It’s been ten years since Marija Serifovic handed Serbia its first win at the Eurovision Song Contest. A decade on its broadcaster RTS has still got those Eurovision feels, as today it confirmed its participation for Eurovision 2018 in Lisbon.

For many, Marija’s performance of “Molitva” remains one of the contest’s best of all-time.

Standing center stage in a disheveled tuxedo, she played with gender stereotypes as her squadron of all-girl backing vocalists frequently caressed her. “Falling in love frightens me/ Days are like wounds/ Countless and hard to get through,” she sang. The performance ended with her holding another woman’s hand — and their point of contact revealed a painted red heart.

Serbia, which debuted as an independent country at Eurovision with Marija in 2007, has had a checkered history at Eurovision since then.

In 2008 Jelena Tomasevic took the country to sixth place on home soil with her Balkan ballad “Oro”. But a year later Marko Kon & Milaan crashed out in the semis, when the jury chose to send through Croatia instead.

Milan Stankovic managed 13th place with his ethnic dance number “Ovo je Balkan”, and Nina kept the standard up with her 60s-inspired “Caroban”, which came 14th. And then Zeljko Joksimovic — the king of the Balkan ballad — put Serbia back near the top with “Nije ljubav stvar”. He did so in an incredibly competitive year that featured Loreen, the Buranovskiye Babushii, Rona Nishliu and Pastora Soler, among others.

But from a high came a low. Moje 3 — a trio of three talented singers — achieved Serbia’s lowest total of points ever, earning just 46 for their (occasionally screechy and discordant) number “Ljubav je svuda”. Each of its singers could slay independently. But thrown together they drew comparisons to a shrieking goat.

RTS took 2014 off to recover from the result (and sort out financial issues) before returning with a bang in 2015. Bojana Stamenov emerged as a bookies’ favourite following rehearsals and ultimately came tenth with the feel-good euro-pop number “Beauty Never Lies”. In 2016 Sanja Vucic flaunted her vocal talents with “Goodbye (Shelter)”, placing 18th.

But in 2017 Serbia missed out on the final for a third time with Tijana finishing in 11th — just like Moje 3 four years before.

“I am sad that I lost to the Danish girl by just three points…Still, I do not consider myself a loser. I come back as a winner,” she told Serbian newspaper Blic upon her return to Belgrade.

“This was a very special experience for me and I do not think it will ever happen again. I gave my best, just like my team behind the scenes.”

Following Serbia’s elimination, Eurovision 2007 winner Serifovic said that Serbia would not achieve anything as long as RTS treats Eurovision as “an excursion”.

Tijana was much cooler about it all: “It is not the end of the world. I do not know why people make such a fuss about it. Life goes on after Eurovision.”

RTS issued a statement as a reaction to Serifovic’s comment, in which they expressed their satisfaction with Tijana’s performance in Kyiv:

We do not take any project as an excursion and we dedicate ourselves to all the projects as much as we can. Tijana sang excellently indeed in the semi-final, and her performance was seen as very modern. Our director Ivan Pasorovic received nothing but praise for his work. By the way, this year there were many difficulties with the technics, the production and the organisation, which was noticeable in the first semi-final, and in the second one as well.

RTS seems ready to fight for its reputation at home — and abroad. Which acts from its past do you think it should look to for inspiration? Let us know your favourite by voting in our poll below. Then sound off in our comments section.

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Dancing Jules
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Dancing Jules

In my opinion Molitva is the best Eurovision entry of the century. Second place in my all-time-favourites (after Nocturne).

Goran
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Goran

You missed “Lane moje” Zeljko Joksimovic!

Justin K.
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Justin K.

“In Too Deep” was a grower on me: I thought it would wow me from first listen based on the preview on the official channel, but instead I found it rather flat. By the time her semifinal came around again, I found myself rooting for it to qualify. Quite disappointing staging, but her performance itself was great. I would love to hear a studio version in Serbian (since the current one is slower). But of course, Molitva and Nije Ljubav Stvar were both great entries! I thought the latter built up really well through its three minutes, even better than… Read more »

SpirK
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SpirK

1. “Oro” 2008, my 4th of all time, (and I know every Eurovision song since 1970) my 2008 winner 2. “Molitva” my 5th of all time, my 2007 winner 3. “Goodbye (Shelter)” my 2nd of 2016 4. “Caroban” in my top 10 of 2011 5. “Nije Ljubav Stvar” in my top 15 of 2012 6. “Beauty Never Lies” just outside my top 10 of 2015 7. “Ovo Je Balkan” borderline qualifier of 2010 (top 25) 8. “In Too Deep” bland song and had a very mediocre performance, not a qualifier for me 9. “Ljubav Je Svuda” at times annoying and… Read more »

Nickc
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Nickc

What was special about molitva was the whole package, great singer, a great song, and a presentation that gave a powerful message. I feel like since then, one of these three elements has always been missing. Case in point, they had a great song from goran bregovic, a musical genius that is worldwide known, and they ruined it with an average singer and absolutely horrendous stage presentation. Last year, they had a great singer like sanja vucic, and they have her a not-so-bad song, and then we saw a random male dancer who was distracting from women empowerement. Even in… Read more »

Dzordz
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Dzordz

Another masterpiece of Jelena Tomasevic and Zeljko Joksimovic was song called Jutro (Morning). The song was intended for Eurovision but at the end No name went. You guys should really check it out.

Polegend Godgarina
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Polegend Godgarina

Montenegro should’ve filed for independence earlier so that we would’ve had Jutro in 2005. Helena Paparizou’s wig wouldn’t have been safe.

Dzordz
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Dzordz

Totally agree with you. 🙂

kenna
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kenna

‘Molitva’ is no.2 at my Serbian ranking. While it’s undeniably a great song, it can get a tad too much. ‘Oro’, on the other hand, is a beautifully constructed song. So ‘Oro’ is my all time fave.

Colin
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Colin

Serbia had some really good songs. My favorites are Molitva, Shelter, Nije ljubav stvar, Oro and Beauty Never Lies.

Lewis
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Lewis

I do get excited for the Serbian entry, generally they can be quite good. There has been a couple of dodgy years… Personally 2017 getting added to the list.
I do find Serbia struggle to draw from they’re strong points. 2007,2010,2012 all being (for me) good songs and sung in a native language… 2015 great song and woman, a song with a feel good vibe. I think like 2010 they should mix feel good and native but make the entry a bit more serious… (He was clearly quite novelty) and they could start worrying top 5 again.

Polegend Godgarina
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Polegend Godgarina

Nije ljubav stvar is a 10/10 but Oro and Molitva are nearly perfect too. I enjoy all Serbian entries, except for Cipela (tried too hard to be funny) and In Too Deep (bland, horribly performed, never stood a chance).

ame
Guest
ame

They ususally send good songs with great singer can sing live and amazing staging and lighting. But dressed tacky and dated .
I think ESC serbia can dressed their singer ‘s outfit by famouse serbian fashion desinger “Roksanda Ilincic “

Roelof Meesters
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Roelof Meesters

I most of the times love the Serbian entries, and there are some gems out there. 2007 was my fave of the year, it was amazing. 2008 was of the same level, I LOVED it. 2009 was very funny, and in my opinion it deseved the final over Denmark. 2010 was great too, I loved the humour and performance. 2011 was good too, I like it way more then other people seem to do. 2012 was a masterpiece. It wasn’t my third place but it deserved the 3rd place. Please Serbia, let him write the song for 2018. 2013 was… Read more »

Kimmm
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Kimmm

Serbia has great rock scene. Why they dont send any great rock group? The biggest fail was, when they sent instead great band ZAA only singer Sanja, who is without them boring. I dont want to see Serbian vocalists with special ESC songs every year, I want to see own music of their singers and groups.

Polegend Godgarina
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Polegend Godgarina

I think what the public is missing from Serbia is folk–not trashy turbo folk, but quality folk like the one Serbia smashed with back in the day.

Peyton
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Peyton

Oro is an absolute masterpiece, and in love opinion, way better than Molitva (which is also a fantastic song)

Twisted French
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Twisted French

Molitva obviously. But I also liked Bojana and Sanja!!!

AngieP
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AngieP

Serbia is one of my favourite countries in Eurovision! I want to mention 2004 and 2005 as the beginning of an era! The first Eurovision I’ve ever watched had a new country with a song called “Lane moje”. And I absolutely loved it! I discovered how beautiful balkan ballads are. So Zeljko thank you for that! 2007 is one of my all time favourite winners. A great song, so emotional, even in a language most people don’t understand. 2008 was amazing! Great result on home soil for Elena. Then 2009, 10 and 11 are not as good. And here comes… Read more »

Jo
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Jo

2007, 2008, 2011, 2012 & 2016.
Serbia, you know how to do it. Stop playing around.

Erasmus
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Erasmus

For me Caroban – 2011 and Nije Ljubav Stvar – 2012
🙂

necky
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necky

Jelena and “Oro” could have won it all, if it wasnt being held in Belgrade, Im sure.

Marco
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Marco

Sanja was really underrated

Nancy G
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Nancy G

2008 all the way

Paul D.
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Paul D.

2007 and 2008. Give the people what they want Serbia

Sean Bragg
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Sean Bragg

Serbia’s one of the only countries that always sends songs that are, at the very least, decent. (2013 is a possible exception, but it was the singers, not the song, that were the problem there).

Jonas
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Jonas

2008 for me.

Miguel
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Miguel

Same here.