Category Archives: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia & Herzegovina: Maya Sar unveils “Korake ti znam”

Even though Bosnia and Herzegovina announced that singer-songwriter Maya Sar would be representing them in Baku back in December, it is only just today that we finally got to hear her song, “Korake ti znam”.  In an hour-long special featuring appearances by former Eurovision performers Laka, Deen, and even 1964 alum Sabahudin Kurt, Maya performed her song live and released the entry’s accompanying promotional video. Read the rest of this entry

Maja Sar for Bosnia and Herzegovina!

Following months of speculation regarding BHRT’s participation and representative (including a major rumor that Hari Mata Hari would be returning to the competition), we finally have a confirmation from Bosnia and Herzegovina.  It has just been announced that singer-songwriter Maja Sarihodžić, better known as Maya Sar, will take the stage in Baku.  Sar is no stranger to Eurovision; she sang backup for Deen in 2004, and eagle-eyed Eurofans might recognize her as the giddy piano player behind Dino Merlin during this year’s performance of “Love in Rewind”…SITO!

Read the rest of this entry

Follow Up Single Time, Part 2

As the weeks progress, more of Eurovision’s Class of 2011 are continuing on with their careers and releasing their next singles.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Dino Merlin has followed up his 6th-place finish in Germany with his new single, “Undo”.  Despite the title, the song is in Bosnian, unlike his ESC-entry “Love in Rewind”.  Dino is actively touring this summer, and will likely release his next album in early 2012.

Albania’s preeminent diva, Aurela Gaçe, has collaborated with local rapper MC Kresha to bring the world their new single, “Cash”.   It might not harness Aurela’s epic vocal prowess in the same way that “Kënga Ime/Feel the Passion” did in Düsseldorf, but it’s still a fun listen, and any video that has echoes of “Tron” gets a thumbs-up in my book:

Norway’s Stella Mwangi, who shockingly missed out on this year’s Final with the peppy, Afro-inspired “Haba Haba”, has picked herself up, dusted herself off, and is continuing on with her career.   She released her new album, “Kinanda”, on June 10th, and has already released the video of “Haba Haba”‘s follow-up, “Lookie Lookie”:

Finally (for now, at least), 2011’s Dutch representatives 3Js have also released a new single in the past few days (although sharp-eared Eurofans will recognize “De Stroom” as the runner-up in this year’s National Selection). 

A few quick words with Dino Merlin…

By popular demand…

…Here’s ESCKaz’s interview with the lovely Dino Merlin.  He’s singing “Love in Rewind” for Bosnia and Herzegovina, first up in the Second Semifinal. I was behind the camera on this one, so I apologize in advance! 😉

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Dino’s "Love in Rewind"

Well, the Bosnian presentation show just wrapped up a few minutes ago, and after a number of great performances from last year’s representative Vukasin Brajic, 1997 Italian representatives Jalisse, and Turkish superstar Mustafa Sandal, we finally got to hear what we had been waiting for:

Dino Merlin, who represented Bosnia and Herzegovina back in 1999 with “Putnici” and wrote the nation’s 1993 entry “Sva Bol Svieta“, will sing, surprisingly enough, in English this year with “Love in Rewind”.  This mid-tempo song has a positive feel…it’s really quite lovely, actually!  But that being said, I’m not a huge fan of the choreography.  I loved Laka’s childlike performance back in 2008, but somehow it doesn’t quite work as well for Dino. 

Watch his performance below, and let me know what you think!

All in all, I think that Dino Merlin’s done Bosnia and Herzegovina proud once again.  He’s a well-respected veteran performer known all throughout the region, and I would be shocked to not see him not qualify out of his semifinal on May 12th.  (But, in all honesty, I would have loved to have heard “Love in Rewind” sung in Bosnian…)

(Edit: I’ve had a few days to let “Love in Rewind” sink in, and as I review the song and the video, I’ve come to the realization that in a strange way, the carnivalesque atmosphere presented this week with the song actually works really well.  The song and performance keep steadily growing on me, and it doesn’t even matter anymore if he’s singing in English, Bosnian, Esperanto or Korean.  In my eyes, this song is absolutely beautiful as it is.  I disavow my previous doubts and congratulate Dino on a masterful composition!)

Quick Breaking News from Bosnia-Herzegovina!

Within the last half-hour, Bosnian broadcaster BHT-1 announced that this year’s representative for Eurovision will be:

Dino Merlin!

It looks like Germany’s Lena won’t be the only ESC veteran on stage in Düsseldorf; Dino was the composer and co-lyricist for BiH’s debut entry, “Sva Bol Svieta (The Whole World’s Pain)”, back in 1993, and he performed onstage in Jerusalem in 1999 with the beautiful ethnic-infused “Putnici (Travelers)”, a bilingual R&B song sung with French singer Béatrice Poulot.  “Putnici” gave Bosnia and Herzegovina their second-highest result ever, a very respectable 7th place out of 23 entrants.  Here’s their performance (with a bit of German commentary).

Over the past few years, Bosnia has become one of my personal favorite ESC contributors.  The song will be revealed at a later date, but with the recruitment of Dino Merlin to the fray once again, we might see echoes of Bosnia’s best-ranked song, 2006’s stunning “Lejla“.  By bringing back a veteran of the local music scene (and of the ESC), and the hope of reviving the ethnic flavors that nearly brought the country victory, it seems that Bosnia-Herzegovina is more serious than ever about taking the trophy to Sarajevo in 2012.  I can’t wait to see what Dino serves up!

(EDIT:  The plot thickens…Hari Mata Hari, who sung “Lejla” in Athens, was originally supposed to have sung for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1999.  However, because their entry had been released to the public too early, they were disqualified, giving Dino and Béatrice their ticket to Jerusalem with “Putnici”.  Furthermore, Dino has worked with and produced songs for Hari Mata Hari.  Even more, he has collaborated with Željko Joksimović, who was the Serbian & Montenegrin representative to the 2004 ESC with “Lane Moje“, host of the 2008 contest, composer of Serbia’s entry that same year…and the author of “Lejla”!  If things keep connecting like this, we might end up seeing Kevin Bacon as a backing singer…) 

ESC 2010 Reviews: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Bosnia’s history in Eurovision has truly been one of redemption.  Rising from the horrors of the Balkan Conflict of the early-to-mid 1990s, they have now become one of the more successful entrants into the ESC in recent years.  Despite never having won the contest in its fifteen appearances, they took the bronze position in 2006 and have qualified for the finals each year since the establishment of the semifinal system.

Bosnia’s inaugural entry, in 1993’s contest in Millstreet, was Fazla’s “Sva Bol Svijeta” (“All The Pain in the World”), which directly referenced the then-ongoing conflict back home in Sarajevo.  With heart-wrenching lyrics such as:

Sva bol svijeta je noćas u Bosni All the pain in the world tonight is in Bosnia
Ostajem da bolu prkosim I’m staying to defy the fear
I nije me strah stati pred zid I’m not afraid to stand in front of the wall
Ja znam da zapjevam, ja znam da pobijedim I can sing, I can win

Europe had to not only take notice of the song, but of the plight of the conflict itself.  Considering that Eurovision had basically been founded as a cultural response to war, putting the theme of wartime strife front and center struck a poignant note with the audience.  When it was time for the votes to be cast in Millstreet that evening, and hostess Fionnuala Sweeney received the call from Sarajevo, the spectators were brought to their feet, their cheers at times nearly drowning out the weak, static-filled connection, rife with feedback.  The first two minutes of this video chronicle that moment.

Since that night in 1993, Bosnia and Herzegovina have fared generally well in the ESC.  In 2005, they were represented by the girl-band Femminem, who will actually be bearing the Croatian flag in this year’s competition (but more about them later!).  In 2006, the emotional, Balkan-influenced ballad “Lejla“, sung by Hari Mata Hari, was hotly predicted to win in Athens, yet was beaten into a surprise third place by the Finnish and Russian entries. 

For the 2008 contest in Belgrade, it was decided that Bosnia and Herzegovina would go in a slightly different direction for their national entry.  That result was “Pokusaj” (“Try”), one of the strangest, yet sweetest songs ever to come out of the competition.  Performed by eccentric rocker Laka and his younger sister Mirela, the song is a wide-eyed, childlike blend of rock, playground rhyme, and performance art, incorporating laundry, brides, inexplicable knitting, and an ensemble on Mirela that’s a strange blend of Helena Bonham Carter, Raggedy Ann, and Roseanne Rosannadanna.  

Just watch it, and you’ll understand. 

(For the record, I’ll have that song stuck in my head for the next week and a half…)

Last year’s entry for Moscow was another 180° shift from the wacky and wild wonder of “Pokusaj”.  National broadcaster BHRT selected rock group Regina, who had been performing together since 1990.  Their entry, “Bistra Voda” (“Clear Water”), was a powerful song almost reminiscent of military marches.  Presented simply, yet passionately, it resulted in a 9th place finish, and the song was selected internally by the songwriters competing in Moscow as having the best overall composition.

This year, the challenge goes to 26-year-old Vukašin “Wookee” Brajić, a participant in “Operacija Trijumf”‘s 2009 edition.  His pop/rock style brought him to the runner-up position in the “Pop Idol”-type show; will it do the same for him in Oslo?  His song, chosen internally by BHRT, is entitled “Thunder and Lightning”, and, like the aforementioned Albanian entry, was adapted into English from its original Bosnian.  Unfortunately, unlike the Albanian’s switch from “Nuk Mundem Pa Ty” to “It’s All About You”, “Thunder and Lightning” is almost a direct, word-for-word translation from the original song, “Munja i Grom”.  While it’s great that the integrity of the words are still intact, the rhyme scheme now feels messy, and the lyrics sound almost amateurish.  If Vukašin sings in the original Bosnian (or even switches between the two languages), it will likely sound smoother and less jarring.  My friend (and fellow ESC geek) Slaviša, who’s a native of Banja Luka, tells me that the Bosnian reaction to the release of this song has been less than positive, especially compared to the acclaim that Hari Mata Hari, Laka, and Regina all received.  However, I personally like Vukašin’s voice (he sounds almost like an accented Jon Bon Jovi, at least to my New Jersey-bred ears), and I’m always happy to see more rock on the ESC stage.  That being said, the version of Bosnia’s 2010 entry on my iPod is “Munja i Grom”, not “Thunder and Lightning”.  I predict that it will pass through to the final, but likely won’t score much higher than 10 or 15th place.

Here’s the official English version, followed by “Munja i Grom”.  Which do you like more?