News 14 May 16

Three Balkan Singers Bid for Eurovision Crown

Bulgaria, Croatia and Serbia will participate in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest, in Sweden’s capital Stockholm on Saturday evening.

Mariya Cheresheva
BIRN
Sofia
Eurovision' semi final winners. | Photo: Thomas Hanses (EBU)

A total of 26 countries will take part in the Eurovision final in Stockholm on Saturday, with Russia, Ukraine and Australia tipped as likely winners of the European song contest.

Three Southeast European countries have also made it to the finals. However, Serbia is the only one of the three that has won the contest in the past with Marija Serifovic’s song Molitva in 2007 in Helsinki – apart from 1989, when the former Yugoslavia conquered the Eurovision in Lausanne.

 

 

In 2016, Serbia made it among the top participants with Sanja Vucic’s song Goodbye (Shelter). Addressing the problem of domestic violence, it drew attention with its socially engaged message, as did Ukraine’s song.

Born in 1993 in Krusevac, Sanja is a lead singer in the Belgrade-based band Zaa. Coming from a musical family, she started singing from an early age, being taught Serbian folk songs by her parents.

 “My song has a strong message about abuse of women, and I guess that many people recognized the message and that's why it got through," Vucic said after the Eurovision’s second semi-final.

“Eurovision is not really a competition for me, it's a festival to cherish music. But of course I want to get the best ranking for Serbia," she promised.

Among her regional rivals is Nina Kraljic, one of the emerging stars on the Croatian pop scene. After winning the talent show The Voice, the Croatian public broadcaster HRT nominated her to represent Croatia in the 2016 song contest.

 

 

In the Stockholm final she will sing Lighthouse, a song written by Andreas Grass and Nikola Paryla.

"I am a little bit in shock right now. Unfortunately, in Croatia some people wanted us to fail, so this is for them,” Kraljic said, after making it through the first semi-finals on Tuesday.

She added that she and her team had felt great pressure as Croatia has not been represented at the Eurovision finals since 2009.

The third singer from a Balkan country, Bulgaria’s Poli Genova, is no stranger to the Eurovision family. In 2011, she represented Bulgaria in Düsseldorf with her song Na Inat, and in 2015 she hosted the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Sofia, Bulgaria.

 

In 2016, she finally made it to the Grand Final with her song If Love Was a Crime.

“In Düsseldorf, we didn't qualify, I didn't make it. Today I made it - it was a dream come true. I am the happiest person in the world now," she said after the second semi-final on Thursday.

The other 17 countries that passed the two semi-finals are Latvia, Georgia, Australia, Ukraine, Poland, Israel, Lithuania and Belgium, Azerbaijan, Russia, The Netherlands, Hungary, Austria, Armenia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus and Malta.

In the Grand Final, they will be joined by the “Big Five” - France, Germany, the UK, Spain and Italy, which qualify automatically as the biggest financial contributors to the European Broadcasting Union, EBU, as well as the host country – Sweden. 

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