ESC 2010 Reviews: (Former Yugoslav Republic of) Macedonia
Ok, before I even start looking at the history of this country in Eurovision, there’s one detail that I have to hammer out. What the heck is this nation called, anyway? It’s been called Macedonia, the Republic of Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Makedonia, Slavomacedonia…
So, why all the confusion? Well, Macedonia (the nation) directly borders the Greek region of Macedonia. As people have been referring to Macedonia as a whole since the time of Alexander the Great, the creation of a new state with the same name caused confusion for some, and hurt regional pride for others. Greece has been pushing for an official name change for the Republic of Macedonia for some time, but there has been no change. I think this is much ado about nothing, personally, and as long as people are being peaceful about it, Greek Macedonians and Slavic Macedonians can call themselves whatever they want. (When Georgia became an independent nation back in 1991, were folks in Atlanta hurt? Granted, I know that’s oversimplifying the situation, but it’s the closest comparison I can come up with…) For the sake of this article (and anything else I might write about this country), I’ll be simply referring to this country as “Macedonia”, with the hope that I won’t further anger any of my Greek readers. Sound fair to you?
Ok, back to the ESC.
Macedonia hasn’t had the best of luck in Eurovision, especially during the last few years. They’ve never scored any higher than 12th place, and few of their songs really stick out in my mind as truly memorable. They’ve tended more towards the pop-side of the spectrum, with the possible exception of last year’s “Nešto što kje ostane (Something that Will Remain)“, performed by Next Time, which hearkened back to the late 1980s-early 1990s Hair Metal scene. They came in 10th place during their semifinal that year, which should have gotten them a spot in the final, but due to the way the voting system worked during the 2008 and 2009 contests, the 10th spot wasn’t given to the appropriate televoting result, but rather a “jury’s choice”. Finland got the spot that should have gone to Macedonia (and promptly came in last place during the finals), and sadly, Next Time’s name was all-too appropriate. This was actually the second year in a row that Macedonia was screwed out of the finals. In 2008, juries gave the last ticket to the finals to the song from Sweden, kicking “Let Me Love You” out in the cold.
I would be completely amiss if I brought up Macedonian Eurovision entries and failed to mention Toše Proeski. His song “Life“, which represented his homeland in 2004, might not have been his biggest hit, or even a huge success in the ESC (it only made it to 14th place in that year’s Final), but Proeski was, without a doubt, the biggest star to come out of Macedonia. He was popular all throughout the Balkan region, and was even named a UNICEF Ambassador. When he died in 2007 as the result of a car accident in Croatia, he was given a full State Funeral and a day of national mourning was declared in Skopje. Proeski was only 26 years old. Here’s a link to my favorite song of his, “Igra Bez Granica (Games Without Borders)“, a song that gives me chills whenever I hear it.
So, after years of having defeat snatched from the jaws of Eurovision victory (or, at least, mediocrity), who will carry the hopes of Skopje on his shoulders this year?
Gjoko Taneski’s “Jas Ja Imam Silata (I Have The Strength)” isn’t bad, but again, it’s not completely spectacular, either. It took me about four or five listens to this song for me to remember how it sounded, and when the video came out, it confused me even more. The song is about how Gjoko is able to overcome heartbreak, but what’s up with the models in the cellophane? I mean, the girls are pretty, but that’s all the video is! And the “My Name Is Love” bit seems to come out of nowhere…sometimes, a preview video has the ability to enhance a song’s appeal before you see it on the ESC stage (Georgia’s clip for “Visionary Dream” comes to mind, as does last year’s official French video for “Et s’il fallait le faire“). This time, however, it’s a detriment. Sorry, Gjoko…maybe Next Time…