A curious nation now, one that feels like it must have been around for as long as many of the other Balkan countries that debuted in the 90s. But Serbia only arrived on the Eurovision scene in its present form in 2007, where it promptly won the contest, the first debut country to do so, aside from Switzerland that won the first ever contest.
As Serbia & Montenegro they managed 2nd place on their debut, so the signs might have been there that Serbia was so make a splash on its own debut (not that Montenegro has done much though). But still it was a bit of a shock for the unusual figure of Marija Šerifović to win the contest with a rousing but – to westerners – difficult Balkan ballad.
Since then Serbia have done well, qualifying from all semi-finals but one (and they came 10th in that, losing out to the jury wildcard pick Croatia), and have established themselves as one of the mightier of the Balkan bunch.
This year they look like they might have their eyes on the prize by entering Željko, looking at his Eurovision CV. He was the guy who sang Serbia & Montenegro to a 2nd place debut in 2004. He wrote Bosnia & Herzegovina’s biggest Eurovision hit “Lejla” (it came 3rd). He hosted the Belgrade contest in 2008, as well as writing Serbia’s entry that year (it came 6th). Now he’s back for another attempt at victory, and it seems foolish to think he won’t do well. That’s a hit rate that any single nation would be jealous of.
It’s another Serbian-language song, in the grand tradition of Balkan ballads. Lots of big instrumental sections, a strong vocal, and a great climax with some powerful drums. Although it’s not the sort of song I’d be in the habit of listening to, it commands my attention – a powerful thing when you are trying to get Europe-wide interest in a 3-minute window.
Does that opening violin intro remind anyone else of Coldplay’s Paradise intro? Either way, his big Balkan fanbase (which I’m assured is pretty big) and DILF-like good looks will surely make him a force to be reckoned with in Baku. I’d say that glitter cannon isn’t quite in keeping with the tone though…
Click “Eurovision 2012” at the top of the screen for links to the rest of my ESC2012 reviews, and the rest of them once they are written!