Category Archives: Serbia

Serbia: Moje 3’s “Love is Everywhere”

Last week brought us the final of Beosong 2013, the most extensive National Final that Serbia’s had since the last Beovizija in 2009.  From the fifteen songs in the Semifinal, only five made it through to the last night, where a pure SMS vote would determine who would go to Malmö.  In the end, however, it was girl-group Moje 3 with their dance-pop entry “Ljubav je svuda (Love is Everywhere)” who claimed the win:

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Toe-to-Toe ESC Smackdown!

As I’ve said before, April is typically Eurovision No-Man’s-Land as we wait for rehearsals to start.  Why not fill the time with a bit of friendly competition?

So many of this year’s artists got to where they are today by standing on the shoulders of giants.  Or, at the very least, covering other people’s songs at National Finals or “Idol”/”X-Factor”/”The Voice”-type programs.  By sheer luck and coincidence, many of 2012’s Eurovision performers have either covered the same songs as one another, or simply performed past ESC classics.  So, in order to pass a bit of time, why don’t we figure out whose versions reign supreme?

As the Chairman would (almost) say..."Allez Musique!"

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Serbia: Željko unveils “Nije Ljubav Stvar”

Although we’ve known since November that singer, songwriter, and Eurovision veteran Željko Joksimović would be representing Serbia, it was only this Saturday that we finally got the chance to hear the song that he’d be taking to Baku.  Presented in both English and Serbian, “Nije Ljubav Stvar” are a return to form from the man who brought us 2004’s silver medalist, “Lane Moje“, as well as the composer of 2006’s “Lejla” and 2008’s “Oro“. Read the rest of this entry

Željko Joksimović returns for Serbia

Only hours after the announcement came in from Belgium about Iris’s participation in Baku, Serbian broadcaster RTS surprised Eurofans everywhere by suddenly announcing their plans for ESC 2012.  To the delight of many, veteran singer and composer Željko Joksimović will be taking the stage at Baku Crystal Hall (assuming it’s built in time, of course).  Eurovision followers are most familiar with Željko as the man behind 2004’s stirring ethno-ballad “Lane Moje”, sung for a then-united Serbia and Montenegro.  He might have come in second to Ruslana, but “Lane Moje” still remains a beloved modern classic in the eyes of many.

In 2006, Joksimović composed Hari Mata Hari’s “Lejla“, which came in third for Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Two years later, as the event made its way to Belgrade, Željko not only composed another gorgeous ballad, Jelena Tomasevic’s “Oro” (which came in a respectable 6th place for Serbia), but he also co-hosted the event itself!  He has released five studio albums, two “best-of” compilations, and a live album, and he’s sold out concerts all over the region.  He penned 2003’s Beovizija winner “Cija Si” for Tose Proeski, and even recorded a duet with 2011’s Bosnian representative Dino Merlin, “Supermen“.  Needless to say, the 39-year old Joksimović has proven himself to be one of the Balkans’ most prolific musicians, especially in the world of Eurovision.

For the first time, Serbia will have a completely internal selection, but details on Željko’s song are still being hammered out (in fact, he’s still composing it!).  We should hear the song in full early in 2012.  It’s still incredibly early to start guessing how Serbia will do this year in the competition, but if Željko ends up winning the whole thing, he will be part of an extremely exclusive cadre of ESC performers who have come in second place, returned to the Contest at a later date, and won (the others being Ireland’s Linda Martin and Russia’s Dima Bilan).

What are your thoughts on the return of Željko Joksimović?

Eurovision 2011: The Best of the Rest (Part 7)

Romania: Romania’s National Selection was an hours-long affair that also doubled as a New Year’s Celebration, with 2010 representatives Paula Seling and Ovi co-managing hosting duties. Guest stars Chiara and Niamh Kavanagh even stopped by to join in the fun.  At the end of the night, Hotel FM won the ticket to Germany with the peppy, optimistic “Change“.  (British-born lead singer David Bryan provided quite a bit of fun for my friends and I at the Press Center, whether he knew it or not…David, if you’re reading this, thanks for being so good-natured about all of it!)

The Romanian National Selection was pretty even-keeled, in the sense that none of the songs really strayed too far from the melodic pop mold.  Unfortunately, that means that it’s somewhat difficult to point out a unique entry for the purposes of this blog!  That being said, I consistently smile whenever I hear “It’s So Fine”, the 7th-place finisher from the Blaxy Girls:

…and I was more than a little amused by the country tinge I heard from Dalma in “Song for Him”, which came in 11th place:

Russia and San Marino both had internal selections for their entries this year, so we move on to:

Serbia: Broadcaster RTS sent the impossibly adorable Nina and her Swinging-60s number “Čaroban (Magical)” to Düsseldorf, and the Belgrade-born Pharmacy student definitely made her mark.  In my opinion, the Serbian delegation had the best costumes this year, and anybody who gleefully admits she’s a nerd automatically wins points in my book! 

RTS put an interesting spin on their National Final this year: they pitted three members of the musical Kovac family against each other (father Kornelije against daughters Aleksandra and Kristina), and challenged each of them to compose a candidate entry.  In the end, it was Kristina who won out (getting nearly 15,000 televotes, compared to Aleksandra’s 6,000 and Kornelije’s 4,000), but let’s take a quick peek at what her dad and big sister put together:

Kornelije’s entry, “Ring Ring Ring” performed by The Breeze, was another ’60s-style number, taking more from the early Beatles than from Edie Sedgwick.  However, while “Čaroban” still sounded catchy and fresh, “Ring Ring Ring” seemed oddly stuck in the past:

Aleksandra decided to perform “Idemo dalje (Move On)” herself, and she served up a pretty respectable ballad that wasn’t too far removed from the formula that served Marija Serifovic well when she won Eurovision in 2007 with “Molitva”:

Slovakia chose their song internally, so we turn our attention to…

Slovenia: After missing out on the Final every year since 2007, Maja Keuc’s “No One” was a fantastic return to form for the country that brought us Alenka Gotar and Darja Švajger.  Maja was incredibly confident and capable in her performance, and I spent about half of my time in the Press Center wondering where I could buy her boots…

Coming in second place in this year’s Slovenian National Selection (or EMA) was “Ladadidej”, performed by the Lady Gaga-inspired April.  The song was catchy as anything, but I kept getting distracted by the gold-lamé soufflé perched atop her head:

Another entry taking her style cues from the Mother Monster was Tabu, with “Moje Luci (My Light)”:

After all of that, though, my personal favorite was Nina Pušlar‘s “Bilo lepo bi (It would be nice)”, a well-crafted pop confection from last year’s EMA runner-up:

Spain: This year’s Spanish preselection, “Destino: Eurovisión”, brought in twenty-four artists and had them performing ESC covers until the group was eventually winnowed down to three.  It wasn’t until the candidates had been narrowed down to soloist Melissa, boyband Auryn, and eventual winner Lucía Pérez that the audience heard the possible songs for Düsseldorf.  Each finalist performed three entries apiece, with a professional jury deciding the best song for each performer.  Finally, the top songs were compared against each other, with the public audience deciding the ultimate champion.  

Lucía’s “Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao” was selected for her by the jury, and eventually won the night, but it was almost not to be.  After the jury cast their votes, the song was actually tied with “Abrázame”, which Lucía had called out as her favorite of the night, and closer to the style that she tended to sing (and part of the audience vocally agreed with her).  However, as the jury had given more top marks to “Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao”, the upbeat number was picked.  Here’s what could have been:

It hasn’t been made public who came in second or third (although we know that Lucía won with 68% of the vote that night), but here is Auryn’s “Volver (Return)”:

…and here’s Melissa, performing “Eos”:

The next post concludes ESC Insider’s National Final series, where we take a peek at Sweden, Switzerland, and the always-dramatic Ukraine!

My interview with Serbia’s magical Nina!

She was just as sweet as anything, and I’m LOVING the Serbian costume choices this year!  Toggie, sorry to keep you so jealous…

New Videos from Serbia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom

Adding to the list of new videos for this year’s ESC competitors are new clips from Serbia, Sweden, and the UK. 

Although Serbia’s Nina will be singing “Caroban” in Serbian, a new video has just popped up with her singing the English-language rendition, “Magical”.  The swinging-60’s vibe remains vibrant and sweet, and Nina’s just cheek-pinchingly adorable!  (Very Twiggy-meets-Edie-Sedgwick!)

Next up, Sweden’s Eric Saade has released an official preview video for “Popular”:

The lesson in this clip?  All of life’s problems can be solved via a dance-off. 

And finally (for now, at least), the United Kingdom’s representatives, Blue, have unveiled a new video for “I Can”:

It’s not a secret that I love this song, so having the boys release a second video was an unexpected treat!  Furthermore, the BBC aired a special on Blue’s preparation for Düsseldorf, “Eurovision: Your Country Needs Blue“.  With appearances by Cliff Richard, Lulu, and others, it’s a pretty cool peek into what goes into putting a Eurovision entry together.

Until next time!

Nina – "Čaroban" for Serbia!

Serbia was the next nation to select their song for Germany, and the 2007 champions had an interesting concept up their sleeve for their preselection.  Last year, as some of you might remember, legendary composer Goran Bregović provided three songs which were matched with three singers, the best of which went on to represent Serbia in Oslo.  This year, local broadcaster RTS wanted to continue that general idea, but with a twist: instead of having one composer write a series of songs, it was decided that one family of composers would submit songs to the network.  Kornelije Kovač and his daughters Aleksandra and Kristina would write one song apiece, each hand selecting who would interpret their composition. 

Kornelije, who represented a then-united Yugoslavia in the 1974 ESC, came up with “Ring Ring Ring“, and matched it with local band The Breeze, who could have easily stepped out of a time capsule from 1964.  The Beatle-esque tune came in third place with the televoters.  Aleksandra decided to take matters into her own hands, and sung her creation, the ballad “Idemo Dalje“, on her own.  But it was youngest sister Kristina who had the winning formula, pairing the Swinging 60’s throwback song “Čaroban (Magical)” with newcomer Nina Radojčić.  Here’s the result:

I mean, is this adorable or what?!  In Serbia’s first two outings at Eurovision as an independent nation, they reached for beautiful ballads sung by powerfully-voiced women, landing them with a victory and a 6th place.  The next two years, they went for more upbeat songs sung by men, and missed the finals one year and only made it to 13th place the next.  (Then again, “Cipela” was a pretty unique entry, and “Ovo Je Balkan” was one of those love-it-or-hate-it songs.) Čaroban brings in the uplifting energy from 2009 and 2010, brings in a great female lead vocal like 2007 and 2008, and infuses it with that great throwback feeling that’s so popular on charts worldwide.  (Amy Winehouse, anybody?)  Nicely done, Kristina, Nina, and Serbia! 

ESC 2010 Reviews: Serbia

Next up on our list is Serbia.  One could argue when Serbia’s actual debut in Eurovision was.  Some might say it was 1961, when the entry from Yugoslavia was from the ethnically-Serbian part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the song was sung in Serbian.  It could have been 1962, when the Yugoslavian singer was from Belgrade.  It might have been 1992, when the newly redrawn borders of Yugoslavia coincided with what is Serbia today.  It could have been 2004, when the first entry from a then-unified Serbia and Montenegro took to the Eurovision stage.  Or it might have been 2007, when an independent Serbia debuted and ended up taking the whole contest home.  Confused yet?  I know I was…Anyway, for the sake of argument, I’m going to be focusing mostly on more recent entries here (frankly, because they’re generally better and more memorable than their early pieces). 

Serbia (and Montenegro) had their first official entry in 2004 with Željko Joksimović and the Ad Hoc Orchestra’s “Lane Moje (My Dear)“.  This stunning Balkan ballad combined a stirring melody, a great vocal performance, and a touch of ethnic flavor.  It won its semifinal, but ended up taking a close second place to the Ukraine.  This, however, would not be the last we would hear from Željko, who would compose 2008’s entry, as well as 2006’s song from Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Lejla”.

As the union between Serbia and Montenegro dissolved in 2006, both nations started to enter Eurovision independently starting in 2007.  Montenegro (who has decided to skip the 2010 Eurovision contest) has never been able to get out of the semifinals, but Serbia was a different story.  In their debut as an independent nation, Serbia’s song “Molitva (Prayer)” by Marija Šerifović took home the victory, scoring over thirty points more than the runner up, Ukraine.  Not only was “Molitva” a beautiful song, but it was a bit of a record-breaker, as well.  With the exception of the first running of the contest, no debuting nation had ever won the grand prize.  Furthermore, it was the first winner since 1998 to not be sung in English (before 1998, nations had to sing in their native language; afterwards, any language could be used).  The song used no pyrotechnics, no flashy choreography, no costume changes…it stood on its own merits, and garnered a well-deserved win.  The next year’s entry, Jelena Tomašević’s “Oro“, was a return to Željko Joksimović’s wheelhouse of ethnically-inspired ballads.  In a competitive year, it scored in 6th place.

Last year, Serbia decided to get a bit wacky, sending Marko Kon and accordion player Milaan with “Cipela (Shoe)“.  Although it placed 10th in its semifinal, the 13th-placed entry from Croatia that year was given the ticket to the finals, as it was the jury’s choice.  Despite the disappointment, “Cipela” was a fun little diversion, with manic choreography and even more manic hair on Marko.

Keeping things upbeat for the second year in a row, this year brings us Milan Stanković with “Ovo Je Balkan (“This is Balkan)”, composed by local musical hero Goran Bregović.
The song definitely brings in some of the the ethnic qualities that “Lane Moje” and “Oro” displayed, but injected with taurine and speed.  The focus on the number three in the song is also significant among Serbians; a three-fingered salute (check out about :52 seconds into the song for Milan’s) is seen as a national marker of cultural identity.  Will it make it into the finals?  Well, if bloc voting has anything to say about it, Serbia already has a leg up on the competition.  Bosnia & Herzegovina and Macedonia are also in the first semifinal, so that might help a bit.  I wouldn’t be shocked if this made it through to the next level, but if it scored higher than tenth place in the finals, I’d be taken a bit aback.  Regardless, it’s a fun song with a surprising amount below the surface, and I’m looking forward to how it’s presented on the stage in Oslo.