Elena Alexandra Apostoleanu (Romanian pronunciation: [eˈlena aleˈksandra apostoˈle̯anu]; born October 16, 1986), better known simply as Inna, is a Romanian singer-songwriter and dancer. She is best known for becoming the first European female singer to surpass one billion hits on YouTube, having accomplished this milestone on February 2012.
Inna's debut studio album, Hot, was an international success, appearing in many record charts around the world, and particularly popular in the United Kingdom where it reached number one. The album's lead single of the same name also charted worldwide, topping in 2009 a United States year-end chart. The song won the award for the MTV Europe Music Award for Best Romanian Act at the 2009 MTV Europe Music Awards. It got Gold music recording sales certification in Italy, 3× Platinum in Norway and Platinum in Spain.
Inna's second studio album, I Am the Club Rocker, was produced by Play & Win and received the Romanian Album of the Year award from her label Roton. Her third studio album, Party Never Ends was released in March 2013.
Inna has won numerous awards, including two MTV Europe Music Awards and over thirteen awards in three consecutive years at the MTV Romania Music Awards. As of May 2011, Inna has sold over 100,000 albums and over 600,000 singles in the United Kingdom. At the end of 2011 Inna became the richest recording artist in Romania and in Eastern Europe.
1986—2004: Early life and career beginnings
Elena Alexandra Apostoleanu was born on October 16, 1986, in the resort Neptun, Romania, near Mangalia on the Black Sea. Her grandmother and mother were both occasional singers at local parties or night clubs. When she was a teenager, Inna listened to a large variety of musical genres. Although her favourite style was electro house, she also used to listen to Beyoncé or ballads by Celine Dion or Whitney Houston with whom many find similarities. She recalls that it was easy for her to sing every song that she liked, reaching most of the high notes. She went to "Mangalia Economical Lyceum" high school in Mangalia, since renamed "Colegiul Economic Mangalia" — Mangalia Economy College. After graduating from high school she studied Political science at Ovidius University in Constanţa.
Before turning eighteen, she auditioned to join nationally famous pop group A.S.I.A., but she was rejected in favor of soloist Alina Diana Crișan. She took a job as a sales assistant in a shop in Neptun selling slippers.
In late 2007, producer Marcel Botezan heard Inna singing in the market, and offered her a contract with Roton. At the end of 2007, Inna signed a contract with Romanian producers Play & Win and she started recording her first tracks. In 2008, Inna took the stage name "Alessandra" and entered two songs produced by Play & Win for the selection to represent Romania in the Eurovision Song Contest, but neither ("Goodbye" and "Sorry") was selected. "Goodbye" was performed live on primetime TV show "Teo!" in March 2008, and "Sorry" became a viral hit within a couple of months in Romania. After the unsuccessful attempt, the producing trio and Alessandra chose to move from a pop ballad style to house music. In summer 2008, the four recorded some new tracks including a demo for "Hot" and "Left Right".
When interviewed about the choice of Inna as her stage name, she revealed that her late grandfather called her that, a hypocorism for her given name, Elena.
2008—10: Hot era
On November 12, 2008, Inna released her debut single "Hot", which was produced by Play & Win, a Romanian dance music trio and one of the leading music producers in Romania. The single performed strongly on the Romanian Top 100, peaking at number five in December 2008. It also became an airplay success in the Balkan countries, before reaching success across Europe and the Middle East.
In November 2008, Inna looked for backing dancers for her promo tour. As demos such as "Left Ride" and "O, ce veste minunată!" began to leak on the internet, Inna was booked to perform in Romanian clubs such as Club Turabo in Bucharest. In early 2009, the single "Hot" entered the Spanish Singles Chart and the Hungarian Dance Chart and received airplay in countries including Poland, Ukraine and Turkey. Inna's website ran a two week promotion offering the songs "Fever" and "On and On" for free download. "Hot" was released as a single and reached the top ten in charts in Belgium and the Netherlands.
The second single, titled "Love", was released on March 12, 2009 and peaked at number four in the Romanian Hot 100 in April 2009, surpassing the achievements of "Hot". Inna received the first award nominations of her career at the Polish Eska Music Awards in 2009, being nominated for Best Singer and Best Single. She also performed "Hot". On April 15, 2009, Inna signed a contract with American record label, Ultra Records. On May 12, Inna was nominated four times at the MTV Romania Music Awards, for "Best Dance", "Best Debut", "Best Show" and the special award for "Borderbreaker". The Awards ceremony was held on June 6, at Craiova. Inna won all the awards she was nominated for. Not long after, Inna became famous in Iceland.
At the end of May 2009, on Antena 1's main news program, the singer unveiled information about her upcoming album, titled Hot, after the lead single.
In the spring of 2009, Inna collaborated with Romanian DJ and producer Bob Taylor, and they released their song "Déjà Vu" to Romanian mainstream radio on June 2, 2009. At first, the two of them decided to promote the single under pseudonyms, Inna becoming Anni. After reaching the Romanian top ten, they confirmed that they were the performers of the hit. It became yet another top ten hit on the Romanian Top 100, peaking at number seven in July 2009. It also was a major hit in Moldova, Bulgaria, Russia and Hungary. At the end of June, Inna won a Romanian Top Hits Award, the special one given by the Jury, for her top five hit "Love". Later that summer, the song "Hot" hit the first position of the Spanish Singles Chart, being certified Platinum by PROMUSICAE. The song sold over 40,000 copies during that summer.
On August 6, 2009, Inna released her fourth single "Amazing", a song originally recorded by Anca Badiu. The song became the most successful song of her career in her home country to date, reaching number one on the Romanian Top 100 in October 2009. It also entered the charts of several European countries, peaking at number one in Bulgaria and at number three in Russia.
At the MTV Europe Music Awards 2009 on November 5, 2009 in Berlin, Germany, Inna won the award for Best Romanian Act. However, she did not make the shortlist for the Best European Act.
In November 2009 "Déjà Vu" debuted on the Single Top 100 in Netherlands at number seventy-two and peaked at number nine in January 2010. In Belgium the song peaked within the top ten of the Wallony Singles Chart and within the top twenty of the Flanders Singles Chart. In December, Inna premiered a new single, a Christmas song, called "I Need You For Christmas", which entered the Romanian Top 100 and the Russian Charts at lower positions. Later, it was listed in the 2010 compilation "I Need You For Christmas". In the end of 2009, Inna was named the "Woman of The Year" during the "Young Talents Awards". She won over other big Romanian names, such as Paula Seling, Elena Gheorghe, Claudia Pavel, Andra, Anda Adam, Amadeus and the girl band Blaxy Girls.
At the beginning of 2010, Inna reached an overwhelming chart success, as her single "Hot" peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard's Hot Dance Airplay chart. Both Inna and U.S. singer Ke$ha became the first artists on this chart to swap each other's number-one chart positions with debut singles, with Inna's "Hot" succeeding Ke$ha's "Tik Tok" and then having the latter return the favor. To support the Romanian release of her debut album Hot in March 2010, Inna promoted a fifth single titled "10 Minutes" and released it to Romanian radio on January 23, 2010. Without a music video, it failed to reach the top ten of the Romanian Top 100 and only peaked at number eighteen. For its international release a video was shot in London, England. The video was directed by Paul Boyd, a British director who has worked with Shania Twain and Mariah Carey. With the video out, the song re-entered the Romanian Top 100, but missed the top forty. It has also charted in Bulgaria and Russia, but out of the top ten.
During 2010, Inna's "Hot" debuted on the UK Singles Chart at number eight, while also managing to reach the number one spot on the UK Dance Chart. On the UK Singles Chart of March 28, 2010, "Hot" climbed two places to its peak of number six. On 1 April 2010, the single also debuted on the Irish Singles Chart at number 48. The song has also entered, on a lower position, the Canadian Hot 100. The song charted in Germany at number eighty and peaked at number six in the French Singles Chart. The single "Amazing" was a runner-up in the French Singles Chart, debuting at number two. The song was also Inna's first top forty in Germany, her first top ten in the Swiss Singles Chart and her first chart effort in Austria. In the UK, the song entered the Official Chart at number 14. It is her second top ten in the European Hot 100, after "Hot". The single "Deja Vu" peaked within the top ten in French and out of the top forty in the UK. Meanwhile, her debut album entered the top ten of the French Albums Chart, peaking at number nine. The album went gold in that country, with over 50,000 copies sold. It was also listed in the year-end charts from Romania and France. A deluxe version of the album was released in France and Spain (the French edition is titled "Very Hot"). The promotional single "Un Momento", off the re-release, charted in Spain.
At the 2010 Romanian Music Awards Inna won the awards for Best Female, Best Album, Best Show, Best Web Site and Best International Artist, and performed her Romanian number one single "Amazing". She also presented a brand new song titled "Sun Is Up". The track was sent to Romanian radio stations in June 2010, premiering on Kiss FM. and quickly became a hit in her home country. On November 28, 2010 "Sun Is Up" reached number two on the Romanian Top 100, becoming Inna's fifth top ten single and her second highest charting single of her career, behind only "Amazing". The song has also reached the top spot in Bulgaria and the peak position of number 3 in Russia. The music video for "Sun Is Up" was shot on August 24, 2010 in Marbella, Spain. It was directed by Alex Herron, who previously worked with Taio Cruz and Ke$ha ("Dirty Picture") and Basshunter ("Saturday"). A teaser of the video was released on September 27, 2010. It showed Inna posing on a bed for a photo shoot. The official music video finally premiered on September 30, 2010 on Inna's web site. The video's length is 3:18 and it was filmed in HD.
A sample of Inna's "Amazing", her first number-one single in native Romania.
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For the second time in a row Inna won the regional voting in the run-up of the MTV Europe Music Awards 2010, receiving the award for Best Romanian Act. But for the first time she became one of five regional winners having the chance to win the Best European Act award at the main show on November 7, 2010. She competed with Afromental from Poland, Dima Bilan from Russia, Enrique Iglesias from Spain and Marco Mengoni from Italy but lost to the Italian representative. At the end of the year, Inna performed, for the first time in more than two years, in a Romanian club. She sang at the Club Kasho in Braşov. In December, she was awarded for her rising career during the "Zece Pentru Romania" awards held by Realitatea TV, along with Paula Seling, Ovi, Edward Maya and Vika Jigulina. In a short time, Inna became one of the most beloved singers in France, with hundreds of invitations and thousands of fans. She garnered over 10,000,000 fans on Facebook, and was named the best known Romanian act of all time.
Inna won the Eurodanceweb Award 2010, with her single "Sun Is Up". The song was named the best dance track of Europe.
Inna's single "10 Minutes" peaked at number eight in France, becoming Inna's fourth consecutive top ten debut. The singer was nominated for the "International Revelation of the Year" award at the NRJ Music Awards along with Justin Bieber, Ke$ha and Taio Cruz, but lost to Bieber.
2011—2012: I Am the Club Rocker, world tour and other ventures
Inna released her second studio album I Am the Club Rocker in October 2011. It contains the singles "Sun Is Up", "Club Rocker", and "Un Momento", along with the previously released promotional songs "Señorita" and "Moon Girl". In late January 2011, it was announced that Inna was nominated for the second time at the "Successful Women Awards", along with Paula Seling, Luminiţa Anghel, and Analia Selis. She was also named the third "Best Female Voice" by the Romanian public, only after Paula Seling and Andra.
In early 2011, she embarked on her first official tour, throughout France, Spain, Germany, Turkey, Lebanon and Romania. The concert tour visited nine French cities, two Spanish cities and, for the first time, in a major venue, Bucharest. Inna bought a $250,000 penthouse near Paris. She also toured the United Kingdom for the first time in June 2011. From July 4 to July 14, Inna returned to France, in order to promote "Club Rocker". In 2011, Inna was promoted in the United States more than in previous years via Ultra Records. will.i.am of the The Black Eyed Peas wished Inna good luck in the American music business. "Club Rocker" premiered on May 17, during her Romanian gig.
It was announced that Inna received a total of four nominations at the RRA Awards 2011, one of the most important Romanian music awards. She was nominated for the "Artist of the Year" award, along with Mădălina Manole, Paula Seling, and Ovidiu Cernăuţeanu, and for the "Dance Artist of the Year". She was also nominated for the "Album of the Year" (with Hot) and "Best Pop/Dance Song" (with "Sun is Up"). Eventually, she won the "Dance Artist of the Year". She was also nominated for the "Best Female Act" and "Best Romanian Song" ("Sun Is Up") at the Balkan Music Awards, taking both of the trophies, after a short performance held during the awards ceremony in Sofia, Bulgaria. At the Romanian Music Awards 2011 held in Braşov, Inna won three awards: "Best Female", "Best Websites" and the OK! Special Prize. She released her second album "I Am the Club Rocker" after a mini-tour in Mexico, the first time she has ever been overseas.
The album's first single, "Sun Is Up", managed to peak at number-one in Bulgaria and in the Romandie region in Switzerland while also being a top ten in France, Romania, Russia and the UK Dance Chart and it was certified Gold in both Switzerland and Italy. The title song, "Club Rocker" was a moderate hit in Europe. It became Inna's first song to miss the top ten in France as it peaked at number thirty-two while also her first song to miss the top twenty in her native Romania, completely missing the top forty there. It was more successful in Slovakia and Poland where it reached the top twenty. The third release off "I Am the Club Rocker", the Juan Magan collaboration "Un Momento", became Inna's highest-charting single in Slovakia, when it peaked at number-four on the Airplay Chart. It barely missed the top ten in Romania, reaching number twelve. The following release off the album was "Endless", which became the second most successful single release from the album in Romania, peaking at number five on the Romanian Top 100. In April 2012, Inna released the fifth single "WOW" and its accompanying music video, the first one that was directed by her photographer, Edward Aninaru. After debuting on the Romanian Top 100, "WOW" quickly rose up the chart and peaked at number ten in June 2012.
When it comes to sales, charts and statistics, the album itself was much less successful than its predecessor "Hot" in mainland Europe, only reaching the top twenty in Czech Republic and in Belgium and the top-forty in France. It was more successful in Poland, where it was certified Gold after three weeks. In Mexico the album was a real hit. It debuted at number-eight on the chart and spent numerous weeks within the top-forty.
In December 2011 Inna was offered to star in an upcoming French movie but she turned the offer down because the role she had to play involved nudity.
During a Great Union Day interview with Cătălin Măruţă, Inna stated that she will tour the United States during the first half of 2012 and she will then release a third studio album. The tour "I Am the Club Rocker Tour" kicked off in January 2012 in Belgrade, Serbia. On January 9, 2012, Inna released a remix to the song "Ai se eu te pego!", a cover after the Brazilian artist Michel Teló.
It was also announced that Romanian Television (SRTV) approached Inna and would have changed their rules for the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 so that Inna was the Romanian representative, but she turned the offer down because of her "I Am the Club Rocker" tour. It was announced that a re-release for "I Am the Club Rocker" was due for a late-summer come out date, but the plans on the release were cancelled.
2012—2014: Party Never Ends
The singer's first self-composition was titled "Caliente" (Spanish for Hot) and it was produced along with Play & Win. In the first half of 2012 she released lyric videos on her YouTube account for some more new songs titled "Ok", "Alright", "Tu şi Eu", "Crazy Sexy Wild" and "INNdiA". They serve as promotional songs for her next studio album. After releasing a music video for "Caliente", the song debuted on the Romanian Top 100 at number ninety-three, becoming Inna's twelfth entry on the chart since she started her career in 2008. It performed poorly and only peaked at number eighty-four. However, the Romanian language song "Tu şi Eu", which was released shortly after "Caliente", quickly became a radio success in her native, debuting on the Romanian Top 100 without a music video release and reaching number eighteen. After the release of its well-received music video, "Tu şi Eu" rose up and peaked at number five. Her Play & Win collaboration, "INNdiA", became her thirteenth chart entry on the Romanian Top 100, debuting at number ninety-three on August 5, 2012. It fell off the chart on the following week, but re-entered it on August 26, 2012 at number eighty-four. The song reached number ten on the chart, becoming her ninth top ten single in her native country. In late October, Inna released a radio version of her 2007 recording "Oare". It was sent to mainstream radios in Romania, but it failed to chart on the Romanian Top 100. Later that month, another lyric video was released for a song called "J'Adore" (French for "I Adore"). In the video, Inna is working out and stretching wearing a mutilated bodysuit. On November 11, 2012 it was announced that Inna will perform for the New Year's Eve atelier/festival held at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai on December 31, 2012 – January 1, 2013. Inna confirmed via twitter that her new album will be called Party Never Ends. Four new songs were confirmed: "World of Love", "In Your Eyes", "Dame tu Amor", and "More than Friends", with the latter two featuring Mexican band Reik and Puerto Rican rapper Daddy Yankee respectively. All of the singles previously released will be included in the album. On January 18, 2013, INNA released two versions of her single, "More than Friends", onto her YouTube channel. Her first version featured Puerto-Rican recording artist Daddy Yankee singing and rapping during certain parts of the song. This was an audio-only submission. Her second version was the actual video of her single. Daddy Yankee wasn't present in the first official video at all, and neither were his vocals. The setting for Inna's music video in "More Than Friends" was a beach resort. On February 4, Inna released another video of "More than Friends", but this time with Daddy Yankee present.
In March 2013, Inna was guest singer on the single "P.O.H.U.I." by Moldavian music project Carla's Dreams. The song became a huge radio hit and one of her most successful singles in her native Romania. "Be My Lover", which contains a sample from the song with the same name originally performed by La Bouche in 1995, was the second international single taken from Party Never Ends. Its music video was released on July 11, 2013. Although described as a highlight on the album, "Be My Lover" failed to appear on any international charts, but was a club hit in Belgium and Poland where it charted high on the dance charts. Simultaneously "Dame tu Amor", featuring vocals by Mexican-Latin pop band Reik, was released for the Mexican market. The Steve Mac produced album opener "In Your Eyes" was released as the third international single. Its official music video premiered on October 16, 2013 with a surprise feature by Puerto Rican reggaeton rapper Yandel.
Inna was a guest singer on the track "All the Things" by Pitbull from his EP "Meltdown".
Musical influences and styles
Inna has been compared to Shakira, Rihanna, Britney Spears, and Lady Gaga. In her teens, Inna performed with a pop rock band that did not achieve much success. Her first recordings are the ballads and soft pop/rock songs "Goodbye", "Sorry" and the Romanian language song "Oare" (I Wonder), which were not released until her later success.
After meeting the producers making up Play & Win, her musical style changed radically. Dance and club songs became her most frequent recordings. In an interview with Adevărul, the singer stated that "Hot" is "an up-beat house song with club beats and it is very commercial." She performed all of her singles live and unplugged in countries such as Poland, Belgium, France and Spain. On December 1, during the Romanian National day, Inna gave a live performance of traditional Romanian songs and the military anthem "Treceţi Batalioane Române Carpaţii". Inna's second album, I Am the Club Rocker, contains more down-midtempo songs than the previous Hot, with songs like "Put Your Hands Up" or "Endless". The album also contains a tropical—flavored track "Un Momento" which is Inna's first movement toward R&B music. On December 1, 2011, Inna covered the song "Mai frumoasa", a classic pop song in Romania, originally performed by Laura Stoica.
"Sun Is Up" (2010)
A sample of "Sun Is Up", one of Inna's signature songs. Her musical style is represented in this track.
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In an interview with a DJ from Fun Radio (France), Inna stated that her main sources of inspiration are David Guetta, Kelly Rowland and Kylie Minogue, but she also listed Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Shakira as her idols. In an interview with Cătălin Măruţă, on Pro TV's show "Happy Hour", she stated that her Romanian music icons are Andra and the late Mădălina Manole. During an interview for News of the World, Inna cited Swedish House Mafia, The Black Eyed Peas and singer Jessie J as her later inspirations. She also says that her biggest icons that she might never get a chance to meet are P!nk and Shakira. Inna is also influenced by Latin American acts such as RBD, Daddy Yankee or Thalía.
Inna is an activist for Children's rights in Romania and she has been proposed for the title of UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador but the request is still pending. She is also against deforestation and she stood up against exterminating the horses from the Letea Forest in late 2010. In late November 2011 Inna signed herself in for an anti-domestic violence campaign in order to empower women to rise and stand up against being abused or battered. The campaign was created and it is being maintained by Acasă (a Romanian feminist TV station) under the title "Pain Is Not Love" (Durerea nu este iubire).
Inna also signed a petition that asks the Government of Romania to improve upon a law that causes all perpetrators of domestic violence to be punished as official outlaws. She has also given a sixty-minute special interview on feminism, fighting against domestic violence, and developing shelters or asylums for women and children in need. The interview aired in a two-part mini-series, coinciding with the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, on November 25. The "Bring The Sun in My Life" campaign (named after the chorus of Inna's song "Endless") brings together many Romanian female stars with makeup resembling bruises from their partners, a visual way of advocating anti-domestic violence. The no-violence campaign raises awareness regarding violence.
- Hot (2009)
- I Am the Club Rocker (2011)
- Party Never Ends (2013)
- Latinna (2014)
- 2011: INNA en Concert
- 2011: INNA: Live la Arenele Romane
- 2012: I Am the Club Rocker Tour
- 2013: Party Never Ends Tour
- Honorific nicknames in popular music
- Music of Romania
- List of artists who reached number one on the U.S. dance airplay chart
- List of awards and nominations received by Inna
- Information at Ultra Records
- Full Artist Discography (Polish)
- on Last.fm (English)
|Awards and achievements|
Best Female Performer in the Balkans
Eska Award for Best International Artist