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News 14 May 13

Balkan Contestants Gear Up For Eurovision

Performers from Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia will take to the stage for the first semi-final of Eurovision 2013 on Tuesday, closely watched by the glitzy song contest’s Balkan fans.

Belgrade, Tirana, Pristina, Skopje, Podgorica, Sarajevo, Bucharest, Zagreb
The stage for the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden. (AP Photo/Scanpix, Drago Prvulovic)

While some western Europeans might not quite feel the pull of Eurovision, the contest is a serious undertaking in the Balkans. Even though former Yugoslav countries remain deeply divided by the scars of war, during the annual pan-European pop extravaganza they come together by supporting each other in the tele-vote.

Croatian folk music ensemble Klapa A Mora will be the first to make an appearance at Eurovision 2013 in Malmo in Sweden, performing their song Mizerja.

Klapa singing is a traditional Croatian form of vocal music from Dalmatia. In 2012, UNESCO put the form on its ‘intangible cultural heritage of Humanity’ list.

For the second year in a row, after the controversial opening of Eurovision 2012 with a performance by rocker Rambo Amadeus, Montenegro’s representatives aim to inject a little unorthodoxy into the event.

Who See, a hip-hop duo from the coastal town of Kotor, will perform a dubstep-tinged song called Igranka with singer Nina Zizic.

Montenegro has never reached the final stage of the contest but many in the country have high expectations this year after the song clocked up the highest number of views on Eurovision’s YouTube channel during the first month of broadcast and topped a regional MTV list of the best songs from the former Yugoslavia for several weeks.

The third Balkan contestants to appear will be the Serbian girl group Moje 3, known to local television audiences from their talent show appearances.

The scantily-clad song-and-dance trio won the right to represent their country at the annual event with their pounding Euro-pop tune Love is Everywhere. The trio were previously known from their appearances on the TV talent show ‘First Voice of Serbia’.

The three singers, Mirna Radulovic, Nevena Bozovic and Sara Jovanovic, told local media that they hope to repeat success of Marija Serifovic in 2007, who won the country’s first Eurovision entry since independence.

The Eurovision Song Contest, held annually since 1956, is the biggest live non-sporting event in the world with a television audience estimated at over 100 million viewers.

Performers from Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Romania will take to the stage in the second semi-final on Thursday.

Albania will appear first with Bledar Sejko and Adrian Lulgjuraj performing their rock ballad Identiet

Macedonia’s song is a duet between Esma Rexhepova, the acclaimed "queen of gypsy music", and the up-and-coming singer Lozano.

The song was the country’s second choice after Macedonia’s national broadcaster, MRT, which holds the national license for the contest withdrew the originally planned song Imperija, performed by the same duet, in March.

MRT said that it did not meet its quality standards just days after the video clip for the song was ridiculed on social networks and criticised as a tragi-comic advert for the government.

Romania will be represented at Eurovision by the counter-tenor Cezar Ouatu with the song It's My Life, which the singer plans to perform while dressed as a woman.

Bulgaria represented in Malmo by Elitsa Todorova and Stoyan Yankulov performing their song Only Champions. The duo are already famous at home for their innovative way of combining traditional singing, percussion and contemporary influences.

Kosovo is not allowed to participate in the event because it is not a member of the European Broadcasting Union.

Meanwhile, Bosnia and Herzevovina gave up participating in the contest for financial reasons. Officials from Bosnian state television said at the end of last year that they did not have enough money to cover the costs.  


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