We’re looking at all the countries currently participating in the Eurovision Song Contest and picking ten reasons why we love them — for all the right (and sometimes wrong) reasons. Today we’re diving “Straight Into Love” and saying “Hvala, Yay!” to Slovenia.
Finding ten reasons to love Slovenia isn’t hard — they’ve even got “love” right in their name! Slovenia has competed at Eurovision since 1961, first as part of Yugoslavia, and from 1993 as an independent nation. Their qualification rate may be a little hit and miss, but they always put a lot into their entries. Here are 10 reasons why we love Slovenia at the Eurovision Song Contest.
1. They send strong women
Over the years, Slovenia has sent strong songs, often performed by even stronger women. Lea Sirk is the newest inductee in a long and proud line of Slovenian women who sing about their strength and resilience. We’ve also seen Maja Keuc (AKA Amaya) soar to the grand final in 2011 with her anthem of empowerment, “No One”, and in 2016 ManuElla competed with “Blue and Red”, in which she proclaimed her freedom from those who have hurt her.
2. They embrace the Slovenian language
While Slovenia didn’t debut at Eurovision until 1993, the Slovenian language made its first appearance back in 1966 where Berta Ambrož performed “Brez besed” as Yugoslavia’s entry. Since the national language rule was dropped in 1999, Slovenia has still sent many entries in Slovene, including Lea Sirk, whose “Hvala, ne!” brought Slovenia to the grand final for the first time in three years.
3. They were gender-bending before it was cool
In 2002, Slovenia was represented by Sestre, a drag trio whose name is Slovenian for “sisters”. In those pre-RuPaul’s Drag Race days, many Europeans — and Slovenians in particular — weren’t ready to accept the entry. The choice was so controversial that the ensuing national debate regarding gay rights in Slovenia made it all the way to the European Parliament. But Sestre were a hit in Tallinn and finished in 13th place, paving the way for future drag acts.
4. Their acts help each other out
In 2014, Slovenia was represented by Tinkara Kovač with her song, “Round and Round”. The song was written by Hannah Mancini, who had represented Slovenia the year before, and Raay, who would represent Slovenia the following year as part of Maraaya – talk about a Slovenian super group! “Round and Round” ended up finishing in 25th place, and was Slovenia’s first grand final qualification since “No One” in 2011.
5. They send epic, cinematic songs
If any country knows how to transform the Eurovision stage into a fairytale wonderland, it’s Slovenia. Their 2007 entry, “Cvet ze Juga” by Alenka Gotar, was the first popera entry to grace the contest and paved the way for acts like France 2011 and Estonia 2018. In 2012, Eva Boto served fairy-princess realness with the cinematic “Verjamem”. This soaring ballad would fit right at home in a Lord of the Rings film and is beautifully evocative of Slovenia’s mystical charm.
6. They’ve won a Eurovision contest already
Last year at the inaugural edition of Eurovision Choir of the Year, the trophy was awarded to none other than Slovenia. The all-female choir, Carmen Manet, sang a medley of Slovenian folk music, which began with a traditional Slovenian clapping game. The performance was both expressive and beautifully performed while maintaining a quintessentially Slovenian flavour.
7. They can slay with musical talent
While some acts go all out with flashy staging, Slovenia has proved they can make an impact with their artists’ talents. In 2014, Tinkara Kovač — a classically trained flautist and professor of music — dazzled on the Copenhagen stage by showcasing her talents. Her song “Round and Round” made great use of her flute-playing skills as well as her powerful voice and landed Slovenia a spot in the grand final.
8. They’re creative with musical instruments
In 2009, string quartet Quartissimo featured four musicians playing electric violins, viola and cello before vocalist Martina emerged with a mere 32 words to sing. It was a bold musical choice, but no match for another violin-heavy song. In 2015 with “Here for You” by Maraaya kicked it up a notch by featuring a dancer playing “air violin”, while Marjetka sang and Raay played the piano. The artistic risk paid off, with Slovenia finishing in 14th place in the grand final.
9. Ljubljana would be an amazing host city
Nestled in the Julian Alps, Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, sits at the intersection of the Italian, Germanic, and Slavic worlds. This is most visible in the strikingly beautiful and eclectic architecture of Ljubljana. If the quality of Slovenia’s annual national selection, EMA, is any indicator, we’re sure Ljubljana would be able to put on a fantastic show.
10. They’re long overdue for a comeback
Slovenia’s golden years in Eurovision would have to be the seven-year period between 1995 and 2001, in which they received their only three top-ten finishes. That means we’re nearing 20 years since Slovenia has placed in the top ten. But after Lea Sirk‘s success in bringing Slovenia back to the grand final, perhaps we’re at the beginning of a resurgence in Slovenian success at Eurovision. If things keep heading in this direction, Eurovision in Ljubljana may be closer than we think!
At Eurovision 1988, Yugoslavia’s points were presented live from Ljubljana. In a nail-biting finish, the Yugoslav scores put Switzerland in the lead by just one point, which gave Switzerland its second-ever Eurovision win and helped launch the international career of young Canadian singer Céline Dion.
What do you love about Slovenia? Do you think they have what it takes to win it all? Let us know in the comments below!