Of course not all countries are out to win, some are just looking for a platform to show off their culture. Or at least I guess that must be the case, otherwise why would Montenegro send their latest entry? This is the question some people might have in mind when Montenegro open the first semi-final this year.
Montenegro only have a short history at Eurovision, with only 3 entries before now, none of which got through the semi-finals. They had better luck in their former incarnation as Serbia & Montenegro, whose first of two entries came within an ace of winning the 2004 contest.
To Western ears this might be passed off as another novelty act from the Balkans, but Rambo Amadeus appears to be something of a cultural icon in Montenegro, as well as being popular in its ex-Yugoslavian neighbourhood. He has a long-established career as a… well I don’t know, I’m getting this all off Wikipedia, but some kind of political satirist musician? Either way, through a period of regional trauma in the Balkan war, Rambo flew in the face of various regimes with his music, so it would be disrespectful to write him off as some ‘joke entry’.
That said, as a Brit, I think this is perhaps a bit lost in translation. I might be able to pick up most of the words, but evidently not enough of them to really grasp what this is about. Musically (I use the term loosely) he’s got the monotone stylings and accent of a East-European caricature, and the tune is rather fragmented and difficult. There’s a particularly horrific instrumental section where some undetermined Balkan instrument is tortured.
The video seems in good humour, and Montenegro looks like a beautiful place. I just don’t see me attending the Eurovision there next year if I’m honest. Something makes me think this will make it to the final, and maybe even be one of those inexplicably well-performing tracks, maybe making mid-table. I just pity the poor country who gets booted out instead of it (sorry Netherlands). This contest isn’t purely for Western ears, so if the Balkans appreciate it, then good luck to it.
PS I’m still going on about the Eurovision tab at the top of the page, click it and shut me up, it’s tempting isn’t it?