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.