2016 Review: Montenegro

RTCG has decided: while Sergej Ćetković and Knez’s entries were great and brought Montenegro to the final for the first time since their independence and first participation, the country has a lot more to offer than just Balkan ballads. As a result, this year RTCG decided that the Montenegro would be represented by a song closer to their 2013 entry: the group Highway (a trio from the X Factor Adria along with No Name’s Bojan Jovović) and the song “The Real Thing.”

When I first listened to the song during their presentation, my first thought was “What the hell is this noise?” It didn’t help that they were performing with obviously unplugged electric guitars yet trying to look like they were playing as loudly as possible, and it felt like an awkward school talent show performance at the time. The music video had a bit more life, but it still felt somewhat confusing. As of so far, I still don’t know any of the lyrics besides “Inside you” and “Feel it; I’m the real thing, yeah,” and I still need to put in a lot of energy to listen in on what the words are.

On the other hand, while I understand that a lot of rankings put this in their bottom 3 because it’s not their favorite genre of music, this doesn’t deserve that much flack. Highway is doing their own thing (so “the real thing” as opposed to making them sing a schlager entry), even if the 3-minute time restraint makes the song feel somewhat cut off. And while I agree with the rankings that it’s not my favorite genre, I won’t switch the song when I’m driving: If the sound is loud enough, I get to feel the bass and vibrations through the brake pedal.

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More news in the world! Finally…

And finally there’s news on the contest! Thank you AMPTV and RTCG! I’ve been sitting in front of a blank Word document for days trying to come up with something that isn’t ripped off from Tumblr or just another “here’s a song and here’s my feelings about it” post….

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“How many more are there?!” (sorry Conchita…)

 

Anyways, Montenegro decided to change musical style directions and go back to the pop world with the trio Highway, who participated in the second season of X-Factor Adria. While I did enjoy the Balkan ballads for two years in a row, I missed some of their “out there” entries like in 2012 and 2013. This year it will probably be a pop-rock entry reminiscent of 2007 or 2008 (hopefully more like 2007 since that was catchier IMO).

Armenia also selected their participant internally, this time with half the drama as 2015’s selection. Or probably less than 1/6 of the drama, since everyone knew it was a female soloist. It turned out to be Iveta Mukuchyan, who’s been hyped before in the ESC world.

Now we can finally say the season’s rolling towards May. Now bring on the national selections!

Or for some people, it’s every day 🙂

30 Days of Eurovision Challenge: Day 19

Prompt: A song that gives you chills

I’m tempted to just write EVERY BALKAN BALLAD AROUND, but that’s not going to work. So I’m just going to mention how much I loved the Montenegrin entry this year.

Hi everyone! We have life outside the magical world too!

 

Prior to the performance I was worried that the song wasn’t going to qualify because of the bookies’ bet values and how Knez’s performance in Amsterdam and London looked kind of empty. The voice was there, the spirit of the song was there, but something seemed missing, as if a Željko Joksimović composition not performed by the composer himself was going to tear the performance down a notch.

And then then came his performance at Eurovision. Before the performance started I was wondering whether to take a bathroom break, and the answer was no. As the song described a person not wanting to give up memories of their loved one, I loved how the screen started out like a dark version of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 2006 performance of “Lejla”, and how backing singers were all standing in the water like ghosts, gradually gaining strength to dance and showing how the memory was still there and solid. I just sat there frozen, wondering what else Knez and Co. had to magnify the feeling. And both the memory of the lost loved one and the feeling of the song turned out as solid and strong as a corporeal Patronus.

Though what would the Patronus look like?

Want to see the rest of the 30 Day Challenge posts? Click here to find the rest of the entries.

And the winner is…Sweden!

I was going to post this yesterday, but congratulations to Sweden and Måns Zelmerlöw for winning the 60th Eurovision Song Contest with 365 points!

It’s also Sweden’s 6th win since ABBA in 1974.

Ranking:

1. Sweden- 365 points
2. Russia- 303 points
3. Italy- 292 points
4. Belgium- 217 points
5. Australia- 196 points
6. Latvia- 186 points
7. Estonia- 106 points
8. Norway- 102 points
9. Israel- 97 points
10. Serbia- 53 points
11. Georgia- 51 points
12. Azerbaijan- 49 points
13. Montenegro- 44 points
14. Slovenia- 39 points
15. Romania- 35 points
16. Armenia- 34 points (Tie Break)
17. Albania- 34 points
18. Lithuania- 30 points
19. Greece- 23 points (only 8 of which came from Cyprus)
20. Hungary- 19 points
21. Spain- 15 points
22. Cyprus- 11 points (And Greece only gave Cyprus 10 points. Death and taxes are still guaranteed, but Greece and Cyprus exchanging 12 points isn’t anymore.)

23. Poland- 10 points
24. United Kingdom- 5 points
25. France- 4 points
26. Germany- 0 points (There were points somewhere in the split voting but they disappeared)
27. Austria- 0 points

 

 

Thoughts on Semi-Final 2

I got to watch all 17 performances without any interruptions today! (That is, if you don’t count the constant video lag and re-buffering from SVT Play mobile app), and overall it was a really good show. The three hosts Alice, Mirjam, and Arabella seemed less awkward than in the first semi, and Conchita was a great green room host like on Tuesday.

Predicted qualifiers (in participation order):
Lithuania, Montenegro, Norway, Czech Republic, Israel, Latvia, Azerbaijan, Iceland, Sweden, Slovenia

Actual results (in participation order):
Lithuania, Montenegro, Norway, Israel, Latvia, Azerbaijan, Sweden, Cyprus, Slovenia, Poland

After hearing the results, I get why Czech Republic and Iceland didn’t qualify: After seeing pictures of Marta taking off her heels and throwing them on the stage, I thought it was going to happen during the climax key change. Instead she took them off before. Instead of looking like “Eugh, I hate these shoes and I’m getting rid of them and changing everything” like I imagined, she looked more like, “Meh, I don’t feel that comfortable in these heels. Let’s just take them off right now. Oh well, I can pick them up later.” Hopefully they scored higher than their previous entries (in both points and rankings), otherwise Czech Republic’s not coming back if they came last with 5 points.

“But you said the director told you it was okay to chuck my shoes off!” “Not so it would look like you did it for no apparent reason!”

 

Later when I listened to Iceland, I was wondering whether the sound was off due to Maria’s performance or due to SVT Play having issues. Before I wondered whether Frozen fans would give their points to Russia or Iceland. Now they have no choice but to vote for Russia (and probably wave a few more rainbow flags as well). The background and golden footprints were pretty nice, but she did look a little awkward with nothing else but a golden pool of water on the floor.  I guess Iceland and Denmark are probably going to select something less formulaic next year.

Maria’s annoyed that the Israeli delegation left a bunch of gold paint on the floor and it’s staining everything.

 

There’s probably going to be major partying in the Baltics this week (especially in Latvia), since for the first time since 2002 all three Baltic countries qualified for the final, and Latvia finally broke its 6-year streak of not qualifying.

Aminata thanks the Eurovision gods for allowing Latvia into the final

 

My favourite random moment in the semi was during San Marino’s performance, when everyone yelled “No” (the first lyric of the song). And obviously Michele ended up singing a “chain of farts.” Fortunately (or unfortunately) there was no pyro involved in their performance, and it was extremely safe for the two who only recently turned old enough to drink.

“Don’t worry! We’ll come back next year (and possibly the year after) with a better song…”

I can’t wait for the final on Saturday. At the same time, I’ve got work until all the performances are over. Thankfully I’ll be able to watch most of the voting… So bring on the final Vienna!

2015 Review: Montenegro

The world found out back before Skopje Fest that the artist Knez was representing Montenegro. And then he disappeared from the blogosphere, only to show up a few times to report on a birthday cake to announce that Balkan ballad wizard Željko Joksimović was going to compose his entry. Suddenly he re-appeared to present his entry, “Adio.” And if I hadn’t watched the video, I would have guessed that it was Željko himself instead of Knez.

Given the composer, I don’t think anyone’s surprised that it’s another Balkan ballad. And yes, Knez can sing them. (That’s actually where I first found him: singing “Lejla” on the Serbian version of “Your Face Sounds Familiar.”

 

This entry’s tune sounds a little more upbeat and optimistic, somewhat like last year’s Montenegrin entry. It’s got the same ethnic instruments, but it’s less stringy and has more drums. As a result it reminds me of some of Željko Joksimović’s non-ESC songs: I don’t want to say turbo-folk-y, but more folk-pop-ish than his entries from previous years.

Anyways, congrats to being the only ex-Yugo participant not singing in English. Here’s your cake.

It’s actually his birthday cake that he posted on Twitter… aesj.

And Montenegro has selected…

When I read that Montenegro selected its artist for 2015, I was pretty surprised. With the exception of Valentina Monetta announcing to do a three-peat in 2014 last summer, ESC season was pretty much dead until December and Festivali i Këngës started and (recently) when SF started internet voting for songs.

And when RTCG announced that the artist would be Knez (Nenad Knežević), I had two thoughts running through my head:

  • Wait, doesn’t “knez” mean “prince”? So what would happen if Montenegro sent Prince instead of Knez…not that would ever happen…
  • Hang on a second…I think I’ve seen this guy on Tvoje lice zvuči poznato (Serbian version of Your Face Sounds Familiar), and he did a cover version of Lejla before YouTube muted the video.

Montenegro qualified for the first time this year since 2007. Let’s see if Knez can get to the final next year too.

Let the ESC 2015 season officially begin!