Wiwibloggs is launching a new series looking at all the countries currently competing in the Eurovision Song Contest and why we love them — for all the right (and sometimes wrong) reasons. We’re kicking things off today with Montenegro.
The small Balkan nation has been represented at Eurovision since 1961, first as part of Yugoslavia, then as Serbia and Montenegro, and finally as an independent nation from 2007. They might not have the strongest track record at Eurovision, but they have delivered some of the most memorable performances. We look at ten reasons why we love Montenegro at Eurovision.
1. They brought back Montevizija
It’s understandable that one of the smallest countries in Europe would use internal selection to pick their act for Eurovision. But Eurofans love a national final and were delighted when RTCG brought back Montevizija in 2018. It may only have had five competing acts, but it was still a treat to watch.
2. They can deliver a rockin’ guitar solo
Normally Albania is the go-to country for ’80s-style rock guitar. But it turns out that their northern neighbour can also deliver the goods. In Montenegro’s debut in 2007, while Stevan Faddy urged the audience to “‘Ajde, kroči”, his band delivered some serious guitar work.
3. They were behind one of the most iconic songs in the Yugoslavia era
In 1983, Yugoslavia sent the dreamy Croatian-Montenegrin singer Danijel with the super cute Montenegrin song “Džuli” (Julie). It was a favourite to win the contest and ended up placing fourth — one of Yugoslavia’s best results. Juuuuuuulie!
4. Whatever it was that was going on with “Euroneuro”
In 2012, “Euroneuro” offered indirect social commentary on the state of the European Union, the financial crisis and ecological issues. But did Rambo Amadeus also sneak in some commentary on Montenegro at Eurovision, when he sang “I got no ambition for high position in competition”?
5. Two words: Slavko Kalezić
In 2017, Slavko took a break from his day job as an actor and graced us with not just his smouldering good looks but also his metre-long braid. With “Space”, he took us to his intergalactic garden of sensual delights and delivered some of the most memorable hairography ever.
6. They embrace their national language
While some countries always send songs in English, Montenegro isn’t afraid to mix things up. Six of the country’s ten entries — including their two qualifiers — have been in Montenegrin, spanning rock, rap, and of course Balkan ballads.
7. One of their songs includes a delicious fish recipe
Who See and Nina Žižić‘s “Igranka” might be best known as an amazing drum ‘n’ bass song performed by two astronauts and a space diva. But hidden within the lyrics is a recipe for a delicious fish dish. The astronauts rap, “Grill garlic, parsley and fish, give me all so I can overeat”. It’s a simple but classic combination of flavours, perfect to highlight freshly caught Montenegrin seafood.
By the way, “Igranka” not qualifying (despite placing fourth with the televote) is the biggest robbery ever and we are still upset about it.
8. They sent an X Factor boy band
Except it wasn’t your typical X Factor boy band. Highway delivered the full-on stoner rock of “The Real Thing” in 2016. The band brought loads of rock attitude as they lurked in the darkness on the Stockholm stage.
9. They can get serious with a good Balkan ballad
Montenegro has a reputation for their unusual entries, but they can also deliver an emotional Balkan ballad. Their two grand final qualifications have been with Balkan ballads, including Knez‘s powerful “Adio”, which placed 13th in 2015.
10. Once they even sent a female singer
For some reason, Montenegro favours male performers, but the one time they sent a female lead, they did quite well. In 2009, Andrea Demirović delivered the sassy bop “Just Get Out of My Life”. It narrowly missed out on qualifying, placing 11th in its semi.
Bonus fact! They opened their semi-final three times in a row
In 2008, 2009 and 2012, Montenegro was the first act to perform in their semi-final (they didn’t compete in 2010 and 2011). This run of bad luck ended in 2013 when the randomly-decided running order was switched to a more sympathetic producer-decided draw and Montenegro started qualifying.