2016 Review: Serbia

Serbia’s been really tight-lipped on their ESC entry this year, not revealing the artist until early March and the song a few days later (on Melodifestivalen night too). RTS has gone for internal selection, with Sanja Vučić/ZAA/Sanja Vučić ZAA/I’m not sure how many other combos of her name there can be. At the current rate of confusion, RTS might as well change her stage name to ZAAnja. But it won’t matter if she changes it or not; either way, I’m pretty sure some commentator is going to mess up and confuse her with Finland’s Sandhja. In that case, it’s probably a good thing that Serbia and Finland are in different semifinals.

This year Serbia’s sending another English-language entry (remember when Serbia was one of those countries that was 200% likely to send something in Serbian?), but this time there’s a good reason for that: Their entry “Goodbye (Shelter)” is the 3rd entry about domestic violence in less than 10 years (the two prior entries were Ukraine 2009 and Hungary 2014, which targeted violence towards women and children, respectively) and English is the easiest way to get the message out.

Out of all 3 entries so far, “Goodbye (Shelter)” is probably the most explicit/detailed. It doesn’t try to avoid the situation of abusive relationships; it reveals that they exist, that being stuck in one is absolute hell, and that some people start out a relationship thinking it’s going to be perfect, but the partner turns out horribly abusive: “I thought that we were meant for each other; oh, how I wish I knew,” And sometimes they stay, thinking that this is normal, thinking it’s going to be better or that they can hold on, or that their situation is better, and yet it turns into the worst form of positive feedback ever.

And when they try to get out of their situation, the partner finds a way to break their plans and keep them in their cycle: “Every time I say goodbye, you try to hold me by your side. [I] couldn’t fight my way out of your hands, find a shelter from the pain.”  It’ll feel fine for a short period of time, but they’re still treading on eggshells in the house: “Every time you say your lies, I hide away and close my eyes. I won’t let you tear my world apart, gonna find a shelter for my heart.”

While I’ve never experienced this (and hope I never have to), I have heard some stories from other people. Given the content of the song, there’s a chance that someone is going to add a trigger warning to the lyrics in case. Hopefully the song brings awareness to people who haven’t heard the stories, so that domestic violence is treated more seriously.

On a completely separate note, a) the song’s got really nice backing, considered that the national orchestra was involved in recording the song, and b) outside of the song’s context, she sounds like a really cool person to hang out with.


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