Fame can be such a fleeting mistress, as Pavel Turcu is just beginning to realise. The last couple of weeks saw him rise from total obscurity to become Moldova's most talked about celebrity, only to have the rug pulled out from beneath him by his country's national TV broadcaster before he even fledged his popstar wings.
It started in such an unlikely fashion. TRM, the Moldovan state broadcaster, launched an open application process that allowed anyone to send in a song in the hope of becoming their country's entry for the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest. As the tunes rolled in, TRM put them all up onto their website to let the world have a look at and to gauge each artist's popularity.
Among the early adopters was our hero, a supermarket security guard from Ungheni with a gloriously innocent and optimistic tune called Imn Eurovision - a hymn about everything that is great about that funny old contest. The song was sweet enough, but it was the picture that accompanied it that started up all the fuss. Pavel cut a slightly awkward swathe in his starched, shiny suit and bog brush hair. But he also exuded a kind of home-spun charm that struck a nerve in everyone who saw it.
In days our boy had his own Facebook fansite, and his clip was getting more views than all the other songs in the contest put together. By the end of the week, parody clips and funny pics based on the unsuspecting singer were cropping up all over the web - including the inevitable Hitler/Downfall movie skit. He was rapidly becoming such a star that local TV news programmes were clamouring to interview him. At first they were slightly mocking of his limited but likable talents. But in time they too had hitched a ride onto the Turcu bandwagon.
It was all beginning to look good for Pavel. He was hot favourite among the Eurovision crowd to be chosen to represent his nation in front of 300 million viewers at the contest in Oslo this coming May. He'd even been practicing his dance moves in a fabulous (and admittedly slightly amusing) video that he'd published on his shiny new website. All that stood in his way was TRM and their final shortlist.
At the close of applications last week, some 87 songs had been entered. The telly folks had to trim that down a more managable 25 for the national final, and with the press that Pavel had been getting it was almost inevitable that he'd get through. After all, with public phone voting making up only a third of the eventual result, they could surely risk putting him in - if only to bump up the ratings.
But alas no. Instead they cut out all of the more outsider entries, and presented a list of safe and somewhat lifeless tunes. Pavel's hopes had been dashed almost before they'd begun. But in that fortnight he'd become the man that a whole country had suddenly been talking about. An innocent party in the kind of ad hoc personality cult that this old internet thing can create at the drop of a hat.
In his many TV interviews it was clear that he didn't entirely understand why all this was happening to him. So let's hope that it doesn't change the poor lad, and that he either goes back to normal as quickly as possible, or becomes a star of such magnitude that he can thumb his nose at the visionless naysayers at TRM. Good luck Pavel Turcu - we loved you!
Pictures & videos © Pavel Turcu.