Sing: “Mai-ia-hii, mai-ia-huu, mai-ia-ha, mai-ia-haha”. That one. Where are they now?
Moldovan friends Dan Balan (born 1979) and Petru Jelihovsch came together in 1998 to form the duo O-Zone and released their debut album “Dar, Unde Ești…” (“But Where Are You…”). But no sooner had they arrived, Jelihovsch got cold feet and decided it wasn’t for him, so Dan Balan held auditions for his replacement. However, out of the many applicants, he was so impressed with Arsenie Todiraş (born 1983) and Radu Sîrbu (born 1978) that he asked them to join and form a trio.
The group moved to Romania the following year in the hope that this would bring them greater exposure and began writing and recording for their second album, releasing the first single “Numai Tu” (“Only You”) in the late Spring of 2002. Despite the fact that the song failed to chart, the boys released “Number 1” that August and followed this with the single “Despre Tine” (“Only You”) the following month. This time they got a hit as the song charted top ten across Europe and topped the singles chart in Norway and in Romania.
Flushed with this success and releasing no further songs from “Number 1”, O-Zone began writing and recording for a third album straight away, releasing “Dragostea Din Tei” (“Words Of Love”) in July 2003. The song received huge media exposure and MTV plays, so much so that it went on to top the charts in seventeen countries around the world including the US Pop chart and making No.3 in the UK and has, to date, sold over seven million copies worldwide to make it one of the biggest selling singles of the twenty first century!
A second single “De Ce Plâng Chitarele” (“Why Do The Guitar’s Cry?”) followed in May 2004 prior to the release of O-Zone’s third album “DiscO-Zone” the following month. The album proved a sensation, selling over twelve million copies globally and yielding three further singles, which mostly became hits in Japan, who lapped up “DiscO-Zone”. The album has gained a triple Platinum certification there for sales of 600,000 copies (actual sales exceed 800,000 copies!).
But as O-Zone had the world in the palm of their hands, the boys announced they were parting company in January 2005, citing “personal reasons”. Nothing was heard of the three boys until 2017, when they reformed for two concerts. One in Romania and the second in their home country, Moldova. Since then, there has been no further indications of live performances or of the group recording again.
After O-Zone, Radu Sîrbu formed the duo MR.&MRS. with his wife Ana releasing an album in 2008. In 2010 he formed the production team DJ Layla and released a number of club tracks. He wrote and produced “Dynamite” for Russian singer Liza Fox in 2014 which hit the UK singles chart and made the top ten on the US dance chart.
Arsenie Todiraș represented Moldova at the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Loca”, which ended twentieth that year. He released his debut album “The 33rd Element” later that year and has released a substantial number of singles since then including the German chart hit “Rumadai” in 2008. His most recent was “Unearthly You” in 2017.
Dan Balan has also gone on to have a successful solo career, but perhaps more so than all of the O-Zone boys, racking up three Russian chart toppers including “Chica Bomb” in 2009 which was also a big hit across Europe as well as in the UK. He has released three solo albums, the most recent of these was “Freedom Part 1” in 2012. He has won a number of awards, particularly for his videos and tours across Europe and Russia to huge audiences. In 2018 he released two duets, “Allegro Ventigo” with Matteo and “Numa Numa 2” with Marley Waters, which topped the Japanese singles chart, his first since “Dragostea Din Tei” reached the top there fourteen years earlier.
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