National selections always draw controversies, and Beovizija 2018 is no different.
The final results of Beovizija always draws its share of drama, whether it’s the voting methods or the criteria by which Radio Television of Serbia chooses the contestants. This time the same issues have sprung up regarding the victory of Sanja Ilic and Balkanika.
The controversy began the moment the list of participants was announced. Balkanika, the much-experienced group led by well-known musician Aleksandar “Sanja” Ilic, immediately emerged as the favourites for the win, with some even claiming the victory was fixed for them from the start.
One of the strongest reactions came from Danijel Pavlovic, who competed at Beovizija with the song “Ruza sudbine”. He openly attacked Ivana Peters, the composer of Serbia’s 2016 entry and a member of the jury, saying that she deliberately gave him a low score to make sure Balkanika won.
Writing on Facebook he said:
“This is what I wrote yesterday night to the singer whose voice I adore, who I have known for years and whose voice I will always adore, for whom I believe that she did not vote true to her conscience and the experience she has, and that she only embarrasses herself with this.”
“This is not about me not winning, perhaps it was not my moment, although we all know that the song was excellent, I do not have a problem with that. I have a problem with two-faced people, who do not have the balls to stand up for their opinion.”
To this status Pavlovic attached the screenshot of the message he sent to Peters, which said, “You have been complaining about injustice your whole life and then you slam me, with such a song and such a performance, with four lousy points. How do you sleep at night, Pavlovic? Shame on you, Ivana!”
Ovo sam sinoc poslao pevacici ciji glas obozavam, sa kojom se godinama poznajem, i ciji glas cu uvek obozavati, za koju…
Pavlovic is Peters’s birth surname. She changed it to Peters after marrying musician Aleksandar Peters.
Peters replied to Pavlovic on social media saying that it is all a “matter of taste”, but gave a more elaborate answer to Kurir: “Yes, he believes that there is some conspiracy theory and that someone instructed us all to vote against certain artists. I voted in respect to which song I liked better, and that refers to all the songs, not just his.”
“His song got four points from me, and zero points from other members of the jury. And he accuses me of hurting him? I gave the winning song only three points more than I did to his song. So, he can be satisfied.”
“That was my judgement. I was invited to give my opinion and my judgement. In my opinion, his song is an average ballad, nothing special that can blow me away, and I feel the same about his interpretation. It deserved the spot I gave it.”
Pavlovic’s sister Marija Serifovic, who brought Serbia their only Eurovision victory so far, was among those who believed they knew who would win even before the festival was held.
“Is it right that you all know who will win?”, she tweeted when Beovizija began. When the results were announced, she openly expressed her displeasure, “Well, my dear Serbs… Brothers and sisters… This is what you have got.”
Kada vam zelja za pobedom bude veca od potrebe za turistickim obilaskom… Kada verujete u ono sto radite… Kada vam je level samopouzdanja na #insaneMode… Kada jebeno PEVATE a ne pevusite… E tak tada… Mozda…
— Marija Serifovic (@futomaki) February 20, 2018
“When your desire to win is bigger than you need to have a tourist walkabout… When you believe in what you are doing… When your level of self-confidence is on #insaneMode… When you decide to f*****g sing instead of warbling… Then… maybe,” the “Molitva” singer concluded.
Another contestant, Maja Nikolic, also reacted strongly to the winners of the festival. She accused RTS of giving Balkanika special treatment by allowing them to sing playback.
“It was obvious that Balkanika sang on playback,” Nikolic told Vecernje Novosti, “It is not fair that sixteen compositions had to be performed live, and only their not.”
The pop singer based her statement on the fact that microphone of one of the lead singers of Balkanika, Danica Krstic, dropped off during her performance. She said: “The singer Danica Krstic had her microphone fallen off and caught on her dress, so it was obvious it was playback. According to the rules, lead vocalists must sing live.”
“The Regulatory Body of Electronic Media should get involved in this and make sure that the runner-up goes to Eurovision, and that is Saska. I did not expect to win, what matters to me is to have a hit, but I believe that Danijel Pavlovic, Saska Jankovic or Dusan Svilar deserved to triumph.”
As the accusations made by Nikolic began circulating the media, RTS issued an official response to them:
“As the rules of Beovizija state, lead vocalists sing live at the festival, while backing vocalist are allowed to be included in the playback music.
In the case of the performance of the group Sanja Ilic and Balkanika, Danica Krstis, one of the lead vocalists, by the end of the song, had her microphone slip down and tangled in her hear, but it was still close enough for the voice to be heard.
In that situation, the sound editor increased the level of the sound in her microphone to have her voice heard more clearly.
To make a comparison, the difference in the quality of sound can be clearly heard between the performance of the song in the competition part of the programme and the performance of the song at the end of the broadcast, as the winning song.”
Saska Jankovic, who in Nikolic’s opinion should be named the winner, seemed pleased with the final result of Beovizija.
“I always expect only one thing, and that is that we elect what is the best for us,” she told Vecernje novosti, “I congratulate to all the participants and to the winners, who have been performing together for a very long time.”
“Sanja Ilic and Balkanika are an institution that has been performing all around the world. If there was a time for them to go to Eurovision, now it is a high time for that. I think their song is good, because they have great vocalists Danica Krstic and Mladen Lukic.”
Sanja Ilic, the frontman of Balkanika, a respected musician who has been on stage for almost five decades, responed on the accusations that the victory for fixed for his group.
“If I had to do such things at this age, then I should throw my whole career, which is very long because it has lasted since I was sixteen, under my feet,” he told Blic, “That would be a catastrophy.”
“If we win in Portugal, you know what they will say – it was fixed.”
“We sent this song to win. But we were not sure that we would really win. We were only sure that we had a good song and that we wanted to compete at Beovizija with it.”
What do you think? Are Maja and Danijel simply sore losers? Or could they be right? Tell us in the comments section below!
Photo credits: Radio Television of Serbia