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21 Apr 17

Montenegro Eurovision Singer Hits Wrong Note Back Home

Slavko Kalezic, Montenegro's entry for the Eurovision song contest, may have wowed some international audiences with his provocative appearance - but it has appalled many people at home who deem it an insult to traditional values. 

Slavko Kalezic. Photo: Courtesy of Public Broadcaster RTCG.

Montenegro hopes this year's striking representative for the Eurovision song contest, Slavko Kalezic, will make it through to the final, on Saturday May 13, in Kiev, Ukraine.

The singer and actor is scheduled to perform in the semi-final on May 9 with the song “Space", which has been praised in some international media for challenging "stereotypes about masculine and feminine beauty".   

But in conservative, homophobic Montenegro, the provocative performance and words of this self-styled "queen" have drawn torrents of criticism for apparently trampling on traditional values. Some have even called Kalezic a symbol of "Western decadence".

Wearing a billowing blue dress [at one point] as well as braided hair extensions in his Eurovision video, he has inevitably been compared to bearded Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst, who some in Montenegro saw as a gay propagandist.

Kalezic's reference to himself as a "queen" after he was chosen to represent Montenegro at Eurovision last December added more fuel to the critics. “I am born to win, I am your queen!" he said.

When his video for Eurovision was released in March, Kalezic warned that "everything that people expect, they won't get".

 

In an open letter posted on Facebook on March 14, he said he was not interesting in winning the favour of "primitive people drowning in their own ignorance and inability", adding:
"Negative comments only motivate me".

He also said that, "If he was alive, Njegos would truly support me," referring to claims that if the 19th-century prince bishop and poet, widely considered the father of the nation, were alive now, he would be ashamed of him.

Kalezic was already a known figure in Montenegro, as a member of the Montenegrin National Theatre, CNP, as well as having appeared on X Factor Adria, the Serbian version of the X Factor show, in 2013.

As Montenegro's candidate, he was chosen in December following weeks of behind-the-scenes deliberations in the public broadcaster RTCG.

Unlike the domestic public, some international media outlets have praised Kalezic’s song and according to the bookmakers it stands a good chance of making it to the Eurosong finale.

One Eurovision website called Kalezic one of the most “original and outré performers of the year", while the London daily paper Metro said: “Montenegro’s 2017 Eurovision entry, Space, is kind of incredible".

Montenegro made its Eurovision debut in 2007 having previously competed as part of Yugoslavia and then as part of a loose state union with Serbia.

In its first year, Montenegro received its lowest score, coming 22nd in the semi-final. It  scored its highest ranking to date in 2015 when it came 13th in the final.

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