Thursday Thirteen

Eurosong 2008

1. More fresh news from this corner of the world!
I never thought I’ll write about Eurovision Song Contest because that was something with no such importance for me but I guess I was wrong. Indeed Serbia won but that’s not the reason why I’m writing about this.

2. Since majority of you are from USA I should explain what it is all about in case you don’t know (and I‘ll post explanation my friend Giz gave): The Contest dates back to 1956 and every country enters one act. You can then vote for your favourite except the country you are calling from. They are professional artists – for example, Cliff Richard was in it twice (although he never won) and the entry that had the biggest ever hit in the USA was UK entry for 1996 Gina Gee singing ”Oh Ah Just a Little Bit”. Probably the most famous ever Eurovision winner is ”Waterloo” by Abba.
The country that wins hosts the next years competition – this year it is Helsinki, Finland.

3. Now I should say that Eurovision Song Contest was always nothing more than annual evening entertainment. Yugoslavia always participated (and won 1989) before its collapse and then after the war and huge pause we 4. came back in Istanbul 2004 as Serbia and Montenegro with one of the best song I’ve heard on this competition EVER (of course this is my personal opinion): Lane Moje performed by Željko Joksimović and Ad Hoc Orchestra. Melody totally represents Serbian music tradition (it’s beautiful fusion of traditional folk music and the modern one) and also the lyrics are: Lane moje means something like my dear but even softer; lane literally means the lamb (of a deer) and it’s archaic and very poetic way to call a dear one. Here you can see their performance from Istanbul (observe reaction of audience):

5. That year was very specific and indeed it was quite emotional (for many of my compatriots and yes, for me too) because after all those crappy years we are back. My disappointment then because we took second place was/is much bigger than joy because of our victory this year. The fact that our song was proclaimed as the best one by the professional musician’s jury wasn’t too helpful.
That 2004 Ukraine took 1st place with some jumping it the fur “Wild Dance” screaming in some variant of to me completely-impossible-to-understand English.
But OK that story is over so we’re jumping on this year’s contest in Helsinki, Finland.

6. I have to say I’m not fan of Marija Šerifović (this year’s winner) but when I heard her song on national competition I really liked a lot; the song was really good, the lyrics and arrangement too and she has great voice! (by the way I think those other girls is to show that we have pretty ones as well).
7. And (which I especially liked) she broke all patterns:
First time after 1991 contest winning song was in native language (not English)
First time after 1994 contest a ballad won.
Choreography was completely minimalist without jumping all over the scene.
And of course physical appearance of the singer was not nearly model-like.
So I do think that this time song was the main issue.

8. Here you can hear the winning song “Molitva” (Prayer):

9. And then comes reactions from Europe which is the main reason why I’m writing about this. I’m completely shocked by reaction of Western European media (mainly British).
Comment on BBC was ”At times, their routine resembled liturgical dancing. At others, it seemed to be a slow-motion lesbian porn film” and then comes comments about her physical appearance and “political” voting. Namely many think that Serbia won because ex-Yugoslavia countries (there is also as they say ex-USSR and Scandinavian block) are voting for each other and therefore song from West Europe will never win. Press reactions to the Eurovision Song Contest 2007 final in Western European countries was cynical at best, with calls to withdraw from tabloid columnists and former participants alike in the weekend news. You can find some news how Serbian song is actually plagiary of Albanian one which is such obvious nonsense (I’ve heard both one). It’s very strange and I would say very significant that almost no one in UK searched reasons for bad result in their utterly bad song.

10. On the other hand I do think that people here are taking quite seriously what they’ll chose to represent them in Europe and are putting much more effort than in West European countries. Indeed there are ‘neighboring voting” but I think that is logical because they understand the song, it’s very close to their ethnos and they are recognizing it as their own BUT I don’t think that is crucial especially not this year. Our song didn’t receive votes only from three or four countries (of 42) so neighbors have helped but without rest of the Europe we wouldn’t win.

11. I like one comment on the BBC (on the question “Should Serbia have won Eurovision?”), here it goes:
Is it really so hard for England to accept that Serbia has won? Would there be such question if England has won? Can you imagine such title “Should England have won”? Arrogance will not make you win anything.

12. I should say that German ORF continues to call Serbia’s entry a “classy song”, whilst France’s Le Monde reports that “finally, a good song has won”

13. For the end of this quite longish TT I’ll post photos: 70000 people in a front of Belgrade City Hall came to welcome the winner! (I never expected that people here are taking Eurosong so seriously!)

Oh yes I almost forgot:
See you in Belgrade next year!

My apologize to everyone who have left comments here and whose blogs I can’t visit. Namely I still have problem to open certain blogs (not all) on blogger.)