexandru Pelin and produced by Duță, Ovidiu Bistriceanu and Daris Mangal.[4] It was released as a CD single on 6 January 2009 by Cat Music in Romania,[4] and was later included on a special 2009 edition of Gheorghe's second studio album, Te Ador (2008), and her third record, Disco Romancing (2012).[5][6] The song was written for Gheorghe's Eurovision participation after she contacted Duță, who came up with its chorus in one week.[1] "The Balkan Girls" is a folk-influenced dance-pop song.[2][3] Lyrics from its refrain include: "The Balkan girls, they like to party, like nobody, like nobody".[2][7]

Reception and accolades[edit]

The song received generally positive reviews from music critics. On Eurovision.de, a reviewer called it a hymn for Balkan connections in the Eurovision Song Contest and praised its folk elements and danceability.[2] Uwe Hinrichs, in his book Handbuch der Eurolinguistik (Handbook of Eurolinguistics), cited the song as an example of the word "Balkan" referring to a group of people rather than the geographic region.[7] The Guardian's Heidi Stephens gave it a lukewarm review, calling it "cheesy".[8] In a 2016 Wiwibloggs poll entitled "What is your favourite Eurovision song from Romania?", "The Balkan Girls" finished sixth with over 300 votes.[9]

"The Balkan Girls" had low betting odds before the Eurovision Song Contest,[10] and an editor of the French magazine Pure People wrote that it "does not really stay in the eardrums".[11] However, the song topped the Romanian Top 100 in April 2009 and was played in Greek, Maltese and Turkish clubs.[1][12] At the 2010 Radio România Actualități Awards, "The Balkan Girls" was nominated in the Pop Song of the Year category.[13]

Music video and promotion[edit]

Gheorghe premiered the music video for "The Balkan Girls" during TVR1's Danutz S. R. L. on 15 March 2009,[14][15] followed by its YouTube release the next day.[16] It was filmed by Dragoș Buliga near bridges in Argeș County and at Bucharest's Silver Church Club. Gheorghe took horseback-riding lessons for the video.[14] Choreography was done by Paul Gheorghe, while Cătălin Enache was hired as a stylist.[17] During the music video, the singer dismounts from a horse, enters an underground club with two females and dances there with fellows.[16] In a version produced for a Women's Day campaign by Radio 21, Gheorghe dances with the station's female employees.[18]

To promote "The Balkan Girls" before the Eurovision Song Contest, Gheorghe began a tour in Berlin in early March 2009 and performed at the ITB Berlin. She was interviewed by the Berlin press, and sent her song to local radio and television stations.[19] The singer performed the song in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Belgium before Eurovision,[1] and a number of times after the contest.[20][21]

At Eurovision[edit]

National selection[edit]

On 31 January 2009, the Selecția Națională took place to select the Romanian entrant for the Eurovision Song Contest. "The Balkan Girls" was chosen to represent the country in the contest after votes by a professional jury (12 points) and public televoting (10 points) were tallied, resulting in 22 points.[22] Gheorghe's win was contested by fans of the Romanian rock band Blaxy Girls, who placed second with 18 points for "Dear Mama".[23]

In Moscow[edit]

A smiling Gheorghe in a low-cut dress
Gheorghe during the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 in Moscow, wearing the flesh-colored dress she wore for her performance

The Eurovision Song Contest 2009, at the Olympic Indoor Arena in Moscow, consisted of two semi-finals on 12 and 14 May, respectively, and the final on 16 May. According to Eurovision rules, all participating countries except the host country and the "Big Four" (France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom) were required to advance from a semi-final to compete in the final; the top ten countries from each semi-finals progressed to the final.[24] Gheorghe performed 14th in the first semi-final, preceded by Macedonia and followed by Finland, and sang 22nd in the Grand Final, preceded by Ukraine and followed by the United Kingdom.[24]

Gheorghe's female dancers from the Selecția Națională also danced in Moscow, and Lucia Dumitrescu provided background vocals. Russian customs officials questioned the purpose of a 100-kilogram (220 lb) fiberglass-and-polyurethane throne used on the show when the singer's entourage brought it into the country.[10] Gheorghe's choreography and graphics were inspired by the Ieles, feminine creatures in Romanian mythology.[10] About the preparations, the singer said in an interview with EuroVisionary:

I [can] assure [...] that we have contributed with all our forces, imagination, ideas and of course, the talent of people who really know what a "show" means. [...] I wish only that my performance will wake up an optimistic feeling for everybody and want to share my pleasure and love for my music to everybody that is watching the show. If you have managed to convince through interpretation, dance and scenograph, then for sure the public and the jury they will appreciate you.[1]

Her performance began with "a cloud of smoke", from which the singer's background dancers emerged in "ropey hair extensions, ronseal tans and shredded mermaid frocks".[8] They rotated what appeared to be a boulder, revealing Ghorghe sitting on a stone-looking throne.[3][10] She sang "The Balkan Girls" in a flesh-colored dress and 14-centimetre (5.5 in) high heels, accompanied by the dancers.[15] Response to the performance was mainly negative. On Eurovision.de, Stephan Scharr called the singer's delivery "thin" and her performance "colorless and not very spectacular".[3] The Guardian's Stephens likened Gheorghe's appearance to that of British singer Geri Halliwell,[8] and Dana Cobuz of Jurnalul compared the background dancers to Ieles.[10] The British press accused Gheorghe of lip synching to "The Balkan Girls", which is forbidden by Eurovision rules.[25]

Points awarded to Romania[edit]

Below is a breakdown of points awarded to Romania in the contest's first semi-final and Grand Final. The country finished ninth in the first semi-final with 67 points, including ten from Portugal and eight from Israel.[26] In the Grand Final, Romania reached 19th place with 40 points, including 12 from Moldova and seven from Spain,[27] one of Romania's lowest scores in the contest.[28]

Track listing[edit]

  • Romanian CD single[4]
  1. "The Balkan Girls" (Eurovision version) – 2:58
  2. "The Balkan Girls" (David DeeJay Remix) – 4:00
  3. "The Balkan Girls" (DJ Daronee Remix) – 3:26

Charts[edit]

Chart (2010) Peak
position
Romania (Romanian Top 100)[12] 1

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
Romania[4] 6 January 2009 CD single Cat

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Elena Gheorghe Speaks About "The Balkan Girls"". EuroVisionary. 11 April 2009. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Rumänien: Elena" [Romania: Elena] (in German). Eurovision.de. ARD. 9 March 2009. Archived from the original on 25 August 2017. Retrieved 11 February 2018. 
  3. ^ a b c d Schaar, Stephan (12 May 2009). "Kleine Überraschungen beim ersten Halbfinale" [Little surprises during the first semi final] (in German). Eurovision.de. ARD. Archived from the original on 18 July 2017. Retrieved 11 February 2018. 
  4. ^ a b c d The Balkan Girls (CD single). Elena Gheorghe. Cat Music (Barcode: 6420565005571). 2009. 
  5. ^ Te Ador (Liner notes/ CD booklet). Elena Gheorghe. Bucharest, Romania: Cat Music (Barcode: 6420565005571). 2009. 
  6. ^ Disco Romancing (Liner notes/ CD booklet). Elena Gheorghe. London, United Kingdom: Blanco y Negro Records (Barcode: 8421597071860). 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Hinrichs, Uwe (2010). "Handbuch der Eurolinguistik". Google Books. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018. 
  8. ^ a b c Stephens, Heidi. "Heidi Stephens: Eurovision 2009 Liveblog". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 29 January 2017. Retrieved 11 February 2018. 
  9. ^ Honciuc, Bogdan (24 April 2016). "Poll: What is your favourite Eurovision song from Romania?". Wiwibloggs. Archived from the original on 4 July 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2018. 
  10. ^ a b c d e "Elena şi ielele ei se pun pe vrăjit europenii" [Elena and her Ieles impressed the European] (in Romanian). Jurnalul. 11 May 2009. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018. 
  11. ^ "Eurovision 2009 : pour Patricia, ça Kaas... pendant qu'un prodige norvégien pulvérise le record du concours!" [Eurovision 2009: for Patricia, that's Kaas ... while a Norwegian prodigy crushes the competition record!] (in French). Pure People. 17 May 2009. Archived from the original on 23 September 2017. Retrieved 11 February 2018. 
  12. ^ a b "Cele mai ascultate hituri". Romanian Top 100 (in Romanian). Cotidianul. 16 April 2009. Archived from the original on 3 December 2009. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  13. ^ "Premiile Muzicale Radio Romania Actualităţi 2010 au fost decernate! Vezi câştigătorii…" [The Radio Romania Actualităţi 2010 were handed out! See the winners...] (in Romanian). Radar de Media. 15 March 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2018. 
  14. ^ a b "Elena a lansat videoclipul "The Balkan Girls"" [Elena released the music video for "The Balkan Girls"] (in Romanian). Viva.ro. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018. 
  15. ^ a b "Elena a lansat clipul "The Balkan Girls"" [Elena released the clip for "The Balkan Girls"] (in Romanian). Jurnalul. 16 March 2009. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018. 
  16. ^ a b "Elena – The Balkan Girls (Official Video) Eurovision 2009". YouTube. 16 March 2009. Archived from the original on 15 March 2015. Retrieved 11 February 2018. 
  17. ^ Scris de Adi (15 March 2009). "Videoclip Elena Gheorghe – The Balkan Girls" (in Romanian). Archived from the original on 12 June 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2018. 
  18. ^ Scris de Adi (11 March 2009). "Videoclip Balkan Radio 21 Girls feat. Elena Gheorghe" (in Romanian). Urban.ro. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018. 
  19. ^ "Elena Gheorghe începe promovarea" [Elena Gheorghe begins the promotion] (in Romanian). UTV. Archived from the original on 2 July 2012. Retrieved 11 February 2018. 
  20. ^ "Elena Gheorghe – The Balkan Girls (LIVE @ Eurovision. Aleșii!)". YouTube. 12 February 2017. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018. 
  21. ^ "Eurovision România. Elena Gheorghe şi Ad Libitum Voices, recitaluri în Salina Turda" [Eurovision Romania. Elena Gheorghe and Ad Libitum Voices sing in Salina Turda] (in Romanian). DC News. 11 February 2018. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2018. 
  22. ^ Selecția Națională 2009. 31 January 2009. 
  23. ^ "Vezi românii care au participat, de-a lungul vremii, la Eurovision" [See all Romanian Eurovision entrants] (in Romanian). Libertatea. 14 May 2011. Archived from the original on 4 February 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018. 
  24. ^ a b Eurovision Song Contest 2009. Moscow, Russia. 12–14 May 2009. 
  25. ^ Taut, Codrin (18 May 2009). "Caru' cu vedete: Elena Gheorghe acuzata de playback" [Caru' cu vedete: Elena Gheorghe accused of playback] (in Romanian). HotNews. Archived from the original on 21 May 2009. Retrieved 11 February 2018. 
  26. ^ "Eurovision 2009 Semi-final 1 Results". Eurovision World. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018. 
  27. ^ "Eurovision 2009 Results: Voting & Points". Eurovision World. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018. 
  28. ^ "Romania in Eurovision Voting & Points". Eurovision World. Archived from the original on 11 February 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.